12/09/2017 13:32 BST | Updated 13/09/2017 05:37 BST

Don't Lump Muslims With Jacob Rees-Mogg On Abortion After Rape - We're Not That Extreme


Last week the Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg declared that he was completely against abortion, and yes, even if a woman had been raped. He further defended his views on Friday stating: 'The Catholic Church's teachings are authoritative. To take a life after rape is not the answer'.

Aside from the feminist response about choice, a further interesting development was the comparison of Mr Rees-Mogg with British-Muslim politicians. Imagine if the London mayor Sadiq Khan had spoken those words, people tweeted, the whole matter would have become one of extremism.

Experts were soon joining in.

I can absolutely appreciate the exposure of double standards when members of the establishment voice what an ordinary, hardworking Briton cannot. One rule for them and another for the rest of us. Fair enough. But there is a problem at the heart of this comparison which I would like to explain.

The 'What if a Muslim had said this' argument implies that Muslims secretly agree with Mr Rees-Mogg, but are just too frightened to voice their real views.

This is simply not true.

Muslims have not stood up to claim that they disagree with a raped woman's abortion simply because they do not believe that. The vast majority of the 1.6billion Muslims in the world do not believe that ALL abortion is forbidden.

Yes, you read that correctly.

All abortion is not forbidden because there is no direct prohibition in the Quran. In the Islamic faith, abortion is allowed for up to forty days in the matter of pregnancy after rape and up to 120 days if the mother's life is endangered by the pregnancy. A mother's life always comes first as it is already established, whereas the foetus is regarded as 'potential of life'. The reasoning behind this ruling is the belief that all human beings possess souls, and the foetus, which until then is a group of cells, receives its soul on the 120th day after conception. It would be a sin to abort the foetus after sixteen weeks as it is viewed as a human being.

I won't deny that there are Muslim individuals who do not agree with any abortion on moral grounds, but they are not the majority and should not be paraded as the voice for all. It is also worth pointing out that no Muslim majority country has banned abortion completely. These countries' restrictive abortion laws may not suit the ideals of the feminist on the issue of choice, but it goes further than the views of men like Mr Rees-Mogg by putting the welfare of a traumatised woman first.

Islam teaches that life is sacred, but the Quran emphasizes this for the children who are already born. Infanticide is clearly forbidden. In pre-Islam Arabia, it was common practise for baby girls to be buried alive and it only came to an end with the acceptance of Islam in the region.

The care of orphans is also pressed upon Muslims. Every Ramadan, Muslims must donate 2.5% of their wealth to the poor. In 2016, in the period between 5 June and 5 July, the Charity Commission recorded that £100 million was donated by British Muslims in the UK. The majority of the money is given for the food, shelter and care of underage orphans.

Jacob Rees-Mogg may believe that the Catholic Church's teaching is authoritative on the issue of abortion. The Islamic faith's teaching is not and it gives women a choice at termination when their bodies have been violated. So please don't lump us with Mr Rees-Mogg because we simply don't agree with him.

Sufiya Ahmed is the author of Secrets of the Henna Girl