Chapter 2: The Loss of a Child


1. The children who die before reaching the age of puberty are in Jannah, and they are a means for their parents to enter Jannah.
  • The Prophet ﷺ once told his companions that he had seen [in a dream] “a garden, in which were all the colours of spring, where there was a man who was so tall that I could hardly see his head in the sky. Around the man was the largest number of children I have ever seen…”

He then went on to say that the two angels accompanying him later explained, “This place is the Eternal Paradise. As for the tall man who was in the garden, that was Ibraaheem عليه السلام . As for the children who were around him, these are all the children who died in a state of fitrah. [Bukhaari 7047]

  • Abu Musa Al-Ash’ariرضي الله عنه said that the Prophet ﷺ said:

اذا مات ولد العبد، قال الله لملائكته، ‘قبضتم ولد عبدي’. فيقولون نعم. فيقول، ‘قبضتم ثمرة فؤاده’ فيقولون نعم. فيقول ‘ماذا قال عبدي.’ فيقولن حمدك واسترجع. فيقول الله، ‘ ابنوا لعبدي بيتا في الجنة و سموه بيت الحمد.’

When the child of a person dies, Allah سبحانه وتعالى says to his angels, “You have taken the soul of a child of my slave?” They say yes. He سبحانه وتعالى says, “You have taken the apple of his eyes?” They say yes. He سبحانه وتعالى says, “What did my slave say?” They say he praised you and said انا لله وإنا إليه راجعون . And Allah سبحانه وتعالى says, “Build for my slave a house in Jannah and call it a House of Praise.” [Tirmidhi]

The scholars unanimously agree that any child who dies after the soul was blown into him or her (120 days after conception) and before reaching puberty will be in Jannah.

As for those who die before the soul is blown into them, they are a means for their parents to enter Jannah by turning to Allah سبحانه وتعالى in this time of grief and being patient with the difficulty of the loss. May Allah reward all parents who go through this trial.

2. Fetal Development in Islam

One of the miracles of Allah سبحانه وتعالى in the Quran is the detailed explanation of fetal development, known scientifically as embryology. Until the 18th century, the prevailing idea was of preformation: that the semen contained a tiny human form that simply grew into a full-sized baby in the mother’s uterus. It wasn’t until 1827 that the human egg was discovered, much less until the 1950s when the use of ultrasound technology allowed scientists to see the human embryonic stages. But subhaanAllah, more than 1400 years ago, long before microscopes and ultrasounds, Allah سبحانه وتعالى  revealed the stages of human in utero development.

  • Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in Soorah Hajj, ayah 5:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّنَ الْبَعْثِ فَإِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ مِن مُّضْغَةٍ مُّخَلَّقَةٍ وَغَيْرِ مُخَلَّقَةٍ لِّنُبَيِّنَ لَكُمْ ۚ وَنُقِرُّ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ مَا نَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ثُمَّ نُخْرِجُكُمْ طِفْلًا

O People, if you should be in doubt about the Resurrection, then [consider that] indeed, We created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm, then from a clot of blood, and then from a lump of flesh, formed and unformed – that We may show you. And We settle in the wombs whom We will for a specified term, then We bring you out as a child.

  • The Prophet ﷺ further explained in this hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas’ood رضي الله عنه :

ان احدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن امه اربعين يوما نطفة ثم يكون علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل اليه الملك فينفخ فيه الروح

Verily, the creation of one of you is brought together in his mother’s womb for forty days in the form of a drop of semen, then he becomes a clot of blood for a like period, then he becomes a lump of flesh for a like period, then an angel is sent to him who blows into him the soul. [Bukhaari and Muslim]

3.  Miscarriages and Stillbirths: Some facts

The subject of miscarriages and stillbirths is one that is often not spoken of in our society; it makes it seem as though it happens rarely or is a negative reflection on the mother. But that is not true. Here are a few quick facts:

  • A miscarriage is defined as a loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks. A still birth is defined as a loss of pregnancy between 20 weeks and birth.
  • After pregnancy is confirmed, approximately 25% end in a miscarriage!
  • 1/200, or 0.5%, end in a stillbirth child.
  • The reason for most miscarriages is thought to be due to chromosomal abnormalities, genetic issues that nothing known could have prevented.
  • The reason for most stillbirths is unknown. It could have been a health complication with the baby, the placenta, the umbilical cord, or some unknown condition with the mother.
4. Islamic Ruling in Regards to Miscarriages and Stillbirths

The loss of a child during pregnancy has major implications on acts of ebaadah like salaah and fasting. There are two scenarios: a woman is either considered to be in a state of istihaada (irregular bleeding) or a state of nifaas (postnatal bleeding).

Determining if the Bleeding is considered nifaas or istihaada?

     It all depends on the fetus’ stage of development at the time of the miscarriage/ stillbirth. In the ayah that was mentioned before (Soorah Hajj, Ayah 5), Allah سبحانه وتعالى  says: “a lump of flesh, formed and unformed.” By formed, He سبحانه وتعالى  is referring to having human features or not; whether the fetus looks like a human meaning it has formed head, arms, and legs.

  • If the fetus is unformed (does not have human features), then the woman is in a state of istihaada (irregular bleeding).
  • If the fetus is formed (has human features), then the woman is in a state of nifaas (postnatal bleeding).
  • Scientifically, we know this point of the formation of head and limbs that resembles that of a human happens at around 81 days after conception.
  • NOTE: Conventional calculation of pregnancy starts from the first day of a woman’s last menstrual cycle, not from conception. So that adds roughly 2 weeks to the 81 days after conception, bringing it to 95 days of pregnancy. That corresponds to a woman being 3 months pregnant.

 Loss of Child before 3 Months of Pregnancy (Istihaada)

  • Istihaada is defined as irregular bleeding, from a blood vessel.
  • A woman in this state is still required to pray all of her obligatory salaahs.
    • But she must clean herself (wash, change pad, etc) and make wudoo before each salaah.

The Prophet ﷺ said to Fatimah bint Abi Hubaish رضي الله عنها  in regards to her irregular bleeding:

انما ذلك عرق… ثم صلي.  ثم توضئي لكل صلاة

That is from a blood vessel…offer your prayers. Perform ablution for every prayer. [Bukhaari 228]

  • She is also required to fast her obligatory fasts (Ramadhan fasts) if her health permits.

The Prophet ﷺ said to Hamnah bint Jahsh رضي الله عنها  in regards to her state of istihaada:

فصلي اربعا و عشرين او ثلاثا و عشرين ليلة و ايامها و صومي

And pray for 24 or 23 days, and fast. [Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi]

  • According to the most correct opinion of the scholars, sexual relations between a husband and wife are allowed, once there are no health risks.

Sh. ibn Uthaymeen said that the ayah in the Quran [Baqarah, ayah 222] says that sexual relations are haram with a  menstruating woman…and there is no basis for this to extend to a woman in istihaada who can pray and fast.

فَاعْتَزِلُوا النِّسَاءَ فِي الْمَحِيضِ

So keep away from the wives during menstruation.

Loss of Child after 3 Months of Pregnancy (Nifaas)

  • Nifaas is defined as bleeding related to childbirth. It usually happens during or after the baby is born. But it can happen before, once labour has started.
  • A woman in the state of nifaas is like a menstruating woman: there’s no praying, fasting, or sexual relations for her.
  • There is no limit: it can be 40 days, or more or less.
  • If 40 days pass, and there are signs that it’ll stop soon (eg. previous pregnancy, etc), then the woman considers it nifaas.
  • If there’s no sign of it stopping, then she should use the 40 day reference and consider the rest istihaada.
  • If it finishes before, she should make ghusl and resume praying and fasting. But if it resumes within the 40 days, then it is considered nifaas.

Touching and Reading the Quran

  • For women in a state of istihaada, the scholars unanimously agree that a woman can read the Quran and touch the mushaf at anytime.
  • For a woman in a state of nifaas, there are two points:

READING THE QURAN

The correct opinion is that a woman in the state of nifaas (like one who is menstruating) can recite the Quran.

  • Shaykh Bin Baaz said: “There is nothing wrong with a menstruating woman or a woman in post-natal bleeding to recite the Qur’an, because there is no clear-cut authentic hadith that forbids them from doing so.The hadith reported as regards the menstruating woman and the one experiencing post-natal bleeding reads: ‘The menstruating woman and the one who is junub are not to read Qur’an.’ This hadith is da`eef (weak).”
  • Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah said, “Women used to menstruate at the time of the Prophet ﷺ and if reading was haraam for them as prayer is, this would have been something that the Prophet ﷺ explained to his ummah and the Mothers of the Believers would have known that, and it would have been something that they told to the people. But since no one narrated any prohibition concerning that from the Prophet , it is not permissible to regard it as haraam.

TOUCHING THE MUSHAF

The scholars agree that she should not touch the mushaf.

Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen said, “It is essential for her to make a barrier between her and it, such as a handkerchief or gloves and the like, because it is not permissible for the menstruating woman or anyone who is not in a state of purity to touch the Mushaf.”

NOTE: A sister can use an electronic device such as her phone to read the Quran. The screen is considered to be a barrier, according the scholars.

Other Issues (janaazah, aqeeqah, etc)

  • A baby who made a sound after birth, even if for a second:
    The scholars unanimously agree that such a baby should have ghusl done, and  should be shrouded, prayed upon, and buried in the cemetery of the Muslims. The baby should be named and have an aqiqah done. This child is also considered in all issues of inheritance.
  • A baby who makes no sound upon birth:
    • and is 120 days past conception:
      This baby is like the one who is born alive and makes a sound. It requires ghusl, shrouding, janaazah, burial with the Muslims, and an aqeeqah and name. The only difference is it is not considered in issues of inheritance.
    • and is below 120 days after conception
      There is no ghusl or janaazah required for this baby. It should be buried, but anywhere is ok (the backyard, a field, etc). It does not need to be named or to have an aqeeqah. This is because this baby has no soul and is not yet considered a human being that will be resurrected, intercede for its parents, etc.

1. Why the different rulings if the baby is above/below 120 days after conception?
This is due to the baby having a soul or not, which happens at 120 days after conception as recounted in the Hadith previously mentioned (Bukhaari 3208).

(NOTE: Pregnancy calculations are conventionally done from the first day of your last menstrual cycle, adding about 14 days to the 120-day calculation. Therefore, that’s 134 days of a conventional pregnancy calculator.)

2. Why is it recommended to pray janaazah?

  • Imam Ahmad said, “Ibn Umar offered the funeral prayer for his daughter who was born dead.”
  • Ibn Qudaamah further explained, “The prayer offered for him [the baby] is a kind of Dua for him and his parents “

3. Why perform an aqeeqah and give the child a name?
Ibn Uthaymeen and other scholars said it is because the child will be resurrected and will intercede for his or her parents.

 5. Feelings of Grief for the Loss 
  • It is natural for the parents and loved ones to feel grief and sadness at the loss of the child. There is nothing wrong with this, nor with the shedding of tears. The only thing not allowed is to fall into practices like wailing, tearing one’s hair, saying things that are displeasing to Allah سبحانه وتعالى .

The Prophet ﷺ wept when his son Ibraheem died in infancy. He said to Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Auf رضي الله عنه , “ “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord. O Ibrahim! Indeed, we are grieved by your separation”.[Bukhaari]

  • It is not correct for anyone to say to the parents that this is a punishment. The giving of life is from Allah سبحانه وتعالى alone, He alone knows why a life is given or taken. He alone knows if it is a punishment or a trial for the parents and family.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “If Allah loves a people, He tries them and whoever has patience will have [the reward of] patience and whoever is anxious will have [the fault of] anxious.” [Ahmad 23122]