Connect with us

Books

Fifty Shades of Grey: What Muslim Teens Need to Know

Saba Syed (Umm Reem)

Published

“OMG, the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is coming out!” a high-school girl I mentor cheers with excitement. I nod but don’t say anything. “I have to tell my friend. She will be thrilled. It is her favorite book!”

I feel goose bumps on my skin, because I happen to know her friend as well. She is not an ordinary girl. MashaAllah, she just finished memorizing Qur’an earlier this year out of her own dedication, while maintaining full time high school.

“You do know that it’s not only a soft-porn book, but it also has some really disturbing material.” I remind her.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

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

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

“No Miss, apart from all that stuff, it has an amazing love story!” her voice melts as she recalls the “love” between Ana and Christian Grey.

Last summer, I skimmed through the series to be aware of what our young women are reading. Needless to say, the more I read the book the more horrified I was.

It was the first time in years –after the Twilight series–that I asked my teen daughter not to read a book, and I explained to her my reasons, “If you read this book now, you will have a messed up concept of sex, and some content may even be emotionally disturbing and psychologically damaging.”

She promised, and since then she’s been offered the book several times at her “Islamic” school. Not only has the trilogy made it to this Muslim country where I currently live— pornographic material is banned here– it also has found its way to the hands of practicing Muslim girls.

I understand that it is not easy to stop the young adults from reading a book, let alone a trilogy so popular that it has sold more than 70 million copies in 2012, even surpassing the Harry Potter series as the fastest selling paperback of all time . The book is popular in the West and in the East, among the non-Muslims and Muslims. So now that most of our teens have read it, who is going to do the damage control?

Let me start of by explaining why I’m alarmed by this specific trilogy though there are many errotic books available out there.

Because this trilogy has become more famous than any other book, sending the author straight to the top of the highest-earning authors’ list.

My real concern however, lies in the plot—this is a disturbing book about a millionaire sadist who enslaves young girls under a “mutual agreement” and inflicts physical pain on them for his sexual pleasure and in return he offers them generous amount of money and cossets them with lavish cars, extravagant clothes and jewelry. Abused as a teenager, he partners with his abuser in a business and doesn’t necessarily see anything wrong with what his abuser did to him. Moreover, since his own mother was a prostitute who committed suicide, he chooses girls who look like his mother so he can inflict pain on them, to satisfy his anger towards his her!

A young, ambitious, educated, innocent girl, who is not only a virgin but very naïve about sex, falls in love with him, even though he stalks her, traces her calls, convinces her to sign the slavery submissive-contract so he can use her for his sexual enjoyment.

Then…. they get married and after the marriage he gives up his addiction and they live happily ever after.

Right!

As it is we already have intimacy issues among Muslim couples. We don’t have parents who openly communicate with their children and educate them about sex and sexuality. We don’t have enough speakers talking to our teens about sex, especially female speakers. We don’t have enough Muslim counselors/therapists resolving intimacy issues between couples. On top of that, if our girls are going to read books like Fifty Shades of Grey, they are going to left with a seriously damaged concept of intimacy.

Just recently, I received a request from high school girls to hold a “Talk Session” so they can discuss their fears about marriage and intimacy. Some of the girls specifically brought up what they read in Fifty Shades of Grey and how they have developed fears and insecurity after reading the book (yet they are in love with Christian Grey!)

I cannot discuss all the points in the book thoroughly in just one article. However, to highlight some major issues, I want to tell my dear teenage daughters:

Christian Grey in Real Life:

1. It is not okay to be sexually abused by someone and then accept the abuse as a lifestyle, just because the abused starts enjoying the abuse.
2. It is not okay for a man to lure a girl into marrying him with his money or good looks while expecting her to overlook his habit of objectifying women as mere sexual objects.
3. Decent men normally don’t stalk girls.
4. Grey is domineering, a control freak, a stalker, and a manipulator. In real life, these character flaws cause real marital problems. Unlike Ana, most women can’t endure being stalked, watched and forced into submission while compensated with wealth and erotic intimacy. In real life, most men simply do not have the luxury of gifting the company where she works to the wife while forcing her into submitting.
5. One legitimate fact in the book worth pointing out is that Grey has a problem with Ana’s male friends. Yes, that I can assure you dear daughters, especially those of you who have studied with boys and have Facebook friends of the opposite gender from school or work, that your husband may raise this objection. Or if you are used to “hanging out” for school projects at a public place, he may ask you to stop doing so. You either talk this through before marriage or you should be prepared to “submit” on this point after marriage and keep in mind that in exchange for your obedience, a  luxurious ski trip to Aspen in a private jet with your girl friends is not guaranteed.

Addiction and BDSM:

6. It is not okay to marry an addict especially if a girl finds out about his addiction before the marriage. This is a serious matter and unlike the book, addicts don’t lose their addiction just by marrying someone they love.
7. It can take years for an addict to overcome his addiction. Addicts almost always have relapses and those relapses can take a tremendous toll on the marriage.
8. I’ve come across countless men who have issues of child molestation, mother-father family issues, and desperately need therapy, but they will refuse to acknowledge any problems with their behavior let alone seek therapy. Our hero Mr. Grey, seeks counseling even before Ana asks him to seek help for his psychological issues. Dear daughters, the unfortunate fact of life is that it may take months of convincing, even arguments, and at times even family/friends’ intervention, before the husband finally agrees to seek therapy.
9. It is not okay for a man to inflict physical pain on his wife for his sexual pleasure.
10.Sadism/Bondage/Submission and Dominance (BDSM) are acts of sex that may develop among couples in a halal way but it takes time. Initially a relationship needs understanding and normal intimacy. Once both partners, especially the wife, become comfortable and confident then they may experiment with different types of intimate practices.
11. After both husband and wife become comfortable with each other especially during intimacy, they may play around with different techniques and a variety of intimacy including BDSM. However, if it reaches to the point of inflicting pain where a wife starts crying with discomfort, or her eyes overflow with tears trying to endure pain, that’s crossing the line. There is a difference in “delirious pain” and tearing up with pain.
12. Spanking the wife for rolling her eyes is wrong (even though it maybe an acceptable practice among the Christian Domestic Discipline). Hitting the wife with a belt to inflict physical pain for a husband’s sexual pleasure is physical abuse. A decent man will draw his own limits for his sexual pleasure and a wife doesn’t need to burst out in tears and start crying for him to realize that what he was doing was beastly.

Virginity and Intimacy:

13. No virgin has multiple orgasms on her first night. Do not enter your marriage with this misconception.
14. It may take days to weeks before a virgin experiences vaginal orgasm. (In rare cases, it may take up to months and may need therapy)
15. Communication and comfort is essential in making intimacy successful and pleasurable, especially for those girls who’ve guarded their chastity and are experiencing intimacy for the first time.
16. In normal circumstances, acts of BDSM should not be practiced on a girl who’s been recently deflowered.
17. Men are not born expert-lovers. In real life, couples have to discuss their fantasies and communicate what they like and explain their desires, and not just once. Sometimes these fantasies have to be explained many times before the spouse finally understands. It may take months, sometimes years before sexual fantasies become realities. The book definitely raises the bar of expectations in many ways.
18. Yes, sex is a lot more than just penetration (as most Muslim women complain about their intimacy being dry and boring) but most Muslim men are not as experienced and “sex gurus” as Grey, especially those who have kept themselves pure before marriage.
19. Grey can read Ana’s body language and knows exactly what will turn her on and what will bring her pleasure AND he is always ready to give her that. Dear daughters, in real life things are very different.
20. In the beginning of a marriage, most Muslim men don’t know how to make a women experience an orgasm during every intercourse. They need to learn and the wives need to help them learn. It is a give-and-take relationship.

Romance between Ana & Grey:

21. There is never a “dull moment” in their romance. In real life, issues start rising after a few weeks of marriage–real issue—issues that need to be talked through and resolved. These issues cannot be resolved through “erotic intimacy” and “expensive gifts”.
22. Unlike Grey, men have mood swings too and they may not be romantic all the time.
23. Men want their wives to be romantic too and take initiatives and plan romantic events, dinners, outings etc. Unlike Grey, real men are not always full of romantic surprises.
24. Real men in real life have work to do at work. They simply cannot romantically email back and forth all day from work.

This is just a brief clarification I can offer you, of not just one but three books about an abused billionaire turned into a sadistic-domineering-control freak-emotional abuser’s “amazing love story”!

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

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

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

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

97 Comments

97 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Arshad

    January 24, 2014 at 5:32 AM

    Finally a clear Muslim response to Fifty Shades of Grey!

  2. Avatar

    SHAKIRAH MOHAMMED

    January 24, 2014 at 6:20 AM

    MashaAllah. Very educating. Jazakillahu khairan

  3. Avatar

    Dina

    January 24, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Well I must admit that I am disappointed that this is the first time I have heard this said. Not only in the content of this book disturbing but the writing is deplorable too. The only way that we can make our children immune to this kind of pop literature is to approach everything that they read with scrutiny and to appreciate good literature, the literature of charles dickens and john steinbeck. The only way to protect children from this kind of rubbish is to elevate them to a position of intellectual ability where they are able to understand that not all things that are written are true or even worth reading and that the only way that you can discover the truth is through your own experience and rigorous intellectual curiosity.

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      January 27, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      Dear Dina, I agree with you, but this is only possible if parents open communication with their children. I’ve been trying for years to convince parents but with very little success.

      Also, keep in mind that at this age, it is hard not to give into peer pressure. It isn’t easy to avoid something that every teenage is doing/reading. In order to help our teens go against the flow, parents need to have a very open and friendly relationship with their kids.

      Alhamdullialh my daughter didn’t read the book, but as I said I was very open and explicit with her and I answered all her questions thoroughly until she understood why I was stopping her, alhamdullialh. I wish more and more parents build a good communication with their kids.

      • Avatar

        Nana

        January 16, 2015 at 9:31 AM

        Awesome post btw. Jazakillahu khayr. Do reward her for not reading by getting her a copy of Naima’s she wore red trainers. Am a married adult woman and reading Ali and Amirahs Story made me feel I wasted three days of my life reading Christian and Ana’s. Barakallahu feekum

      • Avatar

        Khatam

        March 6, 2016 at 10:37 AM

        Dear Umm Reem, this was a very interesting and essential article. Being an avid reader, this was one I had no wish to read. The idea such concepts are acceptable in a relationship is deeply flawed and dangerous. My other point is how right you are about parents needing to be open with their kids despite the embarrassment. Currently in the school my kids go to they have a program where the kids are taught about important factors in relationships, what danger signs to look for, and generally about growing up. The programme is not aimed to be secure in any way but for young kids to be aware. Your point on parents nit wanting to discuss such issues is true of this programme whereby parents don’t want their kids learning about relationships, puberty etc. If we don’t teach them then they will ultimately find resources elsewhere that are not so suitable.

  4. Avatar

    Yusuf

    January 24, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    We need more of such articles, i enjoyed reading :) I am a social worker in a western country, forget the teens, it is not uncommon that our mothers and sisters discuss sex-related issues (in marriage) with the non-muslims who later present these issues in integration-conferences. Wallahi, we need to adress our problems.

    Jazaakumullahu kheyr ukhti

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      January 27, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      Br. Youse, JazakAllah khiar. May Allah reward you for all your work.

    • Avatar

      Umm Nazaha

      May 2, 2014 at 6:11 PM

      I didn’t really mean to thumbs down your comment….I would have liked if you had elaborated. I have found it almost impossible to find counseling by a female muslims for a young muslim lady who endured years of sexual abuse from the step father….

  5. Avatar

    Umm ZAKAriyya

    January 24, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    Scary . Why aren’t books like this banned in muslim countries . ! Perhaps this will make the western authors realise how far they have gone. And also , help the muslim parents in protecting their children .

  6. Avatar

    Umm ZAKAriyya

    January 24, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Sometimes I wonder if DAjjal would finally appear in our times . I mean , how worse can this get ? It worries me greatly on knowingly the kinds of books our teens read these days .

    I used to be an avid reader once upon a time as a teenager. And I got to read all kinds Of books that I would not want my children ( or any children for that matter) to read.And this was in Saudi Arabia before 2004 !

    These books take you to a fantasy world where haraam is glorified . My poor mother didn’t
    Know the content of the books . She thought reading was all good. And since my books were from the school library , it must be good for me.

    Took me atleast 3 years to get back to reading Allah’s book with full consciousness . Probably because my parents constantly strove hard to teach us the deen . Alhamdulillah
    I wonder what happens to those children whose parents don’t actively participate in protecting them from all these fitnah .

    Jazakillah khair sister . I love reading your articles .

    This is such an eye opener to parents . If we can’t save our children from Christian Greys and Justin beibers , I wonder how we can protect them from Dajjal.

  7. Avatar

    mg

    January 24, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Excellent Points!! One small note: Not all women have vaginal orgasms, some only have clitoral orgasms.
    We are all unique.
    These novels create unrealistic expectations for both Males and Females. Jazakee Allah Khayrun for writing this.
    So glad I did not waste my time reading this “best-seller”.

    • Avatar

      Umm ZAKAriyya

      January 24, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      Source : internet

  8. Avatar

    Amina

    January 24, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    After working with Muslim youth for a number of years, it is clear to me that most Muslim parents never check the content of books that their youth are reading. I’ve found that quiet bright shy smart kids in Islamic schools (weekend and otherwise) are having their minds warped with ideas about wizardry, magic, sex, and now bondage and violent sex……… please parents! please read at least a few chapters of whatever your children are reading, check their backpacks. If you have trouble with English, find a trusted friend (many of us converts around) and ask them. Don’t assume just because they are not online or on their i-pod that they are safe. Shaytan is trying hard in any way he can – including through a seemingly innocent past-time as reading. So many parents are just happy that their kids ARE READING, but this is a MISTAKE. Please check the content of everything your children are reading!!

  9. Avatar

    Mrs.K

    January 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Thank you for writing such an honest piece. Every where we turn there are messages that are teaching people (young and old) to have unrealistic and unnatural expectations when it comes to human relationships especially sexual relationships. We need to be prepared to have honest conversation of our children and tell them that this is not what real relationships and real sex is like.

  10. Avatar

    KB

    January 24, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Fantastic article! There’s a lot wrong with Fifty Shades of Grey… and not just for Muslims. It continues to baffle me why it’s so popular. Aside from the obvious, it’s not even well-written. Anyway, I really like your honest and realistic attitude toward sexual intimacy. It seems so many people have unrealistic expectations about what sex/marriage will be like that they find themselves disappointed. In real life these things rely on trust, honesty, and communication. Your wedding night will probably not be the best night of your life (sexually speaking), but insha’allah you’ll have many more years of intimacy to look forward to.

  11. Avatar

    Mahmud

    January 24, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    So disturbing to hear that religious looking Muslimahs are reading this stuff……I hope they quit it. I want to marry a young, pious, attractive, virgin, super-sweet, caring, loving Muslimah and live happily ever after. I’ll have to look really hard……..Allahul Musta’an.

    • Avatar

      Lamees

      January 25, 2014 at 4:04 AM

      Why such a. Long list of attributes? I do hope you’ll also be young, pious, attractive (astaghfuru Allah, I most definitely am not trying to be flirtatious, Allah knows best my educational intention), super-sweet and caring husband when you do, then!

      Don’t search for ideals. Humans are individuals and true perfection is found only in Allah. Be reasonable, brother, and do not try to find the world in your future spouse! Don’t hold her to unreasonably high standards and you’ll be a LOT happier, both of you, insha Allah. Just as I am certain you are not perfect, you must be aware she won’t be either. No one is.

      … also, I pray it’s not your intention, but I hope you’re not someone with a creepy purity complex who fetishies young and virginal girls, eeeek.

      • Avatar

        Mahmud

        January 28, 2014 at 7:52 PM

        I’m very certain you aren’t perfect, but you still have standards you expect in a husband I’m sure…..

        Hopefully you aren’t a crazy feminist who seeks to distort Islam and oppress men, eeek.

        Honestly, finding a sweet caring virgin is such a big requirement? Should I look for a harsh, zani, big-sinner woman or something?

        So when girls get crazy expectations in men(ahem, article above) they are treated with utmost care, as if it’s not their own fault for reading the book but that really someone else is oppressing them?

        When a guy like me mentions expectations which really aren’t that high (sweet, virgin, loving, pious) we get shot down? I can’t really take you seriously.

        Maybe there should be an article on what young Muslim men looking for love need to know. I’d like that………..

    • Avatar

      Kirana

      January 25, 2014 at 6:20 AM

      And….. there’s the other half of unrealistic expectations. Brother, you’ll indeed have to look very hard, but not because “religious looking Muslimahs are reading this stuff”. Newsflash, that image of a Muslimah in your head, it is an idealisation. Nobody perfect like that exists. Even if she ticks all those boxes, she’ll also have flaws and annoying or disappointing qualities that require effort from you, in order to achieve the “live happily after part”.

      • Avatar

        Mahmud

        January 28, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        “Newsflash, that image of a Muslimah in your head, it is an idealisation.”

        Super-sweet, caring, virgin are exceptional ideals? REALLY? I want to be romantic, caring, manly, everything like that….and virgin at marriage…………..but this Christian Grey stuff seems to attract them? Hmmmmm

        What kind of world was I born in! People reading books like this and acting like marrying a loving, sweet virgin is like winning the lottery…..they can’t be THAT rare right?Riiight?

        “A young, ambitious, educated, innocent girl, who is not only a virgin but very naïve about sex, falls in love with him, even though he stalks her, traces her calls, convinces her to sign the slavery submissive-contract so he can use her for his sexual enjoyment.”

        Woa……………………………..

        “I do hope you’ll also be young, pious, attractive (astaghfuru Allah, I most definitely am not trying to be flirtatious, Allah knows best my educational intention), super-sweet and caring husband when you do, then!”
        Yup, inshaa Allah

        “Just as I am certain you are not perfect, you must be aware she won’t be either. No one is.”

        So…..the attributes I listed are perfection in your eyes? Woa…….Christian Grey is the perfection for some perhaps but seeking loving sweet virgin is asking for too much!!!

        … also, I pray it’s not your intention, but I hope you’re not someone with a creepy purity complex who fetishies young and virginal girls, eeeek.

        No, I’m not. Hence the fact I only want to marry one (loving, virgin) girl in this life…………..

        and best it’s not your intention, but hopefully your not one of those crazy psychotic, nutcase feminists who are jealous of feminine young women who attract guys like honey attracts bees…eeek.

        All I can say is…..I’m not going to give up looking for this because someone like her wont be too hard to fine inshaa Allah…..lots of dua and I think I’m better of in this matter then those girls who are fantasizing about Christian Grey. It’s like the modern age hasn’t just warped women’s expectations of men, it’s possibly made previously acceptable ideals strange…..what was the norm then is strange now? Ina lilahi wa ina ilayhi rajioon.

        • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

          Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

          January 29, 2014 at 12:10 AM

          Dear bro, you seem too fixated by the word “virgin”. A piece of advise from someone who has several years on you in this regard … few years down the road it is character that matters in your wife. So look for all the rest of the criteria without really paying too much attention to that particular criteria.

          Aly
          *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

          • Avatar

            Mahmud

            January 29, 2014 at 11:52 AM

            Ok, Aly, jazzakAllahu khair

        • Avatar

          ZAI

          January 29, 2014 at 3:03 AM

          Br. Mahmud,
          The ladies were not saying any of the things you desire were an exceptional ideal…but that ALL of those things together is an unrealistic ideal and that some
          of those things, like “super-sweet”, “caring”, “loving” etc. are affected by mood and naturally ebb/flow & fluctuate…so keep that in mind in your expectations or you will have real disappointments in a relationship.

          2ndly, I have to agree w/ Br. Aly here and advise you cut down on advertising for a virgin bro. Im not saying you don’t have a right to want what you want…but the way you’re putting it turns people off man. It is enough for you to say you want a girl who is religiously observant and you can say you prefer someone who hasn’t been in a prior relationship because since you haven’t been in one either, you think it would be a better fit for you. Equal standing.

          When you say virgin over and over again, you are doing a few things:

          1.) You are seriously insulting divorced/widowed women who have not done anything haraam and making them feel as though you don’t deem them “good enough”
          2.) You are advertising insecurity. The way you are writing makes it seem like you are hyper-obsessed with women’s sexuality and control of it. Screams insecurity man and if there’s one thing women hate in a man, even virgin women, it is insecurity.
          3.) If you harp on it too much, even the super-sweet, caring and loving girl of your dreams will think “man, this guy seems obsessive and strict. If this is how he is about my past…how’s he going to treat me in the future with other things?”….

          Dude, seriously…stop. I, like Br. Aly, also have a few years on you and only telling you this as your Muslim bro. You are not doing your own search any favors with this talk. It doesn’t help to pull out the “crazy feminist” card either ’cause the sisters disagreed with you or had a different opinion than you.

          Women are unique individuals just like men and ultimately they want to be valued as and seen as such. They don’t want to have you present them with a check-list as if you’re shopping for a car. As Br. Aly said, look for character then build around that, but be flexible with the other things. You might not get them all in one person. Appreciate a persons unique attributes as well…and please take my advice about the way you say some things.

          • Avatar

            Mahmud

            January 29, 2014 at 9:34 PM

            Ok, jazzakAllahu khair for the thoughtful points.

    • Avatar

      Khatam

      March 6, 2016 at 10:42 AM

      It is good Muslimahs read such stuff to know how awful they are and find more educating and interesting material around. Rather than wishing for type of woman you want to marry, maybe ficus on the type of husband you should be :)

  12. Avatar

    hafsah

    January 24, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    please keep writing …. jazaakillaahukhairan katheerah

  13. Avatar

    Halima

    January 24, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Thank you for writing this piece sis. I’m sure it will be very enlightening for many, as it was for me. Young Muslim women are in desperate need of learning more about these types of things. I for one am very ignorant when it comes to such matters. I wish there were more classes and books to teach to enlighten me more.

  14. Avatar

    Tanveer Khan

    January 24, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    OK I stopped reading after the choosing girls who liked like his mother part. Messed up levels reached boiling point.

  15. Avatar

    Crissy

    January 24, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    I understand that you don’t “get” the book. However, many people do “get” the book and know this is a story, and not real life. Also, if a teen is interested in reading it and there are concerns about them reading it. Perhaps it’s better to allow them to read it with a trusted adult who can discuss the book with them and make sure they are understanding the themes in the books and what may or may not be appropriate.

    But what saddens me most about your post is that you don’t believe woman, Muslim or not, can distinguish was is a “healthy” relationship and what is a fantasy love story. For the record, I do agree that the material can be too much for most teens. But, instead of trying to keep the book from woman, perhaps it should be pushed forward so that the Muslim society can discuss it as a whole instead of pretending it is not there.

    • Avatar

      A Khan

      January 24, 2014 at 9:13 PM

      Even though the book does not have an effect on you, you can not deny the effect it has had on a lot of people. You need to know how the mind of a female works in order to fully comprehend the effect such stories can have on a female’s mind. No matter how hard can someone try to separate the reality and fantasy, in the end, it can overlap and ruin their genuine personality. You also need to realize that not all teens have a healthy relationship with their parents and so they will read these kinds of book in solitude. This world is not rainbow and unicorns.

      *Name has been changed to comply to our Comments Policy*

      • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        January 25, 2014 at 1:34 AM

        Dear Blueportal

        Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting. You may also use a blog handle provided your blog is linked, the email address is a valid one, and it is not advertising a product.

        Best Regards
        Comments Team

    • The Salafi Feminist

      The Salafi Feminist

      January 25, 2014 at 12:43 AM

      Actually, there are MANY people who are cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality, and who are indeed affected by what’s shared in popular novels.

      One of the biggest criticisms of the Twilight series was because its female lead was a shallow, vapid girl who placed her entire self worth in the love of a man (vampire?), and that it taught girls that a “good man” is someone who will stalk her, emotionally abuse her, and control her every movement.

      I personally have seen how teen girls (and adult women) actually end up believing what a fictional story is ‘telling’ them – and more often than not, it has some truly terrible effects on them.

      BTW men and boys are just as affected by media/ video game representations of what is ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ for men to do, how to behave with women, and so on. The long-reaching effects of fiction and false realities is very, very real and well documented by analysts of media.

    • The Salafi Feminist

      The Salafi Feminist

      January 25, 2014 at 12:45 AM

      And, in fact, one criticism of Fifty Shades of Grey *by* practitioners of BDSM is that it portrayed it completely inaccurately and in fact, quite harmfully.

      • Avatar

        Amy

        February 3, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        This is very true. Please read my comment below once it is moderated.
        Amy

    • Avatar

      greentea

      January 25, 2014 at 5:46 AM

      lol..you might as well be promoting porn. I mean..it’s a fantasy not real life. Lol, yes let’s discuss what is and is not appropriate in porn later, but first invite garbage into your lives, eyes, ears and heart. Once that’s done we’ll discuss which piece of trash is really an artistic piece !!! Thanks for trying.

    • Avatar

      Kirana

      January 25, 2014 at 6:34 AM

      Actually, I believe the author told her daughter “If you read this book NOW, you will have a messed up concept of sex, and some content may even be emotionally disturbing and psychologically damaging.” (key word capitalised)

      It does matter which information reaches you first, psychologically speaking. Your brain favours the earlier ones (I believe it’s called first conclusion bias). It is better to access things with high emotional impact, prioritising true ones first, and ‘recreationally untrue’ ones later. This is less important for topics of low emotional impact or clearly irrelevant to one’s life. Once you have good information, and positive experience, then it is a lot easier to slot fictional unhealthy depictions appropriately, since you’re able to evaluate it *relative to* something else. For a virgin to do this is a lot harder, there’s no reference experience.

      • Umm Reem

        Umm Reem

        January 27, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        yes Kirana, that’s exactly what I told my daughter is not to read it NOW because it DOES matter which information reaches us first. And as you said once a person has good information AND positive experience then its easier to differentiate between fantasy and reality.

        I’m married yet there were parts in the book that emotionally upset me but Alhamdullilah I was able to talk them through with my husband.
        On the other hand our teenage girls are not only unmarried but unfortunately they are not even educated about their sexuality properly (our-Muslims- and parents’ fault).

  16. Avatar

    Taiba Nasir

    January 24, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum sister,
    Baarak Allahu laki for this eye opening response to the fantasy book. We need more Muslimahs like you who’d confront such issues directly. keep up the good work. May Allah reward you for your great efforts. Jazakillahu Khairan

  17. Avatar

    Serene

    January 25, 2014 at 4:17 AM

    Assalamu alaikum Umm Reem.

    Thank you for this article.

    I pm you over at your fb but can’t seem to find an email address for private questions. In sha Allah you will see this message n read my pm over at fb. Thanks.
    wasalaam

  18. Avatar

    Jerome Binten

    January 25, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    Fantasies of elderly woman, that’s what this book is all about, why should teenage muslim girls want to read that?
    They should be learned about the difference of fiction and reality, otherwise we should forbid all warmovies and violence movies and all religious books.

    • Avatar

      Farha Rayes

      March 14, 2015 at 1:54 PM

      I totally agree with this…

  19. Avatar

    ahsan arshad

    January 25, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Umm reem murdered the plot of the book. hats off for it.

  20. Avatar

    Hassan

    January 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Never knew the details of this book, apparently it is more popular among women (muslims or non-muslims) then men. Why is that, even though it is quite cruel toward women.

  21. Avatar

    Mariam Saeed

    January 25, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Mostly, unIslamic fiction has its adverse effects.
    I have personally suffered with fault perceptions about interpersonal relationships and lifestyle.

    This article was the need of the hour!
    JazakAllah!

  22. Avatar

    Megan Wyatt

    January 25, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    I wouldn’t come near that book with a fifty foot pole….and I felt sick just reading through all the things Umm Reem wrote, feeling upset for her having to read through some of this filth in order to help parents and Muslims at large know how disturbing such a book is and write this otherwise beneficial article. Thank you Umm Reem!

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      January 27, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      JazakiAllah khiar Megan :)

      I really hope that this article helps the parents and our teens.

  23. Avatar

    Shawn

    January 26, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Honestly, sounds symptomatic of a larger problem to me. It’s not a stupid book that’s the problem (there will always be controversial books that come out that elicit bans of all kinds). It’s the fact that our communities have such an awkward time dealing with the whole intimacy/sex conversation. So obviously if something isn’t ever discussed candidly or in a non-“fire and brimstone” kind of way, the kids will have messed up ideas of what intimacy actually is. Especially if they read this book. Instead of raising our Muslim children to be wise and reflective on various perspective, we just place bans on books. Band-aids on deep wounds.

    But I enjoyed reading this article, thank you!

  24. Avatar

    jessica

    January 26, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    This was a satirical trilogy based on ridiculing Twilight. People and especially women are so naive. Why do they gravitate to the most vile if social culture and not the classy. I am all for experimentation in marriage and kinky is great but anything that inflicts pain HELL NO. BDSM only if he is on the recieving end and I doubt any man enjoys being trodden on with 9 inch stilletoes or have their privates mutilated .Frankly society is so materialistic theyd do anything for money. No honor no shame no dignity. Girls the first time kills like hell , it is unforgetrable traumatic and sometimes requires medical intervention. Men can hardly last long enough and most are awkward and clueless. These expectations and ideals are ridiculous and as fake as aby magic or alien movie /story. If my teens even thought about reading this garbage id beat them senseless just to show them how FUN physical abuse is.

    • Avatar

      Man

      October 10, 2015 at 11:16 AM

      You say “HELL NO” to BDSM when you are receiving it but are okay with inflicting pain on a man. It means you really are not against it, but are fine with it as long as it’s the man who is in pain. Well guess what, it was a woman who wrote those books and it’s the women who read those books, so it’s the woman who want those things.

    • Avatar

      Ussamah

      August 12, 2016 at 7:15 AM

      lol lol .. best comment

    • Avatar

      m7md

      September 25, 2018 at 12:04 PM

      I have read through the article and many of the comments, I find your comment summarizing it all and relating to reality..
      I would say it largely depends on what the media is exposing the population to in a given society, and that in certain societies women perhaps choose to stay naïve..

      Relating to your experiences and understanding, do you feel it is or rather should be more acceptable where the woman inflicts pain to the man then the other way, being the weaker sex, and usually having relative roles in life..
      As you say that you doubt any men enjoys being trodden with stilettoes, and having their privates mutilated,, then do you feel its always done for the woman’s pleasure, if yes then why do you feel muslim women should be deprived of such pleasure if anyone of them may like to experience it, and if no then would you say its allowed by men just for their wife’s pleasure, again why should muslim women be left out any different.

      I feel this stuff is more to do with relationships and marriage, then money, have you had anyone take pain for money..

      If as you say they are fake, so you mean they never occur in a relationship/marraige?

  25. Avatar

    Bahader

    January 27, 2014 at 2:04 AM

    I must say that I’m surprised that muslims even would read such a book. I’m even more surprised that muslims practise BDSM and imitate some non muslims in their practises. Sex and intimacy should be something simple and natural combined with love and feelings for the partner… I think we’ve made it complicated due to the filth that our ears and eyes are exposed to..

  26. Avatar

    Amal Sarmatar

    January 27, 2014 at 6:26 AM

    I”m concern in particularly for young muslims teens. many of these kids parents are not educated or speak/ read english so just banning your kids from readings like fifty shades of Grey may not solve the real problem. Parents need to educate themselves about this country and it’s views before they decide to raise the perfect muslim kid in the west….

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      January 28, 2014 at 5:43 AM

      Dear Amal,

      This is not only a western problem, this is a universal issue. There are plenty of porn books in Arabic over here. Parents are in denial that their children would ever touch such a book- in the West and in the East.

      Parents need to take their heads out of the sand and be aware of the evil widespread around the world, and not just the west, and help their kids fight against that evil.

  27. Avatar

    S Kari

    January 27, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    the real question is : what is wrong with our Quran memorization schools? how on earth could they produce a hafiza who could go towards a book like this, full of filth and even non muslims consdier it porn? just shows our idea of how to teach Quran is so off. we don’t think it should be in their hearts, we don’t teach them teh meaning, we just turn them into parrots who are not actually truly carrying the light of Allah’s Message!

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      January 28, 2014 at 5:58 AM

      S Kari,

      I am not going to argue with the fact that our idea of teaching Qur’an is totally off and it is mere parrot memorization BUT i am going to disagree that huffadh or even practicing Muslilms/Muslimahs wouldn’t go towards a porn book. I am not justifying their actions but we need to remember that none of us are flawless and all of us have our fair share of weaknesses. So let’s not be judgmental.

      Besides, reading books like these may be harmful in other ways but does that make a person sinful? This is obviously a bit stretch, and Allah knows best.

  28. Avatar

    Maria

    January 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    Wonderful article! May Allah help us to walk on the straight path and protect us from going astray, ameen.
    JazakAllah Khairan, sister.

  29. Avatar

    Rosie

    January 27, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    Hi Umm

    I wanted to share my opinion with you as a British young woman in her mid twenties who is not religious. I did not wait for marriage to have sex, although I still hold it in high regard (i.e. I don’t give it away…)

    I think this is one of the best articles I have ever read, I hope to save a copy to read to my children (should I have any!). It is useful for both Muslims and non Muslims! To be truthful I have not completely read the 50 Shades series as it was written very poorly, and I can be a bit of a snob about books… however I did read a similar book called “Bared To You” by Sylvia Day with a very similar premise, and felt myself asking: “Am I the only person amongst my peers who has noticed that this is abuse and not a healthy relationship?!” I don’t know, perhaps as I had previously been in an abusive relationship (not sexual abuse thankfully) it may have been more obvious to me, but I found myself confused as to why so many women were “falling in love” with the male characters from these books! You have summarized exactly why books like these should only be read by adults, or discussed in depth with a parent who can tell their child “this is not normal, do not wish this upon yourself!”

    I shared this article with my Facebook friends and I wanted you to know that your message is not only reaching and affecting the Muslim community, but those beyond that as well. :) xx

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      January 28, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      Dear Rosie

      Glad our content is making a difference to more than just Muslims. We hope you will take some time out to check out more content on our site.

      Best Regards
      Aly
      Comments Team Lead

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      February 3, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      Hi Rosie,

      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. I am happy that my article is reaching out to more than just Muslims!

      I completely agree with you that the book is poorly written and i had to struggle to stay focused. It is a shame that a book with such low literary standards has become one of the most popular books of our times. I haven’t read “Bared to You”. To be honest, the only reason I picked up Fifty Shades was because I wanted to know what is it that our teens are obsessing over!

      I think authors throw in the bait of “epitome of male beauty” coupled with multimillion fortune with power and ever-romantic personality to keep fantasy-loving females (teens or adults) in their dreamland, and in many cases this type of fiction has caused some serious problems when it comes to real life issues.

  30. Avatar

    RCHOUDH

    January 27, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Good article Mash’Allah and one that’s very much needed. It’s disappointing to read that this book is also popular among young Muslims. Besides the disdainful subject matter the writing is atrocious, similar to Twilight! Has anyone here read the Hunger Games series btw? I haven’t read the books yet, but have watched the first movie, and liked that its subject matter was more intellectually stimulating, since it deals with issues like big, oppressive government, oppression and rebellion, as well as a critique on the current fascination with reality TV. I know the story has a love triangle going on within it, but according to some of my friends who’ve read it, it doesn’t take up a major part of the storyline. I think it would be better to steer kids more towards reading books like the HG instead of this.

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      February 4, 2014 at 5:18 AM

      Rchoudh,

      Hunger games is a good trilogy. I read it and so did my kids. Suzzane Collins knows how to write a good story!

      Yes, it does have a love triangle but that’s not the main part of the book. Besides, you will not find a book that doesn’t have a love story. Divergent is also a good trilogy though it’s not as good as HG, the writing style is not as great and it has more love scenes than HG.
      You can also try Rangers Apprentice series.

      • Avatar

        RCHOUDH

        February 4, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Thank you I’ll look into those series In sha Allah!

  31. Avatar

    ameera

    January 27, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    This shouldnt just be directed to muslim teens it should directed to ALL teens

  32. Avatar

    Mahmud

    January 28, 2014 at 2:18 AM

    As salamu alaikum

    Interesting talks…. by Allah I fear for my sisters and others really I do not know how to address them thez issues…
    Jazzaka’Allahu khairan to all ppl struggling to help out the youth from thez imaginary and illusionary stuffz (may Allah guide us all Aameen)

  33. Avatar

    Khadija

    January 29, 2014 at 5:53 AM

    A very useful article, both for teens snd adults.. I had joined MM for such useful healthy stuff and am glad I did it.. but I ‘d rather have MM as aplatform for the guidance of all muslim brothers and sisters towards what s right and shouldn’t declare it limited for a particular sect.

  34. Avatar

    UmmAmmaarah

    January 30, 2014 at 1:00 AM

    OMG – the horrors that await me …and to think I’m obsessing about keeping my 7 yr old away from ‘The Wimpy Kid’ series and with ‘The Boxcar Children’. These soft-porn books can be addicting as a teenager. My mom had warned me that these would screw up my idea of what ‘love’ should be like, and it DID until I knew better.
    Sister Umm Reem, any pointers on how and when to teach your kids, esp daughters about sexuality and how much exactly to tell them?

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      February 4, 2014 at 5:31 AM

      Dear UmmAmmaarah, assalamo alaikum

      If I were you I wouldn’t stop my kids from reading “The Wimpy Kid’ and “Boxcar CHildren”. Let them read those series and discuss the stuff you find objectionable.
      Keep a very open communication. Parenting is not easy and we have to chose your battles wisely AND we have to be realistic.

      I raised my kids without a TV at home but I can’t keep my kids from books, AND there is an obvious difference between watching love scenes or reading about it. As long as you talk to your children about the material they are reading, including love and relationships, and you answer ALL their questions honestly, inshaAllah you will be fine.

      As for sexual education, I wrote a detailed series on MM about this. Please go over it and if you still have questions, feel free to email me.
      May Allah make it easy for you.

  35. Avatar

    Najba

    January 30, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    Very well written… I myself have gone through the book and was surprised at how such a book became so famous!!! The author has shown a sadist man as a hero!! Unbelievable that the youth of today is embracing these things.
    What u read becomes a part of you, what ever you read be careful.
    As that is what you’re feeding your mind.

  36. Pingback: Reality on fifty shades of grey! | let's open up

  37. Avatar

    Amy

    February 3, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Hello, being neither Muslim nor coming from a Muslim country, it was by chance I stumbled across this article. It is well written and real unlike the books in question. Thank you.
    I am involved in the BDSM community and I can honestly say while there are many cases of abuse and misuse (as there are in everyday relationships) there are also genuine occasions in which both partners feel whole and complete in their roles either as dominants or submissives. I always say to people who wish to find out more the key to the door is communication. Trust has to be earned – it is not a given and this can and does take time. Beware the partner who wishes to go from 0 – 100 mph instantly (as does Mr Grey). These people are dangerous.
    The fact the author did not completely dismiss exploration into this realm shows real wisdom and tolerance. Done right – with dignity, honestly and as complete equals – sexuality in all is forms is a gift.
    Thank you for your calm moderate voice. I intend to show this to my daughter. 50 Shades is neither about love nor sex it is about power and that is wrong.
    Amy

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      February 4, 2014 at 6:03 AM

      Dear Amy,

      I’m glad you stumbled across my article, it is always refreshing to read diverse views.

      Role playing is not forbidden in Islam but physical abuse is. And as you said that it has to be done right with communication and understanding. I’m happy that you, coming from BDSM community, did find Grey’s character as damaging and dangerous. I would love to share your comment with the girls during my talk about the book. Thank you.

  38. Avatar

    Madihah

    February 27, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    As a teenager myself (16), I can say that this book certainly appealed and was read by many a girl my age. Alhamdulilah I wouldn’t even touch it with a ten foot pole but many girls were literally lining up to read it. SubhanAllah the language in this book is disgusting for I had the unfortunate experience of overhearing one of the conversations about it. I agree that more needs to be done within our Muslim communities, whereby girls are educated as to the dos and donts of intimacy etc as this book certainly is sending out the wrong messages.

    MashAllah some great points raised in this article sis and it’s great to finally see actual issues affecting young girls being discussed in the context of our religion. And in a way that neither dooms them to Hell nor labels them as ‘bad Muslims’ for we cannot judge.

    JazakAllah khair and in sha Allah will be sharing this within my school and social circle :)

  39. Avatar

    sis

    May 1, 2014 at 5:48 PM

    “10.Sadism/Bondage/Submission and Dominance (BDSM) are acts of sex that may develop among couples in a halal way but it takes time.”

    Blimey, first i’ve heard of it, really frightened just reading that paragraph and I’m in my 30’s!
    (Unmarried)

  40. Avatar

    Raadwiya

    August 8, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    Okay i just discovered this site about 15mins ago whiles searching for the best time to nap in Islam and i see this topic and i’m like Omg! 50 shades has been tackled on an islamic website..Ha! like, as in a whole article (which i’m now going to read btw..lol) but i’m just really suprised attention has been given to deal with it..awesome. I’m all hyper now just wanted to get the rambling out..lol. Hope no one lashes out on me though..hehehe

  41. Pingback: Sex & The Ummah | Love, InshAllah

  42. Pingback: Do we need men to have children? | Mother of the World | Pink & Green Blues

  43. Avatar

    Zee

    December 26, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    I agree with your article wholeheartedly. It’s a bit disheartening to hear people glorify that ‘relationship’, if it’s to be called that – between Ana and Christian. I recently had a discussion with an older woman, with a high position, who seemed to believe that Christian’s ‘past’ is an excuse for his horrible behaviour. Others talk about his attractiveness and almost instinctively you can guess where the problem lies. Apparently it’s okay for him to be abusive because he’s attractive.

    Christian goes after women that have a trait similar to that of his mother, but instead of respecting them, he abuses them. Criminal Minds shows this same trend with the unsubs (criminals) – a trait is seen -whether a person’s ethnicty, hair colour, height, in a person that reminds them negatively of another person and hence the unsub is driven to acts of violence that may lead to death. Christian hasn’t killed anyone but his behaviour is similar.

    I’m also glad you did not dismiss the BDSM lifestyle. I am not a part of it and honestly I have mixed feelings. But E. L. James has never ever took the time to do her research properly. Even people who are into it are insulted by what she wrote. One woman who liked the book asked me “So you know better?” I was going to ask her. “So same with you?” I don’t know better. However I do know myself well enough to understand that my own self respect means a lot to me.

    Besides the glorification of abuse and the misrepresentation of BDSM, the writing itself needs a lot of work.

    This article was very much needed.

  44. Avatar

    Sameena

    January 15, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    Nice and balanced approach to the subject. Fiction can be an exaggerated of reality though it does speak a lot about the inner nature of humans. Imagination has no limits but reality has and Islam has this beautiful balance between reality and imagination so that human nature can actualize itself in every way with in the bounds of shariah. On the one hand this kind of lifestyle like BDSM ( in its extreme ) tells about the inner wild of nature of intimacy and the natural difference of both the sexes ( coz in 99% cases submissive role is played by the women and in Gorean lifestyle woman is a slave by her own consent) and on the other hand it shows that by leaving the social structure and the natural dynamics of dominant/submissive relationship man and a woman in a healthy and creative way that is the requirement of the ‘fitrah’ of the opposite sexes , the west has opened the door for the wild expressions of such relationship. West loves to paint Asian and Muslim women in a miserable way completely ignoring the fact that Muslim women and asian women are into this natural relationship of marriage with their consent and they too fantasize about being led by a strong man since their teen.

    Recognizing the physical, psychological differences between sexes and both sexes natural desire to be in dom/sub relation with each other leads to love and a healthy relationship..Even when people deny this labeling and linguistic expressions of dom/sub ( coz they might find it offensive) they very well live on an unconsicous level this way and this is evident by the whole human history and it is prescribed in all the religious scriptures as well no matter how much one try to deny this fact.

    The beauty of Islam is that it gives woman the protective nature so that man can not misuse his authority and it becomes a loving dom/sub relation of Qawaam and Qanitaat in Quranic terms. As the writer sister has herself mentioned BDSM is halal in Shariah boundries when the couple is mature enough to understand it. Having aid that, in my opinion we as muslim should recognize the very obvious teachings of Quran and Hadiths on this dom/sub relation which is not difficult to understand by the human nature as well. Selectively following Islam on such issues is the problem. husbands are athourity over us and they can spank us in the case of disobedience and denying it is denying the Quran. People who are apologetic about have recently tried to derive new meanings from 4:34 but that is an excercise in futility. All the major and authentic scholars have agreed on it.

    • Avatar

      Maham

      March 1, 2015 at 5:58 AM

      Regarding what the Quran says about spanking deviant women cannot be fully understood without hadeeth. And the Prophet saw said the intensity of ‘spanking ‘ should be that equivalent to hitting with a miswaak. Keeping that in light , Quran does have a stance of husbands having authority over us but that does not mean that theyhave unjust authority over us. Dom/sub has nothing to do with that ayat. Because dom/sub is voluntary and that ayat is about defiant women.

  45. Avatar

    Aamir Khan

    January 26, 2015 at 1:46 PM

    Shouldn’t Christian’s acts of indulging in sex before marriage be enough to convince our daughters that he’s not to be desired? Shouldn’t also the fact that this book is soft porn and inappropriate be enough to deter our daughters from pursuing it? Why is there a need to rationalize, in painful lengthy details, and that too on non-core issues such as Christian’s personality disorders and future problems as a husband?

  46. Pingback: Fifty Shades of Gray – The Obsession with Hypersexualisation | HijabiHafs

  47. Avatar

    Nasneen

    February 28, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    Appreciate your work and we need such writing more and more. Keep going !

  48. Avatar

    Will Fadel

    March 1, 2015 at 2:47 PM

    Thank you for this wonderful article. It’s quite informative and well written.

    The concern I have about the article is 2 folds:
    1) It ignores the economic aspect of sexual exploitation of women
    2) It doesn’t discuss the “free pass” given to wealthy people for psychopathic behavior (Affluenza)

    I think women must be taught the strong correlation between sexual exploitation and economic injustice.

    I would recommend reading Chris Hedges’s article on TruthDig addressing “Fifty Shades”: http://bit.ly/17aqPsS

    JAK

  49. Avatar

    ruya

    March 2, 2015 at 3:51 AM

    This is Nonsense! Watever you do you should know where to draw your line. When u understand this is not a childrens movie, why are u involving children. What about all other A+ movies??? Why do u nly stress of 50 shades of grey?

  50. Avatar

    ruya

    March 2, 2015 at 3:52 AM

    Why only The daughters??? BEGIN WITH THE SONS!!

  51. Avatar

    Ava

    April 22, 2015 at 3:45 PM

    You don’t have to be a Muslim to agree with all of Umm’s points. I’m a Christian, and was (like most Christians would, I believe) nodding along to all the points young women need to know about how these books (written under free speech, which happens to freely be discussing harmful and inaccurate things) do not match up to reality. Most women in the west–whatever their religion–can see that these books send the wrong message to girls and boys, men and women, in terms of normal healthy sexual/romantic relationships and marital life. However, please be clear on the fact that westerners typically value free speech and intellectual freedom more than almost anything. The fact that we can have a dialogue about this is a very western ideal in action. We agree that the subject (the books’ content) is disgusting, unhealthy, and potentially emotionally damaging…. but the difference may be that we stand by the author’s right to publish it, and the reader’s right to buy it. It is a steep price to pay, absolutely… but as a Canadian now living in a country with arguably the world’s worst human rights/women’s rights record and reality… we need to educate our girls and boys in our homes, and stand by the freedom to read/write even things like this. Does that make sense? Respectfully and warmly, Ava

  52. Pingback: A message to Muslim teens on 50 Shades | Work The Grey Matter

  53. Avatar

    khadija

    May 29, 2015 at 2:48 AM

    assassamualaikum sister may bless you for the article published above …Mash Allah..it really benefited me.!!!

  54. Avatar

    Anonymous

    October 6, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    Aawrwb, came across this article when searching for “BDSM in Islam” – curious if anyone can direct me to discussions of the admissibility of mild consensual BDSM within marriage in Islam? I’ve seen a couple of fataawa that forbid it, but only based on it being non-consensual, or the going against the injunction not to harm oneself or others. It’s been a “fetish” of mine since well before converting to Islam, and I want to bring it up with my Muslim husband but afraid he will find it strange or haram.

    • Avatar

      Zara

      August 7, 2016 at 12:23 AM

      I have the same problem! Although I want my future husband to do these things with me when I am married.
      I haven’t met anyone yet but when I do how do I bring up this matter?! Surely it is haram to ask my future fiancee if he is into BDSM?

      • Avatar

        m7md

        September 25, 2018 at 12:31 PM

        So you see this as a problem then just a part of a relationship,, or you see sharing/discussing such things with your husband as a problem..

        If you have managed to bring it up with your significant other, then was it easy for you to discuss such or…
        It wouldn’t be haram to ask your husband if he is into bdsm.. and not sure if discussing something with fiancée is haram.

  55. Avatar

    Anonymous

    August 1, 2016 at 9:36 AM

    Aoa,

    I am a practicing muslim. I recently had a proposal from a guy I know. I really like him and I find him cute and everything. But there is a problem I want to discuss here. That guy after proposing to me discussed with me openly that he is a submissive and he wants me to be a dominant in the relationship. He has a shoe fetish and for some reason he loves shoes so much that he wants to worship my prettiness by sitting in my shoes. He says, his place is where my shoes are. He will be happy if I put him as low as I can. He craves my control. He will do anything for me as long as I accept and expect his submission. He wants me to order him to love me or take care of me. I even watched fifty shades of grey only to understand what BDSM is. I looked up shoe fetish but I didn’t find any movie on it. I am guessing it is less common. Unfortunately the guy I was interested in has it. Coming to the point, the fifty shades of grey is a movie and even though it was utterly unpleasant to watch it I still feel that it is portraying the facts quite unrealistically and fancifully.

    Now it took me by surprise. Before this, I didn’t even know this was a thing. It took a really long time for me to grasp this and to this day I don’t really know what it truly is and how it can impact a relationship. And most importantly whether it is permissible in Islam or not. My gut doesn’t allow me to fall for this and I am 90% sure it is haram. I want to not consider this guy and move on. But for the sake of my knowledge and inner satisfaction I need to know that I am making an informed decision so I need an honest opinion from someone who knows what the heck it is and whether this kind of thing could lead to a successful and accomplished relationship.

  56. Avatar

    Zara

    August 7, 2016 at 12:19 AM

    I’m a bit worried because I am a young Muslim girl and I fantasised about BDSM a lot years before 50 shades of grey even came out. I went through a period where my faith wasn’t amazing and I tried a few things with a few men and I really liked it. Now, however, I am a good girl and refuse to date anyone and I now do not believe in sex before marriage. I am very worried, however, because I would like a husband who would do hardcore BDSM with me when we are married… But it’s not something I can ask a man before marriage, he would run a mile! This is really worrying me as my father wants me to get married soon and advice would be much appreciated.
    I have put a false name on here to protect my identity.
    Peace be with you all.

  57. Avatar

    Natalie Payne

    January 3, 2020 at 6:38 PM

    Thank you for your wonderfully educated and unbiased views on the book. For anyone condoning how bad the books are really need a reality check. Your views are spot on and all women need to be aware of the points you made. As an non Muslim woman I cannot understand the impact such a ridiculous book would have on young women who may only ever be with one other man but I thank you for highlighting it and hope that your voice is heard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Books

Podcast: David’s Dollar | Tariq Touré and Khaled Nurhssien

Avatar

Published

We often preach about our children learning the importance of money, group economics, and developing healthy spending habits. How awesome would it be to have a fully illustrated picture book that explores how a dollar travels from hand-to-hand?

Join Khaled Nurhssien and award winning poet and author Tariq Touré as they discuss Tariq’s new children’s book David’s Dollar. In this Interview they touch on art, Islam’s approach to community and Tariq’s creative process.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

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

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

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

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

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

Continue Reading

#Culture

Then and Now: Rereading Mohja Kahf’s “The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf”

Zainab (AnonyMouse)

Published

In 2007, at the brash, naive, and frankly moronic age of 16, I penned a scathing review of Mohja Kahf’s novel “The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf” for this very website, MuslimMatters.org. Thirteen years later, I read it again – only to find myself deeply, utterly in love with this book.

Khadra Shamy is the American daughter of Syrian immigrants, Wajdy and Ebtahaj, who dreamt of little more than dedicating themselves to the Da’wah in their tiny Muslim community in Indiana. Khadra grows up immersed in the culture of conservative da’wah: of the Deen being black and white, of certain rules followed scrupulously, of culture frowned upon in exchange for the purity of Islam. As she moves from a 10 year old child overwhelmed with guilt for accidentally eating gelatin-containing candy corn, to a black-clad, angry teenager who reads Qutb and supports the Iranian Revolution, to a college student who dutifully marries young, Khadra finds the foundations of her worldview slowly cracking. 

Going for Hajj was not spiritually revolutionary, but a dark glimpse of what Arab youth get up to in the heartland of Islam; after devoting herself to tajweed and hifdh, Khadra is told that she must stop reciting Qur’an in mixed gatherings and that Qur’an competitions are only open to men. Her ideal Islamic marriage begins to crumble when her husband evokes the Qawwam card to prohibit her from riding her bike in public – and when she gets pregnant, only to decide on an abortion, and then a divorce, Khadra creates a schism between herself, her community, and all that she has known. In the years that follow, Khadra breaks down and recreates her identity as a Muslim and her beliefs about Islam. 

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

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

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

In many ways, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf is both a love letter and a breakup note to conservative Muslims. Kahf’s book traces, with intimate authenticity, what it is to be a Western-raised child of parents immersed in the Da’wah; our quirks and eccentricities and ties to a back home culture that we don’t always understand; our hidden hypocrisies and our secret shames. She breathes into words the tenderness of our bonds of faith, the flames of our religious passion, the complexities of our relationships. She knows who we are, how we are, and she speaks to us in our own words. Perhaps ahead of her time, she gently forces Muslim readers to confront the issues of intra-Muslim racism, of the history of Blackamerican Muslims, of the naive arrogance of immigrant Muslims, of the almost insurmountable distance between the theory of Islam for Muslim women, and the reality of what Muslim women experience.

Of course, it comes with a price. Kahf ends her novel by having Khadra follow the by-now-predictable trajectory that we have seen from many Muslims of a progressive bent: Sufism is the only acceptable fluffy-enough type of Islam; all paths, even outside of Islam, lead to God; conservative Muslims are embarrassing, suffocating, and are holding their communities back from true spiritual enlightenment. To be fair, Kahf doesn’t hold back from pointing out the hypocrisies of secular liberal types either, and she is far softer and more tender in her portrayals of conservatives as well. 

It is worth taking a closer look at how Kahf chose to take Khadra down the path of progressiveness. Khadra’s story is a mirror of so many true stories, of children from religious families whose resentment over their experiences pushed them to choose an easier way, one less rooted in following Shari’ah and more a vague idea of spirituality. This narrative portrays turning progressive as the only logical conclusion to such experiences, which is in itself deeply problematic. In truth, there are many Muslims – born Muslims and converts alike – who have suffered far worse than merely restrictive upbringings, or unhappy marriages, and who have chosen instead to commit themselves even more determinedly to orthodoxy. Spirituality is not the sole domain of Sufis or liberals; it is part and parcel of Islam itself, even in its most conservative form. To imply otherwise is a dishonesty that is found all too often amongst those who have their own biases and agendas against any form of Islam that does not feel flexible enough for their own tastes.

As a particularly ridiculous 16-year-old Salafi, I was too consumed in my outrage at Khadra leaving the aqeedah of Ahlus Sunnah wa’l Jamaa’ah, and too busy agreeing with her ex-husband on the inappropriateness of Muslim women riding bikes in public, to understand or appreciate this deeply emotional journey. Fast forward 13 years, and 29-year-old me identifies far more with Khadra than my past self could ever have imagined. Little had I known, that first time, that I too would experience what Khadra and so many other Muslim women have: the painfully cliche toxic marriage to controlling Muslim men who use Islam to suffocate our souls and our spirits. (But really, 16yo Zainab??? You legit thought that Khadra’s husband was justified in stopping her from riding her bike??? You almost deserved going through practically the same thing, you idiot.)

Rereading The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf as an adult, having lived through my own traumas and growth, through spiritual crisis and rediscovery, was a very different experience. My own upbringing was very similar to Khadra’s: in a religious da’wah bubble, surrounded by an insistence on Islamic ideals, blithely ignoring Muslim realities (and occasionally denying them outright). The self righteous ignorance in my 2007 review has me dying a thousand deaths of mortification, and I am all too aware of just how much like teenaged Khadra I was back then. Thirteen years later, my cynicism knows no bounds, my bitterness sours all idealism, and I feel a deep urge to slap my past self upside the head. There’s some Divine irony in all of this, I suppose; certainly, it is cause for reflection on the value of personal growth and maturity, of how the years and one’s experiences can turn one into the very person they once derided. I relate far more to Khadra today than my teenaged self could ever have imagined, and in many ways, I only wish that I could have retained the blithe innocence (if not the ignorance) that I once had in abundance. Following Khadra on her journey was to retrace my own steps, to remember precisely how and when I, too, made the choice to become someone new.

The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf is an iconic piece of work. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking; utterly tender and yet unflinching from pain; brutally honest, authentic, and unapologetically Muslim.Click To Tweet

The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf is an iconic piece of work. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking; utterly tender and yet unflinching from pain; brutally honest, authentic, and unapologetically Muslim. Kahf does not waste time explaining things to a non-Muslim audience, nor does she hold back from dishing out hard truths to Muslim readers. She knows us, inside and out, and it is this startling familiarity that pulls one in and doesn’t let go until we find ourselves shocked that we’ve reached the end of the book. In the era of #OwnVoices and #WeNeedDiverseBooks, Mohja Kahf was undoubtedly a pioneer in the field of diverse fiction.

The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf is a damned good book – one that will have you blinking away furious tears and lay awake at night, feeling your heart ache with unforgotten, unseen bruises.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

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

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

Continue Reading

#Culture

Podcast: Day Of The Dogs Part 1 | Wael Abdelgawad

Guests

Published

THE DOGS WOULD NOT STOP BITING HIM. Omar felt wet all over, and knew it was his own blood. He was almost blind from the sting of it in his eyes, and tasted it in his mouth, coppery and hot, along with the rank dog fur he’d bitten off. Pain burst and roiled everywhere in his body. He’d been in pain before, he’d been beaten and bruised and had even fractured bones. But nothing like this. He was baking like a piece of beef in an oven, transforming into something unrecognizable. They were killing him…

Part one of Wael Abdelgawad’s newest novella, Day of the Dogs, read by Zeba Khan. The full novella will be posted every Wednesday on MuslimMatters.org

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

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

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

Continue Reading
..

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

Trending