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Intimacy for Muslim Couples: The Anti-Climax

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Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 

Highlights from the discussion

Generally, women are capable of experiencing climax but because of their husband’s lack of knowledge and skills, they are left unsatisfied.

Intercourse without climax leaves women devastated and eventually they develop an aversion to intimacy.

  • Many women complain about physical intimacy being painful due to the lack of foreplay
  • More than half of all women, possibly more than 70 percent, do not regularly reach climax by means of penetration alone has been brought by researchers, such as Alfred Kinsey and Shere Hite
  • Even those husbands who may have known this fact, don’t always want to take the trouble to provide the additional stimulation necessary to produce female climax

How does Islam recognize women’s need of physical intimacy?

  • Islam as the perfect religion, has not only recognized the crucial need of women reaching her climax, but has even laid out specific instructions for men.
    Imām Ibn Qudama [ra] the Hanbali Jurist narrates a hadith that the Messenger of Allāh said, “Do not begin intercourse until she has experienced desire, like the desire you experience, lest you fulfill your desires before she does.” (AlMughni 8:136)
  • Surah Baqarah 2:187- In this verse, there are two words used, Rafatha and Baashara, and most translations of Qur’an translate both of the terms as “sexual intercourse.” I always wondered what could be the wisdom of using two different terms in the same verse for the same action. It was not until I asked a shaykh I realized the difference in the two terms was simply lost in translation. 

Rafatha, which comes first in the verse is: Speech that maybe a means of inducing coition (coitus), speaking to entice one’s spouse. Basically in simpler language, it is the sex-talking with the wife. Amazing how Allah azzwajal Himself points out to the fact and the necessity of enticing a woman through speech and foreplaying. Going back to the verse, the second word mentioned is:

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Baashara: is the actual intercourse itself

If taking the order of the words into consideration in the verse, it is obvious that Baashara should take place after enticing the wife and fondling her to the point that she is ready for her husband.

  • Imam al-Daylami records a narration on the authority of Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah, ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), is reported to have said: “One of you should not fulfill one’s (sexual) need from one’s wife like an animal, rather there should be, between them, foreplay of kissing and words.”
  • Ibn Qayyim reports in his famous Tibb-an-Nabawai, that the Prophet forbade from engaging in sexual intercourse before fore playing.

    How does not being satisfied with climax cause avoidance towards intimacy among women?

  • Men think about physical intimacy more frequently. They have the ability to switch it on and off throughout the day without experiencing the climax.
  • Women have a much harder time to turn it off once stimulated, so there is a greater need for them to experience a climax.

Women and body image issues, detailed advice for men:

  • Do give sincere compliments
  • Never ever make fun or criticize your spouse’s body when they are so vulnerable. You are the only man in her life to appreciate her beauty.
  • Look for her positive features and comment on those.
  • Don’t criticize hoping she will change – she will just shut down and not want to get intimate.
  • Since a big part of being aroused in many women is mental, she needs to feel alluring and beautiful in order for her to perform physically.

Women:

  • Accept yourself and your body
  • Appreciate your body, be grateful to Allah
  • Be your best, don’t compare yourself to a supermodel
  • Take care of yourself
  • Compliment your husbands too, men need affirmation

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Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She leads the DC office of the human rights organization, Justice For All, focusing on stopping the genocide of the Rohingya under Burma Task Force, advocacy for the Uighur people with the Save Uighur Campaign and Free Kashmir Action. She was a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. george

    January 6, 2016 at 8:55 AM

    sex is a taboo subject for muslims. i am shocked you guys even brought it up here on muslim matters….wow

    • Farooq

      January 6, 2016 at 10:46 AM

      Im pretty sure they’ve posted something on this topic before…George. Im shocked that you’re shocked at being shocked at the fact that this was shockingly posted on a shockingly Muslim site.

      Anyway, good topic and Im glad you’re addressing it. Im a guy and I feel like we dont educate our men to be sensitive to these subjects. Nor do we teach that men should never mistreat a woman. Ive met so many brothers that (like many non-Muslims) say things that make me cringe. They havent been taught a thing about how to say things or what their roles entail when married and being intimate. Additionally, parents complain about their kids learning non-Muslim/American hyper masculine mentalities and values when on their end they dont try to counter act it by teaching the logical and simple values of Islam regarding these topics.

  2. Sr. L

    January 6, 2016 at 10:55 AM

    LOL, Brother Farooq.? Shocking, isn’t it, how shocked some people can be about the Islamic perspective on sex?

    • Iman

      January 20, 2016 at 4:26 AM

      hehe..one more reason to convert!! :D

  3. Learn Quran

    January 6, 2016 at 2:35 PM

    seriously its a great article indeed …

  4. Fritz

    January 6, 2016 at 2:41 PM

    Hello,

    Glad that the team could accept that women will often manipulate men for sex and concoct excuses to avoid intimacy. A lot of women deny that this ever occurs. I would think Haleh had the correct initial point about the importance of a healthy marital life to prevent the other slipping into sin – whereas Umm Reem just seemed to quote the extreme examples and state these are problems only in men and thats that.

    Will there be a series looking at how women can help intimacy for men?

  5. Danielle

    January 6, 2016 at 8:12 PM

    Great article. Helpful for men, so long as they actually are willing to read and take advice, but also for women. Many women wonder what’s wrong with themselves and I hope this will help them realize they have a legitimate need and there is a real reason they feel unfulfilled.

  6. Um mohammed

    January 9, 2016 at 8:22 PM

    “Generally, women are capable of experiencing climax but because of their husband’s lack of knowledge and skills, they are left unsatisfied.” Really?

    An equally general reason for women to not be sexually satisfied is because there is a lack awareness or acknowledgement of their individual sexuality. More appalling is their immaturity and ignorance towards male sexuality. Be pious, be nice and all that. But seriously, there also has to be a certain connection that you have with your husband as a sexual partner.

    Knowledge and skills are equally important for women as this is a partnership. Chemistry has a enormous role to play in this. Chemistry is based on the individual personalities and when you marry someone based on meeting them once or twice, I believe (purely my own opinion) its a hit or miss where that department is concerned.
    Sadly there are many tendencies in our societies that kill this chemistry. Young people are expected to live a sheltered pure life and then overnight develop skills in this department. An average muslim person who is devout and does the right thing, how are they supposed to have skills and knowledge about this?
    There are many articles on this topic, they all seem to be missing the target (in my opinion). I apologize in advance if I am offending you. There is talk about the issues but the solutions are very generic (talk, make sure your needs are put across, dont criticize, educate yourself (??) etc.
    Are you helping the cause by placing blame on the “husbands lack of knowledge and skills?”

    The authors are regularly bringing up this discussion but what is the solution? In my opinion there is none

  7. Siraaj Muhammad

    January 10, 2016 at 9:20 AM

    Salaam alaykum Haleh, Umm Reem, Hena,

    Serious question, throughout the years i’ve read books on improving intimacy between spouses and as well attended various lectures from qualified men and women speaking on the topic (muslim and nonMuslim, using either science or hadiths), the key takeaway seems to be that unless a man is actively seeing to a woman’s mental well-being regarding her internal self-image, a woman will likely be unable or find it difficult to experience climax.

    My question, what percentage of responsibility would you say is on the woman to have self-confidence in herself independent of her husband, i.e. if she doesn’t have it, how much responsibility is on her as a fully capable adult vs her husband? Should it not be the case that well over 90% of the burden should be on her to solve her own “issues” as it were – I would think this is the responsible step any adult would take solving any problem rather than making someone else the scapegoat for their failures.

    I say this because sometimes I have found with certain individuals a man may be making all the effort in the world, but if his wife is not there, she is simply not there and it is not within his control, but some shortcoming on her part will be scapegoated as the reason for her inability to climax.

    Your thoughts are appreciated – what advice would you have both for men and women regarding this.

    • Fritz

      January 10, 2016 at 5:09 PM

      I dont understand this total obsession with the female climax.

      The speakers dangerously lead one to the inference that non-climactic intercourse for the woman is a suboptimal outcome for her. In some cases, despite the best care of the man, a woman will NOT climax due to external stressors, internal mental issues, simply hormones or some other factors. No-one may be to blame!

      And this is not necessarily the end of the world! Importantly it is very well recognised that for many females the “highlight” of intimacy is often not the climax but the nature of intimacy itself. Of course female satisfaction should not be ignored (and interestingly, who said that her satisfaction is necessarily all in the act of climax? Ironically, you assume she is like the man in this regard!).

      It takes two to tango. If one partner feels neglected they wont be that keen to help the other. But the default position of blame appears to be on the lazy, ignorant neglectful man. Perhaps I misunderstand the tone of the piece, but some of it comes accross this way. (Although, observing some men today perhaps this is not completely unfair).

      The advice to women from this piece was a little curious. Should they just lie back like a fish whilst thinking grateful thoughts and expect to be completely stimulated to the full? Surely a little communication from women to man about what works would go some way? Also a woman should understand the physical and psychological effects on how she responds to intimacy and try to optimise these (eg. stay in shape, diet, minimse distractions)

    • Fritz

      January 12, 2016 at 3:46 PM

      Salaam,

      Very interesting and worthwhile piece but I am not sure why this board is being moderated in such a way to have comments posted, then removed, then reposted and re-edited (without due reference to this); esp Suhail’s originial post which is now removed and makes the whole sequence of discussion appear a little disjointed?

      A re-iteration of some original points which are reasonably well validated by scientific research and study (not Huffington post straw poll).

      1) Intercourse without Climax: Women’s Worst Nightmare – nice headline but incorrect premise. Climax is not the “be all and end all” for women – even as detailed by women from very liberal Western backgrounds (so you cannot say they are “socially conditioned to say this”). Other factors such as emotional intimacy are often rated as being more important, but no-one mentioned this. Of course if a woman is left unfulfilled this can be a problem, but it is not always the case.

      2) “but because of their husband’s lack of knowledge and skills, they are left unsatisfied”. Another dangerous assumption that places default blame on the man. What is the actual evidence for this statement?

      3) “Generally, women are capable of experiencing climax” In many cases, a woman even with optimal effort from the husband will not climax due to other issues (external stressors, hormonal variation etc). You place an unreasonable expectation that every episode of intimacy should end in climax and if this fails then this is a suboptimal outcome for the woman. A then the blame is apportioned to the husband; which is not really a healthy approach for either parties.

      3) Advice to woman: On top of “just be happy with your looks”, I think really an emphasis on making sure a woman is in a correct psychological state of mind (i.e. not allowing the mind to roam randomly to other things, minimise distractions) and enoucraging communication with their other half might also be worthwhile.

      • Taff

        January 14, 2016 at 8:53 AM

        Salam Fritz. Looks like MM moderation panel has deleted even more comments!. This time from the revert brother Yahya who said Suhail raised very good points and was right. They also deleted the comment by Mo who also stood up for Suhail!. Nice to see muslim brothers sticking up for what is right and honest!. BTW, aly balgamwala – you should be ashamed of yourself.

        • Aly Balagamwala

          January 16, 2016 at 5:14 AM

          Dear Taff

          Can you please explain why you are using the same IP address as Mo?

          Aly

          • Taff

            January 16, 2016 at 6:53 AM

            Dear Aly – our emails came from the same IP address because Mo is my brother!. LOL. He showed me the comments and TBH, I thought it was a bit unfair. I think people are allowed free speech as long as it does not incite hatred, racism or violence. The judgment of the MM panel was not properly balanced. On the one hand you guys delete one person’s original comment, yet on the other hand you allow arrogant and abusive comments from inqiyad and laila. That is not right.

            I would also like to say to all brothers and sisters reading this – please, please, just take a chill pill. If you don’t like what someone has to say, then just respond in a calm and polite manner. No need to get nasty! (Allah swt says in the quran ‘and argue with them in manners most gracious for your Lord knows best’).

            Also, different people have different preferences and some people are more open minded than others. It is also possible that someone may have had bad experiences in the past which is why they may be more critical. I would also like to say that at the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with marrying someone who is not a hijabi or niqabi, or who is not from the same ethnic background as yourself (listen to the lecture ‘Islam in China’ by Sulaiman Ma). I have met plenty of non-muslims who do have good manners and who do have the potential to embrace Islam.

            Finally, you cant control who you ‘click’ with and subsequently fall in love with. A muslim brother may fall in love with a non-muslim woman because they have that ‘chemistry’ as well as compatible personalities, but a wise muslim brother will give her dawah and see if she will embrace Islam for the right reasons. Also, our hijabi and niqabi sisters should let go of this ‘superiority complex’ they clearly have. They get really angry if a muslim brother does not want to marry one of them and instead chooses to marry either a muslimah who does not wear hijab/niqab or marry a non-muslim woman. Maybe our hijabi and niqabi sisters should find out what qualities they don’t have that our brothers are looking for, so they should work on improving themselves.

            Wasalam.

            P.S. – brother Aly, please feel free to delete abusive and argumentative comments, but please allow comments even if you don’t agree with what the other person is saying (as long as that person is not being abusive or using foul language).

          • Aly Balagamwala

            January 20, 2016 at 6:32 AM

            Dear Taff

            Thank you for your clarification.

    • Mo

      January 13, 2016 at 8:00 AM

      Salam bro Siraj. Why should the man be blamed for the emotional and psychological baggage of these women?. If the women have self-confidence issues due to body dismorphia then it is their problem. They let themselves go due to years of laziness so they need to have the integrity and maturity to sort it out themselves. TBH, I’m getting really worried cos muslim women blame men for everything!. This is extremely immature and vindictive.

  8. Fritz

    January 10, 2016 at 4:52 PM

    Woooosh!

    I think you missed his points. Character is more than just putting a piece of cloth on your head. For many the hijab does represent a culmination of piety, modesty and excellent character. But for some it is almost a veil to cover up the actual nature of the person. For a marriage to work, a spoilt personality (even if Islamic) can still makes things very very difficult to live with.

    With regards to criticising Allah’s creation, I mean please! He is not talking about people’s attractiveness (or those who are naturally a little heavier) but about clinical obesity! And dont forget the multiple health implications that go with this. Even Hamza Yusuf made some excellent points in this regard.

  9. Um mohammed

    January 11, 2016 at 7:17 PM

    Iqiyaad, your viewpoint is flawed (in my opinion) due to the Hadith often quoted that states that the Prophet (SAWS) ate only to 1/3rd of his capacity (water and air the other 2/3). This is not about rejecting food or criticizing.

    Further,
    Unless a person has issues
    -Medical (DM, Thyroid, Medication side effects, menopause etc)
    – genetics (being big boned, heavy etc family traditions of overeating or consuming rich foods not acceptable in this category)
    – physical (bad knee etc that prevents them from exercising)

    One should expect an average muslim, man or woman to fall in the healthy body weight for height.

    Setting aside the original topic, this is a good reminder for us all. If our family at home or (in the masjid iftaars/dinners) has eaten to our hearts content and has some leftovers going into the trash, we need to do better to follow the sunnah.

  10. M.Mahmud

    January 11, 2016 at 9:11 PM

    I agree with Inqiyaad.

  11. Ahmed Khan

    January 17, 2016 at 12:09 PM

    These type of article for our young generation helpful for starting their new life after getting married.

  12. Em

    January 24, 2016 at 12:58 PM

    “Men think about physical intimacy more frequently. They have the ability to switch it on and off throughout the day without experiencing the climax”

    Simply not factual. I think this is a person to person thing but vasocongestion is a natural thing many men DO face, and it is nearly impossible to just “flip” it off.

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