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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Islam scholars mull birth control
By Zaffar Abbas
BBC News, Islamabad

Contraceptives are a contentious issue in Muslim societies
Islamic religious scholars meeting in Pakistan have called for renewed efforts to tackle population growth.

A joint declaration issued after talks in Islamabad stopped short of a clear statement in support of birth control.

But the scholars urged fresh efforts to push population planning and better reproductive health services.

They also agreed to back contraception for married couples, Pakistan's population minister said, but this was not mentioned in the declaration.

The use of contraceptives for controlling population has remained a highly contentious issue among Muslim scholars.

The more conservative Islamic leaders have openly campaigned against the use of condoms or other birth control methods, thus making population planning in many countries ineffective.

They also strongly opposed abortion.


The aim of the Islamabad conference was to counter such moves by evolving a joint strategy for promoting the modern concept of population planning.

More than 40 Islamic scholars from 21 countries discussed the issue for three days, but failed to agree on an effective strategy.

Although a joint declaration issued at the end of the conference calls for fresh efforts to tackle the issue, it does not go into the specifics of the population controlling mechanism.

But Pakistan's Population Minister, Chaudhry Shahbaz, says there was a consensus among the participating scholars on promoting the use of contraceptives among married couples.

But the minister failed to explain why this issue was not incorporated in the joint declaration.

A senior Pakistani official said even though all the participants were in favour of promoting the use of contraceptives they were reluctant to make it part of the joint declaration for fear of reprisals from the more conservative Islamic scholars in their respective countries.

Pakistan attacked on birth control
22 Dec 98 |  South Asia

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