Birth control is a moral issue. Not because the God who created the universe in all its glory and complexity might be flummoxed by a paper-thin piece of rubber when He wants to bring a child into existence. Nor because it might promote promiscuity or other forms of immorality. Not even because it ensures fundamental human rights to have agency over our own lives. It is a moral issue because it is a necessity for continued human existence.
If we, as a species, continue to expand our population we will eventually reach the point that feeding us, housing us, clothing us, and entertaining us uses up so much of the Earth’s irreplaceable resources and pollutes the land, air and water so badly that vast majority of mankind will necessarily live in utter poverty as natural resources become increasingly scarce, countless species will be driven into extinction, and -- if overpopulation becomes severe enough -- the sheer volume of pollution will threaten the viability of continued life on Earth. Fouling the home God gave us so badly that it could no longer support life is immoral. The easiest, and perhaps the only, way to prevent the ills of overpopulation is widespread birth control.
As a Muslim, I believe the God sent us to Earth as His “khalifa,” as His vicegerents. Yes, that means we have dominion over the natural world and the right use it for our purposes, but it also means we have the responsibility to care for that world, maintain it and keep it safe. We are both partakers and caretakers of the Earth. Just as we would expect children to enjoy a playground we built for them, but not to steal the chains off the swings, uproot the slide, and chop up the climber for firewood, so too we should use, not abuse the Earth. At this point in human history, that means taking full advantage of the means Allah gave us to control our own population.
We are also caretakers of one another. I will gladly pay slightly higher premiums for insurance that provides birth control to everyone. Safeguarding the earth is both a personal and a societal responsibility, one we should and must shoulder together. There will always be those who cannot afford birth control, whether due to having a low wage job, or the inability to find work, lack of funds while in high school or college, the financial constraints of just starting out in a career with student debt, or other circumstances. It is be the height of arrogance to turn a blind eye to this reality. It would be the height of stupidity to fail to provide for the species most fundamental needs because of personal avarice. And it would be the height of callousness to deny the many other personal benefits of birth control, especially the ability to get one’s family out of poverty and to provide for what children you do have in a decent manner, simply due to greed.
Taylor is co-founder of Muslims for Progressive Values, former director of the Islamic Writers Alliance and strong supporter of the woman imam movement.