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Sex and the Ummah Series: The Hadith of Jabir

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Sex and the Ummah Series: The Hadith of Jabir

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The following article is a collated summary of a series of emails sent to those who registered for the LikeAGarment online email course.

Jabir b. Abdillah is one of the most famous Companions of the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam. He was from the Ansar, and accepted Islam as a young boy. His father was the famous warrior Abdullah b. Haram. Jabir was perhaps the youngest Companion to witness and participate in the blessed ‘Treaty of Aqaba,’ before the hijra of the Prophet. He was also blessed to live an extremely long life. Because of this, Jabir became one of the most profuse narrators of hadith, earning his name in the top five Companions in terms of quantity of hadith narrated.

Jabir married young – he was probably seventeen or eighteen when he got married. His story is mentioned in most books of hadith, including the two Sahihs. It is a story that tells us much about how Islam views sexuality.

The hadith is as follows:

Jabir b. Abdillah reported that once he was on an expedition with the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam, and when they were close to the city of Madinah, he sped on his mount. The Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam asked him why he was in such a hurry to return home. Jabir replied, “I am recently married!” The Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam asked, “To an older lady or a younger one?” [the Arabic could also read: “To a widow or a virgin?”], to which he replied, “A widow.”

The Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam said, “But why didn’t you marry a younger girl, so that you could play with her, and she could play with you, and you could make her laugh, and she could make you laugh?”

He said, “O Messenger of Allah! My father died  a martyr at Uhud, leaving behind daughters, so I did not wish to marry a young girl like them, but rather an older one who could take care of them and look after them.” The Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa salam replied, “You have made the correct choice.”

Jabir continues, “So when we were about to enter the city, the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam said to me, ‘Slow down, and enter at night, so that she who has not combed may comb her hair, and she who has not shaved may shave her private area.’ Then he said to me, ‘When you enter upon her, then be wise and gentle.’”

[Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim, with various wordings, in their two Sahihs]

This is only part of a much larger hadith, known as (not surprisingly!) the ‘hadith of Jabir’. It is a hadith full of benefits, and in fact separate treatises have been written by our scholars just on this one hadith. In this article, we are concerned with how this hadith sheds light on intimacy and marriage in Islam.

What first strikes us is the frankness of the Prophet’s salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam question. He is encouraging Jabir to find a playful wife, and wants the both of them to enjoy each other. Clearly, the words of ‘playfulness’ and ‘laughter’ indicate that what is being encouraged is the couple’s romance, foreplay and, generally, ‘having fun’ with one another.

This shows that it is one of the primary goals of a marriage that each party find satisfaction in the other. The connotation of being sexually playful is clearly implied, without any direct reference. From this, and many other references, we see that the Quran and Sunnah are frank about sexuality, but never vulgar. This should be our attitude and tone as well. It would do us well to contrast this straightforwardness of our Prophet with the ultra-reserved Muslim culture that we find around us, where even the words ‘love’ and ‘romance’ are considered filthy and are never be uttered in public!

Also, the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam explicitly mentioned that both parties should be satisfied with each other (‘…so that you may play with her and she may play with you…’). In most Muslim cultures, women’s sexuality is sidelined or even suppressed. Not only is a woman’s sexual feelings ignored, some cultures even cut off a part of a woman’s sexual organ in order to minimize her sexuality (through barbaric practices such as FGM – female genital mutilation). Women’s sexuality is no less important than men’s, and it is essential that a woman also be given her due right.

One phrase in this hadith that many men concentrate on is the encouragement to Jabir that he should marry a young woman. However, they ignore the context of the hadith and also the response of the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam. Jabir himself was a young man, and that is why he was asked why he would marry an older lady. Typically, a young man marries a young lady. When Jabir gave a legitimate reason for choosing an older lady, he was informed that he had, in fact, made the correct decision. One should always remember that even our Prophet first married Khadija, a lady senior to him in age, and remained with her for all of her life. Khadija was the most beloved wife of our Prophet, and even Aisha could not compete against that love.

The command to Jabir not to enter the city until nightfall was because the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam did not want Jabir to surprise his wife. At a time when there were no cell phones or other means of informing the family when a traveler would return, the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam would send a crier into the city, announcing that the caravan was returning. Hence, he told Jabir to wait for this crier before proceeding into the city. The crier would alert the inhabitants of the city (including Jabir’s wife), and they would then prepare themselves to great the returning travelers.

From this, we learn that spouses should physically beautify themselves for one another. Combing the hair is but one way to beautify; anything that increases the beauty and handsomeness of one spouse in front of the other is something to be encouraged. The Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam told the impatient Jabir that it was better for him to delay his arrival in order that his wife could prepare herself for him.

The explicit command to shave the pubic area is an amazing phrase! We all know that a part of our Islamic tradition is that one must shave one’s pubic area; in this tradition, this command is put in the context of the sexual act. In other words, the husband is told to be patient so that his wife may beautify her private area in order to increase the aesthetic pleasure and gratification of sex. A husband and wife should make sure that even around their private areas, they look attractive to each other! Again and again, we see the frankness of the prophetic traditions and contrast this to the ultra-conservative attitudes predominant in many Muslim cultures.

Some people erroneously believe that a husband and wife should never look at each other’s private area. This belief is not based upon any authentic textual evidence – in fact, there are numerous evidences (including this one) that clearly state otherwise. If a husband will not enjoy the body of his wife, who else will he enjoy?! And the same applies for a woman with her husband’s body.

 

The last phrase of the hadith is translated as ‘…then be wise and gentle’. The Arabic is ‘fa-l-kayyis al-kayyis’, or, in another wording, ‘zafar al-kayyis.’ The word ‘kayyis‘ primarily means wisdom, but it also has the connotation of gentleness. Scholars have understood this phrase to be an indirect reference that Jabir should approach his wife in a gentle and ‘wise’ manner.

Imam al-Bukhari, Ibn Khuzaymah, and Ibn Hibban all narrated this wording, and they all understood the reference here to be an indirect reference to the sexual act. Once again, the wording is frank without being vulgar. What is meant by ‘al-kayyis‘ is that Jabir should act in a wise manner; he has been gone for some time, and is newly married. Therefore, both parties are missing each other, and it is a sign of wisdom that they gratify themselves and do not delay this unnecessarily. Also, there is a connotation of gentleness as well; Jabir should realize that he is a young man, and therefore he should not act in a manner that might be painful to his wife.

The fact that the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam is instructing Jabir what to do at this time shows that he instructed his Ummah even about such personal matters. In one hadith, which deals with the etiquette of the restroom, the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam said, “I am to you like a father, I teach you [what you need to know]…” [Reported by Abu Dawud]. Since Jabir did not have any older brothers, and his father had passed away, the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam took on this responsibility, and even advised him about sexual conduct. From this, we may extrapolate that people of knowledge, or elders of the community, should likewise not be shy when it comes to teaching Muslims about sexual etiquette.

The Islamic attitude towards sex is completely at odds with those of many Christian thinkers. St. Augustine, who is perhaps the single most influential theologian of early Christianity, viewed sexual desire as something ‘foul’ to be guilty and ashamed of. His writings had a profound impact on all future Christian notions of sex (and were also used to justify the prohibition of priests getting married). That is why, to this day, even many non-religious Christians are baffled by Islam’s attitude towards sex. It is mainly due to such notions that Islam has been viewed by many Westerners as being a ‘licentious’ religion. Such hadiths like this one of Jabir are mocked and ridiculed (one website I read commented, “How can a prophet of God command his followers to enjoy their wives?”). This shock stems from the basic Augustinian notion of sex being inherently evil. We must be aware of these psychological underpinnings when discussing Islam with others. For us as Muslims, sexual desire in and of itself is never associated with evil; it is only the misuse and abuse of such desire that is evil. Rather, quite the contrary, sex is quite clearly implied in the Quran as being a blessing from Allah, to be thoroughly enjoyed between spouses.

There are many evidence that clearly demonstrate Islam’s realistic and pragmatic view of human sexuality. Sexuality, like all human emotions, is a natural instinct that should be satisfied in a permissible manner. The emotion itself is not evil or filthy; abusing it and trying to satisfy it outside of the permissible bounds of marriage is evil and filthy.

The Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam himself said, “From this world, women and perfume have been made beloved to me, but the coolness of my eye comes from prayer” [al-Bukhari]. And in the famous hadith, “This whole world is an enjoyment, and its best enjoyment is a righteous wife” [Muslim].

A righteous wife (and, by analogy, a good husband) is the best enjoyment of this world. Pure, halal, encouraged enjoyment! Even the blessed Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam found comfort in his wives, but the comfort that prayer and turning to Allah gave him was obviously the most sweet and pure.

In another tradition, we are advised “If one of you approaches his wife, and then wishes to repeat, let him do wudhu, for it will make the recurrence more energetic” [Abu Dawud].

In all of these hadiths, we see once again the clear encouragement to engage in passionate and fulfilling sex with one’s spouse. The frank advice given makes it crystal clear that we should aim to have healthy sex lives. No less a figure than our beloved Prophet informed us of ways to increase our love and make the act of intimacy more fulfilling. Washing oneself after a first act invigorates the body and rejuvenates the soul, and thus helps in repeating the act again.

What is truly amazing is that while the message is crystal clear in each and every one of these traditions, never is the wording vulgar, nor is the language crude. Similarly, we should be frank in our teachings, but there is no need to employ unbefitting language.

Let us conclude this article by mentioning a quote from one of the most famous medieval scholars of our religion. Imam al-Ghazali (d. 505) mentions in his famous work The Revival of the Religious Sciences that scholars have mentioned many blessings of sex, such as protecting one’s chastity and increasing one’s progeny. But he also mentions a blessing that might surprise many Muslims. One of the blessings of sex that our scholars have mentioned, al-Ghazali says, is to experience some of the pleasures of the afterlife. He continues:

“And I swear, what they have said is absolutely true! For indeed, in this pleasure [of sex] – a pleasure that cannot be compared to any other pleasure ­– if only it were to persist, it would indeed be a sign or signal for those pleasures of the next life that have been promised to us. To entice someone regarding a pleasure that he has never experienced is of no use! If an impotent man were to be enticed with sex, or a young child with power, there would be no temptation. Therefore, one of the blessings of the sexual experience and pleasure in this world is the hope of its perpetual existence in the next, so that this can be used as a motivation for the worship of Allah.

Marvel, therefore, at the wisdom of Allah, and His Mercy, for look at how He has placed in one desire two lives: an external life, and an internal life. So the external life is the preservation of a man through his progeny and children. And the internal life is the life of the next world. For the pleasure of sex is diminished in this world because it must remain temporary, and is swiftly terminated, but by experiencing it, one’s desire to have such a pleasure remain everlasting becomes firm, and this encourages one to persist in deeds of worship that would allow him to experience such pleasures.”

What an amazing testament, regarding an amazing blessing, from an amazing scholar!

Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

106 Comments

106 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Siraaj

    May 27, 2010 at 7:22 AM

    The Islamic attitude towards sex is completely at odds with those of many Christian thinkers. St. Augustine, who is perhaps the single most influential theologian of early Christianity, viewed sexual desire as something ‘foul’ to be guilty and ashamed of. His writings had a profound impact on all future Christian notions of sex (and were also used to justify the prohibition of priests getting married). That is why, to this day, even many non-religious Christians are baffled by Islam’s attitude towards sex. It is mainly due to such notions that Islam has been viewed by many Westerners as being a ‘licentious’ religion. Such hadiths like this one of Jabir are mocked and ridiculed (one website I read commented, “How can a prophet of God command his followers to enjoy their wives?”). This shock stems from the basic Augustinian notion of sex being inherently evil. We must be aware of these psychological underpinnings when discussing Islam with others. For us as Muslims, sexual desire in and of itself is never associated with evil; it is only the misuse and abuse of such desire that is evil. Rather, quite the contrary, sex is quite clearly implied in the Quran as being a blessing from Allah, to be thoroughly enjoyed between spouses.

    There are many evidence that clearly demonstrate Islam’s realistic and pragmatic view of human sexuality. Sexuality, like all human emotions, is a natural instinct that should be satisfied in a permissible manner. The emotion itself is not evil or filthy; abusing it and trying to satisfy it outside of the permissible bounds of marriage is evil and filthy.

    Muslims need to highlight this point in gold whenever discussing questions revolving around these issues with Christians – sexual desire isn’t evil, filthy, perverse, and what have you. Our problem is that we’ve subconsciously assimilated this prudish Christian thought process and it informs the manner in which we dialogue about these issues both in and out of the Muslim community – jazakallah khayr for putting this out there.

    Rather than apologizing and justifying what is obvious, we ought to clearly show them why their prudish thinking doesn’t square with reality.

    Siraaj

    • Avatar

      mubeen

      June 1, 2015 at 11:05 AM

      ***** for your comment —Factual, Relevant, most of all well articulated…thank you for the education :)

  2. Avatar

    Ify Okoye

    May 27, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    That quote from Ghazali is amazing in its perceptiveness.

  3. Avatar

    Omar

    May 27, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    The idea that sex (even within marriage) is something one does better without, can also be found in the writings of St. Paul in the New Testament – who recommended celibacy, but allowed marriage if one can’t be celibate like he was.

    I also find it very interesting that Medieval Christianity and Victorian Europe were so prude, and criticized Islam as licentious, then the modern secular West jumped to the other end of the spectrum with complete sexual freedom, and criticizes Islam for being repressive.

    And it all happened so quickly. It only took 100 years, which is nothing in the life of cultures. May be it was a reaction.

    • Avatar

      Sufian

      November 14, 2013 at 8:12 PM

      Kemal El Mekki has a lecture “Moderation in Sexuality, Celibacy and Free Love” which mentions things you mentioned. I guess you’ve watched it; if you haven’t then I tell you it’s really informative/intellectual and has some jokes (as always) from the Sheikh.

    • Avatar

      Marco

      May 28, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      utely incorrect about St. Paul! He said you must Love your wife, even up to the point of giving your life for her, in the same way The Messiah loves his “church” (people); and a wife must show respect for her husband (I take it as a leader) in the same way the “church” follows the Messiah. He goes on to to say, it is “OK” to keep your “virgin” and be attentive to spiritual matters, HOWEVER let every man have a wife and every woman have a husband. Again he moves to explain about the “young”: it is good for them to ” wait”, but if they cannot wait let them marry since it is better to marry than to “burn”. Further explanation by him indicates that the immoral sexual acts of the fornicator is condemned! Is this not the teaching of The Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings on him – Peace and blessings on Abraham’s descendants , including and not limited to our Messiah); who extolled to be kind to our wives and for women to ” mind” their husbands even as they are give to act and help their husbands in every way.

      I think you would have need to actually read the previous scripture the angel came to attest to, by the word in the Qu’ran before you criticize what you have not read. To be sure, SOME Catholic teaching throughout the ages (trinity) has not been completely reflective of the original scripture. It is allowed to read the bible!

  4. Avatar

    Sayf

    May 27, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    It seems like modern Western culture is the definition of an exaggerated response to Christianity.

  5. Avatar

    africana

    May 27, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    when we talk about men satisfying their wives, are you sure that this is about sexual satifaction? if you research the subject you will find that even amongst women who haven’t been circumcised a very high percentage have either never or rarely experienced org**m during sexual intercourse. furthermore, premature ejaculation is also quite common place, so much so that it is also quite natural, and that also precludes sexual satisfaction on the part of the woman.
    this is sometimes defined as a problem by medical authorities but i am more of the view that this is natural way for women since it is so common place. i am therefore more of the view that talk of satisfying her need shopuld be broadened out to mean her need be held and comforted. modern socoiety has created a sort of false need in women by convincing her that her body works just like that of a man. she would realise that her need of sexual satisfaction is not always a genuine one and her respect for her husband would greatly increase.

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      May 28, 2010 at 8:43 AM

      I’m not sure if you have been receiving emails from Like A Garment, but one of the things that struck out to me was analogy of men to microwaves and women to ovens, meaning that men are easily aroused, whereas for women it takes longer to ‘heat up’, just in the same way as an oven.

      What women require is affection and that’s what the analogy refers to…that she needs to be held, comforted and basically loved in a gentle and caring manner. However, that does not mean that a woman climaxing is non-existent. Sometimes, it is the caring, gentle approach that arouses a woman and could lead her to climaxing. Sometimes, it depends on what time of the month it is, as studies have shown that the times when a woman is ovulating is when she is more fertile and therefore, easily aroused and, naturally, that makes sense, because Allah(swt) has made the female cycle in such a way that it’s easier for a woman to reproduce around that time, hence the easier arousal and perhaps, climaxing.

      I would disagree that satisfaction can come only from affection…I really do believe that female anatomy is far more complex than we realise (as mentioned in the emails) and therefore requires a woman to know her own body as well as understanding from the man, patience on the part of both husband and wife, AND practicing the art of intimacy…but only if you’re married! There are countless number of women who have experienced climax and can testify that you need to know your body. I don’t think it should be brushed aside and accepted as ‘Gospel’, because it’s almost like being in denial of what Allah(swt) has created of women.

      The only thing I would say is…whatever is in the magazines on this topic should be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s all an over-exaggeration and in all honesty, the reason there is so much about it in the media is due to the fact that women now have multiple partners and therefore have far too many experiences with DIFFERENT people which leaves them less satisfied than if they had stuck with just one person and had worked through the issues instead.

      • Avatar

        africana

        May 28, 2010 at 9:48 AM

        assalamu alaikum,

        jazak Allahu khair for your informative response, sister.

      • Avatar

        Naseebah

        May 28, 2010 at 1:51 PM

        Jazaki Allahu khair sisters.

        Just some advice. I’m sure you did not intend it — what you state about women who have had multiple partners could indirectly imply something bad about muslim women who have been married multiple times.

        There is nothing bad about them.

        Khadijah (ra) had 3 different husbands in her lifetime. Most other wives of the prophet (pbuh) had been previously married. Likewise, it was the standard practice of the female sahabahs to remarry after divorce or widowhood, just as it was the sunnah to actively try to get them remarried to noble men.

        What you are refering to is the evil of fornication with multiple partners — and what is wrong about fornication would still be wrong even if it were only with 1 partner for a lifetime.

        • Avatar

          africana

          May 28, 2010 at 5:14 PM

          asslamu alaikum,

          interestingly, in the west at one point it was believed that org**m was necessary in order for conception to take place. once it was discovered that there was no connection between the two, i would think that the idea of ensuring a woman’s pleasure probably fell from favour and probably contributed somewhat to the situation we have now.

          i have thought that the difficulty that many women report in achieving clim*x might be Allah’s way of strengthening the marriage bond. since if she were to break the marriage contract over some matter and then marry another man she might have to wait years before he knew her body suficiently to provide her with s*xual satisfaction.

        • Avatar

          Bushra

          May 29, 2010 at 11:29 AM

          Jazakallahukhair for pointing that out.

          The latter point is a completely different issue as I was speaking more about the nature of modern society and the acceptance of casual sex and one-night stands. It’s those experiences which are in abundance in the West and those that come with a number of problems. But that’s not to say that I condone fornication with one partner for a lifetime.

          As for Muslim women marrying several times, Allah (swt) blesses those marriages, because they have gone about doing things the right way and there is a reward for each time a couple is intimate. Despite that, people still have problems, but I partly think that that is down to both spouses not having enough patience to work through the issues. And Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      AnAfricanWoman

      May 28, 2010 at 9:43 PM

      WHAT NOT TO DO: decide that a woman’s sexual pleasure is non-existant and unimportant simply because one is UNABLE to give it to her!!!!!!

      in other words: women who climax and men who make them climax KNOW that women climaxing is NO MYTH!

    • Avatar

      Amal

      May 30, 2010 at 8:39 AM

      What you’re probably referring to is org**m through penetration alone. While it’s true that *most* women cannot reach org**m this way, to say that this means she just wants to be held and comforted INSTEAD of being sexually satisfied is untrue. There are plenty of ways for women to achieve climax besides penetration and it is their husband’s responsibility to learn these methods and satisfy their wives’ needs.
      It is in no way “natural” for a woman to never experience sexual release, indeed, it is the result of misplaced prudishness and, too often, laziness on the part of husbands. Women too, desire sexual satisfaction, though far too many of them think it’s wrong of them to say so, and thus make statements such as yours and pretend that hugging and hand-holding are an adequate substitute for sexual release. This attitude leads only to frustration and I’d ask you to reconsider before making such untrue statements as women don’t “genuinely” need sexual satisfaction.

      • Avatar

        Amal

        May 30, 2010 at 8:40 AM

        PS
        Comment was in response to Africana

        • Avatar

          africana

          May 30, 2010 at 3:41 PM

          assalamu alaikum,

          yes, i do take your point. it was more me thinking out loud. i apologise if i’ve upset anyone by it.

  6. Avatar

    Reality

    May 27, 2010 at 8:55 PM

    Why did you censor my previous comment? It was thoughtful and relevant.

    -Muhammad Khan’s IP is banned. And your comments sound a lot like him, in addition to the “coincidence” of the same IP. -Editor

  7. Avatar

    Abu Abdillah

    May 28, 2010 at 2:44 AM

    Barakallah feek, a very well written and needed article on the often taboo subject of intimacy in Islam. However, I do have one comment regarding the following statement:

    “Some people erroneously believe that a husband and wife should never look at each others private area. This belief is not based upon any authentic textual evidence – in fact, there are numerous evidences (including this one) that clearly state otherwise…”

    While it is generally agreed upon that a husband and wife may see of one another in whatever is pleasing, especially in light of the hadith in Bukhari where A’isha (radhi Allahu ‘anha) narrates that she and the prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) used to bathe from the same vessel). At the same time, there is also an opinion held by some scholars that it is makrooh, now they base it upon one hadith which has been considered fabricated by many scholars and included in ibn al-Jawzi’s work:

    “When any one of you has intercourse with his wife, let him not look at her private parts, because this causes blindness, and let him not speak, because this causes muteness.”

    However, what about the hadith mentioned by Shaykh ‘Abdullaah ibn Munee’ in a fatwa that A’isha narrated that “He (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) did not see this of her and she did not see this of him”.

    Since you mentioned that there are no authentic texts supportive of the idea, it this hadith fabricated as well?

    Jazak Allah khayr

    p.s. Regarding the statement “some cultures even cut off a part of a woman’s sexual organ in order to minimize her sexuality (through barbaric practices such as FGM – female genital mutilation).”

    Can one assume that you mean female circumcision in its entirety or the exaggerated type found in some countries?

    • Avatar

      africana

      May 28, 2010 at 5:21 PM

      assalamu alaikum,

      “Regarding the statement “some cultures even cut off a part of a woman’s sexual organ in order to minimize her sexuality (through barbaric practices such as FGM – female genital mutilation).”

      Can one assume that you mean female circumcision in its entirety or the exaggerated type found in some countries?”

      yes, i had wondered about this, too. the type practised in malaysia is accordance with the hadith of umm atiyah, is very minor and involves snipping the hood of the cl*toris of baby girls. is reported to be for reasons of cleanliness. although some people say that it reduces sexual desire a little bit , too.( however,i always thought that s*xual desire was linked to the hormonal system so i can’t quite understand this..Allahu Alim)

      • Avatar

        sebkha

        May 29, 2010 at 3:56 PM

        I am not convinced of the soundness of those ahadith that would appear to condone or prescribe this worthless practice. http://en.islamtoday.net/artshow-390-3368.htm

        Regular hygiene, ie of the sort required for being clean enough to pray is abundantly sufficient for the vast majority of women. We’re talking about a much, much smaller surface area than that of a man’s that would be covered by a foreskin if uncircumcised. Yes, gynecological anomalies exist, but they are the exception and not the norm. There is no indication for routinely “treating” all women for something that will only become a possible hygiene or medical issue for a very small minority.

        And without delving into too many vulgar details, I will say that the importance of all three “parts” of this particular female organ are all equally important in the process of female sexual satisfaction. An importance that is not analogous to a male’s foreskin. It is NOT an insignificant, purposeless piece of tissue. And Islamically, every married woman has the right to experience every facet of pleasure this organ has to offer through her husband.

        • Avatar

          africana

          May 29, 2010 at 6:25 PM

          assalamu alaikum,

          jazak Allahu khairan for the link.

          i think in regards to the type of circumcision practised in malaysia and, i believe, indonesia people who support it appear to fall into one of two camps. you have one group saying that it enhances pleasure and is akin to the hoodectomy practised in the west whilst the other group says entirely the reverse.

          i have come across people from the latter group cautioning that failure to perform the procedure results in girls with a one track mind and that muslims who support the eradication of this practice are unknowingly aiding in a conspiracy against Islam.

          maybe there’s also some as not yet known about benefit to this practice.

          • Avatar

            africana

            May 29, 2010 at 6:33 PM

            and even though the ahadith that specifically mention female circumcision (not talking fgm) might be weak, it is mentioned in a couple of others such as the hadith that talks of the necessity of ghusl once the two circumcised parts meet as well as the other which talks about circumcision being one of the aspects of the fitrah.

          • Avatar

            africana

            May 29, 2010 at 6:54 PM

            the website islam q and a includes some quites from some muslim health professionals who are supoortive of the type of female circumcision that involves removal of a part of the clitoris and both Dr. Haamid al-Ghawaabi and Sitt al-Banaat Khaalid mention, in support of the practice, that it reduces libido or excessive s*xual desire.

            according to the first doctor mentioned, “Circumcision reduces excessive sensitivity of the clitoris which may cause it to increase in size to 3 centimeters when aroused, which is very annoying to the husband, especially at the time of intercourse.

            Another benefit of circumcision is that it prevents stimulation of the clitoris which makes it grow large in such a manner that it causes pain.”
            http://www.islam-qa.com/en/ref/45528/female%20circumcision

            i must admit that, whilst i am definitely not dismissing female circumcision, i find this strange as i have never come across an uncircumcised woman complaining of any of the things that he mentions.

          • Avatar

            sebkha

            June 1, 2010 at 3:49 AM

            Cutting anywhere in this area, no matter how “minor” some men may think it is can cause serious damage and long term ill effects.

            This is from Dr Nahid Toubia, the first female surgeon in the Sudan, from a paper she wrote for the New England Journal of Medicine. http://tiny.cc/8vtq5
            (Warning, this site contains medical textbook drawings of female anatomy. View at your own discretion.)

            “Because the specialized sensory tissue of the clitoris is concentrated in a rich neurovascular area of a few centimeters, the removal of a small amount of tissue is dangerous and has serious and irreversible effects. Local and systemic infections are also common. Infection of the wound, abscesses, ulcers, delayed healing, septicemia, tetanus, and gangrene have all been reported.

            The most common long-term complication is the formation of dermoid cysts in the line of the scar. These result from the embedding of keratinized epithelial cells and sebaceous glands in the stitched area. They can be as small as a pea or as large as a grapefruit. The formation of keloids is another disfiguring complication that, like dermoid cysts, causes anxiety, shame, and fear in women who think that their genitals are regrowing in monstrous shapes or who fear they have cancer. When painful stitch neuromas develop as a result of the entrapment of nerve endings in the scar, the result is severe dyspareunia and interference with sexual intercourse. Recurrent stitch abscesses and the splitting of poorly healed scars, particularly when they occur over the clitoral artery, can plague women for many years.”

            Those are actual medical doctors quoted in that Islam Q and A link?!? If so, it’s nearly inconscionable. “Circumcision reduces excessive sensitivity of the clitoris which may cause it to increase in size to 3 centimeters when aroused, which is very annoying to the husband, especially at the time of intercourse.”

            Seriously? People are expected to read a statement like this and attribute medical and scientific merit to it? Routine “treatment” of all women for a condition that is exceedingly rare, due to either a hormonal disorder or an even rarer genetic disorder is not medically sound advice. Because some children are very prone to ear infections does not mean doctors advise routine courses of antibiotics for all kids during cold and flu season. Individuals also vary widely in what they find “annoying” or not sexually. If a man were to be annoyed by the size of his wife’s breasts, would this same dr then advise her body be mutilated through breast augmentation surgery, to reduce his annoyance?

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          Abd- Allah

          May 30, 2010 at 12:15 PM

          I am not convinced of the soundness of those ahadith that would appear to condone or prescribe this worthless practice.

          This is not how the soundness of ahadith are decided! Things are not up to your own conviction, but rather they are up to the scholars of hadith which determine the soundness of the ahadith based on their chains of narration. Regardless of whether these ahadith are authentic or not, you only get to choose which opinion or which scholar to follow on that matter but do not transgress your limits in attacking the statements of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him.

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            africana

            May 30, 2010 at 3:40 PM

            i have since found this article which apears to show female circumcision to be of value in hiv prevention.
            http://www.ias-2005.org/planner/Abstracts.aspx?AID=3138

            obviously, if as muslims we stick to the guidance of Allah in regards to gender relations this shouldn’t be an issue to us, inshAllah.
            but i thought it interesting nevertheless in validating what people say about it having some as not yet known about value.

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            sebkha

            May 31, 2010 at 11:29 PM

            Kindly note that I provided a link in my post that referenced the scholarly opinion on said ahadith that led to the formation of my own personal opinion on the matter. I certainly didn’t provide the link for my own reference, I already have it bookmarked on my Mac. It was provided as a courtesy to those reading my post. It would be appreciated if others extended me the same kind of courtesy by actually reading what I write and link to before attempting to provide me with a lesson I didn’t need.
            Peace.

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          ahmed

          May 31, 2010 at 7:17 AM

          Certainly Sebkha, “Islamically every married woman has the right to experience every facet of pleasure this organ has to offer through her husband” which is exactly the reason why Islam has prescribed female circumcision by removing the prepuce of the clitoris. Another reason is of course cleanliness.

          Here’s an excellent article on Female Circumcision in Islam which shows that it is mandatory, while at the same time explaining what is really required and its benefits:

          There are many ahadith or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)to show the important place, circumcision,whether of males or females, occupies in Islam.

          Among these traditions is the one where the Prophet is reported to have
          declared circumcision (khitan) to be sunnat for men and ennobling for
          women (Baihaqi). He is also known to have declared that the bath
          (following sexual intercourse without which no prayer is valid) becomes
          obligatory when both the circumcised parts meet (Tirmidhi). The fact that
          the Prophet defined sexual intercourse as the meeting of the male and
          female circumcised parts (khitanul khitan or khitanain) when stressing on the need for the obligatory post-coital bath could be taken as pre-supposing or
          indicative of the obligatory nature of circumcision in the case of both
          males and females.

          Read more here:

          For more benefits of Islamic female circumcision also known as hoodectomy see http://www.hoodectomyinformation.com

          -Edited for excerpt

          • Avatar

            Mezba

            May 31, 2010 at 2:06 PM

            It is a shame that these comments condoning a horrible practice such as FGM are being allowed to go unchallenged by the MM editors.

            One could think they are also of the same view. It’s not that the fact that all comments cannot be policed, this comment WAS edited by MM for excerpts, so it’s not that they didn’t see it. Shame!

          • Amad

            Amad

            June 1, 2010 at 1:26 AM

            Mezba,
            What is more of a shame unfortunately is that you would resort to spreading misinformation, bordering slander, on twitter before even addressing the issue. Let me respond to you point by point:
            1) You said on twitter that MM was condoning FGM. That is patently false. The position of MM is clear and it is stated by one MM’s founder and shaykh Yasir in this very article.
            2) I think you have been watching too much of ayan hirsi and adopted a terminology-phobia. It’s like the Israelis who like to throw around the term antisemitism anytime there is criticism of Israel. No one in any of these comments recommended that women go out and engage in FGM, rather the discussion seems to be concerning what FGM is and what it is not.
            3) As long as the discussion doesn’t go out of hand, it is healthy to take the issues out in the open and argue them, rather than censorship. Do you think if we shut the door to understanding, people will just stop doing any barbaric practices?
            4) Just because a comment was edited does not mean it was endorsed. That is nonsense. I saw a rather lengthy comment and for the time I had, I just chopped it and didn’t investigate. That’s why we have readers who will alert us to something bad and then many times we will remove links or comments altogether. That is the proper and constructive approach. So, don’t make assumptions in the future, just ask.
            5) I followed the link to the hoodectomy site, and to be honest, it seems that YOU are the one who hasn’t read it. It seems to be the terminology phobia again. Just screaming FGM doesn’t mean anything relating to circumcision is FGM. In fact, the site seems to be run by non-Muslims who are mentioning this practice as a way to INCREASE sexual pleasure for women, completely the opposite to the motivations of those who engage in FGM. The author of the site further states clearly his/her opposition to FGM. To be honest, I am no expert in this matter, and I don’t need to be. People can read and make up their own mind, but I don’t see why this information needs to be censored.

            Bottomline, have husne dhan for us. We may not agree with each other on some issues, but we can still be brotherly about it.

            P.S. Mezba, also see this comment by africana in response to you, in case you missed it.

          • Avatar

            sebkha

            June 1, 2010 at 4:16 AM

            Thank you Amal for your explanation. You are exactly correct.

            The link to the hoodectomy website above is so fraught with generalizations and half-baked “medical” advice that it was almost comedic. Some women may benefit from the procedure when they experience this rare medical condition. This does not merit putting every female under the knife. Laser surgery changed my life when it made my severe nearsightedness into 20/20 vision. I would not, however, be advocating my husband who has perfect vision undergo the same procedure just because it worked out so great for me. He has no need for it! The same goes for women not experiencing uncommon gynecological anomalies.

            And re. Mezba’s comments, I don’t see how they merit the slander of Hirsi Ali comparisons. That’s an insult not to be used lightly, under any circumstances. I can understand some of her frustrations in that it feels like some posters are trying to put forward positive spins on something they say they oppose. That’s a perplexing position.

          • Avatar

            amad

            June 1, 2010 at 5:00 AM

            Hirsi is a pure Islamophobe and her hatred for Islam is well-documented. When people go on binges of hatred, it is difficult to separate out any reasonable or positive message from the overwhelming hatred.

            Thanks for sharing thoughts on the linked site. It did seem a bit loony.

            My bottomline on this issue is quite simple… when there is no clear obligation to mess with female circumcision, then why mess with it? I would never recommend this for anyone that I have any influence with, certainly not my family. And I have never heard a shaykh making a big deal about it or telling folks to do it.

            And due to the fact that people may not be able to distinguish between what may constitute some interpretation of the sunnah versus wholesale cutting (FGM), it is better then to send a message of discouragement so that the greater harm can be avoided. That is my own personal two cents.

            P.S. By the way, in general, this issue is non-existent in the Indian subcontinent, so this was all new to me anyway.

      • Avatar

        Amal

        May 30, 2010 at 10:50 AM

        @Africana–as far as the “two circumcised parts,” this is a misunderstanding by non-Arabic speakers. I’m not equipped to explain it properly, but “two circumcised parts” doesn’t mean what you think. That is, a man’s penis is called a circumcised part, it is referenced first, and its counterpart is called by the same name. female sex organs are not referred to singularly as a “circumcised part, but if mentioned in conjunction and after the male “circumcised part,” the same word is used for both. This is not exclusive to references to sex organs, but happens all the time, in many contexts; it is a convention of the Arabic language (i.e., as stated below, “the two Marwas”, referring to the two hills of As-Safa and Al-Marwa ,not “two of the same hills, each called Al-Marwa”).

        Here’s an explanation better than mine:
        One of the sayings used to support FGC practices is the hadith (349) in Sahih Muslim: Aishah narrated an authentic Hadith that the Prophet said: “When a man sits between the four parts (arms and legs of his wife) and the two circumcised parts meet, then ghusl is obligatory.” Dr. Muhammad Salim al-Awwa, Secretary General of the World Union of the Muslim Ulemas states that while the hadith is authentic, it is not evidence of legitimacy. He states that the Arabic for “the two circumcision organs” is a single word used to connote two forms; however the plural term for one of the forms is used to denote not two of the same form, but two different forms characterized as a singular of the more prominent form. For example, in Arabic, the word with the female gender can be chosen to make the dual form, such as in the expression “the two Marwas”, referring to the two hills of As-Safa and Al-Marwa (not “two of the same hills, each called Al-Marwa”) in Mecca.[63] He goes on to state that, while the female form is used to denote both male and female genitalia, it is identified with the prominent aspect of the two forms, which, in this case, is only the male circumcised organ. He further states that the connotation of circumcision is not transitive. Dr. al-Awwa concludes that the hadith is specious because “such an argument can be refuted by the fact that in Arabic language, two things or persons may be given one quality or name that belongs only to one of them for an effective cause.” [61] [e.g. the usage in “Qur’an in Surah Al-Furqan(25):53”, “bahrayn” is the dual form of “bahr” (sea) meaning “sea (salty and bitter) and river (sweet and thirst-allaying)”, and not “two seas”.]

        • Avatar

          africana

          May 30, 2010 at 3:32 PM

          jazak Allahu khair,brother for this explanation. not something i’d ever heard of before.

          it’s similar to the frech masculine plural pronoun denoting groups of boys and girls even though both genders are present.

          • Avatar

            africana

            May 31, 2010 at 5:39 PM

            @mezba,

            assaalamu alaikum,

            i am certainly not condoning fgm/c.

            i volunteer alongside someone who is active in discouraging all forms of fgc (including the more minor forms like symbolic pricking of the prepuce that you find in malaysia). i was attempting to understand why people who hold clitoidectomy NOT EXCISION OR INFIBULATION (of the type practised in malaysia and considered obligatory in the shafi school of fiqh) to be desirable appear to contradict one another when talking of its supposed benefits.

          • Avatar

            sebkha

            June 1, 2010 at 11:34 AM

            Salam
            My apologies Africana for misinterpreting some of the inquiries you’ve made. Questions are not the same as condoning, I realize, and I think I have a clearer understanding now that they were asked out of curiosity rather than trying to drum up support for the practice. And my apologies to Mezba as well-who I knew was male, but my late night typing hands didn’t seem to. So sorry!

            In regards to Ahmed, this scholar’s statements are deplorable, really?

            “It appears that female circumcision is more a cultural practice than a matter of Islamic teachings. We have seen that the hadîth which refer to the practice are all weak. The presence of that practice in Egypt and Nubia up to this day is just a continuation of a practice that has been around since the time of the Pharaohs. It is often hard for people to give up deeply ingrained customs and cultural practiced. They continue to be passed down from generation to generation.

            The Shâfi`î school of law has been the prevalent legal school in Egypt since its formative years. It may be that the scholars of the Shâfi`î school who promoted the view that female circumcision is obligatory had been influenced by the prevailing culture of the region

            We conclude that female circumcision is merely a cultural practice that has no prescribed Islamic ruling for it and that is supported by no decisive textual evidence. It is simply a regional custom in the places where it is practiced. We must then take into consideration that many medical professionals consider it to have detrimental affects for the girls who undergo the operation. On that basis, it would be impermissible to allow this custom to continue. In Islamic Law, preservation of the person – the life and bodily soundness of the person – is a legal necessity. Anything that compromises this legal necessity by bringing harm to the person is unlawful.”
            -Sheikh (Dr.) `Abd al-Rahmân b. Hasan al-Nafisah

          • Avatar

            africana

            June 1, 2010 at 1:21 PM

            sorry, i meant sister..

        • Avatar

          Ahmed

          June 1, 2010 at 7:16 AM

          Hi Sebkha

          Your opposition to a practice prescribed in Islam is deplorable. Not only are there hadith showing that female circumcision is Islamic, but all the schools of Islamic law including Hanafi,Shafi, Maliki and Hanbali are agreed on its being Islamic. Thus there is an Ijma or consensus of opinion among the scholars on this issue. And as our beloved Prophet (PBUH) said “My ummah will never agree in error”.The difference of opinion has to do whether it is compulsory or not.

          That the early Muslims regarded female circumcision as obligatory even for those Muslims who embraced Islam later in life is suggested by a tradition occurring in the Adab al Mufrad of Bukhari where Umm Al Muhajir is reported to have said: “I was captured with some girls from Byzantium. (Caliph) Uthman offered us Islam, but only myself and one other girl accepted Islam. Uthman said: ‘Go and circumcise them and
          purify them”.

          Some of the greatest scholars of Islam are agreed that female circumcision is mandatory. It is recorded in the Majmu Al Fatawa that when Ibn Taymiyyah was asked whether the woman is circumcised, he replied: “Yes we circumcise. Her circumcision is to cut the uppermost skin (jilda) like the cock’s comb.” More recently Sheikh Jadul Haqq declared that the circumcision of females like that of males was an obligatory duty for Muslims and that it consisted of the removal of the clitoral prepuce (Khitan Al Banat in Fatawa Al Islamiyya. 1983).

          The fatwa by his successor Tantawi who opposed the practice cannot be taken seriously as we all know that he has pronounced a number of unislamic fatwas such as declaring bank interest halal and questioning the obligation of women wearing headscarves. Such is the fate of those who oppose our noble Islamic practices. Misguided and misguiding. May Allah save us from them !

          • Avatar

            africana

            June 1, 2010 at 8:25 AM

            assalamu alaikum,

            there is a short passage in the english translation of “the reliance of the traveller” a shafi fiqh manual) dealing with this issue.

            “circumcision is obligatory(for both men and women. For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar.bazr) of the clitoris (not the clitoris itself as some mistakenly assert).
            Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna, while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.”

            this is only for information purposes and NOT because i condone the act. Scholars can err on matters so we should try to examine the evidence used to arrive at these decisions and then make up our own minds.

            sebkha, i also found it rather strange that any doctor would advocate surgery to guard against a rare condition that could be dealt with should the problem arise.
            perhaps, if their encounters are only with the circumcised, they may assume that uncircumcised women are greatly affected by the conditions described-
            a view that might be further reinforced by their exposure to stereotypes about the promiscuous nature of western women.

            the other explanation is that these conditions are more commonplace (perhaps on account of climate, although i know that this view was at one put forward by racists) in the countries from which the two commentators come from.

          • Amad

            Amad

            June 1, 2010 at 8:32 AM

            I do have a minor curiosity. Why would there be so much resistance to non-FGM type circumcision in females, but no resistance to male circumcision? Both involve some cutting.

          • Avatar

            africana

            June 1, 2010 at 8:46 AM

            i think it’s that it might open the way to more severe forms or just the whole ick factor. i think the male genitalia is thought of as more robust.

          • Avatar

            Abd- Allah

            June 2, 2010 at 12:48 AM

            I have the same curiosity brother Amad as to why these people object to female circumcision but not male circumcision, but I’m not really waiting for a convincing answer for such an obvious contradiction.

          • Avatar

            Amal

            June 4, 2010 at 9:24 PM

            As Africana pointed out, it’s mostly because people have not been moderate in terms of what they call “circumcision” in women. In most cases, it’s nothing short of disfigurement and torture which causes women permanent pain and robs them of the sexual pleasure that is their right. Since there’s no way to ensure that people will perform the hoodectomy, rather than the more common infibulation, it’s seen by most people as better to leave it altogether, since those who *do* practice it can’t seem to control themselves and butcher women, rather than circumcise them. Essentially, it’s because we’re very careful of the male genitalia, cutting only a minor bit away, but when it comes to females, we behave as though their genitals are bad simply because they exist, so we slaughter them with no regard to the outcome.

          • Avatar

            africana

            June 5, 2010 at 6:08 PM

            assalamu alaikum,

            i suppose, though..if the practice of prepuce removal were shown to be islamically required (and i think the evidence points to it.) we, as muslims, shouldn’t condemn it

            to argue that something merits banning because people can’t do it right would lead you to ban a whole host of things, like polygamy and maybe even monogamy (cos some men oppress their wives).

            i get the impression that roze is fairly young. as maybe she hasn’t lived with her circumcision for an extended period of time, it would be useful to hear testimonials from those women who are more advanced in age as to their experiences as some people report a decrease in sensitivity over time.

            i have also been reading about a condition whereby the clitoris is extremely sensitive to the point of beig painful. maybe, this procedure wouldn’t be good for these individuals. what are your thoughts?

          • Avatar

            africana

            June 1, 2010 at 8:41 AM

            .Hirsi is a pure Islamophobe and her hatred for Islam is well-documented. When people go on binges of hatred, it is difficult to separate out any reasonable or positive message from the overwhelming hatred.

            assalmu alaikum,

            amad, if you read sebkha’s comment again you will see she’s not supporting hirsi ali when she says ” I can understand some of her frustrations in that it feels like some posters are trying to put forward positive spins on something they say ..”
            she is actually talking aboit mezba who she has mistaken for a female.

          • Amad

            Amad

            June 3, 2010 at 3:06 AM

            oh ok, thanks for the correction.

            I completely respect people’s right to criticize and bring stuff to our attention, but I don’t appreciate it being done on another medium in sensationalist and false manner.

            Doesn’t mean I don’t like Mezba anymore :)

        • Avatar

          Abu Yusuf

          April 2, 2011 at 7:49 PM

          Having observed Yaasir’s evolution from a warm-blooded, avid, and voracious student of knowledge in 1990s to a moderate and still-evolving Muslim today, we can marvel at the axiom that one’s environment plays a significant role in who we become. From Yaasir’s point of view, he is a scholarly student of knowledge with a unique vantage point – straddling the dogmatic orthodoxy of his erstwhile Madinite mentors and the ostensibly unbiased mores of his ‘erudite’ Ivy league educators. Indeed he views himself as the nexus between the two worlds. So fierce and uncharted is the region where the twain meet that Yaasir has unwittingly stepped into a role where conflicts (undoubtedly) haunt him when he pontificates at night. Such hauntings are but a sign of his faith. The most telling sentence in the NYT article that leapt off the pages was his pained expression to the effect of: “my tongue is silent”. Indeed, even his loyal students have frustratingly lambasted him for “wishy washy non-answers”. However, one need only put oneself in Yaasir’s shoes for a brief interlude to judge the patent difficulties of his situation. The questions that come to mind are ones that can be answered by none other than Yaasir himself – are his recent actions and stances an attempt to coddle with the establishment only in aid of laying down a strategic advantage for American Muslims or is it a love for power and weakness of the heart? Is his silence about sensitive matters a tacit approval for or against the action described as the pinnacle of faith or does his silence point to nothing other than self-preservation in this post-Tamimi era? Does he see himself as a visionary on the right brand of orthodox Islam leading the way for the next generation of Muslims (who are 2nd and 3rd generation now) as a shepherd sees his flock or is this simply an abjuration of western Madhkhalite Jarh wa Ta’deelites and an outlet for Muslims to join him under a milder orthodoxy? Is Yaasir buckling under the assimilationist pressures by issuing statements whereby he declares what Islam intended? (“I believe that we in America need to acclimatize the religious aspects of Ahl al-Sunnah within the cultural climate that we find ourselves in, and I go so far as to say that this is what Islam itself intended”).

          Since we do not know what is in his heart, we must accord him the benefit of the doubt until he flagrantly opposes fundamental principles wherein differentiation is tantamount to deviation. As a fellow Muslim, we must believe in his sincerity and consider his fragile position between the rock that are his thirsty followers and the hard place that is the vigilant establishment. Yaasir need only remember that an elite group of his followers are not prone to naivete and are as highly intelligent as him and therefore are frustrated by dismissiveness of important ‘Muslim Matters’.

          Having said that we must pray to Allah to guide our own souls and that of the young Ivy leaguers running MuslimMatters.org for at the end of the matter our meeting and judgment will be based on what our own hands have earned.

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      Abd- Allah

      May 29, 2010 at 5:02 AM

      However, what about the hadith … that A’isha narrated that “He (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam) did not see this of her and she did not see this of him”.

      It is fabricated. Refer to Shaykh al-Albaani’s book Silsilah al-Ahaadeeth ad-Da`eefah wa’l-Mawdoo`ah # 1135.

      • Avatar

        Abu Abdillah

        May 29, 2010 at 6:17 AM

        Jazak Allah khayr!

      • Avatar

        sabirah

        May 31, 2010 at 10:25 PM

        Abd-Allah can you recommend an online source/ebook for establisching the authenticity of ahadith?
        I really like to study that further, I’m so fed up with people slapping me with weird ahadith that I find out later as fabricated.
        Is there a good list somewhere?

        • Avatar

          Abd- Allah

          June 2, 2010 at 1:10 AM

          Sister Sabirah, you can look up ahadith and their authenticity in Arabic at this site. However, I don’t think there is anything similar in English, but if you are having trouble finding a certain hadith or have the English translation of a hadith and would like to check its authenticity then email hadithcheck@gmail [dot] com and you will get help inshAllah as it is a service which verifies the authenticity of ahadith.

          • Avatar

            sabirah

            June 2, 2010 at 2:07 AM

            jazhakallah khair brother Abd- Allah, one more reason to dig more into my arabic lessons!

    • Avatar

      Lila

      February 22, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      @Abu Abdillah: about partners seeing each other’s private parts. When the Prophet peace be upon him used to wash (have a shower (they did not have baths as we do and the way they washed was to pour from a bucket over themselves, using a cup); he used to have his Awra covered which is the practice of ALL the Prophets, peace be upon them. They used to have more shyness in front of God. So to use the Hadith about washing in ghusl from the same bucket as evidence either of having a shower together as a sexual act or as proof of seeing each other’s nakedness is wrong. It cannot be used for inspiration to have a sexually-charged shower together because clearly the Hadith mentions it having been GHUSL. ghusl would be counterproductive if it were sexual in nature!
      Secondly, i disagree with the author of this article in his interpretation that shaving the private parts is to make them LOOK nice. this is solely his personal view being imposed on the hadith. Frankly, it could be so they FEEL soft and nice to the touch. the idea of not looknig at each other’S private parts could still completely be supported this way.

  8. Avatar

    Yaqeen needed

    May 28, 2010 at 5:10 AM

    Yasir said

    ‘One of the blessings of sex that our scholars have mentioned, al-Ghazali says, is to experience some of the pleasures of the afterlife‘.

    Is there any proof that we will experience some of the pleasures of the akhirah in this dunya? Can some evidence for this emphatic statement be provided from the quran and sunna? Or must we just accept it without question bc it is Ghazzali or Yasir qadi? It is known from our early scholars esp the aima arba that we do not accept their sayings except we know their daleel-proofs.

    • Avatar

      Abu Abdillah

      May 28, 2010 at 6:30 AM

      I believe that it is referring to sex for the benefit of understanding. Obviously the activities (even those that exist in this dunya) are far superior in the realm of the hereafter, likewise the torment of the hellfire (and we seek Allah’s refuge) is far greater than any torment of this life, although Allah often uses similarities so that we can understand.

      For example, we are told of the fruit, the houses, the gardens, the rivers, etc, of jannah, knowing that it is beyond compare to anything of this life, however it is given that we might grasp the idea and become motivated. Likewise Allah will punish the dwellers of the hellfire in many ways, the most known of which is by fire, however this fire we know in the dunya is only a fraction of that which will be present in hell. Can we now say that we have not experienced a taste of what is to come for those of the hellfire via our own experiences with fire in this life? We have, but obviously beyond compare, likewise is the similarity to intercourse, wine, honey, milk, fruits, etc, for those blessings for the dwellers of paradise (may Allah make us amongst them).

      Imagine Allah were to describe paradise and the hellfire with terms and ideas that are completely unknown and remain as such, how would we motivate ourselves?

      Wallahu ‘alam.

      p.s. Finally I advise myself and others to humble themselves and know that this deen is based upon firm foundations and knowledge, our way (the way of the people of sunnah) is between the extreme of absolute blind following of scholars that some groups and individuals fall into, and the other extreme of those with little to no knowledge or understanding of the principles of our religion who delve into matters by approaching the Qur’an and sunnah directly with no scholarly guidance or essential knowledge to direct them, often falling astray and leading others astray. I ask Allah that He increase us in sincerity, knowledge, righteous action, and patience, and may He grant us all the highest level of paradise and unite us upon the truth.

      wa salam

      • Avatar

        Yaqeen needed

        May 29, 2010 at 11:02 PM

        Bro, | thank you for your attempt. However, if your reply just included the statement ‘Wallahu ‘alam’ you used it would have sufficed. Interesting though not too surprising a reply

        Firstly, your post fails to provide the required clarification. I am not sure whether this is due to not understanding what was sought: again repeated- provide evidence for the bold and boldened statement that we will experience the pleasures of the next life in this world – evidence from the quran and sunna. If I needed opinions like… I believe..I would have stated so. After all it is very common to see people in this blog and elsewhere in the islamic blogoshere mix their american freedom of speech Fortunately one remembers the exemplary practices of the likes of Abu Bakr- radiallahu anhum jamea. He would not put forward his opinion on an ayah he did not know the meaning.

        Secondly, placing your ‘I believe’ opinion above the evidence from the quran and sunna is clearly opposite to the humble yourself you are trying to call to.

        Thirdly, if only you had bothered, you will find that all your opinions have been considered by those who preceded us from the true salaf. Indeed their times were purer and sincerity a hal mark. The Deen of Islam is complete and they reflected upon all these aspects long before we came along in our times of fitna.

        Allah azza wa jal says:

        فَلا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَّا أُخْفِيَ لَهُم مِّن قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاء بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

        And from the hadis some explain this same verse:

        There is the hadis of Abu Huraira (reported by Imaam Muslim) who reported Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying that: Allah the Exalted and Glorious, said: I have prepared for My pious servants which no eye has ever seen, and no ear has ever heard, and no human heart has ever perceived but it is testified by the Book of Allah. He then recited:

        ” No soul knows what comfort has been concealed from them, as a reward for what they did”. (32:17)

        And there are other similar narrations by Abu Huraira in sahih muslim.

        In another narration, nabiyy alaehi salam says : “There would be bounties which the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard and no human heart has ever perceived them. He then recited this verse:” They forsake (their) beds, calling upon their Lord in fear and in hope, and spend out of what We have given them. So no soul knows what refreshment of the eyes is hidden for them: a reward for what they did” (32. 16-17)

        Ibn Abbas -radiallahu anhum jamea- has clarified for us what the similar names you mentioned are. He affirmed that the similarity only stops at the names. This again makes it extremely akward to state we will experience some of these pelasures. Moreso without bringing forth adilla. Further clarification is given by the well known scholar Ibn Qayyim rahmatulla alaehi in his equally well known qasida nuniyya on wasf aljannah.

        http://www.kalamullah.com/Quran/IbnQayyimAl-Jawziyyahs-QasidahNuniyyah.mp3

        The complete audio of the qasida can be found on the link above. This site is not working at present but it may be back online soon insha Allah

        I am sure alternate sites to this qasida will exist

        Fourthly, my initial post was put in a question format thus giving Yasir excuses- that he may have erroneously left out the evidence for such a bold statement? Or perhaps he has better evidence to the contrary. Or these ayaats or hadis are abrogated? Whatever, the evidences should be put forward. After all the nabiy – alaehi salam- left us on a clear guidance- the night being as clear as the day and no one leaves that path except that he is destroyed.

        Your statement ‘often falling astray and leading others astray’ is described in arabic as’ . And Allah azza wa jal says in the Furqan:

        مَا أَشْهَدتُّهُمْ خَلْقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلَا خَلْقَ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَمَا كُنتُ مُتَّخِذَ الْمُضِلِّينَ عَضُدًا

        Bro I think you should be seriously worried that making a bold statement like that made here on the pleasures of al jannah without evidence is indeed a source of misguidance and leading others astray. The aqida of ahlu sunna is to believe in the quran as was understood by the companions and the true salaf.

        Now if the quran and hadis and here what is clearly and boldy stated is against these ayaat/hadis, it should be a no brainer for you to see where misguidance and misguiding comes in to play.

        Nas alullaha thabat wal baseerah

        • Avatar

          Abu Abdillah

          May 30, 2010 at 6:28 AM

          Barak Allah feek akhee for your passion and fervor, however I do have a few clarifications to make;

          Firstly, our great scholars (past and present) would often begin with statements such as “I believe” or “I think that”, etc. So then what about us laymen? This is done to free oneself and make apparent to the reader/questioner that this is in fact an opinion (even if an educated one). Now quoting verses and ahadith to support one’s view can also be an opinion as perhaps one can quote a verse or hadith that has been abrogated, completed in another verse or hadith, etc. For example, if one were to look at the verse which prohibits dead meat without knowing the verse that permits eating sea-life without exclusion, then one would erroneously come to an improper conclusion when approaching the subject of dead fish meat while quoting direct evidences from the Qur’an and/or Sunnah. So this is done as a means to protect oneself.

          Secondly, I don’t think we are in fact at odds in this issue, I am not defending the idea that sex, food, drink, or anything in this dunya is comparable to that of the akhirah as I mentioned before:

          “it is beyond compare to anything of this life, however it is given that we might grasp the idea and become motivated”

          I don’t need to quote the mass amount of verses that refer directly to the types of rewards that await those of paradise and the punishments that await those of the hellfire (and we seek Allah’s refuge).

          Now once again I must stress for you that these similarities that we experience in this life is not an experience comparable to the realities of jannah, yet we are given and told these things in the very Qur’an as an example so that we may perceive. Do you dispute this point? I should mention that with the exception of this blog I am not very active online, I don’t believe in free speech without knowledge, nor do I live in a western country (repeat non-Muslim country). But I believe in staying up-to-date with the current affairs of Muslims from around the world (in this case the USA specifically).

          Furthermore I am not quoting my empty opinion on this matter (as it is worthless when approaching the book and sunnah) rather the opinions of scholars regarding the similarities of that which is mentioned/promised for those of paradise and hell. If you doubt me feel free to call up any known scholar from the people of sunnah and ask them regarding the specific rewards of paradise that are mentioned in the Qur’an.

          Finally, you quoted a hadith mentioning:

          “Allah the Exalted and Glorious, said: I have prepared for My pious servants which no eye has ever seen, and no ear has ever heard, and no human heart has ever perceived but it is testified by the Book of Allah. He then recited:

          ” No soul knows what comfort has been concealed from them, as a reward for what they did”. (32:17)”

          Whoever said this was a contradiction? The verses that mention the women, fruits, rivers, gardens, drinks, carpets, silk, etc, of paradise are not given without reason. So then what are you arguing?

          I don’t have the direct quote of al-ghazali in arabic to confirm, but perhaps the translation is lacking and thus it is perceived as directly experiencing what awaits in paradise. However it is not unheard of to state that whatever is given in similarity as specific such as the fruits of paradise is done so in order to get an idea from this life as to what awaits the righteous, however obviously without real compare to the bliss of the hereafter.

          Wallahu ‘alam

          p.s. I wasn’t directly referring to you or any individual in my general neseehah regarding the types of extremes we find in the ummah. May Allah guide and protect you brother, was salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah.

  9. Avatar

    Naseebah

    May 28, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    Barak Allahu feekum

  10. Avatar

    africana

    May 28, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    very interesting article and discussion, by the way.

  11. Avatar

    abdul

    May 29, 2010 at 12:48 AM

    I’m single and I read the hadith. I totally got what its meaning is .. find a wife , have romance and keep laughing :p .. .Yeh I got . But all i’m doing is fasting these days .i’m just fasting and will continue fasting …the thing is please post more for unmarried men :( and women.We are single and seeing alots of shameless peeps dating , hugging , kissing makes us more mad :( .. so what should we do.. ???

    I was fasting for like 10-12 days continously + alots of good stuff.. but once i saw a woman in hijab with a man .. smoking and dating in a part.It made me so sick .. that i cant tell you. But these days its all fitna :(…

    I’ve decided that i need to fast everyday.. fasting alternative days doesn’t work…

    just pray for us and put something for unmarried men. :D its all cool these days alhumdulilllah.Wish I had knew alots of islam in my past… well alhumdulilllah its all going cool and fun :) by fasting , doing alots of good work and gym + running and all that on daily basis.. keep praying

    • Avatar

      Khan

      May 29, 2010 at 6:55 AM

      Alhamdulillaah, we are on the same boat brother. May Allaah makes it easier for all those who are not yet married . I see the Fitnah is indeed rising especially in summer when the warning level goes from Green to Red. May Allaah have mercy on us and protect our Imaan. Amin

      • Avatar

        Muslimah

        May 31, 2010 at 10:02 AM

        May Allah make it easy for all us sisters too …

  12. Avatar

    africana

    May 30, 2010 at 6:19 AM

    assalamu alaikum,

    you do come across this advice from time to time. i assume it doesn’t mean an evening gown but maintaing some coverage of the body with a longish, light weight skirt and maybe a top. you can wash undernaeth the clothes and over them.

    one of the reasons this advice is given is beacause of the possibilty that you mght forget to say the necessary dua when entering the bathroom (which stops the evil jinn from seeing your body). the jinn have been known to fall in love with humans (ashik jinn) and cause countless problems. it’s felt by those who practice roqia that covering the body, in addition to not spending a long time in the bathroom or admiringourselves in the mirror is a must to reduce this possibilty.

    the other argument is that vcovering the body at all times cultivates shyness and constant awareness of Allah.

  13. Avatar

    F

    May 31, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    Walaikum Assalam Africana,

    Sister, you might want to look in this advice since it doesn’t sound the most authentic to me. I have never heard any scholar of any kind say we should take a shower with some form of clothing.

    • Avatar

      africana

      June 1, 2010 at 1:25 PM

      assalamu alaikum,

      yes, i will look into it, inshAllah.

    • Amad

      Amad

      June 3, 2010 at 3:04 AM

      agree… as long as you make your adkhar before entering the bathroom, it is obvious that you will be uncovered. We have to be careful not to make things harder than what is authentically reported. Islam is practical.

  14. Avatar

    sebkha

    June 1, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    Amad-Cutting in and of itself is not “bad” per se. But only when it’s done only to those for who it is prescribed for! For me anyway, it’s the compelling scholar opinions I’ve read condemning the practice for women, based on various hadiths they state are inauthentic or misread or misunderstood. The same problems do not exist when it comes to sources that state it’s required for males. That is first and foremost. The blatant anatomical and physiological differences would appear to support that conclusion. They can only be seen as supporting evidences though, not the foundation. Female anatomy and response is just different.

    Your other comment was interesting too, where you said that the issue is non-existent in the Indian sub-continent. The same goes for a large portion of the Arabian Peninsula, as well as the Maghreb. “There is no evidence that this practice was widespread among the Pious Predecessors. Moreover, the practice has never been prevalent in the regions where Islam originated – Mecca and Madinah and the surrounding areas of Arabia. It is extremely rare. If female circumcision had truly been endorsed by Islamic Law, it would certainly have been practiced and perpetuated in those regions. Only male circumcision is practiced, due to the authentic evidence in the Sunnah that it is part of the natural way (fitrah).” http://en.islamtoday.net/artshow-390-3368.htm

    Whereas in Egypt, there are some reports that say upwards of 98% of the female population has undergone some sort of procedure. I take those numbers with a big, big grain of salt though-accurate reporting of the extent of this practice is really, really hard to come by. But it does seem to be ingrained in the Christian population there as well-there have been reports that some Coptic priests refuse to baptise girls who have not had any procedure done.

  15. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    June 2, 2010 at 12:41 AM

    Kindly note that I provided a link in my post that referenced the scholarly opinion on said ahadith that led to the formation of my own personal opinion on the matter. I certainly didn’t provide the link for my own reference, I already have it bookmarked on my Mac. It was provided as a courtesy to those reading my post. It would be appreciated if others extended me the same kind of courtesy by actually reading what I write and link to before attempting to provide me with a lesson I didn’t need.
    Peace.

    Sebkha, indeed as a Muslim and a true believer in Allah and His messenger, you need to show respect for the ahadith of the Prophet peace be upon him. I don’t think that any scholarly opinion, regardless of whether that scholar thinks that these ahadith are authentic or not, will support your statement “those ahadith that would appear to condone or prescribe this worthless practice.”

    I’ll tell you one thing, that when you show courtesy to the statements of the Prophet peace be upon him, then people will show you some courtesy. It’s nothing personal, but your attitude towards the ahadith of the Prophet peace be upon him is simply not acceptable.

    • Avatar

      sebkha

      June 3, 2010 at 2:42 AM

      My statement was “I am not convinced of the soundness of those ahadith that would appear to condone or prescribe this worthless practice.”

      There is positively nothing in that statement that shows any kind of disrespect for the ahadith of the Prophet, saw. Nothing. I condemned the practice, which has been shown time and time again to be denounced by reputable Islamic scholars, as well as judged to be false and/or unauthentic. Like this one here-” In fact, there is no authentic evidence in the cited statements which allows for sanctioning this act, which has such serious matter, with its serious implications for human life as a whole.” http://www.emro.who.int/Publications/HealthEdReligion/CircumcisionEn/Chapter3.htm

      Again, here, from the same link-“Thus, Umm Attia’s hadith, in all its versions, is of no value and cannot serve as evidence.”

      Here’s a different scholar on the matter-“”All practices of female circumcision and mutilation are crimes and have no relationship with Islam. Whether it involves the removal of the skin or the cutting of the flesh of the female genital organs… it is not an obligation in Islam.” http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=77396

      I stated a denouncement of the procedure. Nothing more. My words were not out of line in respect to the reverence due to ahadith. Your attempt at slandering me by accusing me of disrespect is a red herring, meant to distract from the real issue being discussed. You are barking up the wrong tree, and your accusations simply do not stick.

    • Amad

      Amad

      June 3, 2010 at 3:05 AM

      Abdullah, I don’t think sebkha denied hadith or insulted their authority in anyway. It was more related to the authenticity of those sayings, which is fine as long as it is a scholarly checking (and that is what she pointed to).

      • Avatar

        Abd- Allah

        June 3, 2010 at 1:49 PM

        Regardless of this issue here, this general statement is where the problem is:

        “I am not convinced of the soundness of those ahadith that would appear to condone or prescribe this worthless practice.”

        It is not the best way to express your ideas. You had to further explain what you meant because that statement gave off the wrong impression. It seemed like you were using your “feelings and emotions” about something to reject the ahadith. You are not the first to use such a statement, and others have used it to reject the authentic ahadith just because to them these ahadith prescribe a “worthless” practice. For example, some might deny the ruling of stoning those who commit fornication or of killing those who murder, and they say that they are “not convinced of the soundness of those ahadith that would appear to condone or prescribe this worthless practice.”

        You see the problem with that statement is that many people use it to reject certain ahadith about something which they “emotionally” do not agree with, even if all the scholars have agreed to the authenticity of those ahadith. This is the misunderstanding that came from using such a statement, and you are entitled to your own opinion on the subject of female circumcision, but you should avoid such a general statement because it does imply that you are from those type of people who accept and reject the ahadith using their mind and emotions and what they see “fit”.

        I would also suggest with regards to this issue specifically, of female circumcision, that you refrain from describing it as a worthless practice and attack it as un-islamic, because none of the early scholars have used those words nor said what you are saying. YES some of them did classify the ahadith on this matter to be weak or not authentic, but none of them said that it was worthless and has nothing to do with islam, and most of them (including those who classified the ahadith to be not authentic or weak) they held the opinion that it is recommended and some said that it is even obligatory, and so most of them DO say that female circumcision is islamic, even if some of them declared those ahadith to be not authentic. So that jump which you are making, from declaring that these ahadith are not authentic, to actually describing the practice itself as un-islamic or worthless, then I don’t think any of the early or credible scholars have done this.

        And lastly, we are talking about the hypothetical ruling of female circumcision and not the practical application of it, so if this ruling is being abused in certain parts of the world or misapplied, then by no means is that a valid way to attack the ruling and say that it is not islamic.

  16. Avatar

    Ahmed

    June 2, 2010 at 2:42 AM

    Hi Sebkha, my sincere advice to you is to do some soul searching and some research on the matter before coming to your own conclusions and blindly following misled self professed sheikhs like Abd al-Rahmân b. Hasan al-Nafisah. Frankly I have never heard of him. And what he is saying is absolute nonsense. When all our classical Muslim scholars are agreed that Female circumcision is Islamic, who is he to declare it unislamic ? He is probably another Tantawi, another misguided scholar who declared female circumcision to be unislamic, followed by his support for interest-based banking and the french ban on headscarves.

    Could this guy compare to the renowned scholars of Islam such as Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah and Sheikhul Azhar Jaddul Haq ? A far cry indeed !

    As for brother Abdallah’s query as to why female circumcision is opposed while male circumcision is supported, the answer is that many people today, and not just Muslims, have fallen victim to the prejudices propagated by the Jewish-controlled western media. The Jews as we all know practice male circumcision and reject female circumcision and it is in their interest to promote the male variety while condemning the female variety which they very well realise is Islamic. Thus promoting MC while opposing FC suits their anti-Islamic agenda just fine. In fact in the USA it were the Jewish doctors who started the trend of male infant circumcision. Similarly we can be certain that the ban on female circumcision in the USA, UK, France and some other countries has been inspired by the Jewish lobby and Jewish-controlled media in these countries.

    It is a pity that people like Sebkha should have fallen victim to such misinformation, and are not willing to see reason even when well meaning westerners promote hoodectomy as a procedure to increase genital hygiene and enhance the sex life of women who would otherwise have difficulties in maintaining cleanliness and realising sexual fulfillment. And to think that Islam had the answer over 1400 years ago !

    • Amad

      Amad

      June 2, 2010 at 5:10 AM

      I don’t think Sebkha speaks in a vacuum. Most scholars today do not promote female circumcision. It definitely is not at the same level as the mandatory male circumcision. Together with the fact that there is widespread abuse, I think being cautious is indeed the correct approach… the harm being done to some women is too much to justify the act, even if mustahab. In light of the current conditions, we do need mainstream scholars to research the situation and arrive at appropriate rulings (beyond just slapping texts from classical works).

      • Avatar

        africana

        June 2, 2010 at 8:18 AM

        assalamu alaikum,

        the thing is..are communities that practice excision and infibulation going to give it up if the alternative is to leave the genitalia untouched?

        promoting sunnah circumcision would satisfy the family’s need and that of the girls to have some sort of cutting. i watched a programme about circumciion in the somali community in nairobi whoand interestingly it was the young sisters who were pushing their parents to allow them to be circumcised (it was a relatively minor form, i might add) so that they could be like their peers.

        since excision and infibulation are clearly done with a view to mainatining chastity by making intercourse difficult, it might be difficult for a practice such as the removal of the prepuce only to be accepted. especially since the purpose of hoodectomy is entirely the opposite of the aim of infibulation ad excism.

    • Avatar

      sebkha

      June 3, 2010 at 3:51 AM

      Seriously? Your position is that since you have “never heard of him” then he must be a “self-professed and misled sheikh”? Or because you are ignorant of his existence, he “is probably another Tantawi”? This is absurd. Your ignorance of his existence does nothing to negate his position or credibility. If you want to discredit his words, you need a whole lot more proof than what you have brought here. And neither does Tantawi’s erroneous positions on banking and headscarves mean he must be wrong when he denounces cutting female’s genitals as wrong and unIslamic.

      “The hadith most often quoted of those which mention female circumcision is one that concerns a woman called Umm Attia, known to have practised female circumcision in Medina. This hadith is quoted, with similar phraseology, by Al-Hakim, Al-Baihaqi, and Abu Dawood. All of them, however, relate it with weak chains of transmission, as hadith scholar Zein al-Din al-Iraqi points out in his commentary on Al-Ghazali’s Ihya ulum al-din (I:148).” http://www.emro.who.int/Publications/HealthEdReligion/CircumcisionEn/Chapter3.htm

      I assume all of those names are known to you? Do you consider them to be “self professed” or “misled”?

      Or here, from the same link-Another hadith which is as well-known as that involving Umm Attia is a quotation attributed to the Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, which says: “Circumcision is a sunna for men and a sign of respect for women”. In his comments on Ihya ulum al-din, hadith scholar Al-Iraqi finds it also lacking in authenticity. Hadith scholar Abu Umar ibn Abd al-Barr says in his above-mentioned book: “Those who consider (female) circumcision a sunna, use as evidence this hadith of Abu al-Malih, which is based solely on the evidence of Hajjaj ibn Artaa, who cannot be admitted as an authority when he is the sole transmitter. The consensus of Muslim scholars shows that circumcision is for men” (Al-tamhid lima fil-muwatta min al-ma’ani wal-assanid, XXI, 59)

      The “Jewish conspiracy” nonsense is bigoted, bonkers, and pretty much crosses the line into tin-foil hat territory. Not to mention that it’s the kind of rubbish that gets in the way of addressing genuine crimes against humanity and oppression that are perpetuated by wretched thieves and murderers in Palestine and other parts of the world. Not ok. As an aside, the Fulasha Jews in Ethiopia do happen to practice female circumcision. They must not have gotten the memo.

      And did you even read all the way through that ridiculous hoodectomy website you posted? Not even those people, with their rubbish, fake medical advice, advised that it was something needed by all women. For some women, who experience the uncommon, rare abnormality of clitoral phimosis, it might be helpful. Others suffering from the disorder may benefit from topical steroids or hormonal treatments. There’s no medical reason to suggest a surgical treatment, with its inherent risks from anesthesia, infection, etc. should be done to every female, regardless of whether or not she has this disorder. Most women do not suffer from this problem, and at various stages of female’s sexual arousal, this organ has a prepuce to retract under for a reason. It is not supposed to be exposed all of the time, and at certain times that constant exposure can be extremely uncomfortable for women. You wouldn’t be liberating anyone there, just making something uncomfortable which was just fine to begin with.

      • Amad

        Amad

        June 3, 2010 at 4:22 AM

        yes, the Jewish conspiracy theory is loony, to put it mildly.

        In fact most of the conspiracies that Muslims tend to fall for is just out of desperation for some sort of justification for our lowly condition today (as in the Arrivals documentary).

      • Avatar

        Roze

        June 4, 2010 at 1:07 AM

        Hi dear Sebi

        That’s what I thought too, till a friend convinced me to go through it. I have no regrets whatsoever. Any woman as you know has something called smegma accumulating under her clitoral hood and if not cleaned regularly this can become extremely uncomfortable. It can cause irritation, pain from inflammations and recurring ailments like UTIs and Cystitis . It also smells bad. Whenever we indulged in oral sex previous to my circumcision my husband always insisted I wash beneath the hood with soap as he could n’t stand the smell. Further I did not know what I was missing in enjoying sex till I had it taken off. I’m certain this holds true for every woman. It does liberate. Believe me !

        The procedure takes just a few minutes and is quick and painless under anaesthesia. It also heals fast. You can do your chores a couple of hours after the op. You can get it done at Pusrawi Hospital In KL, Malaysia for just 50 dollars. In fact many of my female friends are now visiting KL for their vacations while having their hoods clipped at the same time. Mixing business with pleasure I guess. Try it, you don’t know what you’re missing till you have it done !

        • Avatar

          africana

          June 4, 2010 at 3:51 AM

          assalmu alaikum,
          that’s a very interesting perspective. it’s very rarely that you hear from the women themselves.

          i would have thought that since muslims generally wash with water after urination, this area (especially since it’s so close to urethal opening) would be getting washed almost as many times as one answers the call of nature.

          thanks once again.

          • Avatar

            africana

            June 4, 2010 at 3:58 AM

            “While that may be true in some countries, in Brunei obviously it is not. I went through circumcision, and I assure you that me, along with the bulk of Bruneian female population who have undergone the procedure/ritual, can very well testify that our clitoris(es) are safe and very well intact.”

            http://maurina.wordpress.com/2007/11/16/female-circumcision-explained/

          • Avatar

            Roze

            June 4, 2010 at 4:56 AM

            Walaikum Salam, Africana

            While it is true that we Muslim women do wash after urination, shave our lady parts often etc, it does not help in keeping clean an uncircumcised clitoris since the hood prevents any water from getting in and cleaning it.

            I too washed and shaved, but this did nothing to remove the smegma collecting underneath my hood, with the result that even my husband often complained about the foul smell emanating from it whenever we wanted to engage in some oral sex. Only circumcision can really take care of this problem just as it does in the case of men.

        • Avatar

          Amal

          June 4, 2010 at 9:03 PM

          Roze: What was true for you, in terms of cleaning issues, is not true for all women. The prepuce, in most women, is insignificant and easily manipulated enough to cleaned quite thoroughly so that there is no chance of accumulation of smegma. I’ve certainly never had an issue.
          PS
          It’s a terrible idea to use regular soap on female genitalia; using soap might very well have been the *cause* of your unpleasant smell.

          • Avatar

            Roze

            June 7, 2010 at 1:41 AM

            Frankly Amal, it seems you have no idea of female anatomy whatsoever. Are you even aware that there is a fold of skin covering the entire clitoris and much more besides ? If this is so, how can simply washing one’s genitals after a pee clean it. If you really need to clean the smegma you will have to raise the hood upwards and rub it with soap and wash again with water just as is recommended for the penises of uncircumcised males.

            Here an interesting article from http://www.the-clitoris.com for you information:

            ” While we are constantly bombarded with information about feminine hygiene one aspect of it we never hear mention of concerns sebum, smegma, and clitoral adhesions. Given the clitoris has many of the same structures as a penis and functions in much the same way, it too has glands that produce sebum, which when it accumulates is called smegma. While smegma is of great concern in men and boys, and is often the justification for routine circumcision, its existence in girls and women is most often overlooked.

            This is unfortunate, as smegma can harden under the clitoral hood causing irritation and pain in girls and women. This irritation may result in the tissues of clitoral glans and hood fusing together partially or fully, forming adhesions. These adhesions can prevent the clitoral hood from caressing the glans during sexual stimulation, alone and with a partner, making orgasm difficult or impossible to experience, as a result of clitoral stimulation alone. When adhesions are present the clitoris cannot be exposed to frictional stimulation, which may result in a clitoris that is insensitive to stimulation, causing a woman to believe her clitoris is absent or defective”.

  17. Avatar

    africana

    June 4, 2010 at 6:23 AM

    @roze,

    thank you for your prompt reply.

    one of the commentators remarks that the exposed clitoris is more likely to rub against underwear causing unwanted arousal.wouldn’t it present problems for women who are either unmarried or who have husbands who are negligent of their wife’s rights?

    • Avatar

      Roze

      June 4, 2010 at 8:18 AM

      In reply to Africana’s question “one of the commentators remarks that the exposed clitoris is more likely to rub against underwear causing unwanted arousal.wouldn’t it present problems for women who are either unmarried or who have husbands who are negligent of their wife’s rights?”

      Why should it be a problem ? I certainly have an exposed clit with about two thirds of my hood taken off during my circ and I don’t get unnecessarily aroused unless I decide to finger it or my hubby turns me on. The case you are mentioning is perhaps exceptional, affecting women with big clits protruding beyond their lips, in which case some trimming may be necessary. But this condition is very rare. In fact none of my circumcised female friends of whom there are now about 50 or so have ever complained about it.

      On the other hand I know of at least one case where a woman with uncontrollable sex desire, a veritable nymphomaniac if I may say so,had her condition cured by a hoodectomy. Once when discussing sex with a group of young mothers, this happily-married mother of two sweet little kids confided in me her problem and wanted an answer. I suspected her condition and took her to a known lady doctor who confirmed what I had thought all along. The smegma collecting underneath her hood had hardened and was constantly irritating her clit and in the process unnecessarily stimulating it, which explained her insatiable appetite. She readily agreed to take the cut and is now completely cured. And besides, she tells me that sex with her hubby has now become more enjoyable than ever.

      • Avatar

        africana

        June 4, 2010 at 11:35 AM

        assalamu alaikum,

        thanks once again for your response, Roze.

        i think one thing tat women in the west have to cautious about, if they were to have the prepuce removed, is that in some parts of the uk if a health professional sees that a grown woman has had her genitalia cut , then her daughters (if she has any) will be identified as being at risk of circumcision. and she could risk having them taken awayby the authorities.

        another argument not to live in dar-ul-kufr, eh?

        • Avatar

          Amal

          June 4, 2010 at 9:11 PM

          Or perhaps another reason to not mutilate one’s daughters.
          Prepuce trimming would likely go unremarked. The women at risk of having their children removed are generally Somalis who’ve had the full excision/cliterodectomy. And in that case, it’s perhaps better that the children live with people who won’t torture and disfigure them.

  18. Avatar

    africana

    June 4, 2010 at 8:02 AM

    “ordinary activities like walking, friction, generated by her knickers rubbing against
    her exposed glans, caused highly pleasurable sensations. She found horse riding became far more
    pleasurable too..”

    http://www.hoodectomyinformation.com/Web.html

    i don’t think this speaks well for this procedure, to be honest. there are enough women out there who are forced to fast almost daily in order to avoid the problem of frequent arousal. it seems to me that this procedure would only compound that problem and might even open the door to yet more surgery such as the cutting of the clitoris in order to minimise these sensations.

  19. Avatar

    africana

    June 11, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    assalamu alaikum,

    the below link is to an article warning that in cyberspace there are peple posing as advocates of female circumcision who are in fact fetishists. the article mentions that such people have been known to set up groups which they claim is for discussion when the real aim is simply to have women discuss their private parts for the gratification of the fetishist.

    i also came across one person, promoting the severe form of fgm, on youtube whom i suspect is a fetishist posing as a muslim woman.

    http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=10&ID=2284&CATE=89

  20. Avatar

    Ahmed

    June 22, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    Hi Sebkha

    For your information, a recent study Orgasmic Dysfunction Among Women at a Primary Care Setting in Malaysia. Hatta Sidi, and Marhani Midin, and Sharifah Ezat Wan Puteh, and Norni Abdullah, (2008) Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 20 (4) accessible http://myais.fsktm.um.edu.my/4480/ shows that being Non-Malay is a higher risk factor for Orgasmic Sexual Dysfunction in women, implying that Malay women experience less problems in achieving orgasm than non-Malay women. As you know almost all Malay women in Malaysia are circumcised (undergo hoodectomy) in contrast to non-Malay women who are not. This would suggest that hoodectomy does in fact contribute to a better sexual life in women.

  21. Avatar

    dahlia

    October 27, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Ever heard of the word ‘phimosis’ ? It’s a condition usually happens to baby and infant boys, where the foreskin is too tight and the opening for urine is too small. Thus making urinating quite painful and uncomfortable. If untreated, it can easily lead to infection. In the case of phimosis, the only cure is circumcision.

    What is little known is the fact that phimosis also can happen to the female clitoris. However, since urine does not come out from the clitoris, and the clitoris is solely for sexual purpose, the condition is often discovered as adult. The hood of the clitoris is covering the clitoris too much, and sometimes adherent to the clitoris itself, thus making clitoral stimulation quite difficult, resulting in less than satisfying sex life.

    So, what is the cure for clitoral phimosis? The same as male phimosis, circumcision is the cure. Removing the hood of the clitoris completely eliminate phimosis, and making the clitoris cleaner and much easier to be stimulated.

    The procedure is known in the west as ‘hoodectomy’ Please note that western doctors who perform this procedure don’t use the word ‘circumcision’ to avoid being associated with African-style FGM. However, this procedure is basicly just like male circumcision and offers the same benefit, better hygine and sexual pleasure

  22. Avatar

    SisLondon

    March 22, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    Assalaam Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu Shaykh Yasir,

    Empowered!!!

    Alhamdulillah I cannot say enough about Like A Garment. The information is first class, the flow is scientific, the structure is comprehensive, the approach is enlightening and the wisdom is empowering, Alhamdulillah rabbil-‘alameen. To be present today and to get this knowledge at this time of my life, truly this is the Qadr of Allah Subhana wa ta’alah and may Allah SWT accept your efforts and reward you and your family for your sharing. Knowledge is only alive when shared!

    I’m a single sister and I now feel instead of confusion, understanding; instead of haziness, clarity; instead of apprehension, empowerment! I haven’t asked questions in the class as I have become like a sponge absorbing so much information. And as you Shaykh tend to be very explicit (Alhamdulillah), I have felt every concept clearly described to my full understanding, Alhamdulillah!

    Alhamdulillah and may Allah SWT reward you as I have felt through-out the course you not only want to pass the knowledge to us but you are rooting for us to succeed in this arena. Understanding the issues is half the battle and I feel confident that from the knowledge gained in Like A Garment I’m better equipped to achieve a future marriage based on continued understanding and growth, bi edhni-llah, Ameen!

    As I said, I cannot say enough!

    May Allah SWT continued to guide us and protect us and give us knowledge that benefits us all, Jamee’an… Ameen.

    Sincerely your sister in Islam,

    PS: You and your family are a permanent members of my du’as, please keep me in yours, insha-Allah…ameen!

  23. Avatar

    Ahmed

    April 30, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    Here’s another interesting news item that supports the need for a hoodectomy (Islamic female circumcision):

    Oral sex linked to cancer risk

    US scientists said Sunday there is strong evidence linking oral sex to cancer, and urged more study of how human papillomaviruses may be to blame for a rise in oral cancer among white men.

    In the United States, oral cancer due to HPV infection is now more common than oral cancer from tobacco use, which remains the leading cause of such cancers in the rest of the world.

    Researchers have found a 225-percent increase in oral cancer cases in the United States from 1974 to 2007, mainly among white men, said Maura Gillison of Ohio State University. “The rise in oral cancer in the US is predominantly among young white males and we do not know the answer as to why.”

    It is obvious that the only way men can acquire the HPV virus is through the oral stimulation of one’s partner’s clitoris which allows the virus to enter the mouth. The virus no doubt is harboured in the prepuce of the clitoris just as it has been found that HPV also resides in the foreskins of males, through the transmission of which cervical cancer occurs in females. Thus a hoodectomy could, by removing the part that harbours the virus, significantly reduce or eliminate the risk of women transmitting the virus to their male partners.

    • Avatar

      sebkha

      April 30, 2011 at 7:22 PM

      Nice try. But it doesn’t hold up. The numbers are far, far higher for homosexual men infected with HPV than they are for heterosexual men. The utter majority of men who are becoming infected with HPV via oral sex are getting it from other men. NOT women.

      “HPV infection can cause significant pathology in all men, but MSM (homosexual) are at particularly high risk ”
      http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/203/1/66.full

    • Avatar

      Rifaie

      May 1, 2011 at 12:51 AM

      Regarding female circumcision – can you provide any authentic reference from the Quran or Sunnah that is used to specifically call for this? I mean, if there is no such reference then how can it be termed an Islamic practice instrinsically?

  24. Avatar

    Carlos

    May 1, 2011 at 2:47 AM

    I wish I could have multiple wives. With more than one wife, what would be the motivation to seek extra-marital affairs? Just marry another woman. (I’m being sarcastic.)

  25. Avatar

    Coorled38

    May 1, 2011 at 4:22 AM

    So that whole…dont alter the body as god made it perfect (no tattooing…no dying the hair…no plucking of eyebrows…no disfiguring piercing etc) all mean nothing because apparently he made our private bits completely wrong…so much so they need to be routinely snipped to THEN make them perfect???

    So according to Muslims….all that other stuff is forbidden…but getting your penis or vagina altered is par for the course? I dont understand this at all. Why didnt god just make them without these hoods that are apparently useless for males and constricting for females? What was god thinking when he desinged them and why do we mutilate our children at an age when they have no say in what happens to their own bodies and cal lit religious?

    Any other time, it’s called child abuse.

  26. Avatar

    Ahmed

    May 3, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    You’re so confused Sebkha. The report I posted refers to HPV infection from oral sex being the main cause of oral cancer, not to the idea that HPV infection is prevalent among homosexual men, which is an entirely different matter. It is pretty obvious that the only way the men could have acquired the virus is through the oral stimulation of their partner’s clitoris by which means the virus enters the mouth, causing the disease.

    So let me enlighten you further. A Research team led by Dr. Maura Gillison reported in the May 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine that oral HPV infection is the strongest risk factor for oral cancer. The team found that oral sex, including both cunnilingus and fellatio, is the main mode of transit for oral HPV infection. See http://www.cancerfacts.com/Home_News.asp?NewsId=2170&CB=14&CancerTypeId=4

    Please remember that cunnilingus refers to the oral stimulation of a woman’s sexual organs with particular focus on the clitoris

    Regarding Rifaie’s inquiry please visit http://www.hoodectomyinformation.com for some excellent articles establishing the fact that circumcision, both male and female, are obligatory duties in Islam.

    • Avatar

      Sebkha

      May 4, 2011 at 2:03 AM

      I’m not confused about anything. The report you posted states that it’s possible to transmit HPV through oral sex and that these oral HPV infections can cause oral and throat cancers. Agreed, it does. But you greatly exaggerate the significance of women’s clitoral prepuce in the transmission of HPV, by assuming that the majority of cases acquired by men come from women. This is wrong. Homosexual men who engage in sexual activities with other men, including oral sexual activity with other men, constitute a much higher proportion of the cases that exist of men infected with HPV, and homosexual men represent a much higher proportion of the men who are getting these oral cancers due to their oral HPV infections. You seem to be completely ignorant of the fact that there are men in this world that do this kind of activity with other men. I’m sorry to have to be the one to enlighten you, but there it is. It is NOT pretty obvious that the only way men could have acquired the virus is through oral contact with their partner’s clitoris. Most of the men with any kind of HPV have never had any kind of sexual contact with women, only with other men who are lacking this particular organ.

      It is certainly possible that a small number of cases can be spread from females to males via oral sex, but there is no evidence anywhere that this particular area of women’s anatomy is a reservoir of HPV. HPV has been found in all kinds of places on the human body. It’s been found in breast milk. It’s been found
      under fingernails. Does this mean no one should ever breastfeed and women’s nipples should be removed
      to make sure they don’t spread HPV when someone comes into contact with them? If it can be found
      under fingernails and possibly transmitted that way, does this mean fingernails should go too?
      http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/New-risks-discovered-for-HPV-1245277.php
      http://bacteriality.com/2008/07/31/hpv/

  27. Avatar

    Ahmed

    May 4, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    My, My, what imagination, Sebkha. The report I mentioned refers to HPV transmission through cunnilingus (Oral stimulation of a woman’s clitoris). If you did not refer to the report I copied with the link please do so before commenting.

    The new finding that HPV resides under the fingernails proves nothing in your favour. Rather it confirms the fact that unclean reservoirs that harbour germs should be removed from the body and this includes prepuces, fingernails and armpit and pubic hair, precisely those excesses that have to be removed from the bodies of men and women as evident from the hadith concerning the practices of the fitra, namely circumcision, paring of nails, shaving of pubic hair and plucking out the hair of the armpits (Bukhari).

    Is n’t this proof enough ?

  28. Pingback: Intimacy of Marriage [Hadith of Jabir (radiallaahu `anhu)] (Hadith No. 1805) | iLookiListen

  29. Pingback: A boy’s perspective | altM

  30. Avatar

    Turyasingura Saidi

    November 25, 2016 at 9:48 PM

    great knowledge,

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#Islam

A Word On Muslim Attitudes Toward Abortion

Dr Abdullah bin Hamid Ali

Published

on

The Qur’an describes Muslims committed to its mores as “a moderate nation,” and that sense of balance qualifies them to stand as “witnesses over humanity” (Q 2:143). Contemporary Muslims revel in this assertion, especially when it seems that “Islam” proposes a via media solution to a highly polarizing subject as abortion. What currently constitutes “Islam” on a given topic, however, often reflects the personal prerogative apparently offered to the average Muslim by a list of diverse legal perspectives. In other words, the mere fact that multiple legal opinions exist on one or more topics is now taken as license to appropriate any one of them, without any deep ethical reflection on the implications of the opinion, however anomalous it may be.

“Islam is the golden mean between all ethical extremes” is what certain Muslims would assert. So if one extreme bars abortion under all circumstances and the other seeks to allow it throughout the duration of the pregnancy, one would assume that Islam must land somewhere in the middle, both forbidding and allowing abortion in certain circumstances. This moral assumption isn’t far from the truth. However, the mere existence of multiple opinions on a topic does not mean that each opinion has equal validity, nor does it mean that every opinion is valid for one to adopt. Similarly, “Islam” or “Islamic law” cannot be summed up into a simple formula like “majority rules” or “when in doubt about prohibition or allowance, the action is, therefore, merely disliked.”

Legal positivism plagues both religious and secular-minded people. Just as an act does not acquire its moral strength simply because it is legal, morally appropriate opinions are not always codified into law. If it is true that any unjust law is no law at all, where is the injustice and to whom is it being perpetrated against in the debate between pro-lifers and pro-choicers? Is it deemed unjust to prevent a pregnant woman from disposing of an “insignificant lifeless part of her body” that no one other than herself should be able to decide what to do with? Or is one “depriving a helpless growing person” of the opportunity and right to exist after its Creator initiated its journey into the world? Does a law that prevents a woman impregnated by a family member or rapist from an abortion oppress her? Or does such a law protect the life of a vulnerable fetus, who, like other weak members of society, is expected to be protected by the strong? Does it do both or neither? And if one is taking the “life” of this fetus, what proof is there that it is a living creature?

While these are all extremely important questions, this missive is neither intended necessarily to answer them nor to resolve today’s raging political debate. The main goal here is to offer ideas that should be on the minds of Muslims when deciding to join such debates or promoting the idea that their “religion” provides the best solution to social polarization, when by “religion” we mean the opinion of a small minority of scholars in some place and time in Muslim history.

Islamic law is very sophisticated; the legislative process is not facile, nor is it a place where any Muslim is entitled to pragmatically select the opinions that he/she finds attractive and accommodating. It demands knowledge of particular aims, the ability to properly realize those aims in the lives of people, and understanding the epistemic and metaphysical foundations that ensure that judgments conform to coherent rationale. In other words, the laws of Islam and the opinions of jurists cannot be divorced from their philosophical and evidentiary underpinnings. Otherwise, the thread holding the moral tapestry of Islam together falls apart completely at its seams.

Is Abortion Lawful in Islam?

Many past and present have written about the Islamic view of abortion. The ancient scholars prohibited it at all stages of the pregnancy and made practically no exception. Some would later allow for it only if the mother’s life was in danger. That notwithstanding, six popular legal opinions exist regarding abortion:

  • Unlawful (haram), in all stages of the pregnancy.
  • Permitted (ja’iz), during the first 40 days but unlawful (haram) afterwards.
  • Disliked (makruh), before the passage of 40 days but unlawful (haram) afterwards.
  • Permitted (ja’iz), if it is from illicit intercourse (zina).
  • Permitted (ja’iz) without conditions, before 120 days.
  • Permitted only for a legitimate excuse.

The late mufti of Fez, Morocco, Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ta’wil (d. 2015) said,

The first opinion forbidding that during the [first] 40 [days] and beyond, regardless of whether or not it is due to an excuse, even if from illicit intercourse, is the view of the supermajority [of jurists].[1]

The Qur’an is a Book of Ethical Teaching

The reasons for the cavalier attitude among contemporary Muslims about abortion are multiple. The most significant reason may be that at times Islam is seen as a synonym for shariah. The truth, however, is that the shariah is only part of Islam. Islam covers law (fiqh), creed (aqidah), and ethics (akhlaq). Even though the Qur’an consists of laws, it is not a book of law. It is a book of ethical teachings. Merely 10%–12% of the Qur’an relates to legal injunctions. It is not characteristic of the Qur’an to enjoin upon Muslims to command what is “compulsory” or “recommended” and to forbid what is “unlawful” and “disliked.” What is common though is for it to command us to do what is “ma’ruf” and to avoid what is “munkar.”

“Ma’ruf” and “munkar” can be translated respectively as “what is socially commendable” and “what is socially condemnatory.” This is in spite of the fact that social acceptability and unacceptability are often subjective. This does not mean that the Qur’an is morally relativistic. It is quite the contrary. What this means, however, is that the Qur’an’s aim is not merely to teach Muslims what one can and cannot do. It means, rather, that the Qur’an has a greater concern with what Muslims “should” and “should not” do. For this very reason, the companions of the Prophet seldom differentiated between his encouragement and discouragement of acts by the juristic values of disliked, unlawful, recommended, and compulsory. Rather, if the Prophet encouraged something beneficial, they complied. And, if he discouraged from something potentially harmful, they refrained.

The Qur’an permits many actions. However, to permit an act is not equivalent to encouraging it. It permits polygyny (Q 4:3), the enslavement of non-Muslim war captives (Q 8:70), and marrying the sister of one’s ex-wife (Q 4:23). Similarly, some Muslim jurists validate marriage agreements wherein the man secretly intends to divorce the woman after a certain period of time known only to him.[2] This is the case, even though the average Muslim man is monogamous; practically no Muslim today believes it is moral to enslave a person; the vast majority of Muslims find the marriage of one’s sister-in-law upon the death of one’s wife to be taboo; and they chide men who marry with a temporary intention of marriage. If the mere existence of permission or legal opinion permitting a socially condemnable act is a legitimate reason to adopt it, why would Muslims be uneasy about these cases but inclined to take a different stance when it comes to abortion?

The proper Islamic position on any given issue of public or private concern should not only consider what the law or jurists have to say about the topic. Rather, one should also consider how theology and ethics connect with those laws or opinions. That is to say, one should ask, “What wisdom does God seek to realize from this injunction or opinion?” assuming that such a wisdom can be identified. Secondly, one need ask,

“Who and how many will be helped or harmed if this action is undertaken?”

The Qur’an is the primary source of Islam’s ethics. And, one often observes a major difference between its morality and the morality validated by certain jurists, often lacking a clear connection to Qur’anic and prophetic precepts. That notwithstanding, a juristic opinion can sometimes masquerade as one that is authentically Islamic, especially when it aims to appease or assuage a social or political concern. Consequently, one finds some contemporary scholars championing opinions simply­ because they exist, like that of mainstream Shafi’is who traditionally argued that the reason for jihad was to rid the world of unIslamic doctrines (kufr); or certain contemporaries who validated taking of the lives of innocent women, children, and other non-combatants in suicide bombings; those who endorsed the execution of Jews for converting to Christianity and vice versa;[3] or others who classified slaves as animals rather than human beings?[4] For, surely, there are Muslim jurists who validate each one of these opinions, despite their evidentiary weakness. Hence, simply because there is an opinion allowing for abortions does not necessarily mean that it is something Islam allows, even in cases of rape and incest.

When Does Life Begin?

Medieval Muslim scholars, naturally, lacked the scientific tools that we have today to determine whether or not the fetus growing in its mother’s womb was actually a viable creation and a living creature from conception. Other than when the fetus first showed signs of movement in its mother’s belly, scholars took their cues from the Qur’an and prophetic tradition on when the fetus possessed a soul or if it did so at all. For this reason, very few scholars have offered clear answers to the question of when human life begins, while they agreed that upon 120 days, the child is definitely a living person.

According to the Andalusian scholar of Seville, Ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1148),

The child has three states: 1) one state prior to coming into [material] existence …, 2) a state after the womb takes hold of the sperm …, and 3) a state after its formation and before the soul is breathed into it …, and when the soul is breathed into it, it is the taking of a life. [5]

Al-Ghazzali (d. 1111) said,

Coitus interruptus (‘azl) is not like abortion and infanticide (wa’d) because it [abortion] is a crime against an actualized existence (mawjud hasil). And, it has stages, the first being the stage of the sperm entering into the womb, then mixing with the woman’s fluid, and then preparing for the acceptance of life. To disturb that is a crime. Then, if it becomes a clot (‘alaqah) or a lump (mudghah), the crime is more severe. Then, if the soul is breathed into it and the physical form is established, the crime increases in gravity. [6]

These are some of the most explicit statements from Medieval Muslim scholars; they deemed that life begins at inception. The Qur’an states, “Does man think that he will be left for naught (sudan)? Was he not a sperm-drop ejected from sexual fluid?” (75:36-37). In other words, the “sperm-drop” phase is the start of human existence, and existence is the basis for human dignity, as with other living creatures. The human being was a “sperm-drop.” If that is so, this strongly suggests that meddling with this fluid, even before the fetus begins to grow and develop limbs and organs, would be to violate the sanctity of a protected creature. The Qur’an further says, “Did We not create you from a despicable fluid? And then, We placed you in a firm resting place, until a defined scope” (Q 77:20-22). The use of the second person plural pronoun (you) in these verses strongly suggests that the start of human life begins at inception. This is not to mention the multiple verses forbidding one from killing one’s children due to poverty, fear of poverty, or out of shame or folly.

The Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) similarly offers sufficient indication that even though the fetus is not fully formed, it is still an actualized existence and living creature. The Prophet reportedly said, “The miscarried fetus will remain humbly lying with its face down at the gates of heaven saying, ‘I will only enter when my parents do.’”[7] Similarly, it is reported that when the second caliph ‘Umar b. al-Khattab ordered that an adulteress discovered to be pregnant be stoned to death, the companion, Mu’adh b. Jabal, said to him, “Even if you have a right to punish her, you do not have a right to punish what is in her belly.”[8] The Prophet and his followers after him never executed a pregnant woman guilty of a capital crime until she gave birth and someone had taken on the care of the child. In addition, they imposed a hefty fine on those who were directly responsible for a woman’s miscarriage.[9] All of this indicates that the fetus is to be respected from the time the male’s sperm reaches the ovum of the woman.

Imam Al-Razi’s Ethical Reflection on the Qur’anic Verse, 6:140

God says in the Qur’an, “Ruined are those who murder their children foolishly without knowledge and forbid what God has provided them with while inventing falsehoods against God. They have strayed and are not guided aright” (6:140).

About this verse, Imam Fakr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1210) comments,

Many issues relate to the verse: the first issue is that God mentioned, in the preceding verse, their murder of their children while depriving themselves of the sustenance that God provided them with. Then, God brings these two matters together in this verse while clarifying to them all that is a logical consequence of this judgment, such as ruin, folly, lack of knowledge, the deprivation of what God has provided them, false statements against God, straying, and the privation of guidance. So these are seven characteristics, each of which is an independent cause for censure. The first is ruin (khusran), and that is because a child is an immense blessing from God upon a person, so when one strives to terminate its existence, he/she suffers great ruin and especially deserves great censure in life and a severe punishment in the hereafter due to terminating its existence. Censure in life is warranted because people say one has murdered one’s child out of fear of it eating one’s food. And there is no censure in life greater than such. Punishment in the hereafter is warranted because the closeness resulting from childbirth is one of the greatest sources of love. Then, upon achieving it, one sets out to deliver the greatest of harms to it [the child], thereby committing one of the gravest sins. As a consequence, one of the greatest punishments is warranted. The second is folly (safahah), which is an expression of condemnable frivolousness. That is because the murder of the child is only committed in light of the fear of poverty. And, even though poverty is itself a harm, murder is a much graver harm. Additionally, this murder is actualized, while the poverty [feared] is merely potential (mawhum). So enforcing the maximum harm in anticipation of a potential minimal harm is, without doubt, folly. The third regards God’s saying, “without knowledge.” The intent is that this folly was only born of the absence of knowledge. And there is no doubt that ignorance is one of the most objectionable and despicable of things. The fourth regards depriving one’s self of what God has made lawful. It is also one of the worst kinds of stupidity, because one denies one’s self those benefits and good things, becoming entitled by reason of that deprivation of the severest torment and chastisement. The fifth is blaspheming God. And it is known that boldness against God and blaspheming Him is one of the cardinal sins. The sixth is straying from prudence (rushd) with relation to the interests of the faith (din) and the benefits found in the world. The seventh is that they are not guided aright. The benefit of it is that a person might stray from the truth but may return to proper guidance. So God clarifies that they have strayed without ever obtaining proper direction. So it is established that God has censured those described as having murdered children and denied what God has made lawful for them, with these seven characteristics necessitating the worse types of censure. And that is the ultimate hyperbole.[10]

The Ethical Contentions of a Moroccan Mufti

We have already quoted Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ta’wil of Morocco. Like the medieval scholars, he maintained a very conservative opinion on abortion, allowing it only if the mother’s life was at risk. The following is a list of his nine ethical contentions against abortion and those scholarly opinions allowing it. The bulk of what follows is a literal translation of his views. Regarding why abortion is immoral, he says:

  • Firstly, it is a transgression against a vulnerable creature who has committed neither sin nor crime, a denial of it from its right to existence and life that God has given it and Islam has guaranteed as well as the taking of a life in some situations.
  • Secondly, it is a clear challenge to God’s will and a demonstratively defiant act meant to stubbornly contend with God’s action, creative will, and judgment. And that manifests itself in the murder of what God has created, the voiding of its existence, and a commission of what He deems unlawful.
  • Thirdly, it a decisively demonstrative proof of hard-heartedness, the absence of mercy, and the loss of motherly and fatherly affection or rather the loss of humanity from the hearts of those who daringly undertake the act of abortion with dead hearts and wicked dark souls.
  • Fourthly, it is the epitome of self-centeredness, selfishness, narcissism, and sacrifice of what is most precious¾one’s own flesh and blood, sons and daughters¾to gratify the self and enjoy life and its attractions far away from the screams of infants, the troubles of children, and the fatigue resulting from them.
  • Fifthly, it is a practical expression of one’s bad opinion of God, the lack of trust in His promise to which He decisively bounded Himself to guarantee the sustenance of His creation and servants. It also shows ignorance of His saying, “And, there is not a single creature on earth except that God is responsible for its sustenance, just as He knows its resting place and place from which it departs. Every thing is in a manifest record (Q 11:6); as well as His saying, “And do not kill your children due to poverty. We will provide for you as well as for them” (Q 6:151); in addition to His saying, “And, do not kill your children out of fear of poverty. We will provide for them and for you” (Q 17:31). This is in addition to other verses and prophetic traditions that indicate that all provisions are in God’s control and that no soul will die until it exacts its sustenance in full as the Prophet said.
  • Sixthly, it is a bloody war against the Islamic goal, introduced by the Prophet and to which he called and strongly encouraged, of population growth and increase in posterity.
  • Seventhly, it undermines the aims of the Islamic moral code that considers the preservation of offspring to be one of the five essentials upon which the sanctified revealed moral code is built.
  • Eighthly, it goes against the nature to which God has disposed both animals and human beings to of love of children, childbearing, and the survival of progeny….
  • Ninthly, it is the grossest display of bad manners towards God and the epitome of ingratitude towards a blessing and the rejection of it. And that is because both pregnancy and children are among God’s favors upon His servants and among His gifts to the expectant mother and her husband.

These are some important matters of consideration. Every Muslim, woman, and man, will ultimately need to decide what burdens he/she is prepared to meet God with. While abortion is an emotionally charged matter, especially in Western politics, emotions play no role in the right or wrong of legislation. Although our laws currently may not consider a fetus aborted before its survival outside of the womb to be viable, the Muslim who understands that legal positivism does not trump objective or moral truths should be more conscientious and less cavalier in his/her attitude about the taking of life and removing the viability of life.


[1] Al-Ta’wil, Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Qasim. Shadharat al-Dhahab fi ma jadda fi Qadaya al-Nikah wa al-Talaq wa al-Nasab. Hollad: Sunni Pubs, 2010, p. 148.

[2] Muhammad b. ‘Abd Al-Baqi Al-Zurqani quotes Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr as saying,

They unanimously agreed that anyone who marries without mention of a particular condition while having the intention to remain with her for a period that he has in mind is permitted (ja’iz), and it is not a temporary marriage. However, Malik said this is not an attractive thing to do (laysi hadha min al-jamil). Nor is it part the conduct of moral people (la min akhlaq al-nas). Al-‘Awza’i took a solitary view saying that it is a temporary marriage. And, there is no good in it (la khayra fihi). ‘Ayyad stated it.

Al-Zurqani, Muhammad b. ‘Abd Al-Baqi b. Yusuf. Sharh al-Zurqani ‘ala Muwatta’ al-Imam Malik. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, (no date), 3/201.

[3] Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani said about the prophetic tradition, “Kill whoever changes his lifepath”, “Some Shafi’i jurists clung to it concerning the killing of anyone who changes from one non-Islamic faith to another non-Islamic faith (din kufr)…”

Al-‘Asqalani, Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. Hajar. Fath Al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari. Muhammad Fu’ad ‘Abd Al-Baqi Edition. Riyadh: Al-Maktabah Al-Salafiyyah, (no date), 12/272.

[4] Al-Ra’ini, Muhammad al-Hattab. Qurrah al-‘Ayn bi Sharh Waraqat al-Imam al-Haramayn. Beirut: Mu’assassah al-Kutub al-Thaqafiyyah, 2013, p. 78.

[5] Al-Wazzani, Abu ‘Isa Sidi al-Mahdi. Al-Nawazil Al-Jadidah Al-Kubra fi ma li Ahl Fas wa ghayrihim min al-Badw wa al-Qura al-Musammah bi Al-Mi’yar Al-Jadid Al-Jami’ Al-Mu’rib ‘an Fatawa al-Muta’akhkhirin min ‘Ulama al-Maghrib. Rabat: Wizarah al-Awqaf wa al-Shu’un al-Islamiyyah, 1997, 3/376.

[6] Al-Ghazali, Muhammad Abu Hamid. Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din. Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, p. 491.

[7] This is how Qadi Abu Bakr b. al-‘Arabi relates the report as related by Al-Wazzani in his Nawazil 3/376. In the Musnad of Abu Hanifah, however, the Prophet reportedly said, “You will see the miscarried fetus filled with rage.” When it is asked, “Enter Paradise”, it will respond, “Not until my parents come in [too].” Al-Hanafi, Mulla ‘Ali Al-Qari. Sharh Musnad Abi Hanifah. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1985, p. 252.

[8] Ibn ‘Asakir, Abu al-Qasim ‘Ali b. al-Hasan. Tarikh Madinah Dimashq wa Dhikr Fadliha wa Tasmiyah man hallaha min al-Amathil aw ijtaza bi Nawahiha min Waridiha wa Ahliha. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1997, p. 342.

[9] Among the fines due for causing the miscarriage of a fetus are: 1) prison or flogging; 2) the penance for murder (kaffarah), which is the freeing of a slave, fasting two consecutive months which is compulsory for Shafi’is and recommended for Malikis; and 3) the gifting of a slave to the woman who lost her child.

[10] Al-Razi, Fakr al-Dina. Tafsir al-Fakr al-Razi al-Mushtahir bi Al-Tafsir Al-Kabir wa Mafatih al-Ghayb. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1981, pp. 220-221

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Shaykh Power © – Righteous Leaders, Superheroes, Shallow Celebrities or Hungry Wolves?

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“With great power, comes great responsibility.” -Uncle Ben.

Clergy -or shayukh-  in Muslim communities hold sacred power in that their positions symbolize a representation of character and religious authority in their community.

The role of a shaykh is complex in that community members can turn to their him for financial advice, marital counseling, matchmaking, conflict resolution, religious classes, youth engagement, and pretty much anything else a community needs. You name it and a shaykh is approached for it. In most communities, the shaykh is a critical component of a healthy community, but in some cases – the great power is used to facilitate great abuse instead.

Understanding Shaykh Power©:

Shaykh Power© doesn’t mean the ability to bless or forgive,  it simply means the effect a shaykh can have on the general public for the very reason that he preaches about religion.

People subconsciously associate their spiritual growth with the shaykh, building a bond of love, respect and trust. It’s perfectly natural – someone who has helped you, taught you, or supported you through a difficult time is likely to become dear to you regardless of their position. As a result it’s natural for people to:

  1. Look up to a shaykh
  2. Become attached to the shaykh whose da’wah or lecture may have helped them find, or re-find Islam
  3. Trust a shaykh and hold him in honor
  4. Be influenced, which is a consequence of being held in honor
  5. Giving him a place of authority in their lives

Again, it is natural for people to attach themselves to a shaykh, and it is completely okay for a shaykh to be respected and trusted to that level. It is a relationship built on faith, in which the shaykh earns trusts by demonstrating trustworthiness, fearing Allah in the relationship with his congregants, and maintaining a consciousness of his actions and consequences with God.

There is no conflict in this trust when viewed alongside human fallibility. No one is sin-free, not even a shaykh. They are humans and humans are weak. A healthy community is not one with a sin-free shaykh. However, the line is between fallibility and abuse is crossed when the shaykh’s sins or inherent weakness start hurting others, and the authority they hold is abused to give into those weaknesses.

What is Abuse of “Shaykh-power©”

The abuse of a shaykh’s power happens if a shaykh uses his position, authority, or religious knowledge to manipulate people into compliance or obedience to his sin.

A very simple example of a shaykh using all three – position, authority, and knowledge – to manipulate someone into compliance came from a woman who covers her face. During a Skype call related to business -and not marriage at all- a well-known shaykh diverted from the agenda to convince her to remove her face-veil as he was a “shaykh” and it was okay for him to see her face. The shaykh tried to establish a religious basis for his exception to the rule and made his female student believe that as a shaykh he had “special privileges”.

There are common patterns of “special privileges” that emerge.

The Secret Marriage

Secret marriages occur where the shaykh uses his authority to wrongly legitimize a marriage without witnesses. Please be aware, there is no marriage valid without 2 witnesses, and in majority of the fiqhs, marriage is not valid without a woman’s wali (representative guardian) present.

While the term “marriage” is used, what happens in secret marriage is not what Islam recognizes as marriage. Rather than entering a serious, long-term commitment in which each party agrees to honor the rights and terms decreed by Allah, a secret marriage is usually the culmination of grooming and manipulation. The victim is led to believe that the shaykh is sincere in his pursuit of their marriage and future together, but cannot go public for whatever reason. He convinces the victim that their secret marriage is valid by manipulating Islamic information is his favor, and the result is that the victim consents to what is an otherwise shady arrangement.

After the “marriage” is consummated, the women are divorced – also in secret and without due Islamic process. They have no legal recourse – since they were not legally married. They don’t even have Islamic recourse since oftentimes there are no witnesses to the secret marriage.  Some shayukh misinform the women that they don’t need witnesses because as a person of knowledge, a shaykh is sufficient as a witness to finalize his own marriage contract.

Consider the difference between marriage as a communal celebration, a public declaration, and a legal protection of the rights of both spouses – and compare it to a verbal agreement with one man in a hotel room. Consummation followed by divorce, with no intention to sign a marriage-contract or honor the woman as a wife, is not a valid marriage.

The impermissibility of secret marriages has been discussed in detail here.

https://muslimmatters.org/2017/10/06/secret-marriages-dr-shaykh-mohammad-akram-nadwi/

Some argue that women who are legally adults and gave their consent to the secret marriage have no claim to victimhood. It is true that secret marriage and serial marriage are not rape, but secret marriage is an abuse of the trust that our community places in a shaykh.

Women are deceived into marrying by means of the shaykh’s authority. The shaykh – a person of religious credibility with community trust – implies that something halal, lasting, and keeping with the Islamic sanctity of the family will happen. What happens instead is a woman falling victim to the shaykh’s pattern of marrying a variety of women to satisfy carnal curiosity, and then divorcing women once the desires are satisfied.

The abuse of women goes beyond just the women- the entire community is deceived when a shaykh abuses their religious credibility. They trust that the man committed to the spiritual betterment of their families will act in keeping with that trust. There is no way to legitimize the secret wooing, secret wedding, and immediate, premeditated divorcing of anyone in the community.

Divorce can happen under completely normal circumstances, just because a man is a shaykh doesn’t mean he has to stay in a bad marriage. However, when a pattern is developed to frequently marry and divorce, sometimes after a week or less, and a shaykh does so knowing that the position and reputation will help him replace the wife soon enough-  then this is not what either marriage or divorce is for. This is abuse.

A man on the podium, delivering the Message of God and helping people connect with their Lord holds enormous spiritual power over his community. Unfortunately, some shaykhs can and do use that power to satisfy their desires in religiously inexcusable ways.

Misuse of Polygamy through “Shaykh Power”:

Polygamy itself is not the issue here. Polygamy itself becomes abused when it is used to justify secret marriage and divorce of multiple women, without having any sincere intention or giving any marriage or divorce it’s due Islamic rights or process.

Shayukh who abuse polygamy paint a glamorous picture of polygamy, making it a special mission to “revive the sunnah”, and practicing polygamy almost a measure of a woman’s level of iman.

The delusional idea of becoming more religious under the wings of a shaykh as his wife is also used to entice women seeking closeness to Allah. A more intimate relationship to the shaykh is directly conflated with a more intimate relationship with Allah.

What the shayukh are luring women into is not a revival of polygamous marriage, as much as it is a revival of temporary marriage – without the decency of telling the women up front what they are consenting to. The woman believes she will be the shaykh’s second wife. Instead, she is third, or fourth, or fifth ex-wife.

Do We Have a Solution?

The first step towards resolving an issue is to acknowledge that problem exists. As a community, we have tried to conceal our dirty laundry in the name of gheerah and satr, only to suppress ‘adl instead. As an ummah, we need to address the harmful behavior of shayukh who abuse their our religion and their power to manipulate and use women – leaving them emotionally and spiritually broken in the name of a religion that is mean to protect them.

Stopping sisters-only sessions with shaykhs or banning sisters from contacting shayukh for personal or Islamic questions is not a foundational solution. Women have to consult knowledgeable men for a variety of issues: spiritual and marital counseling, for Islamic rulings on life matters etc.

Stricter segregation between shayukh and women, or building physical barriers in the masajid is a suggested preventative measure but not a solution either. Frankly, many shayukh have the dignity to respect their boundaries with women without a barrier in their masjid, while many have crossed all lines despite physical barriers.

It is women’s religious right to have access to a religious scholarship for knowledge and seeking verdicts, and the mistakes of few cannot outweigh the virtues of many.

1400 years ago, we– Muslim women — were given protection from a society that sold their daughters in exchange of money and loaned out their wives to other men.  Our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught and showed us how to treat women with honor, and he then entrusted the knowledge of Islam to his inheritors– the shayukh.

Consider the gravity of that abuse, when our scholars are trusted to carry forward the Prophet’s legacy, and instead weaponize the Prophet’s words to abuse us instead.

Needless to say, not every shaykh is abusive of his congregants. Alhamdulillah, the abuse is the exception and trust fulfilled is the norm. However, that doesn’t mean that silence should be the norm as well. As a community, we are responsible for each other, in standing up to our oppressors and standing up for our oppressed.

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Sexual Abuse: Crime or Sin? | Shaykh Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi

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Sexual abuse, whether of women, men, or children, cannot be prevented by law. At most, law agencies can punish abuse after the fact when it has already done the terrible, lasting psychological and social damage that it does.

Over the last seventy years, in the Western world any notion of ‘sin’ attached to sexual behaviours traditionally regarded as abhorrent has been dissolved. Steadily, over this period, the notion of ‘sin’ has been replaced by a legal concept, namely the concept of ‘consent’. This fits well with the Western cultural ideal of ‘personal autonomy’, the ideal that anyone should be free to behave as they please so long as their behaviour is not harming any other’s right to the same autonomy. In sexual relations between people, ‘abuse’ is recorded only when any of the partners involved has not freely given consent. For children, of course, the concept of legal minority applies, meaning that a child can never give consent. Otherwise, anything that any consenting adults do is legally ok.

This should mean that sexual abuse, as a legally defined crime, is no more of a problem for society than other crimes such as assault, theft, fraud, murder, and so on.

The problem with this approach is that sexuality (abusive or non-abusive) is not limited to the act of sexual intercourse itself. The relevance of consent to the actual performance of sexual acts is accordingly rather limited. Sexuality is an expression of desire, and (among humans) desire can arise even when there is no external stimulus for it, even when there is no possibility of contact or conversation with any potential sexual partner. Both biologically and religiously, sexuality is understood to be something connected with the appetite and need to reproduce. The need for reproduction is carried among human beings by the engine of desire. This engine can be active, fueled up, and running, in the absence of any object of desire and any conscious will to reproduce. In the present time, human consciousness is overwhelmed by super-intense audio and visual images (especially by highly repetitive multimedia advertising in private and public spaces and on hand-held devices at any time of day or night). As a result, the engine of desire is never allowed to settle into idling mode, never allowed to quieten and slow down.

All religious traditions strive to inhibit and regulate sexual desire by connecting it to the responsibility of parenting, so that sex is associated not only with mating and producing children, but also with nurturing them and making them fully competent social beings. This is a very long process (some twenty years), and requires a huge expenditure of psychological, social, and economic effort. The only context in which this effort can be sustained, especially for the benefit of the children, is marriage and family life. All the moral and religious-legal inhibitions surrounding sexuality are concerned with building a strong, stable bond between sexual desire and responsibility for others.

Modern Western cultural norms, which encourage the indulgence of short-term personal preferences over any long-term goals (personal or social), have combined with advances in the technology of contraception and with the legalisation of abortion, to dissociate sex from reproduction, which necessarily dissociates sex from responsibility to oneself and others.

As I have said, sexual desire is the engine of a fundamental need, the need to reproduce. It is a fierce, powerful energy, cruelly strong in youth and early maturity, but one that persists at some level throughout life. Sexual desire is mixed with other impulses and behaviours that characterise animal behaviour generally, and human behaviour most conspicuously. Notably, the desire to mark out and protect a territory (home) where the children can be raised and the desire to mark out and protect the values (identity, belonging, customs and practices, etc.) that are inculcated in the children and, through them, transmitted through time – all of these desires are mixed up inside the need to reproduce. This mixture also affects sexual behaviours and the norms that grow around them. Rivalry, domination, possessiveness, jealousy, envy – the desire not to possess some object of desire for its own sake but to prevent someone else from possessing that object – negative emotional states like this can intervene in sexual behaviour and make it exploitative and destructive regardless of consent. And how, in any case, does one legally determine consent? Is it really possible to determine when consent was given, and to what precisely, and for how long?

There is no law imaginable, no force of coercion or persuasion, which can control desire itself. Only the one who carries (or is carried by) desire can, from within, control or discipline it for the sake of being responsible and unselfish. This is a matter of interior discipline, not exterior discipline.

The role of religious teaching (and of the various cultural-legal traditions based on religious teaching) is to provide an environment in which self-discipline and self-control are more highly valued than their opposites – self-indulgence and control of others. This environment usually consists of conventions of dress and speech, and special rites (such as weddings) which mark out the boundaries between the persons and occasions where sexual desire is allowed and those where it is not.

It is possible, as with any convention, to appear to follow it, without really following it. In other words conventions, just like laws, can only work to the extent that people believe those conventions to be right and beneficial. People must believe that they are doing the right thing because it is the right thing. Equally, they must believe that disregarding the conventions is wrong, a sin, which threatens harm for both individuals and society. In religious perspective, consenting to a wrong does not make it right.

It is not possible, in my opinion, to build within a culture so massively dedicated to self-indulgence, self-serving, and non-stop distraction, any sustained practice of self-discipline and service to others. That requires regular reflection and regular presentation of oneself as answerable to other human beings and to the judgement of God. The habits of self-inspection and self-control are reliably matured and improved through prayer and other religious practices like fasting.

There is no regime of exterior rules and punishments that will serve to deter sexual abuse in a society. If, and only if, such rules and punishments are universally and impartially applied – which is nowhere the case – it may be possible to drive sexual abuse out of sight, so that it is not always in the news. But it will still go on: celebrity actors and actresses may not have to suffer it, but ordinary men, women, and children among the poor and unnoticed of society, and people in places far removed from the countries which control the flow of news, will go on being vulnerable to sexual abuse. There is no legal substitute for an ethical determination to control oneself and to never hurt the person and dignity of another human being. There is no substitute for the concept of sin. Whether it is definable as a crime or not, sexual abuse is a sin.

For Muslims, there is a duty to help one another in steadfastness and righteousness, and not to help one another in selfishness and wrong-doing. This means that we must be ready to condemn, privately and publicly, those who commit sexual abuse. We must be willing to rescue those who are victims of such abuse, and willing to help them recover psychologically, emotionally, and socially. That entails providing from one’s resources (of time and money) to assist those groups (usually women and usually ex-victims) who are active in providing the necessary shelters and comforts to abuse victims. It also entails a vigorous campaign to help our communities admit that abuse goes on, to recognise the sin of it, and to convince them of the effectiveness of prayer and fasting in defeating sinful impulses and behaviours. This is a roundabout way of saying that Muslims must help one another to re-connect sexuality and parenting and the role of good parenting in teaching self-control and the ability to distinguish right from wrong.

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