In the last part of this series, we discussed the most commonly asked questions about sex and sexuality and how to answer those questions. Now let us proceed to additional topics that we should discuss with our pre/teens. Unfortunately, these topics are introduced to 10-year olds in public schools (as I mentioned in Part V(b)), hence the parents should be prepared to discuss these issues with the children at home.
Additional Sex-Related Topics to Discuss:
Masturbation: Again, depending on your pre-teen/teen’s level of maturity, exposure and circumstances, talk to them about masturbation somewhere around the age of 10.
Explain to them what it is, when they might have the urge to perform it, and how it is not allowed in Islam. Children are taught at schools that masturbation is completely normal and part of human sexuality. Discuss the differences between Islamic prohibition and cultural permission thoroughly. Here is a good lecture on the subject. Though it cannot be said with surety that masturbation increases risk of prostate cancer, it does have negative emotional and psychological effects, like low self confidence and a sense of guilt, etc.
Offer them tips on how they can stay away from masturbation. The more a person protects himself/herself from reading, watching, and listening to content containing indecencies, the more a person can gain control over his/her desires of masturbation, insha’Allah.
Oral Sex/Anal Sex: Do not underestimate your children’s exposure to these terms. Sex Education curriculum in some public schools starts introducing these terms by the age of 10. If it’s a pre-teen/teen asking, then definitely explain. However, if it is a child asking, then you may be able to tell him/her to wait until they are older. However, I strongly advise parents to not underestimate the level of a child’s curiosity.
Unfortunately, we are living in a time where we have to open up subjects that could have waited until later. As I said before, it is best that they hear from their parents earlier rather than wait and risk someone else offering their vulgar version of sexual actions. Sadly, some Muslim teens (usually in high school) get involved in oral sex assuming it is not “zina,” hence not a major sin. Remind your pre-teen/teen:
“And do not even go close to Zina! Truly, it is a gross obscenity and an evil path (to go down).” [17:32]
Anal sex is haraam. Show them the ahadeeth which prohibit anal sex. You can also drop a line or two about the health hazards. Last week I mentioned the “STD Educational Support Groups.” Google one in your local area and attend with your pre-teen/teen.
Homosexuality: Though it is not easy these days to discuss the Islamic concept of homosexuality to our youth, it must be explained. Initially, when they are small and read the story of Prophet Lut, for instance, they can be told that “boys used to marry boys”. Later, as they grow older they can be told in more detail.
Wet Dreams: I have already written an article discussing wet dreams among males and females and about the importance of educating our preteens/teens about them.
Other Sexual Acts:
Dear parents, I wish I didn’t have to ask you to teach more than what we have already discussed. Unfortunately though, we are living in a hyper-sexualized society and it is becoming practically impossible to keep our children sheltered the way we wish to keep them protected. However, as long as you have explained to them what we have discussed so far, I don’t think additional information needs to be offered, unless they ask. The goal is to “break the ice” and keep the communication frank and open.
Be prepared. Keep the conversations alive, sparking them every now and then. Sex-ed is an ongoing education and it can never be covered in just one sitting.
Wrong Information from Overprotective Parents:
Since my counseling is limited to female teenagers, I have often encountered overprotective mothers giving wrong information to their daughters to “protect” them from masturbation and other sexual experimentation. I don’t know if a similar exchange of misinformation occurs among fathers and their sons, but in any case it’s advisable that parents refrain from conveying false information to their children.
Tell them facts: Religious facts, social facts, and medical facts. Plain and simple: nothing but facts.
Are Carnal Desires Evil?
Talking about the restrictions we set to hinder our instinctive desires may give your child a feeling that it is an evil thing to feel them and inflict a negative outlook on intercourse for the rest of their life. It is very important that we clarify their confusion of perceiving sex and sexuality in an evil and wrong way.
Explain to them that carnal desires are not evil but they can lead to evil if one doesn’t protect themselves from satanic whispers. Yes, when it is done properly, i.e. in the beautiful marital bond, then it actually becomes a blessing and a way to earn reward. In a long narration in Muslim, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was describing different actions of sadaqah and he mentioned,
“…and in a man’s sexual intercourse (with his wife) there lies a sadaqah (in his favor).” They (the Companions) said: “Messenger of Allah, is there a reward for him who satisfies his sexual passion among us?” He said: “Tell me, if he were to devote it to something forbidden, would it not be a sin on his part? Similarly, if he were to devote it to something lawful, he should have a reward.”
Let them read the numerous examples from the life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) of him being intimately playful and romantic with his wives. Let them listen to some lectures on the subject. Start drilling the correct place and time of releasing these natural desires and fantasies from a young age so their perception becomes pure, insha’Allah.
Benefits of Chastity:
From time to time, we must remind our children and pre-teens/teens about the value and significance of chastity, and how Allah ‘azza wa jall Himself honored the virtues of purity and chastity. We must offer them a balance between warnings and rewards from a religious perspective. Additionally, we should also reward them verbally and materialistically even for avoiding indecent actions, like when they turn away their sight from an indecent billboard/ad, or close their eyes during a kissing scene, or close a site with offensive advertisements, etc.
When they are pre-teens/teens it is essential to lay out the benefits of being chaste and keeping away from major/minor acts of lewdness. Remind them of what the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “There are seven whom Allah will shade in His Shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His Shade: …a man who is called by a woman of beauty and position [for illegal intercourse], but says: ‘I fear Allah’…”
Ask them: Would they not want to have the Shade of Allah when no other shade will be available and the sun will be only a mile above us? *Occasional emotional talks are effective reminders.*
A Few Tips on Keeping Away from Fawahish (Indecencies):
Help your pre-teens/teens keep away from fawahish. To suggest a few steps:
Du’a: Every now and then talk to them about the importance of Du’a.
Encourage your pre-teens/teens to make du’a for themselves. Explain to them that they know their own weaknesses better than anyone else. They must turn to Allah to ask for help and forgiveness whenever they make a mistake.
Adhkaar (verbal remembrance of Allah): I cannot emphasize enough the necessity of reading the morning and afternoon adhkaar. Remember, fawahish are a call of theshayateen:
إِنَّمَا يَأْمُرُكُمْ بِالسُّوءِ وَالْفَحْشَاءِ “For he commands you to what is evil and shameful/lewd…” (2:169)
Hence, by keeping the shayateen away, one is keeping the temptations away. Though this training should be done from a very young age, it is never too late to help pre-teens/teens memorize the morning and afternoon adhkaars.
Prayers: Prayer is a way to keep away from fawahish:
إنَّ الصَلاَةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ “Indeed prayers protects from indecencies…”
Lowering one’s gaze: We must start training our young boys to lower their gazes. Here is an excellent read from Ibn Al-Qayyim on lowering the gaze.
Good company: Monitor their friends. Remind them about the importance of keeping good company.
Music: Stay away from music and indecent lyrics.
Movies/TV: Avoid movies with indecent content: Parents, please do not go by the official ratings of the movies. Most of the times, PG-13 is not a movie suitable for 13 year olds. It is not even suitable for 18 year olds. Make your own educated rating. There is an excellent site to look up the content of movies in detail. Visit: kids-in-mind.com
Fasting: Encourage them to fast. Fast with them. Make fasting Mondays/Thursdays a family ritual.
Social Work: Many times, it is having too much free time that makes minds wander aimlessly. Get them busy with constructive activities, social projects, volunteer work in themasjid/community center, start a girl/boys club. Come up with ways to keep them busy and entertained.
Exercise: Encourage them to exercise to release their physical energy.
Don’t Stay up all Night: Do not let them spend their nights alone especially with the computer. As the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) advised, “Do not spend the night alone.” (Ahmad)
Keep the Computer in an Open Area: If this is not feasible, make sure you install parental control software on their computers.
Ask your Parents for Help: If you are a pre-teen/teen reading this article, ask your parents to monitor your computer activities. Ask them to make du’a for you.
These are but a few examples of ways in which parents can help protect their pre-teens/teens from the fitan of fawahish surrounding our society.
We are not Raising Angels:
Talk to your pre-teen/teen about the challenges that they face at school/society and around their friends. Remind them of the beauty of chastity, encourage them to swim against the high tide, appreciate them for listening to you, and ask them about their challenges and how you can be of assistance.
If they are having difficulty or going through some crisis, do not panic. You will lose them entirely if you do. Listen to them calmly. Remember you are not raising angels, even after taking all the precautions you could take; we must keep in mind that our children will slip. This is as long as it is a minor issue, like sexual thoughts or masturbation (major issues like love affairs will have to be dealt with differently).
Remind them of fighting their temptations with du’a and istighfaar. Help them fight the fitnah. Encourage them to pray qiyam’l-layl. Provide them with distractions. Rid them of all the means of falling into sin. Though, be very careful and wise. Do not scare them away by being too tough on them. Remember, they are human beings, and as long as they feel remorse and repent to Allah, you will have to allow them room to sin a little.
Why this education MUST be given with proper Islamic references.
- To create a positive effect.
- To instill shyness rather than vulgarity.
- To emphasize responsibility and cautiousness with the knowledge that Allah severely hatesfawahish.
This is all about instilling Islamic values and disciplining the mind. It is interesting that many psychological diseases are controlled through mind disciplining, like OCD or addictions. Cognitive therapy is about identifying and changing dysfunctional thoughts.
I am very hopeful and optimistic that insha’Allah with Islam as our guide and psychology as our tool, we can control spiritual and social damages caused by sexual prevalence in our societies.
Forming our children’s mindsets from a young age is not only appropriate Islamically, but it’s also the perfect time to start shaping and training their minds to being pure, focused, and free from confusion and doubts. When they are given clear explanations about their sexuality in proper detail (without vulgarity), warned in a timely manner what they are up against, provided with the tools on how to tackle the fawahish, and constantly reminded of the virtues of chastity and purity, they are being given ample training to the positive development of their mind disciplining and shaping.
Perhaps, it may be true that the prevalence of porn/sexual addiction among Muslim men is partially contributed by the lack of proper information and upbringing during their youth. It may be that inappropriate and vulgar information about sex builds a wrong perception of sex, sexuality and women in a person’s mind and hence causes serious problems later in their lives.
On the other hand, it maybe that when the communication is kept open from the very beginning and parents continue to be involved in their children’s lives, the mind is trained and shaped in different way. A person is more open to communication, there is no excitement in secrecy, a person finds more comfort in verbalizing emotions than shutting down and retreating to release stress in “discreet” way, and Allah knows best.
Insha’Allah next week we will conclude this series.