Parenting Series | Part V: Why Parents Need to Provide Sexual Education to their Kids

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | | Part V(b) | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX

Getting over our Shyness

What is Haya: No doubt haya is a part of our religion and we must observe haya in our actions and in our speech, but we must also not make haya an excuse to avoid certain uncomfortable subjects that are vital for our children’s tarbiyyah and upbringing.

The term haya covers a variety of concepts; although derived from the word ‘hay’ (life) in Arabic, it also means shyness, self-respect, and modesty. It is further sub-divided as:

  1. Natural shyness
  2. The uneasy feeling or embarrassment when disobeying Allah.

Here is a nice read on the subject.

Place of shyness in Islam:  There is a place and time for feeling shy as a Muslim. For instance, a person must feel shy when stepping beyond the boundaries of Allah, or indulging in fahash (shameful/indecent) actions or conversations. However, on certain parts of our lives, shyness cannot become a barrier in educating those who are in need of our assistance, especially when the matter is related to a religious matter or one essential for their positive development.

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Shyness is, perhaps, the primary reason why most parents refrain from talking about body parts/development/sex and related issues with their children. Because shyness is a part of our faith, the ‘inappropriateness’ of such discussion is justified “Islamically.”

Some ethnic groups go too far in avoiding discussions in the name of shyness. Many mothers avoid educating their daughters about periods and delay it until their daughters begin menstruating. Menstruation is treated as if something totally abnormal has happened and is a cause of shame. Daughters are encouraged not to disclose to any male members of the family about the days of their menstruation. They are forced to wake up for fajr prayer so their father/brothers do not find out that they cannot pray. During Ramadan, the girls are forced to “pretend” fast, wake up for sahur and avoid eating in front of men folk in order to hide their time of menstruation in the name of “shyness”. Here is a nice piece of advice.

I have also seen mothers, who during menstruation when asked by their younger children if they had prayed, would reply, “I have already prayed”. Dare I say, they would rather lie to their children in order to observe their so-called ‘haya’! To tell the children correct reason for missing prayer is not forbidden but to give them a wrong reason is equivalent to a lie. Also, giving them a misleading or deceptive answer is equally wrong especially if the child has turned to us for correct information with their queries. Later in their lives, when they find out the correct answers, they will lose their trust in us for misleading them.

Let me ask the parents, IF Arabic was our first language, would we then make our children skip the verse dealing with periods, or intimacy in the name of ‘shyness’? Would we claim to have more haya then Allah azza wa jal, iyyadhobillah?!

It must be understood that when it comes to seeking Islamic knowledge, shyness cannot be a hindrance. However, shyness has to be present in the way it is taught. Aisha (radiAllahu anha) said:

How good were the women of the Ansar that they did not shy away from learning and understanding religious matters.” (Muslim, Kitab al-Hayd)

It is interesting how Imam Muslim added this hadith to the chapter of ‘hayd’ (menstruation).

Therefore, I repeat:

  • Islam teaches us to feel shy in disobeying Allah, in acts of indecency, not in the fields of education. Parents are the EDUCATORS of their children.
  • Teach children every issue necessary for their tarbiyyah, and especially their questions must be answered with utmost honesty but in a modest way.
  • Be aware parents, for what we say to our children can either build or break their trust and confidence, and it can either build or break our path of communication with them.

Why do Parents need to talk to Children about such Issues?

It is simply because WE are our children’s educators. Allah has entrusted us with our children, and has made us responsible for more than just feeding and clothing them. It is our job to educate them because it is part of providing them with the proper tarbiyyah. These children are our flock and on the Day of Judgment we will be questioned about our flock, not someone else on our behalf, not our relatives, and not friends or teachers.

So please dear parents, understand and realize that no one can be as sincere or wish as well for our children as us. We, as parents, recognize the level of maturity and level of understanding of each of our children, and we are the ones who can deliver any information to them in the most appropriate, pure, modest, vulgar-free, PG-rated and “halal” way.

It is hard, if not impossible, to entrust our children to any outsider in these sensitive subjects. There are many perverts and conscienceless individuals ready to morally corrupt our children sometimes within our circle of friends and unfortunately very likely from amongst family members. Please refer to my child molestation article to learn how most molesters are close family members.

Let me ask: how many times have we heard of people (who may be parents now) being educated about sex or issues related to it by cousins, uncles/aunts or school friends in a rather provocative way, only resulting in building and increasing natural curiosity, and hence inappropriate knowledge and actions?  At times, they are told in such a corrupt and damaging way that they suffer long-term consequences later in their lives like pornography or sex addiction.

According to the vast majority research, one of the underlying reasons of sex/pornography addiction is childhood molestation; remember molestation is not limited to physical abuse but also include any type of sexual information/exposure given to a young child in an obscene and lewd way. Addicts also complain about having disconnected and distant parents who perhaps didn’t pay attention to their role as the “educators” of their children.

When parents ignore their role as educators, others take over and play with innocent little minds in the way that suits their vulgarity. How can we expect our children to protect themselves when they are not even told what it is that they should be protecting themselves from!

Sexual Education in Schools

If children attend a public school and it is assumed that they don’t know about issues related to sex, then the parents really need to wake up! Let us not be deceived into thinking that as long as our children are merely in elementary school they are protected because they are too young to really know anything.

First off, we cannot always trust the school system. There are many “liberal” schools that may provide more information than most parents approve of at a certain age. There have been controversial incidents in the past when a school was in open controversy with some parents. An elementary school passed out a survey asking questions that parents may not necessarily have discussed with their children:

“The survey asked children aged seven to ten about the frequency of: “Touching my private parts too much,” “Thinking about having sex,” “Thinking about touching other people’s private parts,” Thinking about sex when I don’t want to,” “Not trusting people because they might want sex,” “Getting scared or upset when I think about sex,” “Having sex feelings in my body,” and “Can’t stop thinking about sex.”

Second of all, even if the school has conservative values or believes in “abstinence-only-sex-education”, we cannot trust the other children that attend the school and how much information they import from their families, movies, and friends. The majority of the teenagers that I speak with were taught about sex and related issues at school by a friend when they were very young.

We can well imagine how the conversation must take place when such a sensitive issue is taught by an immature child who has no value for the Islamic rulings or chastity to another immature child who has not heard anything from his or her parents on the subject.

When it comes to “official” Sex Ed, I am sure the classes they give at school will not give a portrayal in the same way we would choose to give especially in middle school and high school. Far from the Islamic perspective as possible, children are told that it is perfectly fine if they want to “experience” sexual enjoyment, which is after all a natural human instinct, as long as they are “protected”. Hence, many times they are gifted with a condom and a brochure on safe methods of having sex. Please take some time to visit SIECUS’s official website and find out what they teach our children. See for yourself what they promote. Also, ‘You Are Teaching My Child What’ is a good read by Dr. Grossman who examines what the powerful sex education industry teaches our children in school these days.

Dear parents, it is high time to realize that there is so much sexuality in the society we live in, and if we close the doors of this topic within our homes then our children will grow up unaware and confused, just like many from the older generation did, who were exposed to the subject inappropriately, were encouraged to engage in sexual activities, didn’t learn anything from their parents and grew up believing that Isamically this subject is taboo. They couldn’t ask questions because such questions were “outlawed”, couldn’t ask for help when they may have needed it. They ran into problems because they were silenced by their parents about the “unmentionable” topics that were essential not only for personal maturity but for marital relationships and community development.

We seriously need to reclaim our status as the educators of our children. This is not such a complicated matter to tackle, especially when we raise our children with a connection with Qur’an, it becomes easier to explain much of the information not to mention that their perception becomes far more pure as they mature in their understanding.

Children will Lose “Innocence”

A common misconception that many parents tend to fall for is that whenever this subject is discussed the children will lose much of their “childhood innocence” after that.

In my humble opinion, much of haya and shyness is built once this information is passed out properly. With knowledge comes the awareness of what Islam expects from them in terms of guarding their private areas and their body, how and why, what are the benefits of havinghaya and being chaste and what are the harms of indulging in indecencies.

At times, parents are puzzled whether on certain issues it is too early to discuss with children especially if the children have not yet asked any questions. Again, every parent should know his or her child well enough to be able to judge whether a child is ready or not. As for me, I would rather tell them early than taking the risk of waiting for the “right” time and losing them in the hands of some pervert or with “accidental” exposure to something inappropriate, and Allah knows best.

After acknowledging the necessity of opening up communication and addressing “uncomfortable” subjects, let us proceed to the next step of how to convey the information to our children. Insha’Allah, we will discuss this next week.

98 / View Comments

97 responses to “Parenting Series | Part V: Why Parents Need to Provide Sexual Education to their Kids”

  1. Mashaa Allah, this has been a very informative series thus far, especially for young parents like myself.

    I agree with you completely on this issue yet I honestly feel it is easier said than done. Most of the time, even for parents who want to teach this to their kids, when the moment arrives there is an awkward silence and uneasiness and then the parents find themselves at a loss for words.

    For many parents, teaching their children about sex means that the children finally understand why they not allowed in their parents’ bedroom at night and many parents are not comfortable with their children knowing this.

    In reality though, if parents do not teach this to their children, they should realize that children are not naive in this day and age. As a school teacher in Muslim schools, I found that most kids already know all about sex around the ages of 10-12 either through school friends or television and what they learn from these sources is generally not good for their tarbiya and understanding of this issue.

    I look forward to next weeks post on how to overcome these challenges and educate children on these issues.

    • Umm Reem says:

      JazakAllah khair br. Ismail,

      To be honest, it is not that difficult. Or perhaps I talk to my children a lot, about anything and everything and maybe that is why it wasn’t that bad when I had to give them the “talk”. Besides, a friend of mine always told me (when my first born was only an infant) that topics like these only become awkward when we make them sound awkward, just talk to them about it like any other subject and it becomes very easy to open up. I took her advice and it worked. MY first challenge was when my kids asked , ‘where do babies come from’. They were very small and were reading books about animals and that’s how this question popped up…

      Also, and I know some people might think i am over stressing this point, but honestly going over the Qur’an with its meanings helps A LOT. A lot of similar and relatively easier topics initiate when they are reading Qur’an and ice can be broken at that time and later discussions become easier then…

      May Allah make it easier for you to open up to your children. wAllahi when you do open up to them, you will feel a stronger bond with them inshaAllah.

      For many parents, teaching their children about sex means that the children finally understand why they not allowed in their parents’ bedroom at night and many parents are not comfortable with their children knowing this.

      hmm…not necessarily…because from a young age, they should know that it is a command of Allah that they cannot enter their parent’s room without the permission. And the verse is quite specific about the timings too, so naturally, i think, the children will keep thinking that they are not allowed to enter the room because of that reason…it will be a while before they put the two together…

      At the same time, parents, too, should be careful in keeping their door locked.
      Also, maybe it can be enforced from the beginning that if one of the parent is asleep then the child/ren cannot enter the room so as not to disturb the sleeping parent.

      Besides, as you yourself said, sooner and later they will find out. And so it is best that they find out from their parents. wAllahu ta’ala ‘alam.

      • Yes, I believe in a step by step approach based on age.

        Little kids should just know not to enter their parents bedroom at the specified times and that certain parts of the body are private and as they grow more details are taught.

        Unfortunately my father passed away when I was a child so I learned about these things the wrong way (schoolfriends), but All praise is due to Allah that I spent my teenages years studying Islam at a Darul uloom so that helped and protected me from many sins.

  2. abdallah says:

    salam alaykoum

    Jazakillahu khayra.

  3. BM says:

    Like many parents, my parents never talked to me about these issues. I learned about these issues from my peers in high school. Later when I grew up, Alhamdulillah, Allah made me conscious about Islam, and I learned about the proper Islamic rulings regarding these matters from the internet.

    Although I have acquired the required knowledge, I still feel that parents should talk about these issues to their children. Because not all children achieve the same level of consciousness about Islam and self-learn about hukooms of Islam about sexual matters. But like Mr. Ismail Kandahar said above, giving sex-education to children is something that is easier said than done. I am not a parent, but I have an younger brother of 14, whom I think I should give required sex-education (being his elder brother). But I have never yet managed the courage to speak to him about issues like wet dream, how to properly cleanse after wet dream, maney/maji, pornography addiction etc.

    Also if the parents are not open about these issues, it may create some other problems. For example: sometimes when I wake up for Fajr, I find my pajama wet, but yet I cannot take a bath. Because if I take a bath, my mom will surely inquire me about it, and then how can I say to her, “Mommy, I had a wet dream?” So, I pray fajr, and pray it again in the morning after ghusl.

    Therefore, I now most often have very conscious sleep before fajr and by the grace of Allah very rarely (almost not) have wet dream.

    • Jeremiah says:

      As salamu alaikum Brother. You can just say I needed a shower. It may be awkward for a bit, but maybe she will understand and not ask in the future. Plus you will not having the terrible feeling that comes with missing fajr/ or praying without meeting conditions of purity. May Allah make it easy for you, inshaAllah.

    • Umm Reem says:

      Akhi,

      You can tell your mother that you need to take a shower, if she insists on knowing, you can play around with words like, ‘because i am an adult and i need to take a shower’ or something like that…

      It is not forbidden upon you to even tell her the specific reason IF you have to, but it is definitely not allowed to pray in the state of impurity especially knowing that you are in the state of impurity.
      Please refer to this answer, I am sure it is almost the same scenario, and Allah knows best.

      http://islamqa.com/en/ref/33594/menstruation

    • I think all teens experience these awkward Fajr moments, its especially difficult with mothers who don’t talk about these topics, as fathers are more understanding to their son’s growth as they had been through it themselves.

      My advice is to wake up before your mum for Fajr so if you need a shower, you can shower before she wakes up and as a result you will avoid such questions. ;)

  4. Miyagi says:

    salam,

    the poll should also have tv / internet

  5. N says:

    GREAT article. I think this series was so needed. I’m really glad MM is discussing the concerns of us young parents, by a parent themselves!

    Anyway, something which br ismail kamdar struck me – when you do explain all this stuff to them according to their age, when the time comes, they will at some point make the connection as to why they aren’t allowed in their parents bedroom at certain times.

    That might create uncomfortable or new feelings within the child..maybe through their emotional world out of order for a while, how can one deal w/ that challenge?

    • Umm Reem says:

      Dear N,
      Thankyou for brining up this important question. The whole point of a parent education his/her child about sex is so that their emotional world doesn’t get out of order, inshaAllah.

      I will answer you question, though, it is a part of my next article inshaAllah.

      First of all, we as parents should take it easy and not think TOO much about what the children will think or make out of situations between their parents. The point is that sex is normal, it is part of life and Allah has made it this way and this is what we should teach our children.

      I found it easy, much easy, that my children had known the process of creation from the Qur’an. So when I explained to them, their question was ‘why is it that way’ and I told them that the only thing I can think of is that Allah has made it that way! And to be honest, it took the confusion away from them and it wasn’t a big deal anymore. Normally, when we make it sound ‘normal’ (and it is normal) then it is not a big deal for children but when we make it awkward or behave strangely about the subject then it increases curiosity among the children.

  6. Hebah Ahmed says:

    Barak Allahu Feekee…another very beneficial article! You are very good at getting to the root issues that young parents face and it is a relief to have a place to discuss these issues so one does not feel alone in determining parenting methods.

    I have naturally followed the “honesty approach” with age-appropriate answers. Specifically I explained in biological terms to my 5 year old why mommy sometimes does not always pray with the family. I know personally that I dreaded menstruation as a young girl and had such a negative view of it; that view unfortunately continues even to today for me. I want her to see it in a positive light Insha Allah.

    The problem I face is that now that she is 7 and should be praying all prays, she gets lazy when I am not praying and neglects the prayer. We usually pray together during the day at home since she is homeschooled and when I tell her to pray alone (cuz I cannot) she does it too fast or simply avoids it.

    Any advice?

    • Hena Zuberi says:

      Sister Hebah
      Salaams
      I had the same issue with my daughters and a Shaykha suggested making wudu with them, sitting on the Masallah with them and making zikr while they pray. This will inshaallah help us keep in connection with salah as well.

      • Hebah Ahmed says:

        Great advice (and really pretty obvious if I had thought about it!)! I will try it and think it will work Insha Allah…plus it will help me. :) Jazak Allahu Khair!

        • Saba says:

          Masha’allah Awesome advice. I was wondering the same thing for myself for the future of course as I do not have any daughters yet but its good to know even for my son and for my niece.

          Also what do you tell your children when they are old enough to realize that mommy is not praying ….of course as Umm reem pointed out rightfully that if you tell them you already prayed then its lieing so what do you tell kids like around the age of 3 and up but still younger than 7. I would think they would be too young to be educated on the menustral cycle at that age but maybe a bit on the cycle and leave the details out for later or is it wise just to give the whole detailed view then?
          Wallahu alim.

          I would be very interested in knowing this from both of you and from Umm Reem as well or maybe she will talk about his in her next part of the series.
          Mashallah good series. Jazakallahu khayir.

          • Hebah Ahmed says:

            Asalam Alikum Dear Sister Saba,

            All I can tell you is what I did. We always try to pray together in my house because it helps to establish the habit and structure of prayer as well as help the kids with timing. They take their time and learn not to speed through prayer, they memorize surat from the quran just from hearing the out loud prayers, and it creates a really good family bond (The family that prays together stays together :) )

            So it is very obvious when one family member is not praying, and children will naturally ask early on why mommy is not praying with daddy. I told my daughter that Allah created men and women different and that once a month Allah created women with some bleeding and she cannot pray with the blood. Of course this elicited extreme concern and an offer of a band aid. I explained that it is natural and a good thing because Allah created us this way and that when she is older she too will go through the same thing.

            One funny reaction was whenever she had a small cut she would claim she could not pray because of the blood. I then explained that it is not the same and that is was okay for her to pray.

            As she got older, I added more details, that this is part of the process that a woman can have a baby and instead of a baby being formed, the blood comes. She understands that only women have babies and not men, so only women stop praying and not men.

            Until now this information has been sufficient. Now I wait for the birds and the bees questions….

          • Saba says:

            Walykum Assalam!

            LoL ….the offer of a band aid…how cute!
            and the fact that she says she cannot pray cuze she got a cut. I love it! =)
            Wow you gotta be on your toes when you are a parent because all these questions must be answered.

            Mashallah good answers..It is very much appreciated!…I will definitely answer in a similar manner when the time comes inshallah.

          • Umm Reem says:

            sister saba,

            I had told my children that something happens to mothers when they cannot pray and that it is a leave from Allah. I also told them that when they are a bit older I will tell them myself inshaAllah, but i made them promise me that if they every become too curious about it or if anyone else ever tries to tell them then stop them from telling you and come to me immediately and i will tell you myself right away. I explained to them that they are too small to understand and that is why i am not telling them all the details.

            The children feel like they are being trusted by their parents, its like a “responsibility” being given to them and they feel like taking care of their parent’s “trust” esp. at that young age…
            so alhamdulliah my kids stick to their promise…

            Later, when my daughter turned 8, I explained to her all the details because she was reading Bulugh ul Maram and was at the chapter of ‘Menstruation’.

            I waited this long because my daughter was homeschooled, if she was going to school I would have told her earlier. I also included the Biological reasons behind it so it helps them understand better PLUS the Biological approach always helps with the more difficult explanations i.e. babies & sex.

            Later I took the same approach with my son. I especially explained to him about PMSing. The reason for that was because I had an interesting discussion with Sr. Henaa Gamal and she was telling me how it is essential that we teach our sons about the delicacy of female anatomy so they learn, from a young age, to take care of their womenfolk. And when they become husbands inshaAllah they will know how to be sensitive towards their wives and how to take care of them.

            The problem is that many times, men “acknowledge” PMSing AFTER they get married (because they never even know when their mothers or sisters are menstruating) and sometimes it takes them a while to “figure out” how to be patient and how to handle the situation with their wives when they are pmsing.

          • Saba says:

            Jazakallahu khayir Umm Reem your detailed response. =) It is good to know.
            Absolutely right about the Pmsing part.
            .

          • aideh says:

            Sister Umm Reem, in a large family with several older women/sisters, even the younger kids know about the details of menstruation,even at 6 years old. Would you say that’s a bad thing or good thing?

            In Arab families, when a girl is on her period its no big secret. In a family where the girl may send her dad to buy her pads from the drugstore, then its no surprise that the younger children of the household understand issues related to menstruation like pmsing and the Islamic ruling of no praying, fasting, etc. during that time.

            Is there really an age limit where kids should not know about these things, because by the time kids enter first grade it seems they ask many many questions and pick up a lot from family members and other students.

      • Umm Reem says:

        Sister Umm Reem, in a large family with several older women/sisters, even the younger kids know about the details of menstruation,even at 6 years old. Would you say that’s a bad thing or good thing?

        I don’t think there is any age limit as to when a child can/should be taught about these issues…it varies from child to child. I have noticed children with older siblings tend to know more and that is fine…I personally don’t see anything wrong with a 6 year old knowing about menstruation…In fact I have met some of the most modest sisters who learned about periods at the age of 6 from their mothers in a “proper” way!

        In Arab families, when a girl is on her period its no big secret. In a family where the girl may send her dad to buy her pads from the drugstore, then its no surprise that the younger children of the household understand issues related to menstruation like pmsing and the Islamic ruling of no praying, fasting, etc. during that time.

        Again, I don’t see anything wrong with this either. Menstruation is a part of being a female and it is completely normal and should be treated as “normal”. So if a daughter is in need of pads, I don’t see why she cannot ask her father or brother to bring her what she needs. I have seen many of my Arab friends asking their fathers, but I have yet to see a desi family do that :)

        • F says:

          To be honest, I would find it awkward if my daughter casually asked me to pick a brand of pads. If there is an immediate need, fine, no problem. But not like, “Hey dad, grab me a pack of xyz when you get a chance.”

          Think of it this way: wouldn’t it be weird if your daughter told you what undergarments to get her?

          • sebkha says:

            a lot of girls are financially dependent on their parents though, they don’t have the means to purchase those items on their own, nor any way of getting to the store themselves. in some families, the males in their house shop for them, so it would be a matter of necessity, practicality, and taken as a matter of course no different than a request to pick up ice cream or kleenex. i guess it’s only as awkward as you want to make it. it’d probably be more comfortable asking a family member to pick it up for you than having to walk into the store yourself and purchase those items from a stranger. (this is one of the times i appreciate stores that have self checkout, where you can scan your own items, and bag them yourself, and no one has to see what you’re buying) sure it would probably be easier to just ask your mom to pick those things up, but not every family operates that way. so you do what you gotta do.

  7. Sabeen says:

    JazakAllah Khair for the series!

    In order to approach this subject it is necessary that the parent and child have a very open and frank relationship. They regularly share their life experiences with each other and are in sync with each other. This relationship can be built from a young age and it only strengthens, inshallah, as they get older.

    Another reason parents have a hard time talking to their kids about it is because no one ever talked with them so they have no idea how to go about it. In many cultures respect for elders is equated with maintaining a certain distance from them. Those of us bringing up our kids in this culture and time simply cannot follow that pattern. We must be proactive in discussing all kinds of uncomfortable issues with our kids and all the time make dua to Allah for guidance, wisdom and courage.

    • Umm Reem says:

      In order to approach this subject it is necessary that the parent and child have a very open and frank relationship. They regularly share their life experiences with each other and are in sync with each other. This relationship can be built from a young age and it only strengthens, inshallah, as they get ol

      yes, that’s what i said in the previous part of this series that we have to communicate with our children on daily basis about everything.

  8. Hamza 21 says:

    I can’t really comment on article or advice contained within it since I stopped reading after this line:

    According to the vast majority research, one of the underlying reasons of sex/pornography addiction is childhood molestation; remember molestation is not limited to physical abuse but also include any type of sexual information/exposure given to a young child in an obscene and lewd way.

    A article written by a non-mental health professional Baptist preacher is “vast research”? DR. Jerry Schmoyer is NOT a medical doctor he has a doctorate in Theology. How can you use a baptist preacher’s (unsourced) words as proof of anything Umm Reem? I’m shocked a lawyer would be not diligent as to not check on a supposed “doctor’s” credentials especially when he has “Rev” before his name and the document is posted on a Christian ministries website.

    It may true “one of the underlying reasons of sex/pornography addiction is childhood molestation” but a Baptist preacher ‘s words don’t prove that. As well as I’m sure you could have found a more academically sound article that proved a correlation between porn addiction & childhood molestation. As it is including a link to Schmoyer’s article on Christian website implies you accept his stance (beliefs) within the article and endorse his Christian beliefs.

    Be all means please remove the link and find a more fitting article to link to.

    • Hebah Ahmed says:

      Asalam Alikum Hamza 21,

      I encourage you to finish reading Umm Reem’s article because it is very beneficial Insha Allah.

      As to your concerns, I encourage you to also read to the bottom of the link you take issue with. If you read all the way to the bottom of the article, you will see that the research in Rev. Jerry Schmoyer’s article is cited from “Out of the Shadows” by Dr. Patrick Carnes. You can view this aurthor’s credentials here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Carnes

      Your point is well taken though that we should all be careful and research the sources we cite.

      Jazak Allahu Khair,
      Hebah

      • sebkha says:

        Thank you for pointing this out Hebah, too often people simply want to rush to conclusions without fully investigating. As well, I think a lot can be learned from Christian points of view on the issue, even by Muslims. Recently, there’s been some forays by Muslim doctors, therapists, and scholars into this problem. But it’s still a work in progress. Inchallah, more Muslim resources will become available for Muslims grappling with these issues. In the meantime though, Christian perspectives on the issue can be helpful-many Christians share the same outlook on why it’s a moral and social problem. Secular researchers often do not share the same moral outlook though. In fact, there are a number of secular researchers and therapists who sugar coat pornography, or have the goal of lessening pornography use instead of eliminating it altogether under moral grounds.

    • Umm Reem says:

      salam alaikum hamza 21:

      Because, he had what i was looking for…passages from “Out of the Shadows” by Dr. Patrick Carnes…which is one of the BEST books on pornography/sexual addiction. If anyone wants to understand the cause, the process the situation of addicts, this is by far one of the best books on the subject recommended by many psychologists.

      And I totally agree with what Sebkha said. I am not promoting his religious theology. We all know it is wrong. I am only quoting the beneficial advice he has about the common problem since our Islamic sites/khatiras are still a bit behind in catching up to that :)

      If you want to read other sites, here it is:
      http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/what-is-sexual-addiction/
      http://www.4therapy.com/consumer/conditions/article/7705/193/Understanding+Sexual+Addiction

  9. NY says:

    As salamu Alykum sister,

    i appreciate this.

    Thank you.

  10. UrbanDeen says:

    As salamu alykum,
    I actually have a question:

    what are the limits of teaching the youth about molestation/sexual abuse? Do we teach them to have a strong attitude in case such incident happens? Do we give them advice to be aware of this issue and if this were to happen to stop it and complain? Do children shy away in confronting molestation because they were not taught properly?

    Im willing to here any comments. Jazakuallahu kyrun.

    • Ibraheem's Mom says:

      Sister Umm Reem actually did an excellent series on this topic. You can find it (and links to all the different parts) here: http://muslimmatters.org/2009/03/09/4125/

    • Umm Reem says:

      wa alaikum assalam,

      As Ibraheem’s Mom pointed out, I answered all these questions in the series I did on molestation.

      But real quick, YES children need to know about molestation, what happens and what they need to do in case any such thing happens. We must tell them that if anyone ever tires to teach them about issues they are not comfortable with or if they ever try to touch them around their private areas, then they need to immediately run away from there and go to the parents. We must teach them that we trust them and IF, iyyadhobillah, it ever happens to them that we KNOW it will not be their fault.

      Children do get a bit uncomfortable when we talk to them about these issues, but it is our job to make them feel comfortable. THey would look away or start looking down or ask that why are we telling them these things, and we should very confidently make an eye contact with them, with a loving “parental” smile on our face, try to hold their hands and explain that because we love them and care about them that is why we are telling them so that they can take care of themselves. We should also tell them of some of the incidents that have happened with other kids.

  11. Umm Safiyyah says:

    assalamu alaikum,

    Mashallah awesome series you have going on Umm Reem. May Allah reward you for your efforts. Ameen.

    Coincidentally, I happened to pass over this article on BBC regarding sex education in Pakistan.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12117519.

  12. Amy says:

    Assalaamu alaykum

    I would be great to see this series published in a book to keep for reference or review, or to share with others. It’s an important and carefully executed discussion which should remain relevant for a long time to come.

    • Umm Reem says:

      wa alaikum asslaam,

      Thanks Amy. I might think about it :)

      • abu Rumay-s.a. says:

        i’d second that, masha`Allah well done.

        Just further food for thought, I believe it can be co-authored with a specialist in the field and also reviewed/edited by one of our teachers such as Y.K., that will add credibility and perhaps reach a broader spectrum of readers, even non-muslims.

        Also, for the book to serve as a type of “handbook”, for each topic introduced, i believe there needs to be several practical examples and methods, studies, statistics, critical analysis (advantages/disadvantages. etc), some of which you have already alluded to.

        But as you well know, human beings are different by their nature so every family is different in their approaches and one way is not necessarily the right way for all families. And this is evident by the different approaches that the companions used to teach their children about different issues…(i.e. Umar vs Abu Bark (raa) for example)

        On the other hand, it would also be useful “as is” to serve as a good introduction to parenting on these issues…

        also, these issues are not easy for every parent to discuss with their children, therefore, I think it would also be the responsibility of our trusted scholars and teachers to educate the youth with a structured curriculum and parent participation would be essentially mandatory…

        may Allah ta`ala bless your efforts..ameen…wallahu a`lam…

        • Umm Reem says:

          jazakAlalh khair brother

          I do have a lot more examples, statistics etc. but I tried to minimize and get straight to point as much as i could because of the length of the article!

          also, these issues are not easy for every parent to discuss with their children, therefore, I think it would also be the responsibility of our trusted scholars and teachers to educate the youth with a structured curriculum and parent participation would be essentially mandatory…

          As for this point, Allahu ‘alam, I am not too sure because the whole point of this series is to make parents open up to their children so there is no communication gap between them.

          I gave the Parenting Workshop somewhere, and some of the mothers, even after the workshop, still insisted that I give their daughters “the talk” while the mothers are attending too.
          I did and the daughters ended up opening up to me and not the mothers and it defeated the whole purpose!

          • abu Rumay-s.a. says:

            perhaps this is just natural, I don’t know if every child or parent can open up to each other very easily, therefore, the workshops that you conduct are very important and it could serve as a first step in opening the door of communication between parent and child insha`Allah..

  13. Sister Winnie says:

    As salam alaikum,

    I would like to share an superb intiiative I came across awhile back. It is for educating young sisters in this sensitive issue. May Allah, swt, bless the sister who started it.

    A Muslimah Guide to Puberty -How to talk to your daughter about adolescence
    March 18, 2010 by Ummezaynub

    http://lordsfavors.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/a-muslimah-guide-to-puberty-how-to-talk-to-your-daughter-about-adolescence/#comment-123

  14. I honestly think that one of the main problems with this issue of parenting is that many parents treat sex as something shameful and disgusting and unspeakable. If they take an approach of it being natural and part of life for all creatures, it becomes easier to talk to your children about it.

    One Shaykh I know exposed his son to this knowledge by discussing animals and how they reproduce, so it was introduced as something natural for all creatures.

    • Umm Reem says:

      I honestly think that one of the main problems with this issue of parenting is that many parents treat sex as something shameful and disgusting and unspeakable. If they take an approach of it being natural and part of life for all creatures, it becomes easier to talk to your children about it.

      i agree…and perhaps that’s why the parents should not worry too much what the children will think about not being able to enter their parent’s room because it should be taken as something normal and a part of life.

      One Shaykh I know exposed his son to this knowledge by discussing animals and how they reproduce, so it was introduced as something natural for all creatures.

      wow mashaAllah. Actually i ended up using the same approach. My kids were reading books about animals and they read about how the baby animals are born and they, naturally, asked me about how human babies are born!

  15. Olivia says:

    I have already discussed both menstruation and molestation with my five year old, but in a way that didn’t encourage sexual curiosity or worry her. For menses, I’d rather be honest about it. I told her that the mom’s body has to clean itself out once a month if Allah doesn’t put a baby inside, and the stuff that comes out is najis just like poo or pee, so you can’t pray with that on your body because you need to be clean for prayer. She also knows that this doesn’t happen until your a young woman, Allah only puts babies in grown women.

    I especially think it’s important to at least broach the subject of molestation at an age as young as 3 or 4, because honestly that’s when a pervert will do it because they think a child that young won’t understand what is happening. Telling your child that “no one should touch your privates except mom or dad (or nani/grandma) when they wash you on the potty” and “you can always tell mom or dad if anyone touches you in a weird way or a way you don’t like, even if it’s someone in the family.” when i bring this stuff up i say it in a very casual way, so they don’t become fearful or anxious. it’s given like it’s just common knowledge, no big deal.

    what is everyone’s approach about educating them about kissing (seeing as its in nearly every cartoon/children’s movie) and can be seen in public a lot?

    • Umm Reem says:

      when i bring this stuff up i say it in a very casual way, so they don’t become fearful or anxious. it’s given like it’s just common knowledge, no big deal.

      exactly! it is only when we, parents, make something sound awkward then it becomes awkward and unusual…the more casual and normal we sound the more children take it as a ‘part of life’.

      I remember explaining to my children about how babies are born in a very casual way, they were playing with me and rolling around on the carpet, and when i finished they had this ‘oh ok’ sort of casual reply. They asked questions but it was not a big deal for them.

      what is everyone’s approach about educating them about kissing (seeing as its in nearly every cartoon/children’s movie) and can be seen in public a lot?

      I had told my children that cheek kiss is allowed between family members (the ones who don’t have to wear hijab in front of each other, that’s how they understood mahram at that age!) but lip kisses are only for husband and wives.

      The people who do it on tv/outside are doing something ‘fahash’ (this term was commonly used between us because they had picked it up from Qur’an and they knew that anything ‘fahash’ makes Allah angry). And that we should not look at it because our eyes will tell on us if we make them see something wrong. So, alhamudllialh, they started closing their eyes if they see it outside/tv etc. and they do it up until now, alhamdullialh. And now my older two teach these things to my younger one. I am noticing that you have to invest more time and effort on the elder ones and they help you with the younger ones, alhamdullialh!! :)

      But at the same time, I believe that children should be able to see physical affection between the parents. I think it makes them feel happy and content. So, I don’t think there is anything wrong with husband and wife giving casual lip kisses in front of the children like when the husband is leaving for work or comes back home from work, or is going to the masjid etc. or hugging etc.

  16. Sidiq says:

    Explaining menstruation to five year-olds? Just what is going on?

    • Olivia says:

      yes, why not? you can explain anything to a child at any age, and you may have to, you just need to make the answer to their queries age-appropriate. children that age will many times ask where babies come from and i, for one, won’t lie to my children and tell them that “the mom gets the baby at the hospital” or “the round thing in mom’s stomach is [insert name of round object].” my daugther also asked me why i wasn’t praying, and i know a closed-door answer wasn’t appropriate for her b/c i those sort of open-shut ways of speaking don’t happen between us. my 3 year old son? most definitely it would have been open-shut.

      perhaps its a cultural difference, but i value being frank with my children to a level that allows them an understanding of the subject that correlates with their age. for instance, did i tell my daugther what menses is? that it is blood? no, because at her age blood is associated with injury and pain which would have scared her. did i tell her that a woman gets her menses because a man failed to impregnate her? no, i didn’t even correlate my answer with men or sex at all. by the way, what Umm Reem said was right. if we don’t teach our kids someone else will. i remember hearing at that age that someone was “on the rag”–imagine that phrase coupled with a vivid imagination. i told my younger sister what a period was when she was younger than five by telling her simply “when you get to be my age blood comes out of there” and gestured to the area. she went crying hysterically to my stepmother, who needless to say was livid. as Umm Reem said, you can put restrictions on these subjects, but don’t be suprised if someone else spills the beans and the result is rather traumatic.

      i think people need to think out of the box, and explain bodily functions in a way that grows with their child, so its not abrupt or scary or frightening or embarassing. also, i think someone mentioned a shaykh talking to his son about animals. one of my favorite fictional characters said “she was not an innocent, she had been present at foaling. after all, if you did not know how a thing was done yourself, how could you be sure your servants did it properly?” that quote reflects both her knowledge but also her innocence at the same time, which i how i think children were raised during the time of Rasoolullah and i think is healthy.

      • Umm Reem says:

        did i tell my daugther what menses is? that it is blood? no, because at her age blood is associated with injury and pain which would have scared her.

        yes i think children at that age will get scared with the term “blood”

      • Sidiq says:

        @ Olivia, I agree with what you said, I thought you explained the nuts and bolts of menstruation to your children, and I just thought “Well, that must have frightened the living daylights out of them!”.

    • Hena Zuberi says:

      @sidiq what is going on is that kids are exposed to more than we ever were. Instead to lying or avoiding the issue as Umm Reem explained, answer the kids question. When they hear it as a by the way fact of life instead of making a big hoopla about it they treat it as natural, without hang ups and baggage that last them their whole lives. Her child asked at five, my 8 year old hasn’t asked yet, her sister asked when she was 7. Its different for each child, each house, each situation.

      They are not saying announce it to the whole family every month but explaining it quasi-scientifically ends the ‘what is wrong with my mother/sister’ she tells others to pray/fast but isn’t doing it herself.

      @ Olivia Me too, I talked about molestation the minute they were out of diapers. Both the boys and the girls. They know that they can come to my husband or me at anytime.

      Olivia, my answer to that usually is that is a special touching between people who love each other, We don’t kiss boys or girls (friends) on the lips unless we are married. As far as other people, its some private between them that they are doing in public so we just have to lower our eyes or look away.

      @Umm Reem, virtual high five on this series and this subject. The poll confirms your position, yeah!

  17. Umm Reem says:

    The poll confirms your position, yeah!

    well…actually…thank YOU for the poll…it was entirely your idea ;)

  18. Umm Reem says:

    I saw the poll…and it is so sad…really…look at the percentage..ONLY 6% got their education from the parents….and most of them got it from the school, or friends or even TV…a’oodhoillah..i can only imagine what would have gone through their minds and how would have they perceived sex?!!
    no wonder we are having so many problems now….

    • .i can only imagine what would have gone through their minds and how would have they perceived sex?!!

      The first time I learned about the fact of life from my friends, I simply could not believe it. Since I grew up in a relatively conservative family, I said to them, “Look I don’t believe what you say. It seems sin to me. I simply can’t imagine how our Messenger (PBUH) or companions of him could engage in such a disgusting act.” HAHA…..

      • Bushra says:

        LOL! That’s hilarious.

        I also found out from friends at school and wondered why on earth women would want to engage in something so disgusting and would only do it to have a baby. And then I thought ‘Hey, maybe they have test tube babies.’

    • Another thing:

      As far as I can remember, I never asked my parents about where do babies come from. I somehow knew that babies come from mom’s tummy. But never knew how babies come there in mum’s tummy. I had one aunty (khala) who was not married. One day I asked my mom, “OK mum, if my aunt has babies suddenly, who will be there father?” “She will not have babies until she is married”, replied my mom. I did not ask further question, but failed to resolve the mystery that day :D

    • Sidiq says:

      No, the poll isn’t sad at all. I think the problem is people turning something that isn’t an issue to something that is. I don’t know whether you had secular education in your lifetime, but it’s important for people to know about the reproductive organs and the human anatomy in the science classrooms, How you think this is vile and yet parents want their kids to grow up and be doctors and what not is beyond belief. I agree that’s it’s unacceptable for people to learn from TV and other inappropriate ways, but in many ways, it is in fact beneficial to people to learn in a scientific setting, and it could even be the best way. I know for a fact that it would certainly help parents from having a lot of explaining to do. To pull a child out of a science classroom when they have reached an appropriate age, really is just ignorance under the umbrella of modesty.

      • Bushra says:

        I think her point is that sex education goes WAAAY beyond science and learning about human anatomy. I don’t think parents object to Biology lessons that explain the reproductive process in a somewhat sterile, factual way. Parents object to their children being taught about safe sex, oral sex, free contraception, masturbation, etc. The list is endless. That’s the kinda sex education that exists in secular schools today and that’s what the objection is towards. All the abovementioned is the tip of the iceberg. There are all sorts of things – videos, pictures, sculpted moulds, etc. Minus the act itself, sex education at school leaves very little to the imagination.

        Let’s not forget that these lessons are also taught in a freely-mixed setting AND at a tender age. I remember that sex education at my school began when I was 8 or 9 years old – too young to really understand what it was all about. Nevertheless, my parents pulled me out of the classes when they received a precautionary letter in advance, hence I didn’t really care about it. This was 15 years ago. Imagine what the case is now – some schools don’t even inform parents anymore. They believe it is THEIR right to teach children in THEIR way.

        I would even object to a teacher explaining menstruation to my child, because it’s not just about what’s happening to your body, but about the Islamic implications of it. Children need to know these things from their parents. If they receive bits and bobs of information from different people with conflicting beliefs who have none of their best interests at heart, they’ll get confused. Same applies to sex education.

        Finally, I think it IS sad that this knowledge is dispensed by schools and mostly, friends and relatives. These are all ill-informed people who may have little or no knowledge, nor any experience of it to explain it in a mature manner. This leads to curiosity, which, if not kept in check and monitored, can lead to further problems.

      • Jazak’Allah khair for the article, this is an issue I feel very strong about as one who was born and raised in the West. Think of me as experimental evidence.

        I agree entirely with Bushra, there are so many moral implications and questions that remain unanswered by simple mechanical explanations – and teachers can’t cross into that territory for fear of imposing beliefs in a public school setting.

        What ends up happening is a huge void caused by information without wisdom, which is prime for vultures (friends, social norms) to pick at. Would you rather let parents do the parenting or leave it to the rest of the world?

        Apparently there were teachers in my high school who showed pornography for sex ed, by the way.

      • Umm Reem says:

        No, the poll isn’t sad at all. I think the problem is people turning something that isn’t an issue to something that is. I don’t know whether you had secular education in your lifetime, but it’s important for people to know about the reproductive organs and the human anatomy in the science classrooms, .

        It is funny to assume that a sex-ed class is going to help us understand reproductive organs or human anatomy! A biology lesson will explain that…

        How you think this is vile and yet parents want their kids to grow up and be doctors and what not is beyond belief

        And what would be the connection between the sex-ed class and children growing up
        to be doctors? Seriously, this is probably the exact problem how people/parents perceive a sex-ed class to be a “science” lesson!

        I would highly recommend the parents to visit the official website of SIECUS (Sexual Information & Education COunsil of US), they have posted their lesson plans there that they cover for different age groups. Read Grossman’s book, she is an M.D and read what she has to say as a “professional” about the sex-ed in schools.

        Children are told that it is natural desire to be intimate with another person, and if they wish to experience something then they have the right to do so even if their parents have other values. They are offered a condomn with brochures of how to have ‘safe sex’, they are encouraged to masturbate and told that it is perfectly normal to do so. And now there is even a part on being a homosexual, SIECUS site has a whole lesson plan about that…

        • Sidiq says:

          It’s funny to me that you assume I was referring to sex-ed classes. It’s called setting up a strawman, I specifically said a scientific environment, the poll does not specify what “school” means. And anyhow, the sex-ed classes are nowhere near as bad as you mention. I think this is a case of generalizations and projecting your own traumatic experiences to other parents out there. Your advice is clearly wayward and irrelevant outside your environment…

          • Bushra says:

            And anyhow, the sex-ed classes are nowhere near as bad as you mention.

            No, they’re not as bad as UmmReem mentions. They’re worse. Sidiq, what kinda world are you living in?? Have you ever had sex-ed at school? And how long has it been since you left school?

            If you think Umm Reem is out of touch because she is married and her eldest is a teenage child, then I reckon I can back up her claims, because it’s been 6 years since I left school. My nieces attend the same school and sex-ed hasn’t changed since my time. It is just as bad since I was there if not worse. And no, 6 years out of school is not out of touch.

            I think this is a case of generalizations and projecting your own traumatic experiences to other parents out there.

            No, there are no generalisations being made here. There is a minimum curriculum for sex-ed. I suggest you research it, before you make sweeping generalisations yourself.

            Your advice is clearly wayward and irrelevant outside your environment…

            What environment do you think she’s in? So you think that warning parents about inappropriate sex-ed in school is irrelevant to this article? It’s wayward??
            Let me ask you something – if your child came upto you and told you that they were taught at school about oral sex, anal sex, how to put on a condom, masturbation and having sex whenever one wants, wouldn’t you be at least a TINY bit concerned?

          • Sidiq says:

            @ Bushra, don’t waste your time. It’s been 4 years since I left, I know exactly what I’m talking about. The article has integrity and clarity but it is wayward and opportunistic in its approach. I love your strawmen by the way, they look good.

          • Umm Reem says:

            If you think Umm Reem is out of touch because she is married and her eldest is a teenage child

            Actually, the “concerned” parents who have children/teenagers in schools are far more up to date and involved in knowing what is being taught in schools, sometimes even more than the students themselves!

            You can request the sex-ed curriculum from the school before the class is given, in fact you can go to the SIEUS’s website and download the information, talk to the teacher/principle and find out exactly what school policies are and what they are planning to teach. Will they allow “Planned Parenthood” to pass around brochures/contraceptives at school etc .

  19. Bushra says:

    Jazakallahukhair, Umm Reem for this. I love this article and have forwarded to onto the relevant people I know that have children of a ‘curious’ age.

    I must admit that coming from a family with several older sisters, I was totally unaware of menstruation. Either they hid it really well or I didn’t really care to pay attention.

    As for finding out where babies came from, I always thought a woman had to hurt herself somehow, go to the hospital and then she would magically appear with a baby…in my mind, it seemed like a ‘ta da!’ moment.

    On a more serious level, I do believe parents should speak to their children about it. I never had the talk, neither from my parents nor my siblings and that’s a result of coming from a conservative family. I believe the effects could have been deeply damaging had it not been for Islam being a big part of my life from the moment I was born, so alhamdulillah, I cannot complain about that part of my upbringing. May Allah(swt) reward my parents immensely for having Islam as a big part of our lives…ameen.

    I have said this before and I’ll say it again…I really don’t think desi/Asians are fully aware of child molestation. They don’t think it exists in ‘good and well-educated’ families. In fact, these are the places where it’s most likely to occur. Parents skim over the early years of their child, leaving their kids with friends and Islamically untrustworthy members of the family only to find out after 10 years that their child was molested or abused in those few hours. By then, it’s too late and damage has been deeply done.

    With regards to talking about where babies come from, just tell the truth. There’s no need for too much detail. I don’t have kids yet, but I’m sure my explanation would go something like ‘Allah puts it there’ and then explain the rest a little bit later. One friend I know was told about the ‘birds and the bees’ at the age of 8-9 by her mother using a plug and a socket, and electricity going down a wire to turn on a light. It’s a nice analogy, and explains it adequately without needing all the gory details. Children are satisfied with a matter of fact and straightforward answer. Menstruation is a little more complex, but Olivia’s answer is best…a woman’s body needs to clean itself out.

    One thing I hate is parents telling their children not to talk about it or mention it again. They SHOULD be able to talk about it with their parents, with questions, queries, comments and all, but gentle instruction should be given not to speak to anyone else about it as it is a matter of haya and that part needs to be stressed upon the most.

    My question is though…when your child is about to get married, would you talk to them about what to expect or just leave them to find out for themselves? Also, how should single parents deal with explaining puberty to a child of the opposite sex, e.g. father to daughter and mother to son?

    • Umm Reem says:

      My question is though…when your child is about to get married, would you talk to them about what to expect or just leave them to find out for themselves?

      I think the parents should have a talk…actually they must because there is a lot to explain even after educating them from their childhood…

      Also, how should single parents deal with explaining puberty to a child of the opposite sex, e.g. father to daughter and mother to son?

      bushra, I personally don’t see anything wrong with a mother explaining to her son or vice versa…

      my own son is very close to me, alhamudllialh, i explained to him about periods, his father told him about puberty and i ended up explaining to him the process of procreation!

      • Bushra says:

        That’s my point. At the end of it, your husband explained the male puberty process to your son. Many single parents don’t know how to deal with it due to several cultural and biological boundaries. My question is – how should a mother explain what’s happening to her son during puberty when she, herself, has never experienced it?

  20. iMuslim says:

    I think I am the only one here who doesn’t remember when they learnt about the birds and the bees, and who broke the news. I definitely knew about the process by the time we had ‘the class’ in secondary school… but no idea how that happened. I definitely know my parents didn’t tell me! :D

  21. umtalhah says:

    consider scenario A: a teen wants matching bangles with her dress for eid the next day. she goes to a bangle shop on chand raat with her cousin whom she lovingly calls bhaee and conveniently places her hand in the waiting hands of the shopkeeper (another bhaee for her) who slips some sparkling bangles on her delicate hand, enjoying it to the fullest; many times even passing a remark or two.

    now consider scenario B: a teen realizes she is out of sanitary pads. her mom won’t be back until late evening so she easily tells her dad not only what she needs but also the brand and the type she wants (admit it: not all brands and types are the same). the forgetful dad he is, he knows he will forget but offers to take her with him. she happily agrees and father and daughter chit chat casually as she picks out what she wants, walks up to the counter with him, where he pays for it and both come back home.

    sadly and unfortunately more desi parents, both moms and dads, would cringe and feel extremely embarrassed at scenario B.

    at my house alhamdulillah:

    – scenario B is not a taboo and has actually happened once or twice.
    – the early riser he is mashaAllah, my 11 year old son comfortably asks me if he should wake his sis up for fajr.
    – younger siblings are not told lies and are simply told that mama or elder sis is on her leave and cannot pray whenever the family is all there and has to pray together.

    we are frank but alhamdulillah never vulgur. the same attitude i have found in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of my beloved Prophet regarding these issues.

    oh, and i forgot to mention: i am a desi mom from pakistan and hubby dearest is a desi from india :)

    other than this i just want to say jazakAllahu khairan to all responsible for bringing this wonderful article to us.

    keep up the good work mm :)

    • Amad says:

      To be honest, I never quite understood the need for being so “open and frank”. It’s part of Arab culture to be frank, and that’s fine, I respect them for that. But I don’t find the need to import this arab style into my “desi” family. While there’s nothing wrong with the frankness, there’s nothing obligatory about it either. Why do we have to stretch frankness out so far as to make others uncomfortable? Okay, we shouldn’t need to lie about the “real” reason for not praying, or pretend-pray or do all sorts of weird things to keep periods secret. But at the same time, why should I, as a father, or my son, as a brother, have to have an indepth chat about my daughter’s or his sister’s periods? Why do either of us need to know the style or preference of her sanitary needs, unless there is a real need for it.

      In a similar vein, I don’t want to see my daughter in tank-tops. Yeah, it’s halal in front of me, but haya has minimums and no maximums, and I find nothing wrong with being dressed “properly” (not talking about hijab and niqab) in front of fathers, brothers and uncles. Everything in balance…

      I think when we try to import other cultures in the name of religion, whether they add (requiring pardas in front of maharim) or subtract (subtracting descent clothing in front of maharim), we are not helping the situation.

      Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox, but I did want to make this point… pls dont force-feed unnecessary behaviors to your fathers, brothers or sons, esp. the ones they don’t need Islamically.

      • Bushra says:

        Br. Amad, I think a balance needs to be applied here. I totally see what you’re saying.

        Firstly, I understand what umtalhah is saying. There needs to be a degree of frankness with male family members. However, haya has a limit, and where some things don’t need to be told, they don’t need to be told.

        I know that if my future daughter needed supplies and my husband or son was the only person who could get her stuff from the shops for whatever reason (e.g. I’m ill or in the middle of something), then there shouldn’t be any shame in her asking them to get it for her or my husband/son knowing. Having said that, I wouldn’t be too happy if certain items of clothing, e.g. delicates, were on display and my daughter had no shame in displaying them around the house to other male mahrams whilst drying or even hanging them outside on the washing line. On the flip side, I’m sure I wouldn’t want to know if my future son was having wet dreams, how often, etc, etc. If, the first time it happens, he told me about it, I would reassure him that all is fine, tell him to take a ghusl and why it’s needed and go and chat to my husband about what’s happening to him, the implications of it, etc, etc. Naturally, I wouldn’t know what he’s going through, because I’ve never been through it myself, so of course I would refer him to his father. Same applies to my daughter getting her period. My husband would probably help her as much as possible, and then refer her to me afterwards.

        Basically, there is a big difference between explaining things on an Islamic level, and crossing a certain boundary so that things become uncomfortable. So whilst it’s good to be open and frank about things, we shouldn’t be so open as to make people feel awkward.

        I guess I’m agreeing with you here.

        • Umm Reem says:

          I know that if my future daughter needed supplies and my husband or son was the only person who could get her stuff from the shops for whatever reason (e.g. I’m ill or in the middle of something), then there shouldn’t be any shame in her asking them to get it for her or my husband/son knowing. Having said that, I wouldn’t be too happy if certain items of clothing, e.g. delicates, were on display and my daughter had no shame in displaying them around the house to other male mahrams whilst drying or even hanging them outside on the washing line.

          I totally agree with you.

          BUT, at the same time, keep in mind that if children are going out to public schools then there is some degree of haya that they are going to loose because these topics are discussed very casually, most of the jokes are about them etc. so the parents should be prepared and realize that the children who are growing up in the West have a different culture.

          • Bushra says:

            so the parents should be prepared and realize that the children who are growing up in the West have a different culture.

            I know this is going to sound like a typical ‘parent’ comment (and I don’t even have kids yet!!), but I don’t expect my children to be wholly different from me. Yes, their upbringing will be different to mine, as I won’t be as conservative as my own parents were. But I am a born and bred Brit from an IndoPak culture who attended a state mixed school, whereas I plan to send my kids to single-sex schools. Yes, they will be exposed to stuff there too, but just because I expect it, doesn’t mean I have to accept it as part of their upbringing. They will, of course, have a different culture, but when it comes to their laundry, it is their responsibility to ensure that their underwear is not exposed neither within the home or on the washing line outside (most definitely not!!), whether it is a son or a daughter. Hayaa must be taught and maintained at all times, and the best examples of this are the parents.

        • Umm Reem says:

          I know this is going to sound like a typical ‘parent’ comment (and I don’t even have kids yet!!)

          lol…Bushra, inshaAllah I will discuss this topic with you after you have children, inshaAllah, and are about to enter their teenage years. Trust me, I had a different view of parenting too until I entered the “real” practical life of parenting! :)

      • Umm Reem says:

        Oh boy, this is going to be a difficult one to answer, as i’ve already been warned that my comment will go in moderation if not liked ;)

        Okay, we shouldn’t need to lie about the “real” reason for not praying, or pretend-pray or do all sorts of weird things to keep periods secret. But at the same time, why should I, as a father, or my son, as a brother, have to have an indepth chat about my daughter’s or his sister’s periods?

        Agreed. No point of going into unnecessary details. As I said in the article, haya must be present in the way these subjects are taught and discussed.

        In a similar vein, I don’t want to see my daughter in tank-tops. Yeah, it’s halal in front of me, but haya has minimums and no maximums, and I find nothing wrong with being dressed “properly” (not talking about hijab and niqab) in front of fathers, brothers and uncles. Everything in balance…

        Well, this is more than “frankness”. There is another reason behind that, sort of a “wisdom” if you like.

        I believe, IF the daughters are observing proper hijab in front of their non-mahrams, but want to wear shorts (knee length) or want to wear tank-tops, then out of the wisdom, the parents should give them the freedom to do so ESPECIALLY when there are no religious restrictions over this.

        We have to understand that the time our children are growing up in is very different than ours, they have far more restrictions than most of us did when we were growing up. It its not easy to wear hijab, it is not easy to be “different’, it is not easy to get teased for wearing hija, it is not easy to look different on weddings/ceremonies while most of the other girls of their age are all dressed but they have to wear hijab etc. So if the daughters want to dress up differently inside the house I believe they should be given the leeway to do so and should not have to go through unnecessary restriction because of their parents being from a different culture.

        We as parents need to realize that our children are not desis neither indo/paki culture is their culture. They are Americans and they can apply “halal” American culture in their lives.

        Plus, there are other benefits. A lot of times, during marriage counseling, one of the major complaints that husbands have against their wives is that the wives don’t dress provocative inside the house to please their husbands. Some of the wives never even wear nigthties because they are simply too shy to do so. The wives explain that they were raised in a very “conservative” household and were never allowed to wear anything exposing inside the house and so they just can’t bring themselves to wear those clothes even if it means a lot to their husbands and becoming a problem in their marriage. (btw, Sr. Henaa Gamal told me of the exact same problem when she helps couples with marital issues and said this problem especially exist in girls form indo/paki origin!). So I think some exposure of different clothings is perhaps healthy for their upbringing, as long as they keep their modesty where it should be present.

        In any case, this is an issue where my husband and I don’t see eye to eye, but we have compromised, alhamdullialh, and it works best. My daughter is allowed to wear whatever she wants (as long as her awrah is covered) inside the house, but as soon as her father comes home than she has to wear what he feels comfortable with! :)

        To be honest, I never quite understood the need for being so “open and frank”. It’s part of Arab culture to be frank,

        Not necessarily, many Arab sisters (esp. from Egypt, Jordan and Syria side) have told me that they had to go through similar problems as the desi girls/women do, in terms of keeping “secrets” from their fathers/brothers.

        I think it is more of an American culture than Arab or maybe it varies from family to family. One of my very close friends, who is American from her father’s side told me that it was her father who encouraged her to be open and frank about issues like that and not her Arab mother.

        I better prepare something really good for dinner tonight! :)

        • Amad says:

          I skimmed through your comment, and all I can say is that I am right, and you are wrong. Looking forward to that swell dinner.

          • F says:

            It’s very common for practicing desis to take everything of Arab culture as something that needs to be emulated because it must be better. While no one supports the very strict and cultural taboos that exist in the desi families, the other extremes practiced by some Arabs is not the solution either.

  22. Sakina says:

    MashaAllah very nice article indeed. Many information I would want to apply in my household InshaAllah..

    As you said:
    Plus, there are other benefits. A lot of times, during marriage counseling, one of the major complaints that husbands have against their wives is that the wives don’t dress provocative inside the house to please their husbands.

    I think u just answered why a girl shouldnot dress inappropriately(in tank tops or shorts) even in front of the mahrams other than husbands… :)

    why do girls wear revealing dresses?? To attract Men!! Those kind of clothes make a girl look sexy and I think it should be reserved ONLY for HUSBANDS.

    I like reading your articles Umm Reem. I really liked your series on molestation. There you also said that huge percentage of molestators are very close family member..then how can you justfiy a girl dressing not so decently in front of her brothers, uncles.. In todays world I think except the father no one can be trusted. Not that something as bad as molestation but what if they look at the girl and thinks like what a nice body or something… Can a mother really tolerate this???

    I heard even Ibn Baaz and other scholars advicing women about wearing decently and in loose outfit EVEN in front of other women..

    I may be conservative but this seems safer side and seems in the rhythm of our shariah…

    • Bushra says:

      It’s quite funny you say that, because I discussed this with my husband just yesterday and he said exactly the same thing. Whilst male mahrams will have haya in not looking at their female mahrams in a lewd way, it is still upto us, as women, not to transgress certain boundaries.

      There should be a level of decency present in front of our male mahrams. Whilst I may wear Western clothing in front of my father or father-inlaw, I always ensure that I keep a shawl with me to drape around me or a big cardigan to cover me. It’s just about having a sense of modesty. Living in the West, I doubt many women with a healthy, yet somewhat conservative, upbringing will have difficulty in losing certain inhibitions after marriage.

      In fact, it doesn’t make sense to me, because many women who migrated from the subcontinent from EXTREMELY conservative families to the ‘freedom’ of the West after marriage were also coerced by their husbands into wearing trouser suits, etc, if at least for a short while, even though these very women used to wear niqab back in their hometown! Of course, some of them didn’t go back to wearing the niqab (hijab, at least), but they also adjusted to wearing Western clothes for their husbands’ sake and because they became quite used to it. I guess the argument of dressing in almost any type of clothing in front of male mahrams for the sake of not having too many inhibitions after marriage doesn’t hold for me. Our mums had more haya and more inhibitions than we ever did, they had a more conservative upbringing than anyone we know within a 10 mile radius, and they adjusted to wearing less-concealing clothes at home.

      • F says:

        Bushra,

        I agree with you. After having lived with Arabs for long periods of time, their culture when it comes to modesty is much different that those from the subcontinent.

        Even in the most conservative countries such as Saudia Arabia, my wife tells me that in the women only parties, pretty much anything goes in terms of dressing. Many of clothes are taken straight from the fashion runways of Paris and Milan. While I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing, the Arab culture in many ways promotes letting go of inhibitions in certain settings. In the West, my wife has had to admonish several practicing Arab sisters for wearing dresses that don’t even cover the awrah in women only parties. This is never the case in desi gatherings.

        But in the subcontinent, a woman might not wear hijab but will still be very hesitant to wear a backless dress in women only settings.

        The answer is stay in the middle where women feel comfortable dressing as they wish yet not be to a point where shyness between them and their mahrams is gone.

        • Bushra says:

          I wouldn’t paint all Arabs with the same brush. Many of them are very aware of what is correct and what isn’t and implement that, whilst desis don’t exactly wear the right kinda clothes either, e.g. low-backed, tummy-baring saris. ‘Nuff said.

          • F says:

            True though I always assume no one is going to think every Arab woman is like that but rather it is a characteristic generally found in Arabs.

            Also note I said it is not necessarily a bad thing because it depends on how and to what extent it is used.

        • chemaatah says:

          I think as well that it’s pretty out of line for your wife to be sharing with you what women are wearing at women only gatherings. And it’s one thing to say something to another woman at that gathering re. their clothing, but quite another to be talking about them behind their backs after the fact. No offense, but why would she feel the need to share that with you, one way or another? In that context it’s not corrective or helpful, just gossipy.

    • Umm Reem says:

      I think u just answered why a girl shouldnot dress inappropriately(in tank tops or shorts) even in front of the mahrams other than husbands…

      Let me first say that the reason we wear hijab or cover ourselves properly is not for any other reason but to follow Allah’s boundaries. If hijab wasn’t fard, we wouldn’t care whether it attracts men or not, we just simply won’t wear it. So the very reason we even cover ourselves, and cover our awrah is because these are the limits of Allah. :)

      Having said that, we are allowed to show our “zeenah” (beauty) in front of our mahrams and there is nothing wrong with it. As long as we are not uncovering our “awrah” we cannot say one practice is right over the other. According to the majority of fuqaha, the awrah of a woman, in front of her maharim, is from her navel to her knees, while the importance of haya is emphasized.

      And for that reason, if certain Arab women dress low cut clothes in front of their brothers/father, we cannot say that they are doing something haram/unIslamic because they are following an opinion which is a valid opinion.

      why do girls wear revealing dresses?? To attract Men!! Those kind of clothes make a girl look sexy and I think it should be reserved ONLY for HUSBANDS.

      If we were to judge the “awrah” based on what attracts men, then in that case face and hair is the primary source of a woman’s beauty, especially with make-up and hair done, however, there is no ikhtilaaf over this issue that it is completely and totally halal for a woman to beautify herself in front of her maharim. The point is not what they should or should not, it is about what is allowed!

      To be quite honest, a girl can be covered yet appear “sexy” in the way she behaves, in the way she talks/walks/smiles etc. And a girl can be wearing a tank top yet be modest in the way she carries herself around. Haya is not limited to clothing.

      And as I said earlier, we must take under consideration the dress code of our society around us. PLUS, we must be WISE in dealing with our children. If the daughters want to wear tank tops at home, let them be. Let them feel free. It is not about what is “preferred”, rather what is allowed.

      Many times these girls just want to feel the freedom of dressing up at home, they want to try out those clothes that they see every girl wearing outside. If telling them, “I am very proud of you that you are wearing hijab, and so although “culturally” it is not really appreciated but I will allow you to wear XYZ at home” can make them feel appreciated then why not? Remember, the NOs they have to deal with in schools, in the society, the least we can do is try to minimize it for them at home especially when it is totally “cultural”.

      The reason I specifically bring about this issue is because I have dealt with a few teenagers where they were dying to wear knee-length shorts at home but their mother were dead against it. These girls were proper hijaabis outside mashaAllah, wonderful girls, but for them this was a huge issue. They asked me if it was “Islamcially” wrong. I told them that it was not haraam to wear shorts at home but it was haraam to disobey their mothers. In any case, to make the long story short the girls dressed the way they wanted at home, though behind their mother’s backs!

      There you also said that huge percentage of molestators are very close family member..then how can you justfiy a girl dressing not so decently in front of her brothers, uncles.. In todays world I think except the father no one can be trusted.

      A fair percentage of molesters are, sadly, fathers themselves. Again, we cannot judge the criteria of “awrah” based on molestation. However, I do agree with you that we have to be cautious.

      And that is why, my personal advise to the parents, if their daughters want to wear certain clothing at home, is to let them be. BUT talk to them, explain to them the cultural background they come from, the dangers of molestation, haya in terms of clothings etc.

      Only allow it at home (brothers/fathers). If the father is not comfortable with that then explain to them and only allow it in front of yourself or when their friends come to visit.

      And be patient. And be wise. Teach them what you want to teach them with wisdom and patience, not by force.

      Here is what I have learned:
      The young girls are tested with fashion, clothes, make up… whether we understand it or not. They just want to try these things out and if they are allowed at home, within the boundries of Islam, then the “charm” goes away and it doesn’t become an obsession for them (inshaAllah). Moreover, and most importantly, they feel a certain connection with their mothers, a sort of a trust…they realize that their mothers UNDERSTAND their issues.

      Trust me, there are plenty of NOs we have to offer to our children and there is no compromise: hijab, music, boys, mixed parties, sleepovers, etc. etc. Let’s be wise in minimizing what we can for them at home.
      I don’t want to go into this discussion right now because I have discussed this in detail in the last part of this series.

      • Bushra says:

        I must admit that there’s some method in what you’re saying. I do partly agree that there should be little restrictions in what girls are allowed to wear at home. After all, there are so many No’s in society for teen girls today, so we don’t need to add cultural practices to things that are halal. After all, we shouldn’t make the halal haraam and the haraam halal.

  23. Sakina says:

    One more thing,, if arab doing something DOESN”T mean its ok in islamic point of view..They hv so many things which should change

  24. UmmZayn says:

    Thank you for starting this very important discussion and helping all parents and future parents! If only someone had spoken to our parents about this as well!

    I remember being perhaps 8 or 9 years old and reading a hadith book in which I came across a hadith of Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu who came to Rasul Allah [sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam] after he kissed his wife while he was fasting. I was SO shocked to read this and came to ask my older sister about it. She was like, its ok, she’s his WIFE. And I was like, but they are MUSLIM!!! I had no clue at all that Muslim married men and women were allowed to kiss each other!! The only people I had ever seen kissing each other were non-Muslims, I had never seen Muslims kiss and seriously thought that they were not allowed to!!!!!

    • Mantiki says:

      UmmZayn

      Your feeling of shock at witnessing kissing between husband and wife just proves the effect of socialisation on us. Likewise, in my youth in Australia, to utter the word “pregnant” or “sex” was something once done in hushed terms with a fair amount of blushing but now these terms are freely used.

      The sense of modesty in word or dress is culturally based rather than God-given. Pacific Islanders, South Americans, Australian Aborigines and Africans etc went naked or semi-naked while maintaining strong codes of sexual conduct and how to behave within the family and tribe.

      I’m reminded of the Genesis myth in the Bible when Adam and Eve hid from God after they had eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When He discovered their new embarrassment about their nakedness, He chastised them by demanding, “Who told you that you were naked?”

    • Bushra says:

      It’s ok, UmmZayn. I remember reading as a child about the people at the time of Lut being defined as ‘very bad and wicked people committing wicked acts’. There was no elaboration on this. It wasn’t until I was 13 when I sat down to read Ibn Kathir’s ‘Stories of the Prophets’ that I truly learnt what they did. I was absolutely flabbergasted!

  25. funkashia says:

    Asalamoalaikum umm reem,

    I sent you an email at privatequestions@muslimmatters.org, which is not related to the current blog. As this blog is active so i am msging here. Please reply my email…..thanks!!

  26. Abu Sufian says:

    take my salam and cordial love at first. i hope you are well by the grace of almighty ALLAH .thanks for this post

  27. Sakina says:

    Thanks for detailed reply.

    I really am looking into how much a girl should cover in front of mahram. I m rather confused as some says that its ok to wear sleeveless,shorts etc in front of mahram and some says its not. If you could please findout from any nice Shaykh of what really is right.

    Having said that, we are allowed to show our “zeenah” (beauty) in front of our mahrams and there is nothing wrong with it. As long as we are not uncovering our “awrah” we cannot say one practice is right over the other. According to the majority of fuqaha, the awrah of a woman, in front of her maharim, is from her navel to her knees, while the importance of haya is emphasized.

    Yes I know the awrah of a woman but what I understand is that its conditional eg, if someone is breastfeeding her baby so its ok if some is revealed in front of ladies or mahrams. But can we take this awrah in our daily life and dress up like that?? According to this being topless in front of mahram will b all fine. As u said “while the importance of haya is emphasized” but there should be some cross line as how should a girl normally dress up while with mahrams…

    Please dont take me wrong.. I really need answer for this. We usually have this discussions among friends.

  28. ayesha says:

    salamu alykm.. im actually pretty shocked by what im reading.. I always knew teens nowadays have far more knowledge about sex than I ever did at my age… but to think 7-10 year olds!!! Im 21 now and I came to know about sex at the very late age of 17!! It was before my bio class on reproduction that my mom explained it all to me..til then i was in a blissfully innocent world and was just satisfied with knowing men and women are different.. I started my period very young at the age of 8 and was gifted with a ‘special band-aid’ and it was my ‘responsibility’ to make sure i protected my private parts after that from everything.. contrary to what ppl might think, I did not grow up in those traditional hush-hush families…I just never asked and was never curious..was too busy with various projects and girl friends..Im really amazed how my mom managed to keep me in this bubble.. but looking at the youth now sex-ed from parents at a young age is a def must!!!

  29. Madiha says:

    It is quite funny reading some of the comments and children’s imagination. Especially sister” Heba Ahmed”s comments reminded me of my daughter. I still think my kids are too young to talk to them about this stuff and my daughter has a possiblity of letting her imagination run wild and telling the whole world know about our “talk” or making up stories about it ..
    I always felt though, that whatever you teach the kids they would want to try it out or atleast imagiine it . What I always thought that the kids in the WEst , are having more preteen sex because of the sex education at schools. Because adults are being “okay” with watching or talking about that stuff.
    Sometimes, our kids might not even be curious about these things or sometimes we might spark their curiosity if we talk about this stuff. Some kids are mature at 10 some kids are not mature till 14, to understand some of these concepts. So how do you know your child is ready to hear this stuff.
    Would love to hear your opinion on this.

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