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Der Islam

Journal of the History and Culture of the Middle East

Ed. by Heidemann, Stefan / Hagen, Gottfried / Kaplony, Andreas / Matthee, Rudi / Richardson, Kristina L.

CiteScore 2018: 0.12

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.147
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.267

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Volume 90, Issue 2


Jouir sans enfanter? Concubines, filiation et coït interrompu au debut de l’Islam

Mohammed Hocine Benkheira
Published Online: 2013-10-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/islam-2013-0009

Abstract: The thesis put forth in this study is that, while coitus interruptus (ʿazl) was known to the early Muslims, it was not practiced for reasons that were primarily theological. For ʿazl is in obvious conflict with the rule that prevailed until the third/ninth century, that of enjoining the believer to marry and procreate without trying to curb one’s fertility. A careful examination of the oldest traditions on the subject leads us to conclude that only about the end of the first/seventh century some religious authorities spoke in favor of resorting to this contraceptive method, in a limited context – the relationship between a master and his slave girl. And it is probably during the same period that the controversy over coitus interruptus arose. This is why it is anachronistic to see traditions (Ahadith) in favor of coitus interruptus as testimony on how long this type of birth control has been practiced in the Islamic world. In addition to relying on textual criticism, the study uses prosopographical information to show that the first Muslims often had many children with concubines. Some Muslim authorities encouraged believers to resort to coitus interruptus, not in order engage in «birth control» but because of the negative reputation of slave girls. To avoid having children with them was to avoid having «illegitimate» children – who were considered evil – and especially to avoid increasing their number so as not to hasten the end of the world. Later, when the rule that believers must marry and produce offspring ceased to be a dogma, allowing for celibacy to be an option, albeit for a tiny minority, coitus interruptus came to be permitted as a means of limiting births, but only if the purpose was religious in nature. Birth control for strictly economic reasons continued to be strictly forbidden.

: birth control; coitus interruptus; descent; slave girls; sexuality

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Published Online: 2013-10-01

Published in Print: 2013-10-01

Citation Information: Der Islam, Volume 90, Issue 2, Pages 245–305, ISSN (Online) 1613-0928, ISSN (Print) 0021-1818, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/islam-2013-0009.

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