The status of the barren women in Islam
Fatwa No: 93808

  • Fatwa Date:20-3-2007 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 2, 1428
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Question

I have read that in Islam best women are those who are loving and can have lot of children. I can understand the loving side but women don’t have any control on how many children they can have. Why the women who can have children considered superior to women who cannot have children even though this is not under their control? Prophet (peace be upon him) stopped one of his companions marrying a woman who could not have children and I have also read that Hazarat Umar divorced two of his wives because they were barren. Why are women punished for something which is not under their control? Why are they denied of love and care how will they be able get married? It seems that women who cannot have children are sort of outcast as I have read some scholars consider it Mukroh to marry a woman who cannot have children. Why this restriction only applies to women and not men? Men can be infertile too.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

 

First of all, you should know that superiority in Islam is based on righteousness. Allaah Says (what means): {Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allaah is the most righteous of you.}[Quran 49:13]. The characteristic of being a fertile woman, by itself, does not prove her superiority, and being barren does not prove her inferiority. Therefore, she should not be blamed for this reason since it is not her choice as she was born as such. As for the prophetic narrations that encourage marrying a fertile woman, then this is in order to achieve some religious benefits, like having many children and the like. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Marry the loving and prolific women, as I will outnumber the nations by you [by your abundant number]." [Ahmad] Such narrations do not necessarily mean that a woman who is not prolific is not virtuous.

However, we do not know any religious evidence that prohibits marrying a barren person, be it a man or a woman; rather, the religious texts that encourage marriage are general. In addition to this, being chaste is an additional benefit in marriage, and probably, every man and woman seek to achieve chastity.

As for the narration reported by Imaam Ahmad  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him Ma'qil Ibn Yasaar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that a man came to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and said: I have found a woman of honourable lineage and beauty, but she does not give birth to children. Should I marry her? He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “No”. He [the man] later returned again, and he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) prohibited him. The man returned for the third time, and he (the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )) said: “Marry women who are loving and very prolific, for I shall outnumber the nations (on the Day of Resurrection) by you [by your abundant number]." This narration advocates what is better, and highlights the benefit of multiplying the progeny, as we mentioned above.

'Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him married a barren woman from Bani Makhzoom and then he  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him divorced her and said: "I do not sleep with women only for enjoyment; if  they do not give birth, I do not need them."

'Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him practiced a permissible right to divorce, just like a woman has the right to ask for divorce if her husband is barren, because both of them need to be blessed with children. The ruling here applies to both the husband and the wife.

Allaah Knows best.

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