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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Aug 12, 2010

Socio-Cultural Factors Contributing to High Fertility Rate

Three major socio-cultural factors influence and contribute to the high fertility rate in Egypt: traditional Islamic religious beliefs, early marriages and husbands' and wives' pragmatic reasons for large families, and the high illiteracy rate.

Islamic Religious Beliefs

Religious beliefs, as a contributing factor to population growth in general and as an obstacle to family planning and birth control in particular, should be viewed from two perspectives. First, there is the official religious interpretation, as is explained by some of the leading ulama at al-Azhar University, which is supported by the government's official stand on the matter. Second, there is a traditional religious interpretation, as it is viewed and explained by other ulama and regular religious leaders (sheikhs), and also supported by local orientation, attitudes, and popular beliefs.

Since the 1960s, in Egypt, former and present rectors of al-Azhar University, former and present ministers of Waqf and Grand Muftis, examined and discussed the question of family planning and birth control policy. Officials’ fatwas were released quoting various passages from the Koran such as:

"God intends every facility for you. He does not want to put you into difficulties." (Koran: Surah 2 - Verse 185)
"And he has imposed no difficulties upon you in religion." (Koran: Surah 22 - Verse 78).

References to such verses and others from both the Koran and the Hadith was made by the ulama to officially justify the implementation of family planning and birth control programs. On the other hand, some ulama oppose the idea of birth control practices on a communal basis. They claim that such a program is not the only solution to population problems, nor is it the only alternative to improve the standard of living. They refer to other alternatives such as industrialization, land reclamation, the elimination of greed and corruption, and a just distribution of wealth. They refer to some suras from the Koran in support of their views:

"There is no moving creature on the earth but its sustenance depends on Allah: He knoweth the time and place of its definite abode and its temporary deposit. All is in a clear record book." (Koran: Surah 11 - Verse 6).

"Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you." (Koran: Surah 17 - Verse 31)

This type of rationale predominates in the Arab world and creates opposition to family planning and birth control. It is, therefore, not surprising to hear people saying that children are gifts from God and that it is a sin to violate God's wishes by practicing family planning and birth control.

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