Praise be to Allaah.
Firstly, what the Muslims should do is to try to have as many
children as they can, because this is the command of the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who said: “Marry the one who is loving
and fertile, for I will be proud of your great numbers before the nations.”
(Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2050; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh
Abi Dawood, 1805).
Having more children increases the numbers of the ummah, and
increasing the numbers of the ummah is a source of its glory, as Allaah
says, reminding the Children of Israel of His blessings:
“and made you more numerous in man-power”
[al-Isra’ 15:6 – interpretation of the meaning]
And Shu’ayb said to his people:
“And remember when you were but few, and He multiplied
[al-A’raaf 7:86 – interpretation of the meaning]
No one can deny that having a large number is a source of
pride and strength for the ummah, contrary to what those pessimists think
who say that large numbers causes poverty and starvation in a nation.
If the ummah increases in number, puts its trust in Allaah
and believes His promises as mentioned in the aayah,
“And no moving (living) creature is there on earth but its
provision is due from Allaah”
[Hood 11:6 – interpretation of the meaning],
then Allaah will make things easy for them and will grant them independence
of means from His bounty. Based on that, the answer to your question is as
Birth control pills:
A woman should not use birth control pills, unless the
following conditions are met:
She should need to use them,
for example if she is ill and cannot cope with a pregnancy every year, or
she is physically unfit, or there is some other reason that getting pregnant
every year may harm her.
Her husband should give his
permission, because the husband has the right to have children. There must
also be consultation with the doctor, to find out whether these pills are
harmful or not.
If these two conditions are met, there is nothing wrong with
taking these pills, but that should not be on a permanent basis, because
that means preventing having children.
With regard to ‘azl (coitus interruptus), or withdrawing
during intercourse, the correct scholarly view is that there is nothing
wrong with it, because of the hadeeth of Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with
him): “We used to practise ‘azl at the time when the Qur’aan was being
revealed” – i.e., at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him). If that action had been haraam, the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would have forbidden it. But the
scholars say that one should not engage in ‘azl with a free woman except
with her permission, because she has the right to have children. Moreover,
withdrawing without her permission diminishes her pleasure, because the
woman’s pleasure can only be completed after ejaculation. So not asking her
permission causes her to lose out on pleasure and on the possibility of
having children. Hence we state the condition that this may only be done
with her permission.
From Fataawa al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen.
From Fataawa Islamiyyah, vol. 3, p. 190.
Thirdly: the reason why the Sahaabah engaged in ‘azl was
because they did not want the woman – especially a slave woman – to get
pregnant, so that they could continue to enjoy a physical relationship with
them and the woman would still be able to do their work. Abu Dawood narrated
that a man said, “O Messenger of Allaah, I have a slave woman and I engage
in ‘azl with her, because I do not want her to get pregnant, but I want what
men want. But the Jews say that ‘azl is a lesser form of infanticide.” He
said, “The Jews are lying. If Allaah wants to create (a child) you cannot
prevent that.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, Kitaab al-Nikaah, 1856;
classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 1903).