Abortion Is a Muslim Issue—and It’s on Us to Fight for Access
Islam supports an individual’s bodily autonomy, and we need to advocate for our community’s right to an abortion.
A majority of Muslims support access to safe and legal abortion.
Yes, you read that right.
Just over half of Muslims in the United States say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. And yet for some, it may come as a surprise that Islam offers ample space for reproductive choice—debunking the oft-perceived binary of something like abortion being either halal (permitted) or haram (forbidden). Historically, Islam can and has been used as a tool of empowerment for individuals to make decisions about their own bodies—aligned with their faith values.
As Muslims, we understand that the human interpretation of Divine law is inherently imperfect. Further, religious thought is necessarily diverse and accommodates a variety of individual lived experiences. These lived experiences, and the perspectives they engender, matter just as much as religious law and ethics, especially given that each person has unique health and other needs, and Islam embodies anti-harm.
To be clear: Legislative and judicial decisions that continuously narrow reproductive and bodily autonomy, including depriving us of the right to access safe and legal abortion if we so choose, are violating what HEART believes to be our divinely granted rights—and exacerbating the disproportionate health risks that Black, Indigenous, and other people of color around the country face.
In particular, abortion is already inaccessible for too many low-income and Black and brown people of all genders in this country. By extension, and as the most ethnically diverse faith group in the country, many Muslims in need of this care are already being pushed away given persisting reproductive health and rights inequities. Further, the same people impacted by anti-choice policies (even with Roe v. Wade in place) experience unjust criminalization, incarceration, surveillance, and other inherently racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and queerphobic systems—systems that diminish our health.
As a result of this Othering and criminalization, Muslims of all backgrounds are directly impacted by patriarchal, racist, and classist legislative decisions that restrict critical access to the intersecting care, services, and resources we need, from education and jobs to food, housing, and health care.
This all comes down to control over our bodies and lives, which we see as reflected in the Islamic principle of hurma (sacred inviolability). Hurma refers to that which is unlawful to violate and has been used by various Islamic law schools to demonstrate the meaning of “bodily integrity.” When the state fails to respect this sacredness by targeting and harming our people, we can and must uplift it for ourselves.
At HEART, we center the principle of bodily autonomy through a reproductive justice framework of choice and access for all Muslims, infused with rahma (compassion), throughout our reproductive lives. This framework affirms our urging that communities must have equitable access to comprehensive and culturally sensitive services that help individuals determine informed decisions for their and their loved ones’ safety, health, and wellness. This is even more imperative given that we must uplift self-determination and access to health and safety for all, to end abuse of power and control manifested through interpersonal to systemic gendered violence.
As we continue to see a ruthless onslaught of policies that criminalize abortion throughout the country, we remain steadfast in rejecting and resisting this deadly status quo. During this turbulent political moment, all those who are most impacted by harmful power holders’ decisions should take comfort that we have always taken care of our communities—and will continue to do so.
We call on all Muslims and our friends and allies of all backgrounds to come together in the ongoing fight for reproductive justice. Here are five ways you can start taking action:
- Support HEART’s Reproductive Justice Fund or your local abortion fund.
- Access HEART’s resources to learn more about abortion, how to care for those impacted, and ways to navigate access. Reach out to us with additional questions or if you’re interested in hosting a discussion or workshop on this topic.
- Consider sharing your abortion story with someone you trust, or even encouraging a loved one to do so. One opportunity to do this is through a project led by our partners at Queer Crescent. Telling your story can help destigmatize abortion for those in our community who experience feelings of shame around it. You can also be a part of disrupting and rejecting narratives that erase the impact of reproductive injustice in religious communities.
- Understand the fight for abortion care in your state and get involved by plugging into efforts led by direct service and reproductive justice advocacy or civic engagement organizations near you—and/or by connecting virtually with leaders and organizations who are further away. In the coming months, HEART will share more information on this, specific to states with large Muslim populations.
- Encourage Muslim organizations you are connected with to show their support for reproductive justice.
It is not too late to join this fight. If friends and family can be moved to join us in demanding reproductive justice, the time is now for us to educate and urge them to do so.
Muslims can and do take care of our health and make informed choices every day. We must continue to work collectively to address the impacts of restrictive laws and misinformed Islamophobic rhetoric about Muslim communities—and to increase our access to the resources, power, and choices we need to have self-determination and autonomy over our bodies.
What we do with our bodies isn’t a state’s decision. As Muslims, we know that choice is ours alone.