Islamic Precepts and Family Planning: The Perceptions of Jordanian Religious Leaders and Their Constituents
International family planning perspectives
Context: Muslim religious leaders are often viewed as real or potential obstacles to family planning. Research is needed to understand more fully their knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about family planning and how they differ from those held by the general public. Methods: Two nationally representative surveys, one of 1,000 married women aged 15-49 and the other of 1,000 men married to women aged 15-49, and a census of all Muslim religious leaders in Jordan collected information on knowledge,
... tion on knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding family planning, and sources of information about it. Results: Eighty percent of men, 86% of women, 82% of male religious leaders and 98% of female religious leaders believe that family planning is in keeping with the tenets of Islam. Among religious leaders, 36% reported that they had preached about family planning in the year preceding the survey. Seventy-five percent of women and 62% of men in the general public said that they had spoken about family planning with their spouse, and 9% and 17%, respectively, reported having spoken with a religious leader. On a scale of 0-10 measuring agreement with statements regarding the benefits of family planning (with 10 being complete agreement), women averaged 9.4 and men 8.8, while male religious leaders averaged 6.5 and female religious leaders 7.2. Among the general public, 74% of women and 58% of men said that deciding to practice contraception is a joint decision between husband and wife. About 90% of religious leaders agreed or agreed strongly with the statement that contraceptive decisions should be made jointly by husband and wife. Women were significantly more likely than men to believe that specific contraceptive methods are permitted under Islam, and male religious leaders were more likely than were men in the general population to find specific methods acceptable. Only 26% of men cited interpersonal communication as a source of family planning information, compared with 66% of women, 73% of male religious leaders and 89% of female religious leaders. Almost threequarters of men and women said they want to know more about family planning. Conclusion: Although Islamic religious leaders in Jordon cite different reasons than the general public to justify the use of contraceptives, they are as likely as others in the population to approve of family planning.