“It's worse for a woman to commit adultery, because women are supposed to be pure.” 

OR 

“A girl's reputation is more delicate so she has to make more careful choices.”

Watch Umm Reem's (Saba Syed) Radtalk.

Comments like these only highlight double standards among Muslims. To have a higher expectation of chastity from girls, especially practicing Muslim girls, compared to boys has become so normal that girls are brainwashed from a very early age with ideas like:

“Girls are supposed to have a higher control against their desires for the opposite gender.”

“Good girls shouldn't get sexual thoughts.”

“If a girl is pure, her thoughts and emotions would be pure too.”

But what happens when a girl's hormones kick in and she develops carnal desires?

The mind and body contradict. The body responds to the natural desires and the mind rejects these desires, rather recalls the fallacious cultural beliefs that she was raised with. This causes a serious contradiction within a person, making her feel low about herself. Due to the lack of communication within the family and lack of female mentorship in our communities, she is left misguided. The internal contradiction between body and mind becomes so intense that it can, and has, caused long term emotional and personality damage in many girls. [This is one of the leading causes among many married Muslim women for lack of interest in intimacy—discussed in detail in an upcoming article in near future insha'Allah].

Last year, after my letter to the youth was published on MM, a girl got in touch with me complaining about the wrong advice I had offered her years ago about female sexuality, and how it had caused a lot of serious issues in her life.

Importance of Mentorship

I'd mentored her when she was in college. During that time, we had discussions over gender interaction and female sexuality. At that time, inexperienced and still young myself, I hadn't fully overcome the erroneous concepts widespread within Muslim communities, and believed in the same ideas that “good girls are averse to sexual desires.”

I failed to offer her the right advice. She needed to hear that her desires were normal, align with her female sexuality and then she should have been given the remedies on how to control her desires, but instead I failed to recognize the normality of her sexual desires.

To be told that women normally don't have sexual feelings until after they get emotionally attached to a guy or until after they get married, to be told that men are sexual and that women are not, to be told that good girls don't think of sex before marriage, are all erroneous ideas that damage female sexuality.

I wasn't the only one who offered her the wrong advice, unfortunately, even the people of knowledge she talked to failed to recognize the “female struggles with their sexual desires”.

I can't undo the damage I've caused her or other girls in the past, but I can try my best to not repeat the same mistake and spread as much awareness on this issue as I can, bi idhniAllah.

[Ed. Note] Please join us for a Google Hangout on Intimacy Matters- March 1st, 2014 11-12 a.m. EST

Intimacy Matters

 

26 Responses

  1. Mahmud

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 32

    Reply
    • Umm Yasa'ah

      This is exactly what Sr. Umm Reem is trying to stop. I’m sorry but you need to “unculture-ify” yourself.

      Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

      Reply
    • Fatima Ariadne

      This is the erroneous belief even among muslim community. Women should be entirely pure while boys are free then they’re free to say “men are just men, the biggest fitnah came from women”. Women with “history” are damaged goods while men with the same thing is forgiven easier, “after all, men are men”.

      Know that the REAL Islam, Qur’an and Sunnah commands chastity to both men and women. Not just women, but also men as well. Both men and women with “history” are equally sinners in the sight of Allah until they repented and not repeating it. Regardless what society told you otherwise. Allah is Most Just.

      Thumb up 46 Thumb down 1

      Reply
  2. Saliha

    JazakAllahu Khayr for writing this article. I feel like for women, there’s so much of a stigma that it leaves them feeling as though there’s something wrong with them, especially if other females they are close to aren’t willing to engage this topic. I think having close friends who are open to talking about this and who are willing to admit that they similar issues also helps .

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

    Reply
  3. Sarah

    I see the difficulty as being in finding a balance, of both not being judgmental, but also being very firm and clear when something is wrong.

    And like you said – this requires proper parenting, and proper parenting means that you don’t teach your children to be terrified of talking to you about something, but that you make it so that they can seek advice from YOU – if they can’t go to you, honestly, who can they go to? (And before anyone brings this up – no, you’re not meant to ‘spread around your sins’, but when you need help with stuff that is not a sin, like just attraction,

    Proper parenting also means that your children don’t not do something merely because they’re afraid of your reaction, and your disappointment – but firstly because they realize that their practice is for Allah, not for their family members. When you instill that in your children, they can go to the middle of the worst environment ever and still maintain their deen – if you base it on fear of YOU, they will not. If they see Islam as being a bunch of unexplained rules that they reluctantly follow because of your threats, then these are the first people who will go astray without their families.

    So PLEASE remember to maintain equal standards in your home, and instill Islamic values and explanations in your own life and your children’s. It will make the difference between the girl who leaves Islam because of the hypocritical double standards and lack of explanation of any of her questions, and the girl who is saved by her understanding and true belief in the Islamic lifestyle.

    Thumb up 39 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    • Nur

      @Sarah. Pretty cool and practical advice on kids. Do you recommend any book to read on raising kids here in the US?
      You can reply to my email nooro23@yahoo.com
      Jazakallahi khaira

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Reply
      • Sarah

        Salam Nur, frankly I’m just a young woman myself! I’m just commenting on what I’ve observed between Muslims on my campus. :)

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Umm Muslim

    Bismillah

    Barak Allahu feek sister Umm Reem. I believe this is indeed a great issue in many of the muslim communities in the states and other non islamic societies. I think parents should understand why kind of environment their children and teens are growing up in. I mean our parents came to America and other western countries fleeing war and etc but they did not think of the consequences of living in a non islaamic state/environment. Parents have their kids attending public schools and we all know that the main fasaad exists in the non islaamic public schools especially high schools. Teens are exposed to zinaa, boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, peer pressure etc. Parents should realize all this before they put their kids in such schools, parents should realize and contemplate the hardships and challenges of raising a righteous family in a non islaamic environment. Your family is an amaanah which Allah has placed over you. THrowing your kids in public schools and allowing them to go about freely in these environments and then complaining about their religiosity and haraam relationships is contradictory. This is like the example of the one who throws a man into the sea with his hands bound tightly and then says to him, “hey make sure your clothes dont get wet and that you dont drown ok” subhan Allah the imaams of the muslim communities should also hold sessions and reminders/workshops for the parents as well as lectures on topics muslim youth are currently dealing with like, suicide, zinaa, homosexuality/lesbianism, drugs, gangs, cursing, etc. It is not enough to say ” ok this is haram stay away from it”

    If the emaan is weak and not strong then it will not benefit this poor soul whether you tell it “haram” or not. The hearts need to be softened first and there has to be that removal of jahl on our part, we should teach our teens to love Allah azza wa jall and to realize their maker and His greatness before throwing haraam at them. We should explain to them how Allah ta’ala says to not go near zinaa(wala taqrabu-zinaa) and how He did not say do not commit zinaa. There is a major difference. So I agree with the sister in most of her points but the main people who should be targeted are both the parents and the youth, not just the parents. Im speaking from personal experience because I myself was born and raised in America. Ive seen alot of things. Alhamdulilah Allah blessed me with strong parents who helped my siblings and I to have a good understanding of Islam so we never really fell into what the majority of muslim teens are dealing with. I am close to people who are dealing with these issues and sisters I personally know of. The key is not to judge the individual. The key is to educate and build love of Islaam and tawheed. When one realizes the greatness of the Creator, it is different than one who just says ok Im a muslim but takes that for granted. Saying Im Musim is a big thing in itself. Its these little things we should think about and contemplate.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    • Umm Abdi-Rahim

      Bismillahi AlRahmani AlRahim,

      Alhamdulillah for this opportunity to share our thoughts. Wow! What a contradictory topic.
      There are two components in this topic.
      1) Biological remedy (which is a fact and needs to be addressed in the nature’s way).
      For a women to have a biological sexual desires is very normal and will be disingenuous to say otherwise (oppression).
      To notice the opposite sex is also very normal but you have to curve it with techniques and education (lower your gaze).
      Also, myself for example, I stay very active, exercise regularly. Get involved with your community. Become better with your home making. One more thing .., you must have an amazing hobby running and cycling. Whatever that is. Also try to maintain at least once a week fasting when permissible. I am a family women, and still need to do these things to stay on track. how much do you think a single women should do??? it is ok, don’t be paranoid. same effort will do the trick to stay well rounded.
      2) Religious remedy (which is already known from the Quran and Sunnah). Please do your research and you should find it!
      Just because you send your kids to Islamic school will not do the job. Trust me. Even if you home school your kids will not help immune. Avoiding exposure to the public has a very serious lifetime ramifications. What you need rather is to expose your kids to different cultural differences but accompany them like a journey and visit these issues with them regularly. Use it as a lesson rather then a problem. The world is not meant to be a bubble but rather an experience. Not to indulge wrong but to be able to identify these situations and develop an exit plan. We must remember that tgirls are the future generations. They should integrate in the society in such a way that they will become examples of all humanity.
      Solution: Teach them the meaning of relationships, lowering her gaze to men (specially the ones she finds attractive, reading Quran regularly as it is the only remedy we know that clears the Satan out of our minds, avoid certain situations and keep herself very busy.
      Please everyone understand that it is not wise to re-invent the wheel.
      Keep open and wide open, very open conversations with your kids about their sexual desires.., it is not a shameful thing, it is just a desire like food, and water. You just have to teach them how to eat good food and clean water and healthy practices. oh and don’t make them to have to wait until they have wealth to have a family. But rather as soon as they find someone compatible, encourage marriage.
      Wabillahi Tawfique

      Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  5. Mohammed Shaikh

    I think the Quran makes it clear that women have a sexual nature as men ( without clearly mentioning if it is less or more which made many debate about this issue). In the story of Yusuf, we find how the wife of minister wanted to have a sexual relationship with Yusuf – peace be upon him-. Also, we find some ahadith speaking about this issue. In one Hadith, a woman came to the prophet- peace be upon him- telling him in polite way that her current husband does not please her sexually as the past one. In another, a woman came to the prophet – peace be upon him – in front of other women asking him about wet dreams.

    And also reality should make this point clear as well. When I was at university, I saw how clear it was that women were sexually attracted to men as the opposite is true.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

    Reply
  6. sahmed

    Dear umm reem, will you be elaborating on the proper reaction of a parent who ends up in this situation where their daughter has gotten involved with another guy?

    secondly is there a way to prevent the situation from happening or is it just a matter of time before it happens and then you just need to know how to react to it?

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    • amna

      why not instruct parents on how to raise their children to be adults when Islam calls up on them to be adults – ie. at puberty so that they would be reaady for marriage at 16 to 19 yrs old as said in another comment. actually i know non muslims too who get married ‘young’ and so I’m not sure why we should put up barriers to this simple solution. it also makes for a beautiful life together where these two youth grow and mature together and support each other and also are much more flexible at this young age to deal with each other’s foibles and faults, and with the trying circumstances they might experience…..to them it is an adventure…to an older person it can feel like a burden.
      …and have much more energy to expend in being tolerant, learning about each other, doting on each other more energy than most 25 yrs olds have, since such 25 yrs olds are already past their peak sexually and also energy-wise. we seem to think that between 22 and 26 is the ideal time for marriage and yet if you think about it, that’s a very small window of years to find someone! no wonder so many women end up unmarried!

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Reply
      • Umm Reem

        I have instructed parents in my other articles. The scope of this talk was just to spread awareness and I had only 10 minutes to speak.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Lila

    WE should go back to the Sunnah and let our youth get married young. Really, why not? where did the idea come from that we need to rack up certain things in dunya before we can get married? the age of marriage amongst the Sahabas was 16 – 19. Naturally, for most people, this is their peak of hormonal activity as well as they are old enough to manage a relationship if we have raised them to be ready for this. Studying until we are 30? why? why not get married and continue to study.

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    • solitaybird

      Unfortuately, most of us now live in a literate society. Values are diferent in illiterate, ancient socities like the Prophet (peace be upon him). Back then, you could marry at eleven or younger! Because all you needed to know was how to talk and work. Now, we need education to get proper work, and, due to the spread of modern western thinking, childhood is drawn out longer and a sixteen year old of today is far less capable than an eleven year old of yesteryear. Speak with the average teenager. Most have no idea how to perform simple tasks, how to divide money, or anything else.

      It’s now about responsibility which these “kids” lack, making marriage unwise at their age, despite biological readiness,

      Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

      Reply
    • ibnmomin

      I am all for early marriage but just keep in mind a person should not be sexually mature but also mentally mature to handle what comes ahead. The sahabas in their teens were also commanding armies showing how mature they were. Thats something our teenagers need to know and learn the skills to manage, face challenges etc. Most important of all our teens should not be scared to talk about their issues with parents.

      Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  8. Halima

    Well it’s good that you’re acknowledging the wrong you did. It’s even better of you to try and help others with the same problem. It’s sad how Muslim females are forced to believe having sexual desires/thoughts are abnormal, twisted, and wrong. It makes no sense. There needs to be more clear thinkers that can tell them they’re very normal, and must curve their desires like their male counterparts. There’s just not enough being said to young Muslim sisters. Hope your project is successful inshAllah.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    Reply
  9. Sarah

    Um Reem, you should write a book! Ever since your first article (way back last spring) regarding female’s sexuality I’ve always been excited to read your articles as a female teenager. A book directed toward’s female teenagers on handling this situation or a book towards parents advising them on how to guide their daughters through this?

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

    Reply
  10. Umm Yasa'ah

    Assalamu Alaikum

    When I was growing up I had the same issues, so I had to figure out a way to control my desires.
    The following is a list of things I used to stay pure until marriage and Alhamdulillah they worked.

    1. Fast- Works BIG TIME, fast every Monday and Thursday

    2. Avoid going to places where there are guys

    3. Cover up PROPERLY- Wear the hijab, and not just the hijab, but the abaya or niqab if you can. It’ll constantly remind you that you’re a Muslim and guilt you into not even going near the sin or guys.

    3. Seek Islamic knowledge

    4. Don’t watch romantic movies or read romantic books- It’s said that around 75% women get “turned on” just by reading romantic books

    5. Pray Tahajjud- Pair this up with fasting and your desires will literally be extinguished

    I hope that benefitted you

    Wassalam

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 5

    Reply
  11. amatullah

    assalamulaykum
    i too think that i suffer from sexual frustration as my husbands desire is much less as as compared to mine. Can i consult a non a nonmuslim male psychiatrist , as he is available near my locality and i asked him if i he can refer me to a female, he replied he doesnt know any female sexologists around. I still havent taken an appointment , worried if its allowed or not.
    please clarify.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    Reply
    • Fahim

      @amatullah – maybe you can try giving him foods that increase his libido. Nuts, Oysters and seafood.. also have you tried talking to him about it?

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  12. Damascus

    Some of the advice here is very narrow minded. It’s not just teenagers that have sexual desires. Grown adult women have them too. I stayed chaste throughout my life, but no one helped me get married. Parents are given far too much control in Islamic families. They did not help me get married, and forced me to adopt the role of caregiver even though I half brothers, and even though I did want to get married and have children.

    So please stop it with your age bias. It infiltrates every adobe t of Islamic society. I have yet to read a single article about how adult single Muslim women can satisfy their sexual desires. But Muslim will get a sudden influx of vocal energy if they find out a 40 year old Muslim woman had a boyfriend.

    The focus on youth in Islam is a cancer, to be frank. Women of all ages have needs and to ignore them and not offer them advice is heartless and 100% against the spirit of Islam.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    Reply
  13. Maleka

    Salam, I have a personal issue id like to address and i was wondering if there is a private email or something i could contact you with?

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.