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Fatima is Fatima

by : Dr. Ali Shari'ati

Back You are here: Home Books Family Principles of Upbringing Children

Principles of Upbringing Children - When Pregnant Women Fall Ill

Article Index

When a pregnant woman needs medication for any indisposition, she has to exercise utmost care in the consumption of medicines because the medicines are generally designed for adults and might not be compatible for the delicate foetus and affect it adversely. It cannot be predicted what effect the drugs might have on the foetus.

It is a fact there is no medicine, which will not affect the foetus. This is the reason a pregnant mother must exercise maximum restraint in taking medicines. Firstly, she should avoid intake of medicine. But if the condition of the health becomes such that medication becomes absolutely necessary, then she should have access to it on the expert advice of a medical practitioner who can suggest the right medicine and the dosage.

When the illness is risky for the mother and the child, the pregnant mother should obtain expert medical opinion and treatment, as, otherwise it might cause irreparable damage to the foetus.

One expert writes:

“It is possible that certain viruses and microbes escape from the mother and the father into the indefensible foetus and infect it with the same disease which the parents were suffering from."

He writes at another place:

“Any change in the dietary habit of the mother, the medicines which she has to take and the diseases with which she gets afflicted will have effect on the embryo. Any diseased condition, which affects the embryo in the initial stages of conception, will progressively enhance. It is therefore imperative that the pregnant women should prevent themselves against diseases. Sometimes diseases may destroy their capacity to conceive in the future.

He also writes:

“There are several non-food materials which, when consumed by a pregnant mother, will adversely effect the development of the foetus. Most of the medicines are for adults and their trials are made only on grownups before they are approved for prescription. The viruses, bacteria and the germs in the body of the mother sometimes affect the foetus too.

Sometimes the foetus starts getting the same symptoms of the disease or sometimes abnormal growth takes place in the foetus because of the infection." (Biography Pish az tawalud, p. 182)

Effect of the Psychological Condition of the Mother on the Embryo

The experts have been deliberating the fact whether the psychological condition of the mother has any effect on the embryo she is nursing.

Some experts say that if a mother is confronted with excessive fear and unease then the foetus will get affected and there is a strong possibility that the child will be timid and also the tendency of jealousy and malicious nature of the mother will be there in the child. As against this the good nature, humanity, honesty, boldness and affection in the mother will have a salutary effect on the nature of the offspring.

These experts are of the opinion that the child in the womb of the mother is in fact a part of her and therefore it will be influenced by the thoughts and psyche of the mother. But there are some geneticists and child psychologists who reject this theory. They feel that it is not necessary that the psychological condition and thoughts of the mother influence the mind of the newborn permanently.

Dr Jalali writes:

“There is no direct contact between the mother and the foetus but it is only through the umbilicus which does not possess any senses and the closed umbilicus has blood carrying nerves, therefore the earlier opinion that the psychological condition of the mother influences the mind of the child may not be correct." (Rowan shinashi kudak, p. 188)

But, the truth is with the intellectual, that it cannot be claimed that the thoughts and psychological condition of the mother indirectly influences the mindset of the child. But it is not right to say that the mother’s thoughts have no direct effect at all on the mind of the child. This point of view is illustrated in the following arguments:

1. The human mind and spirit are connected to each other. The illness and good health of the human body and the strength of the nerves and physical potential or weakness and even the appetite or lack of it has a bearing on the thinking and morals of the person. The moral personality of an individual and his nature have a bearing on the development of his brain It is possible that the deficiency or absence of food might give rise to the nervousness and amoral thoughts in the brain.

2. The embryo utilises the food, which gets synthesised in the womb of the mother and reaches it. As long as the child remains in the mother’s womb it depends on her for its sustenance. The mother’s food habits therefore have a direct bearing on the physical and mental development of the child.

Dr Jalali writes:

Whatever is beneficial for the mother is also beneficial for the foetus. If the mother’s food is deficient in calcium, this deficiency will affect the development of the bones and the teeth of the child. (Rowan shinashi kudak, p. 188)

3. This is well known that extreme disturbance and restlessness in a person causes indigestion, constipation and affects his body. Excess of sadness or fear reduces the appetite of a person and his digestive system gets impaired. The digestive glands do not function normally.

In the light of the above three points it can be said that although the mother’s thoughts and spiritual condition do not directly transfer to the brain and nerves of the child, it is related to her digestive function which can ultimately affect the child’s physical and spiritual make-up.

The mother’s pangs of anger or uneasiness will affect her general nature and disturb her digestive system. This condition is damaging to the mother’s body as also to the foetus.

It is possible that the child in such a mother’s womb gets afflicted with such disease, which might manifest itself at a later stage.

Dr Jalali writes:

“The pangs of excessive uneasiness suffered by the pregnant mother and the unpleasant happenings in her environment are definitely harmful to the development and the nature of the child. Such conditions create problems and give rise to the unwanted glands. Because of this the digestive system is unable to perform its normal function. Perhaps this is the reason that some children have several nervous ailments. These conditions may also be responsible for the miscarriage of the foetus. (Rowan shinashi kudak, p. 222)

A pregnant lady physically and mentally at ease will have her foetus in good health. Such peaceful environment is ideal for the perfect development of the child in its mother’s womb. To the contrary the foetus of a jealous, envious, excitable, timid and mentally ill mother will not be properly nurtured and can be affected with several ailments of mind and body.

In this regard:

“The psychological experts have proved that 26% of psychologically ill children have inherited the condition from their mothers. Therefore if a mother is hale and hearty then her child too shall be the possessor of good physical condition. If the mother cares that her child is healthy then she should take good care of her own physical and mental well being during the pregnancy. The effects of the environment on the development of the child are always pronounced."

An Advice to Pregnant Women

Pregnant women are advised to abstain from lifting heavy materials. They should also avoid very tiring tasks. If a carrying mother tires herself, she is likely to tire the baby too. In such cases there is the danger of miscarriage of the pregnancy.

Travelling during the last months of pregnancy too is not advised. If there is no urgent need of travelling, it is better the carrying mothers do not undertake a journey in that period. However doing light work and restricted movement is not harmful and, in fact, is beneficial for the health of both the mother and the child.

Dr Jalali writes:

“Excessive fatigue in pregnant women gives rise to poisonous substances in the blood. Since this blood is the source of nutrition for the foetus, it can adversely affect the growth of the child. (Rowan shinashi kudak, p. 222)

Clean Environment

The growing child in the mother’s womb requires oxygen although the foetus cannot breathe itself. But it utilises the oxygen acquired by the mother from the atmosphere. The mother not only consumes oxygen for her own sustenance but also provides it to the foetus. If the mother breathes in a clean and hygienic atmosphere she can ensure her own health and that of the child she is bearing.

If the mother’s environs are polluted and she is breathing poisonous air, then there will be danger of illness afflicting her and the child. The pregnant women are therefore advised to take particular care of the environment in which they live. They should move in pollution free environment and breathe deeply. The pregnant women should also avoid late nights, which might tire them excessively.

During pregnancy the women should avoid smoking and protect themselves from breathing in any polluted environment. While sleeping they should keep the windows of the bed-room open so that fresh breeze is available to them. It must be noted that deficiency of oxygen might be very harmful to the foetus.

We are repeating the following paragraph from Dr Jalali, which has also appeared earlier in this book, for your attention:

“Various defects in the body like cleft lips, flat soles of the feet, sunken and small eyes were previously thought to be of genetic reasons. But now it has been found that these defects in the new born children are because of the environmental conditions and particularly the deficiency of oxygen during the pregnancy of the women."


There is no objection in Islam to contraception or family planning with the mutual consent of the spouses. If the wife and the husband desire not to have any more issues, they can prevent conception with harmless pills, injections and other contraceptive methods. But obviating birth of already conceived is undesirable in Islam. Islam wants that the progeny of its followers flourish. When the male and female cells have fused to form an embryo, it is the rudiment of a living being and its abortion is forbidden in Islam.

Although the embryo is a minuscule object, it has full right to existence. It is an existence, which is fast developing towards becoming a full-fledged human being. This small creature wants its mother to provide congenial environment to grow in and take birth as full-fledged human. If one aborts such an existence, one has committed murder and the act will be liable to punishment of the parents on the Day of Judgment.

The Faith of Islam, which is the guardian of the rights of all, has banned completely the abortion and infanticide. Ishaq bin Ammar says, “I submitted to Imam Mua ibn Jafar that in case a woman is scared of getting pregnant do you permit her to take medicine which brings about abortion. The Imam replied, “NoI cannot give such a permission !".

The narrator again said, “What is the decree for the time when the pregnancy is in its initial embryonic stage?"

The Imam replied, “The development of man commences with the formation of the embryo. Allah says in the Quran, ‘On the Day of Judgment the parents will be asked: for what crime you have killed your innocent child?’ " (Quran, 81:8-9)

Abortion of foetus is a very amoral act, which Islam has forbidden. Also, such operations are highly risky for the life and health of the mother. Dr Pak Nagar, addressing a seminar on abortion has said"

“…. it has been proved that forcing abortions reduces the expected age of the woman. Scientific research also has proved that abortion upsets the psychological balance of the woman’s mind." (Maktab e Islam, Year 13, Issue 8)

From 1951 to 1953, according to the statistics of the New York City, 2601 women died during abortions. In the next ten years the fatality on this account has risen by 42%. In Chile 39% of female deaths were on account of abortions.

One excuse for having access to forced abortions is poverty. Some parents take shelter behind their poverty to kill their innocent children.

There is no doubt that lots of families are victims of poverty. It is no doubt very difficult to bring up a family in the midst of poverty. But Islam does not accept the excuse of aborting children because of the unfortunate condition of poverty and penury. Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“Do not kill your children with fear of poverty. We give you and them the sustenance. Killing children is definitely a big sin." (Quran, 17:31)

When the foetus has already formed, the parents should bear the hardship courageously that possibly the child might grow into a great person and bring laurels for the family and the society. Possibly the child may become the cause of the economic well being of the family and they get relief from their poverty.

Other excuses are also made for undergoing abortions like outdoor activities, official responsibilities and already having too many children. But these are not such valid excuses that the Islamic Jurisprudence and common sense permit abortions.

Not only abortion is unlawful in the eyes of Islam but also retribution has been fixed for this sinful act which differs according to the age of the foetus which has been aborted forcibly.

Imam Sadiq says:

“If the aborted child is in embryo form then the blood money is equal to 20 dinars of gold. If the pregnancy has reached the form of a lump of flesh, the blood money has to be forty dinars of gold. If the pregnancy has advanced to the form of muzga and flesh the blood money has to be sixty gold dinars and if the foetus has formed bones the levy is eighty gold dinars. If the foetus has reached total human form the levy is one hundred gold dinars. If the aborted child is so developed that it has spirit in it, then the deet or punishment will be one human life. (Wasail al-shia, v 19, p. 169)

The lady, Afsar al Maluk Amili has written a beautiful poem on this subject, translated as under

“The tiny aborted child appeared in my dream and said:

‘If you meet my mother, ask her, mother:

What fault you found in me that you shed my blood unnecessarily!
As a child I was biding my time peacefully, then why the order for my killing?!
You have sharpened your fangs and paws, and have sullied your lapel with my blood!
I was a newly arrived guest with you and had caused no harm to you.
Guests are there to be entertained, not to be killed heartlessly
You were worrying about the expenses for my upkeep that you extinguished my tiny existence!
Mother! I had brought my sustenance with me, but it is a pity you didn’t believe in it!
You preferred to keep yourself free to move around, instead of looking after me, and laid the foundation for tyranny!
For children the mother is their hope and with her they are contented!
I wished that I look at your face and pick flowers from your beauteous garden.
I wished to suckle milk from your bosom and thus relieve your sorrows.
I wished that I drank your milk and your voice reached my ears
I thought that when you saw my smiles you would sit near me on my bed.
I hoped that you would send me to school and give me the lesson of righteousness.
Returning home from school I would make you happy by reciting the nursery rhymes.
I wished that when I am a youth, then you would realise my value.
In your frail old age I would have been your prop and help.
Now I am in the Heaven like a pure spirit and my place is with the houris.
You should now express repentance that perhaps the Merciful Allah forgives you.
O Afsar My request to you is to is to convey my message to all the mothers’