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Sex and the Ummah

Female Wet Dreams: Islamic Perspectives & Regulations

** THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED, PLEASE SEE BELOW **

Some time ago, I gave a series of lectures on Taharah (cleanliness) to the sisters in my community. A number of questions were raised from the discussion. It was nice and a very open talk since the one giving the lecture was a female herself. The sisters felt quite comfortable asking questions, in detail, that they normally feel shy about.

One of the matters that we discussed was about the exact nature of female wet dreams. I realized that this issue is not only complicated for sisters but also a much neglected subject. This is why, I decided to have a full entry on this topic, for a number of reasons:

  1. This matter is not as simple and clearly distinguishable for sisters as it is for brothers, so it must be thoroughly explained.
  2. There are a number of lectures given from shayukh to the brothers, in detail; however, rarely do we ever hear any Shariah explanation for sisters, in detail.
  3. Mothers feel shy talking to their daughters about it. In which case, if the young daughter experiences a wet dream, she may not know the Shariah ruling on it or how to purify herself afterward.
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Hence, I decided to contribute this piece, along with the help of a professional Gynecologist, Dr. Fatimah Lalani and Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, so it may help and benefit all the sisters who read this.

Wet dreams are as normal for women as they are for men. Although, the frequency may be lower compared to men, nonetheless, the occurrence of wet dreams among women does not indicate any abnormality.

Umm Salamah said: “Umm Sulaym came to the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alihi wasalam, and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, Allah is not too shy to tell us the truth. Does a woman have to do ghusl if she has a wet dream?’ The Prophet said: ‘Yes, if she sees water (a discharge).’ Umm Salamah covered her face and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, can a woman have an erotic dream?’ He said, ‘Yes, may your hands be rubbed with dust. How else would her child resemble her?’” (Bukhari)

Therefore, if a girl/woman sees a wet dream, it does not mean that she is sexually perverted, lewd or immodest in any sense. It is out of her control, especially for younger girls who may be experiencing many hormonal changes in their bodies. In fact, the Shariah itself recognizes wet dreams as a sign of puberty.

“And when the children among you come to puberty (al-hilm)…” [al-Noor 24:59]

The same term, al-hilm, is used for both puberty and wet dreams, marking wet dreams an indication of puberty.

Besides, Allah azzawajal created wet dreams as an outlet for men and women to release their sexual energy. It happens as a result of human nature which Allah azzawajal has created Himself and no blame can be put on a person. Moreover, since wet dreams happen during sleep, while a person has no control over himself/herself, the Shariah frees a person from any blame.

The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alihi wasalam, said: “The Pen has been lifted from three: from the one who is sleeping until he wakes up, from the child until he reaches the age of puberty, and from one who is insane until he comes to his senses.” (Tirmidhi)

Also, keep in mind that the Prophet, sallallahu alihi wasalam, did not reprimand the woman who had a wet dream, neither did he declare it “abnormal” for women. Rather, he made it quite clear that women can have wet dreams just like men do and there is no oddity or incongruity with it.

Aisha (ra) said: The Messenger of Allaah, sallallahu alihi wasalam, was asked about a man who notices some wetness but does not remember having a wet dream. He said, “He should do ghusl.” He was asked about a man who thinks that he had an erotic dream but does not see any wetness. He said, “He does not have to do ghusl.” Umm Salamah said, “O Messenger of Allah, does a woman have to do ghusl if she sees something like that?” He said, “Yes, women are the twin halves of men.” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood)

And so, I want to remind the parents and the husbands to educate themselves on this subject before making any hurtful or psychologically damaging remarks to their womenfolk. This matter is as normal among women as it is among men.

Having said this, I want to encourage mothers to inform and educate their daughters about such dreams. Do not underestimate what others are capable of teaching your daughter, including her friends (inside or outside the schools, Muslims or non-Muslims) or even teachers. Even if they do not attend the “sex-Ed” class at the school, I can assure you that they will be taught by their fellow students. Most of my teen students learned about these issues from their classmates during 3rd and 4th grade. That was about ten years ago and over the time; our society has only become more corrupted.

It is best that a daughter hears and learns this information directly from her own mother rather than from someone else educating her in school or in the streets. A mother’s education is sincere, pure, and free of any vulgarity. Besides, a Muslim mother can/should always point out the Islamic recognition of the normality of our body functions and the Shariah rulings about it.

Do not wait until your daughter asks you, because she may never ask you. This is a step that a mother has to initiate and be the first to “break the ice.” My suggestion is to explain exactly what happens during a wet dream, next give her the biological/hormonal cause, and then explain to her the Islamic ruling about it. Make your daughter feel comfortable, do not pass any embarrassing comments, put a smile on your face but be precise.

Also, do not wait until her menstrual cycle starts. It is better to educate her once the signs of puberty start appearing in her. During my discussion with Dr. Lalani, I asked her if a girl could have wet dreams before she has her first menstrual cycle. And she replied:

“Yes I suppose it is possible. Puberty is a continuum and can begin around age 9-10, starting with development of breasts, pubic and underarm hair, a growth spurt, and then menses. Throughout this time you have hormonal changes, so I suppose you could have a wet dream, prior to onset of menses.”

It led to my other question: Can wet dreams in itself mark the onset of a girl’s puberty (balagha) making her accountable for her religious obligations like fasting and hijab? Of course as any fiqhi matter, this too, had ikhtilaf (difference of opinions). I do not intend to defend one opinion or the other, but I will briefly mention both opinions.

Those scholars, who support the opinion that wet dreams are an indication of a girl reaching the age of puberty, base their opinion on the signs of male puberty and do not make any distinction between the two genders; they include menstruation as an additional sign for females.

However, the other opinion is inferred from a number of ahadith that state that the rulings are to be established at time of menstruation, like the hadith of the Prophet sallallahu alihi wasalam:

“Allah does not accept the prayer of a menstruating woman [i.e who has gotten her menstruation] unless she wears a veil [khimar]”. [Abu Dawood, at-Tirmizi]

And like the narration in Sahih Muslim in which the Prophet sallallahu alihi wasalam indicated that a man’s prayer is cut off when a woman who has gotten her menstruation passes in front of him. In this hadith, the sign of a baligha (a woman who has reached puberty) was indicated by her menstruation, wAllahu ta’ala ‘alam.

To conclude, since the female wet dream may or may not be accompanied by a discharge, contrary to that of men, I posed a few questions to the shuyukh based on the discussion I had with other women and I received following answers from Sh. Yasir Qadhi:

These answers are by Sh. Yasir Qadhi:

To be honest we rarely find such DETAILED discussion in fiqh books, most likely because men are not as familiar with this topic as they should be.  However, based on the hadith of the Prophet, sallallahu alihi wasalam, I would say that:

Question: If a woman sees a sexual dream but is confused whether she had an orgasm or not, what should she do? (Please keep in mind that female genital area is always wet, and they do not necessarily always have extra discharge upon orgasm, so the matter is not as easy to discriminate as for men)

Answer: The ‘asl (original) is that she has not had a wet dream, so until there is yaqin (certainty) she does not have to take a bath. Therefore, if she does not remember an orgasm, and her private area is not extra wet, she doesn’t have to do ghusl (bath).

Question: If she sees extra vaginal discharge but is sure that she didn’t have any dream of sexual nature at all?

Answer: Vaginal discharge does not necessitate ghusl, no problems here.

Question: If she sees extra vaginal discharge and is confused about the dream (i.e. vaguely recalls something but is not sure either), again keeping in mind that extra vaginal discharge could be completely hormonal or due to the normal menstrual cycle?

Answer: She must have yaqin (certainty) or at least a very strong presumption that she’s had a wet dream (which includes an orgasm).

If sisters have any further questions, please feel free to post them here.

——-

** UPDATE **

I received some private questions regarding this article. As much as I would love to answer them back privately, I see much benefit of putting the answers in this section.  I was asked:

1.    Explain the wet dream in exact words as if you were to explain it to your daughter.

2.    How do you explain exactly what happens during a wet dream? Does a female wakes up feeling wet (many females have vaginal discharge all the times), or does it have to be accompanied by an orgasm?

3.    How do you explain orgasm to your non married daughter?

4.    Is Orgasm different from the initial vaginal throbbing sensation that one feels when one has been aroused?

Before we proceed, I want to mention that I was amazed at the level of shyness sisters feel in asking questions. I asked some of them to post these questions in the comments anonymously for the benefit of all the readers. BUT they felt too shy to even pose the question with a complete anonymous name/email.

Let us remember, as one of the shayookh on board, quoted:
لا يطلب العلم مستحي ولا مستكبر
“No shy or arrogant person will ever seek knowledge.”

Keeping this in mind, and inshaAllah for the benefit of all my sisters-in-Islam, I posed these questions to a few sisters I trust, and below is a collated reply from them:

1.    It is a dream where you might see yourself or some other girl with some guy. And you might see the two kissing, hugging, touching each other and doing all sorts of romantic stuff. Seeing that dream will make your heart beat go faster and you will feel strong tingly sensation in your vaginal area. This may wake you up from your sleep.

It is not as simple to explain the orgasm in words. It is a strong sexual sensation that sends waves of pleasure from abdominal area to vaginal area, which makes a woman arch her back a bit and perhaps want to thrust her pelvis spasmodically.  There is also a strong sensation to touch or rub the private area or to take something inside the vaginal area specifically. A woman will feel fulfilled and satisfied with an immediate drop of tingling in vaginal area and all sexual sensations.

It is important to note here though that sometimes a female may wake up in the middle of the dream, before having an orgasm. It is not allowed at that point to use one’s own hands or any instrument to insert or rub vaginal area to reach orgasm and feel satisfied. Whatever happened up to the point where a person wakes up is out of her control; however, what is done consciously is subjected to accountability.

It is important that the prohibition of masturbation is explained to the children. Once a sister’s 9-10 year old daughter used her mother’s body massager on her private areas; and ,very innocently, explained to her mother that it used to feel “good”. Obviously the daughter was totally unaware of what she was doing.

Similarly, once a sister saw her young daughter (around 7) using the shower massager on her private areas while taking a shower. She explained to her mother that it felt good.

2.    It has to be accompanied by an orgasm. Please see the questions answered by Sh. Yasir in the post.

3.    Explained above. Also, parents should take some time reading some material over this subject. There are books that can be checked out form the library. Or even more conveniently, there is material available on the internet. A simple Google search will lead you to many websites. However, you will have to filter that to appropriate information and in mild terms.

4.    Yes, definitely. Orgasm is not the state of sexual arousal, but that of pleasure. Arousal results in vaginal throbbing; but orgasm is an intense feeling which leaves a person satisfied. Please see point 1. Initial vaginal throbbing sensation can be felt by thinking about sex, foreplaying etc. but orgasm is more than just the vaginal throbbing. One clear way of distinguishing between the two is that orgasm is followed by an immediate cease of all sexual sensations and leaves a woman exhausted and drained.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Saba Syed (aka Umm Reem) is the author of International award winning novel, "An Acquaintance."Saba has a BA degree in Islamic Studies. She studied Arabic Language & Literature at Qatar University and at Cairo Institute in Egypt. She also received her Ijaazah in Quranic Hafs recitation in Egypt from Shaikh Muhammad al-Hamazawi.She had been actively involved with Islamic community since 1995 through her MSA, and then as a founding member of TDC, and other community organizations. in 2002, she organized and hosted the very first "Musim Women's Conference" in Houston, TX. Since then, she's been passionately working towards empowering Muslim women through the correct and untainted teachings of Islam.She is a pastoral counselor for marriage & family, women and youth issues. She has hosted several Islamic lectures and weekly halaqas in different communities all over U.S and overseas, also hosted special workshops regarding parenting, Islamic sex-ed, female sexuality, and marital intimacy.

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Fighting back Against Porn: The Idea & The Industry

Say, “Oh My servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (39:53)

Embarrassment. Defeat. A lack of self-worth.

In the eyes of the young porn addict, the man or woman who got married but still couldn’t quit, the spouse who got caught and feels like they will forever live under a cloud of shame and suspicion, or the spouse who caught their partner yet doesn’t know how to confront them or assess their own value in light of the discovery.

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The child who was caught by their parents, or even worse, the parent who was caught by their child. The young person who attends halaqas and grows in religious knowledge, yet only feels like a bigger hypocrite because they can’t seem to hold to any resolution to quit, no matter what admonishing lecture they hear or self-inflicted punishment they endure.

The confessions of strange sexual cravings and impulses, and the inability to see people except as sexual objects. The dehumanization of the consumer and the consumed.

As an Imam, I can think of very few things that have wreaked havoc on pretty much every demographic in the community as pornography has. Yet how many Khutbahs have you heard about it? How much attention do we devote to helping people see the harms of it, see their own self-worth as they feel trapped by it, and find the resolve and practical program to overcome it?

As one young addict lamented to me years ago, “It seems like we censor discussion on porn instead of porn itself.” I never forgot those words, yet admittedly have often felt it difficult to address the subject. What is the right forum to discuss it? Is it appropriate from the pulpit? Should I be the one discussing it at all? Who are the experts we can turn to?

Allah’s command in the Quran to restrict the gaze precedes guarding one’s chastity because what enters the eyes regularly is bound to find a place in one’s heart and mind. But what happens when it has already settled in both of those places?

And while there have been a handful of noble efforts in the community to provide safe spaces to help people through their addictions, there are multiple ways in which we’ve become increasingly desensitized to pornographic content that have not been adequately addressed.

When the term “Pornography” is typically used, it refers to very specific genres and spaces. But in reality, it’s made its way into sitcoms and dramas that are casually referenced without reservation or acknowledgment of pornographic elements in the same way that people would reference any other shows. Just because it’s in an HBO or Hulu series doesn’t make it any less detrimental. For some, it’s the accidental glances on social media feeds that eventually turn into addictions. And the shame of being a porn addict in private, despite the growing shamelessness of consuming and referencing pornographic laced content in public spaces, makes it difficult for people to get help. Sadly, it’s usually not until devastating spiritual or social consequences occur that any steps are taken to address it. And then those mediums which offer hardcore premium content become the “drug dealers” so to speak.

Which brings me to the industry side of this. Not only does pornography wreak havoc on the viewer emotionally and psychologically completely altering their view of themselves and the world around them, but it tragically exploits some of our most vulnerable populations to feed that dependent viewer. “Barely legal” is in fact often outright illegal, yet very few efforts have come about to shed light on what is becoming the new normal.

As I was writing this, a new Netflix special, Cuties, which pompously is centered around 11-year-old girls twerking rightfully sparked global outrage. And while some retorted back that the film was actually meant to shed light on the sexualizing of children, to depict children in this fashion in the name of art or social commentary only further endangers them and normalizes the reprehensible behaviors that continue to put them at risk. A good read on this is an article written by Alan Jacobs in 2013 about an HBO show that unconcernedly includes a fantasy about an 11-year-old heroin addict.

Again, not only is it disturbing and in violation of basic human decency, but it’s also dangerous. The porn industry is driven by the demands of consumers, and those demands are unsurprisingly surging with regards to children. A recent article by NBC points to how Child sexual abuse images and online exploitation have specifically surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, reports of sexual child content have more than doubled this year, from 983,734 reports in March 2019 to 2,027,520 reports this March.

Is this not enough to warrant universal concern? Article 34 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children states that:

“States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:

(a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;

(b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;

(c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.”

This treaty was ratified with global consensus, yet is violated regularly with impunity. So how do we start to fight back against this beyond continuing to highlight the immorality of pornographic content as a whole, and doing everything we can to protect our families from it?

A few months ago, I came across a video about the work of Exodus Cry, a faith-based campaign against Porn Hub which it appropriately deems #Traffickinghub. Led by Laila Mickelwait, the campaign is seeking to shut down Mindgeek, the parent company of Pornhub, for its disproportionate role in perpetuating global child sex trafficking. 70 to 90 percent of mainstream pornography is owned by Mindgeek. With the money and access to power the company holds, it has sought to minimize exposure to its criminal activities as well as the overall harms of pornography through sponsoring and propagating false research much like the tobacco lobbies of the 90s. Imagine the implications of shutting down the world’s largest porn stakeholder.

This is a campaign that I have specifically lent my support to, and would encourage Muslims and all people of conscience to get behind. The petition at this moment is almost at 2 million, and every signature counts.

And while most of those who organize against the commercial sex industry would be considered political conservatives, that should not in any way stop us from working together with them on this issue of urgent importance. To some, the issue of pornography is solely centered on harm. To others, it is solely centered on morality. To Muslims, it must be both. We must care for both the children in front of the screen, and those behind it. And so while we work to guard ourselves against the harms of this industry by being mindful of what we allow into our homes, by coming up with programs and safe spaces for those dealing with addictions, and by designing and uplifting alternative mediums that aren’t plagued by porn, we should also join hands with anti-trafficking and faith groups to fight the industry itself that shamelessly preys on the world’s most vulnerable population.

 

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