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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Intimacy for Muslim Couples

Men and women have different needs but BOTH men and women are sensual beings and they BOTH need sensual fulfillment.

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Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

For mature audience only:

Intimacy between spouses is a beautiful act of worship. A divine experience that has been mired by anxieties fueled by hypersexualized media, Hollywood movies, many cultural beliefs from the East and misinformed 18th century notions rooted in the West.

It took a year of contemplation for us to publicly address this topic in a broadcast, but the need amongst Muslim couples was so great that we had to put aside our hesitations. The Prophet, sallallahu alihi wasalam and the sahaba and sahabiyaat were not shy to discuss these matters.

Usually when sexual intimacy is discussed in public it is not from a female lens, hence we want to collaborate with our male shuyookh by providing the female perspective, so we can all contribute to healthy marriages.

If we look at intimacy as both a physical and spiritual act and climaxing as the epitome of pleasure that Allah has gifted us, it is easier to understand why it is meant to be a source of Divine Love for both men and women.

As you will hear today that intimacy has become a serious problem in many marriages—  there are many guilt and shame based misconceptions that cause problems between spouses often leading to divorce. Our main motive is to foster healthy marriages, Allah says he loves those who foster purity and marriage is the best way to guard our desires.

We don’t want to generalize because generalization can hurt a relationship and each relationship is as different as the people involved in it. Let’s not play the blame game after listening to this. We want couples to listen together in hopes of understanding and bettering their marriage.

Men Complain:

-“My wife doesn’t want to have intercourse”

-Frequency is mainly a concern amongst men

-“My wife doesn’t actively participate in intimacy, or never initiates”

Women Complain:

-Quality of intimacy

-Lack of foreplay

-Most common complaints: “He fails to give me a climax.”

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://muslimmatters.org/2010/10/25/psychology-from-islamic-perspective-how-to-score-big-with-women/”]How To Score BIG With Women: An Islamic and Psychological Approach for Men[/button]

Why is there a Difference between Men’s and Women’s Complaints about Intimacy?

Different needs but BOTH men and women are sensual beings and they BOTH need sensual fulfillment.

Top needs for men include:

-#1 Need: Mutual satisfaction (contrary to popular belief that men only want their own sexual satisfaction they, naturally, want to satisfy their wives too)

-Responsiveness of their spouse – men want their wives engaged during the act: mentally, emotionally and physically

-Men desire initiation by their wife —they long to feel wanted, desired and affirmed

-Men also want to be complimented

Generally, men see intimacy as an escape or release of tension.  They need the intimate act to open up emotionally.

Unfortunately, women continue to be restricted sexually by:

-Shame

-Guilt

-Social and society influence

-Religiously perceived notions

-Family taboos

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://muslimmatters.org/2013/05/03/vignettes-on-female-sexuality/”]Sex MashaAllah: Vignettes on Female Sexuality[/button]

Women have sexual needs:

Instead of being able to fully express their sensual nature, women are restricted to being “emotional” only and ripped apart from their “sexual” side.

A woman can be as sensual as she is spiritual, as erotic as she is intellectual and as climatic as she is emotional.

There is a common ground in the complaints—of both men and women— and it is “intimacy”, but:

-Men want intimacy and they want their wives’ participation, and more frequently

-Women have complaints about the quality of intimacy

Many men not only have a huge misunderstanding about women’s sexuality, shockingly many still wonder whether or not a woman is able to reach her climax. Yet, many confuse pleasing a woman in bed as equivalent to fondling only and not making her experience a climax.

Majority of married Muslim women complain about “satisfaction” during intimacy.

The word “satisfaction” is often confused with fondling or fore-playing only. The truth is that if and when explicitly asked, these women explicitly complain about not being able to reach their climax.

SO while men complain about lack of participation of frequency of intimacy, women lose interest because they don’t want to be intimate if they can’t reach their climax. It’s a cycle and unless men understand women’s need of sexuality, women will continue to lose interest that can lead to dangerous consequences.

Next video and outline can be watched here

 

 

 

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Avatar

    nadia

    March 24, 2015 at 11:40 AM

    March 1st? Or April 1st…

    • Avatar

      Mia

      March 25, 2015 at 11:51 PM

      JazakAllah khair for this article. Patricularly the comment about women being emotional and men being sexual. Its getting so annoying hearing shuyookh discuss male and female sexuality and emphasize or make it seem like women are only emotional and men are so overly sexual that that is all they think about and it drives everything they do so much so that we women have to wear hijab for that very reason.

      News flash – women are very sexual too. Just like there are men with high sex drives or low sex drives, same goes for women. We are tired of hearing shuyookh essentially nullify our sex drive in their kind way and explain our lack of desiring sex because we are ultimately sexual but thats far from the truth.

      I could go on forever with this subject but I am just so relieved knowledgeable sisters like yourselves are taking this desperately needed initiative to speak for sisters unapologetically.
      JazakAllah khair again!!

  2. Avatar

    mo

    March 27, 2015 at 4:18 AM

    Thank you for this article, coming from a Pakistani family sex was always a taboo…. Until it came to my grandmother, when I hit puberty (as she did with all her granddaughters)…. Shortly before she passed away she told me that the secret to healthy marriage was lots of good sex. When the sex goes so does the marriage…. N you can always tell the state of someone’s marriage depending on their sex life. Over the last 20 odd years I found this to be one of the best advice that I was ever told.

  3. Avatar

    att

    March 27, 2015 at 12:06 PM

    I’m not married. I’m just a malaysian medical student in egypt. I find that this issue is not just something that has to be directed toward only the married crowd but also Teenagers. Alhamdulillah though I never got the sex talk from my parents I managed to understand it enough to know that it is not as television depicts it to be. Nor is it shameful (in marriages of course) but I find it mind numbingly frustrating that many of my friends dont even understand what it is. As in when I brought it up and tried to explain all I received were dumbfounded and horrified faces.

    I don’t think there is any shame in explaining what sex is. It’s mechanism, the rules, or the realities of it (unlike what the television tries to have you believe). I think the best way to create a healthy sexual intimacy in a marriage is to ensure a complete understanding of it before the marriage.

    however this is a problem for me. I have 4 younger sisters and I have no idea how to approach the issue with them. I’m especially worried concerning my immediate sister after me who is 16. Even worse is that schools don’t handle this issue. It’s taboo. In fact our whole society is rather tight lipped on the matter. You either end up with WAY to much knowledge on the matter or too little.most of the time it’s the girls who have to handle the consequences in worse case scenarios.

    • Avatar

      rachel schakel

      January 3, 2017 at 3:15 PM

      Why dont you just talk to your husbands and tell them what you like and what makes you feel good. Ask them why they dont want to touch you or what they like. Its called communication.

  4. Avatar

    KE

    March 28, 2015 at 4:47 PM

    Jazakum Allah khyran for addressing this subject. It is a very important topic for muslim couples. I have been married for 19 years and have been looking for an islamic discussion on this subject since I got married but could not find any. I hope I will be able to use your valuable knowledge to make our marriage more meaningful.

    KE

  5. Pingback: Erroneous Eastern Cultural Beliefs about Female Sexuality

  6. Avatar

    Mohammed Siddiqui

    March 29, 2015 at 7:54 PM

    Teh peerane kaleesa wa haram Haaye waaye majboori
    Sila inn ki kado kaawish ka hai Yeh seenon ki benoori

    “Islamic feminism at its peak”

    No wonder why muslim marriages don’t last long now a days.

    Instead of teaching how to reach climax or demand climax from your spouse, it may be more prudent and useful to teach how to be content.

    No wonder why the alims and shuyookh will be the first to be questioned.

    Keep up with your halal sex talk. Great going

    • Avatar

      KK

      March 18, 2018 at 6:13 AM

      How ignorant. It is sentiments like yours that destroy marriages. It is part of the sunnah to ensure the wife’s desires are fully met in addition to the husband’s, even when he has finished but she has not. May Allah guide us all.

    • Avatar

      Yusuf

      April 23, 2019 at 12:13 PM

      How can a man overcome low sexual confidence?? I am infertile and can’t father children but both wife and I have come to terms with it.

      Problem is I struggle to have intercourse even though I engage in foreplay. Sometimes I artificially satisfy wife’s needs by touch without me getting intimate for fear of not getting aroused.

      I have normal male hormone levels but I think now I’ve lost my job and wife starts at 9am, she is tired even though she works part time. I have taken the male pill but doesn’t work unless both are in the mood.

      I’m really frustrated as I know masturbation is a sin. What can I do?

      Bro Yusuf

  7. Avatar

    Umm

    March 30, 2015 at 9:35 PM

    These articles in MM has bi idnillah greatly improved our sexlife.
    Some things that was essential for our change were
    1.proper knowledge about sexlife (pleasure spots for both)from clean sources.
    2.No blaming the husband while communicating the issue.
    3.expressing support,care and love for each other’s needs
    4.feeling confident and participating actively during foreplay and sex.

  8. Avatar

    RandMale

    March 31, 2015 at 10:57 AM

    I agree in general, but I have also noticed that there is sharp feelings in the bedroom regarding freedom and control whether it is consciously or only subconsciously. Men and women can become controlling of the act of intimacy and what they want to do/get out of it and what their conceptions are about the act itself. Sometimes the controlling factor can be about what NOT to do, or what is not being allowed, while sometimes it is about what one partner wants the other partner to do during intimacy. This can lead to conflict in the bedroom, which can also escalate away from the bedroom. Similarly confrontational behaviour outside of the bedroom can resurface during intimacy with negative outcomes, or no satisfying outcomes at all… these can also escalate ongoing problems in relationships. as regards to freedom, people knows that there are certain things which for both partners are taboo, then there are things only one partner might not be sure about or disapproves of, and the other partner might be willing to be persuasive or at least does not like the outright dismissiveness of such acts, eg through name-calling or put-downs which can make the acts feel less intimate and less desirable.

    Also, sleep, prayers, chores, work-life balance and other routines including eating/diet can overlap with sexual intimacy. Some things can have longer impact on an individual due to stress, tensions and mood.

    Lastly, excessive passion sometimes is a turn-on especially early in the relationship, but then later when passion cools, expressing feelings of love, desire and tenderness can become disparate and this might lead to divergences in the relationship as regards male/female views about what is “appropriate” or “suitable” or “proper” in terms of expressing desires, showing love and attitudes towards passion and tender intimacy. Often with women seeking comfort and security and men wanting excitement or physical action. This can be daunting at times and the bedroom can sometimes end up feeling like a battleground, which does not help matters. And to finish, previous sexual experiences/encounters can also have an influence on what each partner considers either as “normal” or “offensive” (“not normal”).

    Also, spiritual practice should not necessarily mean contentment with one’s partner during intimacy is somehow less spiritual.

  9. Avatar

    wanna learn

    April 1, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    Dear editors, does this article end on the first page?
    I kept searching for information on how to learn how make a woman reach her climax and what really is climax for her. I couldn’t find anything in this article.

  10. Avatar

    wanna learn

    April 1, 2015 at 7:14 PM

    I meant I couldn’t find anything in this article regarding things mentioned above.
    Otherwise the article has good necessary information. JazakAllah for making the effort to transform our lives.
    Please help.

  11. Avatar

    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena

    April 2, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Request Your kind permission to translate these creative pieces into Sinhala language, and to circulate its copies among the invitees at a couple of awareness programmes. (Note:Sinhala is the language of the majority of Sri Lanka of which the majority are Buddhists while the rest are Catholics/Christians.)
    Wish You All More Wisdom, More Courage, More Health, and More Patience.
    Thanking You.
    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena.

  12. Pingback: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Intimacy: Erroneous Western Cultural Beliefs about Female Sexuality - MuslimMatters.org

  13. Avatar

    Anum

    July 13, 2015 at 4:43 PM

    Every woman think that how my future husband will be liked. Husband and wife are alike a wheels of a car. They can’t move onwards without support of each other. A husband should be pious and have Allah’s fear in heart because Islam has assigned complete duties to husband about his wife. The 3 top features of my future husband, a woman should see are as follows.
    • Responsible and Supportive Person
    • Wife Caring Person
    • Attentive Person

    *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

  14. Avatar

    Zizou

    July 31, 2015 at 5:37 PM

    About time some analysis was provided on this topic.

    I’ve been married for around ten years, keep myself fit and I would regard myself as attractive (without trying to sound arrogant). My wife never instigates anything nor feels like sharing a bed. She claims to be tired which I understand due to having kids. However there comes a point when a man begins to question this and over a period of time becomes fed up of being the one who initiates everything. Marriage is to provide protection from zinnah but in a lot of cases it is going the opposite.

  15. Pingback: » Intimacy for Muslim Couples: The Anti-Climax

  16. Avatar

    Luna

    March 29, 2016 at 11:44 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum , I am very happy to learn from these lectures about we women faces humiliation with our physical needs. I have similar issues that I never got the chance to talk to the right expert person . I cry to Allah Subahanatala for his help . It is been 22 years of my marriage and my husband never does satisfied me with my desires. I was actually never satisfied with his giving. Over the years leaving me pain and unsatisfactory with my husband that I don’t engaged with him any sexually for 6 years . I am leaving with like roommate and hollow emptiness in my life . I want to seek help but I don’t where and to whom I can discuss my problems. I want to get out from my marriage but I can’t cause I am not financially independent nor I know any man available for me . I am living dead .

    • Avatar

      Anonymous

      October 11, 2017 at 10:49 PM

      Salaam

      First off, could you write next time with better grammar so people can respond to you? It took me a while to fully understand your post with its grammar issues, so this will turn people off from wanting to help you.

      From what I could gather, you were married for 22 years, I assume divorced and living with a female roommate. You feel the need to marry to satisfy yourself. That is fine and acceptable, maybe perhaps try finding if there are other divorced men out there who are willing to marry you, also converts are not as cultural as other muslims and would be way more open to marry you, or you can ask someone else for better advice on this issue. However, what I can give you advice for is twofold.

      One, if you really have strong sexual desires, then bring this up as a talking point to your potential spouse before the marriage. Yes, this is possible, and since you are older I don’t think you need a wali anymore. But, you must have a fairly open and public discussion with your potential spouse about intimacy needs. A good person to have someone proctor your talk with the potential husband would be a muslim couple’s therapist, psychologist, etc. as they have professional knowledge of sexuality and can help you. Essentially, someone like the muslimah’s you have written this article. Also, you can even have like a skype or google hangouts session, phone call, etc. with your potential spouse and talk to them about your intimacy needs and have your chosen muslim therapist or psychologist, etc. be available in and be listening in during the conversation with your potential spouse. I know for a fact an Organization named “Noor Human Consulting” that you can google can help you out and is indeed available for online and offline help. Also, you can try your luck at “Purify your Gaze” however they are an organization that specializes in providing help both online and offline for those addicted or heavily dependent on pornography. However, I have heard them help out in cases relating to intimacy issues both online and offline. Of course, there are other muslim organizations that can help you with this and not just the two I mentioned, so feel free to explore.

      Second, I am pretty sure this will all come out when you talk to these professionals with your spouse-to-be, but one thing you have to understand is that your “needs” are as much your responsibility to fulfill as is his. That is, you need to make sure that when if in say the future you find a husband and he wants to be intimate with you, communicate with him and tell him what he needs to do to satisfy you. Don’t expect him to read your mind, and don’t expect to flop on the bed and expect him to do EVERYTHING and you just lie there and stare at him with blank eyes. Also, in my opinion men like to experiment and will find “alternate ways” to make their wives reach their climax. So don’t be taken aback when your husband proposes he do things like oral stimulation among other things with you that he due to his “body part” not being fit for the job after he climaxes. Be open to your husband and his experimentative yet halal ideas. However, whatever you do DON’T DEMEAN HIS EFFORTS AND SHOVE ALL THE BLAME ON HIM, assuming he is sincere in trying to please you. Chances are, most muslim women who complain of sexual dissatisfaction in a marriage may be contributing more to their own dissatisfaction than their husband is, by for example coming into the bedroom with mental baggage, denying him sex when you don’t want it and giving him less desire to please you as you don’t please him when the time comes but he has to stop everything to please you, not respecting him and his decisions (Of course there should be no respect when he does wants something haram or unethical or if he is abusing you emotionally, spiritually, or physically abusing you or being PURPOSELY sexually negligent towards you) as men REALLY value and have more of a desire to please their wives if they respect the husband and his decisions. It is not me saying this, but western universities that have done psychological studies on men and what they most desire from the opposite sex in the relationship, and respect for his decisions and loyalty are at the top for men.

      I wish you Allah’s blessings in your search for a spouse. Don’t give up, and expand your horizon and search criteria when looking for a partner. I don’t mean marry a fat guy as that guy should be told to lose weight before the marriage, but be open to those men, who of course must be diligent muslims, who you initially did not want to marry due to cultural biases. Also, if you come to a desperation point you could try to maybe seek out a spouse the HALAL way online via muslim matrimonial online services. Also, a word of caution make sure the guy who you find online is single or divorced, as sometimes muslim men who are married and “looking for a 2,3, or 4th wife”, without the 1st wife’s knowledge, as this could involve you in a very heated and tense situation.

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#Society

The Culture Debt of Islamic Institutions

The reality across America is that too many people have used the masjid to serve their own egos, fulfill their desires for power, and give themselves a big building as something to point at and say, “I built that.” Too few have created a vision for the spiritual upliftment of a community and then worked to serve it.

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Our community institutions are in debt – cultural debt. And the bill is due.

There are major consequences when the bill comes due on a debt you owe. Personal debt can lead to bankruptcy or foreclosure and the loss of your home.

If paid off before the bill comes due, debt can be a tool. Many communities in North America have utilized the qardh hasanah (goodly loan) as a way to expedite construction projects and then pay people back over time. When businesses fail to pay debt back, they are forced to liquidate and go out of business to satisfy their creditors. In extreme cases, like the economic crisis of a few years ago, major institutions repeatedly utilizing debt as a tool became over-leveraged, creating a rippling collapse.

Financial debt is not the only type of debt an organization carries. Every decision made by an organization adds to a balance sheet of sorts. Other types of debt can be technical, or even cultural.

Consider a new company that keeps making the decision to cut corners with their technology infrastructure – creating ‘technical’ debt. At a certain point, the infrastructure will need to be replaced. If not properly planned for, the cost to fix it could cripple the company.

Put another way, impatience and short-term decision making create (non-financial) debts that can destroy an organization.

The cultural debt for an organization, especially Islamic organizations, can be the most devastating.

These decisions may appear rational or well-intentioned compromises, but they come at a cost.

For example, if a community prioritizes money into a construction project instead of an imam or youth director, what is the cost of the compromise? A 5-year construction project means an entire segment of youth who will be aged anywhere between 13 and 18 risk being disconnected from the masjid.

What about the cost of marginalizing the one sister on the board multiple times such that other sisters become disenchanted and unengaged. Or what if the marginalized board member is a youth, or a convert, or a person of color? How is the collateral damage to those segments of the community assessed?

What about when the same 2 or 3 people (even without an official title) remain in charge of a masjid and aggressively push out people not in line with their agendas? Dedicated and hard-working volunteers will end up leaving and going to other communities.

What about when a few people are responsible for creating an environment so toxic and exhausting that volunteers don’t want to come to the masjid anymore? And they get so burned out that they refuse to get involved in a masjid again? Who is going to pay the bill for all the talent that’s been driven away?

What is the spiritual debt on a community that refuses to invest in an Imam or scholar for over 10 years? An entire generation will grow up in that masjid without a local resource to take guidance from. What is the impact on those kids when they grow up to get married and have their own children?

What is the cost of having overly-aggressive daily congregants who yell at people, make people feel uncomfortable, and ultimately make them want to stay away from the masjid?

Will the construction committee that decided to build a customized dome instead of a more adequate women’s prayer space ever make it up to them?

What is the cost on a community of building a massive albatross of a school that can’t cover its own overhead – and yet services less than 5% of a community’s children?

What is the cost on a congregation when the Friday khutbah becomes associated entirely with fundraising instead of spiritual development?

Did anyone plan to repay this cultural debt when they were making decisions on behalf of the community? Who is paying attention to it?

Some communities are able to shift, and make strides. Some communities are able to recognize a larger vision for growing and developing a community spiritually.

For other communities, they are now over-leveraged. The culture debt is due. To continue the financial analogy, they’re at the point of declaring bankruptcy.

These are the masjids that are empty. These are the ones where, pardon the crassness, after a few people die off, the masjid will most likely die out as well because there is no community left to take over.

These are the communities that people avoid, where they refuse to volunteer, and eventually where people stop donating.

The culture debt of the community is that people no longer feel a part of the community, and therefore the infrastructure they worked so hard to build will crumble.

Cultural bankruptcy is the loss of people.

Can the culture debt be repaid? Is there a way out? How do you undo the loss of people?

I was really hoping to have a nice and tidy 5-step action plan to fix this. The reality is, it’s not going to be easy. People don’t realize the collateral damage they’ve caused over the course of 10-20 years despite the good intentions they had.

How do you get them to accept responsibility, much less change?

It’s not going to happen. The change will be outside the masjid. This means there will be a continued rise in third spaces. Parents are using online tutors instead of Sunday schools, making their children even less attached to the masjid. There will be an increase in small groups of families getting together in their homes instead of the masjid to try and build a sense of community. There will be an entire generation of new adults who will not even desire an attachment to the masjid beyond the Friday and funeral prayers.

People will replace the local community with online communities (and sometimes the dubious online personalities leading them)

People will replace the local community with online communities (and sometimes the dubious online personalities leading them).Click To Tweet

We all see the masjids in our community that have been hit hardest by this culture debt. They’re the ones that used to be full and are now empty – while the same 2 or 3 people remain in charge for literally decades. They’re the ones that we fear will eventually close down or be sold off due to a lack of any real community – because the community was never invested in to begin with.

Those in positions of influence should seriously take account of the consequences of their actions on the community. Recognize the wrongs that were done and do your best to rectify them. At the least, seek forgiveness for the ramifications of your actions.

We can no longer make the excuse of having to do what we had to do in order to get institutions up and running from scratch. As the saying goes – what got you here won’t get you there. The reality across America is that too many people have used the masjid to serve their own egos, fulfill their desires for power, and give themselves a big building as something to point at and say, “I built that.” Too few have created a vision for the spiritual upliftment of a community and then worked to serve it.

And now we see the consequences of those decisions. The culture debt is due, and we might not be able to pay it back.

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#Life

I Encountered A Predator On Instagram

A predator on Instagram posing as a hijab modeling consultant, going by the name of @samahnation, tried to prey on me- an underage, 16-year-old. We don’t know if the photos on Instagram page have been stolen from a victim. These predators operate under various names.

instagram predator
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It was a Wednesday night in April and as I was getting ready to go to bed, a direct message popped up in my Instagram inbox. A little background; my personal  account on Instagram is private and it is rare that I let anyone, whom I do not know, follow me. But seeing that this was a grown “woman” with a baby and I had at least seven mutual friends, I let her follow me. 

I will say, I was definitely in the wrong to respond to someone I didn’t personally know. Somehow I thought her 105K followers gave her credibility. 

I was gravely mistaken. 

I opened the direct message. 

She had sent me a message complimenting me. This wasn’t new to me because I often get messages with compliments about my appearance from friends — we are teenagers. However, the stark difference was that I didn’t know this person at all. (I came to learn that these types of messages can go under the category of grooming). After complimenting me, she asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company. 

Many young women are targeted by predators on Instagram. Here is my story. 'After complimenting me, 'she' asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company.'Click To Tweet

I replied, saying that if I had more details I’d consult with my parents and give her an answer the next morning; to which she responded demanding she must have an answer the same night as she had other offers to make. 

I then went to ask my mother. Mama was sick with the flu, quite woozy, but despite her state she said,

“this sounds like a scam to me…”.



I decided to play along with it and test her. 

I told @samahnation to tell me more and how I could verify her and her company. She then sent me numerous copied and pasted answers —hecka long— about how I could trust her; how the company would pay me and how they will still make money in the meantime. 

hijab modeling scam

Thankfully, I was apprehensive during the entire ordeal, but as you can see, this type of manipulation is so real and possible for young women and girls to fall prey. This experience was honestly quite scary and jarring for me. I was so easily distracted by what she was portraying herself as on her profile. She had a GoFundMe for a masjid in her bio and posts of photos depicting her love for her baby.
predator

I began to do some research. I stumbled upon an article about a ‘Hijab House’ model scam. Using the title of ‘consultant director’ for a well-known hijab company, Hijab House, predators were allegedly preying on young girls in Australia. Hijab House has denied any link to this scam. 

Hijab House model scam

 

The predator went as far as to blackmail and pressure their victims into sending nude photos, or doing crazy things like smelling shoes! Eerily enough, @samahnation’s Instagram bio stated that she was based in Melbourne, Australia.


The more I engaged with this predator, the more ludicrous their responses and questions got. And this happened within the span of 24 hours. 

She went as far as to ask me if I would answer questions for a survey, saying all that mattered was honesty and that the purpose of the survey was to make me uncomfortable to see if I “won’t fall under pressure.”

Clearly, this last statement about being a speech analysis specialist was a complete fabrication. Again, may I reiterate that even older people can fall prey. You don’t have to be young and impressionable, these manipulative perpetrators will do anything to get what they want.



As shown below, the situation reached an obscene level of ridiculousness. You can see clear attempts to gaslight me and pressure me into answering or changing my stance on my replies.


This was the last thing I said to the predator before I blocked and reported them in an attempt to get them caught. Observe how as soon as I called this person out they immediately became defensive and tried to manipulate me into thinking that what they were doing and asking me was completely normal- that I was the crazy one for asking for proof. 

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. They had asked me questions I found too lewd to even answer or take screenshots of.

This bizarre encounter was honestly astonishing. I do not even know if I was talking to a man or a woman.

Alhamdullilah, I am so glad because even if I was a little bit gullible, I was aware enough about predatory behavior that I didn’t fall victim to this perpetrator. I am especially grateful for my mother, who has educated me about predators like this from a very young age; whom even in her drowsy state was able to tell me it was a preposterous scam.

I could have been blackmailed.

Talk to your parents or a trusted adult

I am grateful for having an open channel of communication, that my relationship with my mother is based on trust and I could go to her when this occurred. This is a reminder and a learning opportunity for all of us how these scary things can happen to anyone. We must learn how to take caution and protect ourselves and our (underage) loved ones against such situations.

Sis, please talk to your parents. They love you and will be your first line of defense.

Grooming

Grooming is a very common tactic online predators use to gain the trust of their victim. According to InternetSafety101, young people put themselves at great risk by communicating online with individuals they do not know on a personal level. “Internet predators intentionally access sites that children commonly visit and can even search for potential victims by location or interest.

If a predator is already communicating with a child, he or she can piece together clues from what the child mentions while online, including parents’ names, where the child goes to school, and how far away the child lives from a certain landmark, store, or other location.
Online grooming is a process which can take place in a short time or over an extended period of time. Initial conversations online can appear innocent, but often involve some level of deception. As the predator (usually an adult) attempts to establish a relationship to gain a child’s trust, he may initially lie about his age or may never reveal his real age to the child, even after forming an established online relationship. Often, the groomer will know popular music artists, clothing trends, sports team information, or another activity or hobby the child may be interested in, and will try to relate it to the child.”

These tactics lead children and teens to believe that no one else can understand them or their situation like the groomer. After the child’s trust develops, the groomer may use sexually explicit conversations to test boundaries and exploit a child’s natural curiosity about sex. Predators often use pornography and child pornography to lower a child’s inhibitions and use their adult status to influence and control a child’s behavior.

They also flatter and compliment the child excessively and manipulate a child’s trust by relating to emotions and insecurities and affirming the child’s feelings and choices.

Predators will:

* Prey on teen’s desire for romance, adventure, and sexual information.
* Develop trust and secrecy: manipulate child by listening to and sympathizing with child’s problems and insecurities.
* Affirm feelings and choices of child.
* Exploit natural sexual curiosities of child.
* Ease inhibitions by gradually introducing sex into conversations or exposing them to pornography.
* Flatter and compliment the child excessively, send gifts, and invest time, money, and energy to groom the child.
* Develop an online relationship that is romantic, controlling, and upon which the child becomes dependent.
* Drive a wedge between the child and his/her parents and friends.
* Make promises of an exciting, stress-free life, tailored to the youth’s desire.
* Make threats, and often will use child pornography featuring their victims to blackmail them into silence.”

Gaslighting 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? 

According to Psychology Today, gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. “Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind,” writes Dr Stephanie Sarkis. 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? Click To Tweet

Recognizing signs that you may be a victim of gaslighting:

Second guessing. Are you constantly second guessing yourself when talking to this person or questioning your own morals that you wouldn’t have thought twice about otherwise? For example, when this person popped up in my inbox I wouldn’t have thought twice about blocking or just deleting the message if it was a man but, since it seemed to be a woman I was duped into thinking that it was more acceptable or I could trust them more.

Feeling as if you are being too sensitive. Again I cannot emphasize this enough that you must trust your instincts, if you are feeling uncomfortable and your internal alarm bells are ringing- listen to them! Anyone can be a victim of gaslighting or manipulation. 

Feeling constantly confused. Another sign that you may be falling victim to gas lighting is when you are constantly confused and second guessing your thoughts and opinions.

Three takeaways:

1. Trust your instincts (I’m going to reiterate this, always trust your gut feeling, if you feel like you are uncomfortable whether it’s a situation you are in or if you don’t have a good feeling while talking to a certain person I advise you exit the chat or don’t answer in the first place.)
2. Never answer to someone whom you don’t know. I will say this was my first and biggest mistake that I have made: allowing this person’s messages into my inbox, and replying to their ridiculous claims and questions. Now that I think about it I don’t even know if this was a woman or not.
3. Set your boundaries! This is probably the most important tip to take away from this article. Setting up your boundaries from the beginning is so important. Whether it is a friend, partner or colleague, if you do not set your boundaries from the beginning of your interaction or relationship with that person; people will not respect your limits and choices later on. Especially if your boundaries have to do with religion, moral compasses, or even specific pet peeves you have. I cannot emphasize how much boundaries matter when it comes to any daily interaction you may have in your daily life.

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Are You Accidentally Supporting Corrupt Nonprofit Organizations and Charities?

Muslim Nonprofit fiefdoms
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Former Pennsylvania State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell has a compelling story.  Even the State Attorney General, who recently charged her with several crimes, alluded to the pain she experienced in her life.  It was a remarkable story of perseverance after being affected by gun violence, triumph and helping others. Yet, there she is, facing time in prison for using a charity called “MECA” for assorted alleged acts of theft, fraud, and other crimes of dishonesty.

According to the Attorney General, Johnson-Harrell has accepted responsibility for her crimes and is pleading guilty.  She has also resigned from her public office.  Johnson-Harrell has stated she may dispute some charges. She like any other defendant is innocent until the state proves her guilty.

What is also undeniable is that many of the kinds of things the Attorney General accused Johnson-Harrell of are common with nonprofits, both Muslim and non-Muslim.  Indeed, the President of the United States has also done egregious things with his “charity” in New York, undetected by law enforcement despite his public profile, until news media started asking questions. The President faces no criminal charges. 

My purpose here goes beyond Johnson-Harrell’s legal troubles. Instead, it is to help nonprofits and their leaders stay out of trouble and to give donors an essential tool in being a thoughtful donor. We often donate because of “social proof.” Someone invites you to donate online; a friend invites us to a fundraiser, we hear a good speech or testimonial, and we give.

 We often don’t particularly care about accountability. We should. Let’s dig deeper to understand how charities work so that we can be better donors with the limited funds we have to give with excellence. 

The Role of Government Oversight in Charities 

What state a nonprofit is in makes a difference.  The state attorney general typically has regulatory authority over the nonprofit sector.  Charities have tax benefits because of the social good they theoretically provide. But what happens if the charity is not keeping faith with its beneficial role?  If a CEO of an environmental charity pilfers funds for personal use, you cannot reasonably expect a family of ducks to sue. The Attorney General is there for the ducks, the trees, the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, the beaches, the works of art, the future poor patients who are not yet poor or sick, and everything else charity should benefit.  At least that’s the idea 

Abuse by nonprofits is a violation of the public trust.  It is public corruption against society and not merely cheating a donor. 

Because of this role, from time to time, you see lawsuits and even criminal prosecutions by state attorneys general for corruption by nonprofit leaders. A high-profile state representative like Johnson-Harrell is an obvious target since prosecuting her lets the rest of us citizens know law enforcement is paying attention. But these lawsuits and occasional criminal prosecutions are rare compared to how rampant nonprofit corruption is. Attorneys General typically don’t put adequate resources into regulating the more than trillion-dollar nonprofit sector. 

Religious Charities Can Usually Get Away With More

In some states, for example, California, religious corporations are exempt by statute from oversight for things like breaches of fiduciary duty. The lack of accountability is remarkable since religious charities can be extremely corrupt, something known to Americans for much of its history.  Exposing religious charity corruption has long been fodder for documentaries and movies. Certain Christian preachers on TV are known to abuse nonprofit status to flaunt extreme wealth with no negative consequences.

People who run religious nonprofits, including Executive Directors and board members, can still be criminally prosecuted, but you usually would not expect it. Various taxing authorities also have authority over charities. The IRS is the primary regulator for charities nationally. For the most part, though, the IRS has been leaving nonprofits, even obviously bad ones, alone. Religious nonprofits, like those classified as “churches,” don’t need to file Form 990s, annual disclosures required for other nonprofits. Therefore much of what these groups activities are opaque to both the government and the public. 

With some notable exceptions, governments and law enforcement at all levels mostly ignore nonprofit corruption. The times they do is typically the exception that proves the rule. 

For the most part, then, sorting out the good nonprofits from the bad ones is left to donors. We all contend with hard-sell data-driven marketing tactics from social psychology.  We don’t usually don’t know how to distinguish between good organizations and bad. 

Look Beyond The Pitch

Stories of nonprofits and their leaders can be compelling. But narratives can also be used to manipulate, distract, and hide. The raw charisma of a speaker quoting Quran and Hadith can be waived up to donors to make them think they are doing good work in the path of Allah when they may sometimes be enabling criminality. Charisma and the power of stories can get us to contribute to causes better than just about anything. 

There are various red flags to look out for, but I will focus on perhaps the most obvious one, an executive of a charity acting as a member of the board. 

No Real Board Accountability

Johnson-Harrell was on her own nonprofit board while also serving as an executive.  This practice was also present at scandal-plagued Ta’leef Collective. State law does not typically forbid a CEO or other employee (like an imam) from being a board member, despite it being a glaring conflict of interest. It has never been nonprofit best practices to have employees oversee themselves since it is a horrible idea on its face.  The only possible real justification for this is when a nonprofit is new, small, all volunteer-run, and there are not enough volunteers or funds available to make accountability a priority.  While there is potential for abuse here, we tend to ignore it out of practicality. 

Now larger nonprofits can have employees, as well as others, with personal, family or business interests with the charity (like a vendor) on the board might point to a “conflict of interest policy.”  Of course every nonprofit should have one in case unexpected conflicts come up.  They are not, however, solutions to self-created problems the organization never needed to have.

Accountability is Hard 

It still begs the question:  Why engage in the reckless practice of having an executive overseeing himself or herself?  Are there no sufficiently qualified people in the Muslim community capable of helping with the board of an organization?  Unlikely. 

What we do know is the main reason Muslim leaders (non-Muslims as well) chose to police themselves is that real accountability is hard, maybe even a little messy. 

You may have heard this story before: An Imam and a Masjid Board have a conflict, resulting in the Imam leaving.  The Imam does not go quietly, though, since he is angry with the board. He tells his supporters (of which he has many in the local community) that boards are incompetent, imbecilic, don’t understand the “youth” or whatnot.  The best way to run a Masjid, you see, is for the Imam to call all the shots. He will usually adorably say all this with the earnestness of someone who feels he is the first person who ever had this insight. Plenty of Muslims believe him and are hurt by whatever petty drama took place at the Masjid last week. They will join his new storefront Masjid, sometimes across the street from the Imam’s former Masjid. 

These are often pop-up institutions born out of vainglorious temper tantrums, built on the foundation of one man and some upset donors who soon move on to chase the next shiny thing, or simply rejoin their old Masjid. Such places typically do not last over the long haul. If you have been around a Muslim community for a few decades, you have seen several come and go.

Badly Governed Respected Institutions 

More of a long-term threat for the Muslim community is when real institutions with staying power with endowments, employees, and buildings go the route of slipshod accountability-free governance where an executive gets to oversee himself.  Eventually, when you set up institutions with plain-as-day opportunities for corruption and abuse, everything can collapse. It happened in a spectacular style for Christian institutions with no real accountability for the people running it (many are still like that).  Many Muslim institutions we all respect that do good work have nonprofit governance so poor they almost seem custom-built for corruption. 

The beautiful Crystal Cathedral outside Los Angeles once boasted a massive endowment, a global TV viewership for its “hour of power” and donor memorials that would last forever.   It fell into bankruptcy because of the same kind of nonprofit governance increasingly common in the Muslim community. Inadequate or non-existent board oversight is a form of structural corruption, even if no abusive practices are currently taking place.  It should be enough of a red flag that someone can abuse authority with no real accountability. Unless we start demanding accountability from Muslim leaders, those we trust our donations to, we should reasonably expect more criminal charges as we saw with MECA, scandals like Ta’leef, and spectacular failures like the Crystal Cathedral. 

Other Board Members May Not Be Much Help

One response by self-interested board members may be to point to the existence of “independent” board members to keep insiders (like the CEO or equivalent) in check.  You should never assume this creates accountability. We cannot stereotype nonprofit boards, of course, and many operate in different ways. I have seen Muslim institutions were board members: 

  •  Have no visibility into the organization’s operations, budget, or much of anything else important. Though they do have meetings and manage to argue about things. 
  •  Never attended board meetings despite being members for many years and did not know if the charity has been having meetings all these years.
  •  Were never informed they were members of the board, despite their names being on public information filings with the state.
  • Helped start the organization as Ph.D. students and got a lifetime membership on the board, but that was decades ago when they lived in the United States.

Those who dislike accountability prefer “straw” board members who are either not present or can be “handled” by management.   A well-known example of this is Theranos, a Silicon Valley “unicorn” startup with a fake blood-testing product. Many supposedly sophisticated investors were reassured when the company stacked its board with famous octogenarians and nonagenarians. None of them knew and did not bother to ask if the entire operation they were overseeing was a fraud

These kinds of board shenanigans generally take place where there is a CEO who is also a board member and would prefer to run things without dealing with pesky difficult questions.  Board members are there for the appearance of accountability but are often little more than seat-warmers. 

It’s Not About a Leader’s “Integrity”

Some Muslim leaders will take a call for accountability as a personal insult to their integrity.  This sentiment is misguided. Instead, it is about building systems that make our institutions sustainable. I don’t know Johnson-Harrell.  However, no Muslim can honestly claim to be better than her, either in intent or commitment to the community.  Yet, without a system of accountability, the fallibility of decent men and women magnifies.

 You need to have a Shura (mutual consultation) in leadership, that is how the Quran advises us to handle our affairs.  A nonexistent or fundamentally insincere “Shura” designed to not hold anyone accountable is asking for trouble.

Muslim nonprofit leaders can find their freedom to spend charitable dollars without meaningful accountability intoxicating. Leaders who you would never think can make severe errors in judgment start to make them.  It only gets worse from there. 

Work in an Islamic charitable institution is bigger than one man or woman.  If you create a charity with no meaningful checks and balances, your work won’t be sustainable. 

Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), the first Khalifah, could not determine his salary as the leader of Muslims.  He was always accountable, and as I pointed out in a previous article, he preferred it that way. Muslim leaders should welcome accountability and not think of it as a personal slight when asked about the issue from within the community.

What Board Members Should Do 

If someone entrusted you with oversight of a charity, there are helpful educational resources that can help you be excellent. Use them.  Remove board members with conflicts of interest, especially employees and vendors. 

You need to prepare for and be present at meetings.  Hold the organization and each other as board members accountable.  Don’t be on the board to win anyone’s favor, least of all the CEO or Imam. You have an Amanah (a trust), to make sure the charity is operating with excellence in everything it is doing.   Ask difficult questions that donors will rarely know to ask. Read all financial statements and reports, that is where the mischief happens.  Make sure no executive can “handle” you into submission.  If you cannot do these things, don’t be on the board. 

The common denominator in virtually all nonprofit corruption cases is executive domination. Don’t be used.

What Donors Should Do

Encourage charities you like that have weak governance to change their practices. Uncritical support can enable structural problems, which can be destructive to the organization over the long term. Sometimes, the best contribution you can make to an organization is to encourage them to reform their governance. You can do this as a small donor. Don’t expect major donors to request such changes. 

You may not know much about the organization’s finances or how good or bad the organization’s operations are. However, you do know an employee or vendor is on the board of a charity is a signal the organization is uninterested in holding its leaders accountable. There are plenty of good charities worth supporting. If the charity remains stubborn about not allowing accountability, move on to the next one. 

 

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

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

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