Islam is a system of living that supports the full realization of man’s potentials and needs. It recognizes the sexual needs of man and does not view sex as something profane. It also provides the necessary guidance for the proper achievement of sexual fulfillment without sacrificing the morality of man.
Islam also recognizes that our sexual needs are a natural and positive mechanism and it is a gift from Allah for us. Obsession with the subject of sex to arouse lustful passion, thereby unleashing the drive without due regard to responsibility, is profanity. In the context of marriage, knowledge on sexuality, how it is to be fully benefited, is very important for it is one of the means of acknowledging the favours of Allah:
“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between your hearts, affection and mercy.Verily, in that are indeed signs for people who reflect.”
2. THE SEXUAL POTENTIAL IN MAN
The sexual potential in human beings is natural. In Islam, we are taught that the age of puberty is determined by:
• Age: 15 lunar years for boys or 9 lunar years for girls; or
• Internal change: in boys, when they experience a wet dream; and in girls, when they begin to experience menstruation; or
• Physical change: when there is growth of coarse hair around the genitals.
Not only does Islam recognize the sexual needs of man as a natural development, it also stresses the nurturing of it rather than suppressing it. Thus, it highly recommends marriage and regards it as a righteous deed. Islam considers marriage as an aid and not as a hindrance to the spiritual development of man. Hence, Islam opposes celibacy (a vow to abstain from sex) and monasticism (the way of life of a monk).
If, for some reason, a Muslim is unable to marry soon after becoming sexually mature, Islam advocates abstinence from sexual activities through regular fasting and by being involved in beneficial physical activities. Premarital sex is considered as fornication (Zina) and is forbidden. So too are such unnatural acts of homosexuality, lesbianism and masturbation. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has advised early marriage for the youths that are capable:
“0 Assembly of youth, whoever amongst you is able to make a home let him get married for it will very much avert one’s eyes from lustful sights, and is most chasteful for the private parts; whoever is not able then he should fast, because it will repulse him therefrom.”
(Hadith narrated by Bukhari)
3. COMPARATIVE VIEWS ON SEX & PIETY
In other religious or moral systems, sex has been regarded as a hindrance towards spiritual development. Thus, celibacy is regarded as meritorious and piety is seen as totally opposed to sexuality. Sex is inherently considered bad and irreligious and should be discarded in a person’s quest towards religious piety.
On the other extreme, the sexual revolution, which started in the West, facilitated by the efficient media and has now spread to the other parts of the world, lacks the stress on responsibility (morality). Some even go to the extent of glorifying “sex”, perhaps a form of reaction towards the hypocrisy advocated by other religious or moral systems. This could be the main cause for the general degradation of morality in society.
Islam is contrary to both these extremes. It advocates balance and has never been faced with such dilemma. Sexuality has never been seen as contrary to piety. They are both necessary and complimentary. Indeed, Islam even teaches us that the proper fulfillment of our sexual needs is important to the development of piety.
4. AN OBJECTIVE OF MARRIAGE
One of the objectives of marriage is to ensure the proper and healthy sexual fulfillment of both husband and wife. Islam considers this as crucial for their religious development. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advises those who marry when he said:
“When the servant of Allah marries, he has fulfilled half the responsibilities laid on him by the faith (Islam), let him (therefore) observe Taqwa (the consciousness and fear of Allah) on matters concerning the remaining half”
5. IMMORAL SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR
Infidelity and casual sex are immoral sexual activities, as they do not carry the moral responsibilities necessary for a safe and healthy lifestyle. The social problems created by such immoral sexual behavior are detrimental to society.
When we discuss sexuality, we must consider several important aspects that form the very foundation of society. They are the institution of the family, the status of women, the medical and spiritual well being of the individual and the welfare of the general public which can be affected by the sexual practices of the society in which they live.
It is unrealistic to enforce a totally moral society in which everyone conforms to an exact behavior, publicly and privately. Such rigidity is not what Islam advocates. Islam recognizes individual freedom, especially when it involves people of other faiths. However, when the behavior of certain individual jeopardizes the interests of society, then the latter must be safeguarded.
Therefore, the education of citizens and the provision of healthy lifestyles become necessary, and safeguarding the society may include legal sanctions against those who indulge themselves in such immoral sexual activities. Marriage is therefore encouraged as it brings about a safe and healthy lifestyle.
A sort of “quarantine” has been suggested in Islam regarding those who lead permissive lifestyles i.e. to marry persons of similar tendencies. As for Believers, they are enjoined to look for partners who are known to be chaste. This moral law can perhaps contain or limit the dangers of promiscuity from affecting the Muslim community. Allah s.w.t. teaches us in the Qur'an that:
Women impure are for men impure, and men impure are for women impure, and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity: These are innocent of all what people say: For them there is forgiveness and a provision honourable.
(Quran: An Nur 24: 26)
Islam has regarded infidelity, casual sex and indecency as harmful and social evils. Such ways of life affect society in many ways, such as marital breakdowns, the problem of unwed mothers, illegitimate children, sexual crimes, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, etc. Those who advocate other contrary views, whether it is free sex or abstinence from sex surely cannot provide meaningful solutions to these problems. Marriage, on the other hand, has all along been the most natural solution to such social problems and Islam highly encourages it as an important institution to be preserved.
6. RESPECT FOR OUR BODIES
Everything that we have been favoured with, are gifts from Allah s.w.t. He is Al-Khaaliq (the Creator), Al-Baari-’u (the Fashioner/Evolver) and Al-Musawwir (the Bestower of forms and colour). As Believers, acknowledgement of who Allah is, requires the inculcation of respect for all that Allah has created. This must begin with our loved ones and us. We are also reminded that all our organs will be questioned in the hereafter. Thus we are not to abuse or misuse them:
“And those who guard their chastity (i.e. their private parts, from illegal sexual acts) except from their wives or that their right hands possess, for them, they are free from blame; But whosoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.
(Quran: Al-Mu’minun: 23:5-7)
Respect and responsibility must also be shown to others, especially to our spouses. We are to remember that in the hereafter, Allah s.w.t. will judge us for all our actions:
“On the Day when their tongues, their hands and their feet will bear witness against them as to what they used to do.”
(Quran: An Nur: 24:24)
We are to be grateful to Allah for giving us our spouses and we should remember that:
“Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will; but do some good act for your souls beforehand; And fear Allah, And know that ye are to meet Him (in the hereafter), and give (these) good tidings to those who believe.”
(Quran: Al Baqarah: 2:223)
7. SEX (IN MARRIAGE) - AS AN ACT OF OBEDIENCE TO ALLAH S.WT.
Islam, being a total way of life, encompasses every human activity. The guidance provided in Islam teaches us the norms of behavior. It tells us what we can or cannot do and these are termed as HUKM (rules). A Muslim is therefore always conscious of being obedient to Allah by conforming to these rules. Even sex, when conforming to His guidance, is regarded as an act of obedience to Allah s.w.t.
8. THE WEDDING NIGHT
It is encouraged that the husband performs a two raka’at sunnat prayer, after which, to give thanks to Allah s.w.t., supplicates to Him and ask for His blessings relating to the marriage, as in the following do’a:
“0 Allah! Bless me with her affection and her acceptance of me; and make me be pleased with her, and bring us together in the best form of union and in absolute harmony; surely You like what is lawful and dislike the unlawful things.”
The wife is to do the same, following the example of the husband. And when they are ready to go to bed, the husband should put his hands on his wife’s forehead and supplicate (do’a) to Allah s.w.t. while facing the direction of the Qiblah to ask Him:
“0 Allah! I have taken her as Your trust (Amanah) and have made her lawful for myself by Your words. Therefore, if you have decreed a child from her, then make him/her a blessed and pious Muslim and do not let Satan have any part in him/her.”
9. WHEN TO HAVE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE?
It is a private decision but consideration must be given to each other’s feelings.
10. WHEN IS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE FORBIDDEN (HARAM) ?
(a) During Menstruation and Post-Natal Bleeding
Considering the discomfort ladies experience during menstruation (haidh) and post-natal bleeding (nifas), Islam has forbidden sex on these occasions.
“They ask thee concerning women‘s courses; Say: They are a hurt and a pollution; So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean, but when they have purified themselves, ye may approach them as ordained for you by Allah; For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.
(Quran: Al Baqarah: 2: 222)
The duration of menstruation is more or less than 10 days. Bleeding if for less than 3 days is not menstruation. If it is more than 10 days (exceeding the normal), it is not considered as menstruation, but irregular bleeding (Istihadzah). Sexual intercourse is only forbidden during menstruation until she is cleansed.
Sexual intercourse is also forbidden immediately after childbirth, when the mother experiences post-natal bleeding (nifas), sexual activities can be resumed after the bleeding has ceased and she has cleansed herself.
(b) When Fasting
Permitted to you on the night of the fast, is the approach to your wives. They
are your garments and ye are their garments.
(Quran: Al-Baqarah: 2:18 7)
Although sexual intercourse is allowed in the night of the fast, it is forbidden during fasting. Committing it will not only nullify (spoil) your fast, but you are also required to pay expiation (kafarah) by either freeing a slave, or fasting daily for 2 months consecutively, or feeding 60 poor people.
(c) When in state of devotion (Ihram) during Pilgrimage
When performing “Umrah” or “Hajj”, while one is in the state of “Ihram”, sexual activities are forbidden until one has completed all the rites and had exited from that state. Even your participation in a marriage ceremony is forbidden.
So whosoever intends to perform Hajj therein by assuming Ihram, then he should not have sexual relations nor commit sin, nor dispute unjustly during the Hajj
(Quran: Al-Baqarah: 2: 197)
11. WHEN IS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE UNDESIRABLE (MAKRUH)?
Although, sexual intercourse is permissible other than during the above stated occasions, Islamic scholars nonetheless, deemed it undesirable (makruh) during frightful natural occurrences like during earthquake, hurricane, eclipse, etc. It is also undesirable during times where prayers and devotions are to be performed; like from dawn to sunrise, from sunset till Maghrib and during special religious occasions like the eve of 'Eid etc.; and also after one is in a state of “Junub” (state of major impurity i.e. before the obligatory bath “ghusl”) unless wudhu' (ablution) is re-taken.
12. WHEN IS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE RECOMMENDED (SUNNAT)?
It is recommended to have sexual intercourse on Friday and the night before (Thursday night). This is based on the subtle interpretation of a Hadith which the Prophet s.a.w. said: “Allah blesses those who bathed and is bathed (on Friday)”. And it is to be noted that Thursday & Friday are weekends in Islamic calendar.
13. WHEN IS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE OBLIGATORY (WAJIB)?
Marital maintenance (Nafaqah), which the husband has to provide for the wife, includes conjugal relationship. This obligation stays in force unless there is a valid excuse or the wife waives her right to it. It is the right of the wife to have sex with the husband twice a week. However, the frequency actually depends on the feelings, ability and desire of the couple. They should mutually understand each other’s needs. Nevertheless, it is obligatory upon the man to have sex with his wife at least once in every four months. It is obligatory for the wife to relent to his advances whenever he needs it. To refuse without just cause, thereby making him angry brings the curses of Allah and the angels upon her until dawn.
14. THE INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP
(a) Strict Confidentiality
It is forbidden for the couple to disclose to anyone, their intimate experiences, even after they are divorced. Islam demands strict confidentiality. It is disgusting to even listen to such conversations, and it reflects on the one who indulges in this as it shows a lack of respect not only of their spouses but also of themselves.
(b) Observation of Hygiene and Beginning with the Do‘a
It is the Sunnah of the Prophet s.a.w. to be in ‘wudhu’ prior to having sex with his wife. He would also clean his teeth and use sweet smelling perfume. The wife should also perfume and beautify herself for her husband. Her beauty is meant only for her husband’s admiration and not other’s. (Nowadays, some women have differed from this practice by trying to please others more than their husbands.) The Prophet s.a.w. would begin by reciting the BASMALAH and this DO’A:
“Bismillaah, Allaa-humma Jan-nib-na Minash Shai-twaan
(In the name of Allah! O Allah, please keep us away from satan and keep satan away from all that which You give to us.)
It is also the Sunnah of the Prophet that the couple to take ablution after this and before sleeping, or before another sexual intercourse.
(c) Decency and Privacy
Decency at home and privacy at certain times of the day and under certain circumstances is emphasized, especially if there are other people or children in the home. The Quran even stipulate guidelines on this matter:
“0 you who believe! Let your legal slaves and those among you who have not come to the age of puberty ask permission (before they come to your presence) on three occasions: before morning prayer, and while you put off your clothes for the noonday (rest), and after the ‘Isyak prayer. (These) three times are of privacy for you; other than these times there is no sin on you or on them to move about, attending to each other. Thus Allah makes clear the verses to you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-wise".
(Quran: An-Nur: 24:58)
"And when the children among you come to puberty, then let them ask for permission, as those senior to them. Thus Allah makes clear the verses for you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-wise."
(Quran: An-Nur: 24:59).
Even while in the privacy of the bedroom, it is the sunnah of the Prophet s.a.w. to engage in sexual intercourse free of clothing but under a blanket. As human beings, we should maintain decency even when there is no one else around.
Sex and the intimate relationship are favours of Allah for the couple. However, men often forget that women too have the sexual desire that they have. Although the husband may be sexually aroused, he should consider the feelings of his wife.
He is therefore encouraged to engage in foreplay and stimulate his wife by speaking words of love, playfully teasing and kissing her. Sexual stimulation can be of various means except that Islam forbids the use of foreign objects. The couple can explore the various means of enhancing foreplay and this would go a long way towards developing affection and understanding.Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] is reported to have said:
“Every game (leisurely-amusement) for men are worthless (batil) except in the practice of shooting (archery), horse-riding skill, and playful-jesting (foreplay) with the wife, all these are useful (truth).”
(Hadith reported by Tirmidzi)
Islam recognizes that the sexual desire in women is greater than that of the men. However, they were also created with a greater modesty than that of the men. Yet, Islam encourages the wife to shed her shyness and “unleash’ her modesty during the intimate relationship. She should otherwise cloak her chastity with modesty and shyness to others.
(e) Sexual intercourse
Islam does not forbid any particular position; be it the man above face-to-face, woman above face to face, side-by-side or even from the rear so long as it is into the vagina. The Shari’ah encourages the couple to explore whatever positions as they wish and whatever positions that suit them. However, due to safety reasons, “acrobatic positions” which may hurt and injure are discouraged.
Naturally, it is hoped that through sexual intercourse, Allah will bestow the couple with a child. Therefore, when ejaculating, the husband should let his penis remain in the wife’s vagina and not to immediately remove it. The wife should co-operate by closely embracing him to allow penetration to the fullest.
The husband should accomplish his responsibility to fulfill his wife’s sexual needs by assisting her in achieving orgasm. A selfish behaviour on the part of the husband would lead to frustration for the wife. The Prophet s. a.w. is reported to have said: “You are to satisfy them (your wives) because (sexual) satisfaction for them lies in their vagina.”
(f) Anal Intercourse forbidden
The Prophet s.a.w. said:
“Whosoever have sexual intercourse with his wife while she is in menstruation, or through her anus, or visits a fortune teller and believing in his predictions; then he has rejected the Truth of Allah’s revelation to Muhammad”
(Hadith reported by Four Mahaddithun except An-Nasa'i)
Thus, Islam forbids anal intercourse. Reports concerning sexual intercourse from the rear is not to be misunderstood as through the anus, as is clear from another Hadith of the Prophet s.a.w.:
“You may (have sexual intercourse) from the front or from the rear, as long as it is in her vagina”.
(Hadith reported by Bukhary & Muslim)
MAY ALLAH GUIDE OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS AND US.
US ALL AMONGST YOUR RIGHTEOUS AND CHOSEN SERVANTS.
WABIL-LAAH-HI TA UFIQ WAL HIDAA-YAH