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Sex and Islam

Concerning the intimate relationship between spouses, Allah (Exalted be He) has revealed: "Your wives are a tillage to you, so go in to your tillage as you will, and send (ahead something) for your souls; and fear Allah and know that you will (one day) meet Him, and give glad tidings to the Believers.” (Al-Baqarah: 223)

“There is nothing in the Islamic sources to indicate that it is necessary for the couple to have sex on the very first night of the marriage. It is up to the couple to decide when to have intercourse, so long as they do it through consensual agreement and they stay clear of the prohibited practices mentioned below:

  • Sexual intercourse is not permitted while the woman is experiencing her menstrual period. They must wait until she has completed the period and has purified herself through ghusl (major ablution involving complete bathing). Allah says, “do not approach women (while they are menstruating) until they have purified themselves.” (Al-Baqarah: 222). However, everything other than sexual intercourse is perfectly permissible during the period.

  • Anal intercourse is strictly forbidden; sexual intercourse must be done only in the vagina, while there are no restrictions in regards to other forms of sexual satisfaction, so long as they are done consensually.

  • If they are resorting to family planning on a temporary basis, it must be done consensually, not unilaterally.

  • Sexual intercourse is not permissible while one is fasting during the month of Ramadan. It is also forbidden while one is in a state of ihram (consecration for Hajj or `Umrah).

Furthermore, Islam teaches the couple to be gentle in their approach towards one another, and to make the sexual act as deeply fulfilling as possible, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Basic Bedroom Fiqh

It is disliked to:

  • Face the qibla. (Ibn 'Abidin)
  • Be in the presence of a mature child. (Ibn 'Abidin)

  • Talk, for it is from the sunna not to talk excessively during intercourse. (Ibn 'Abidin)

It is proper to cover up a Qur’an in the bedroom. (Ibn 'Abidin)

It is best to avoid looking at each other’s private parts, though some Companions held that it is fine because it increases desire. (Durar)

Ibn al-Hajj al-Maliki mentioned in al-Madkhal:

  • The beginning of the night is better…
  • One must avoid intercourse with one’s wife before any foreplay, because it has been interdicted. Rather, one should play around with her and jest with kisses, touches and the like. Then, one sees that she is ready, prepared, and desirous of him, only then should he initiate intercourse. The wisdom of the Lawgiver in this is evident, for the woman derives pleasure as a man does. If he approaches her while she is unprepared, he may fulfill his need, but she may not, and would feel frustrated.

  • Before penetration, one should say, Bismillah Allahumma Jannibna al-Shaytan, wa Jannib ish-Shaytanu ma Razaqtana, as has been authentically reported in the sunna…

  • One should be careful to fulfill the rights of the wife with regards to intercourse, and to safeguard her religion. One should fulfill oneself [=orgasm] after she has achieved fulfillment, to be under the general rubric of the Prophet’s saying (Allah bless him and give him peace), “Allah is in the assistance of a servant as long as he is in the assistance of his fellow.”

  • One should not have intercourse without covers…

  • It is best to perform ghusl before sleeping after intercourse. Or, at least to do wudu and wash the private parts. [f: One should not, at the very least, leave washing the private parts.

These are general guidelines. Ruqayya Waris Maqsood’s book on marriage goes into some detail on the subject, as does Imam al-Ghazali’s work.

  • Anal sex is, of course haram.

  • Mutual hand stimulation is permitted.

  • Sexual fluids are najis, so oral sex is detested.

  • During mentruation (hayd), intercourse is haram. So is direct skin contact between the wife’s navel and knee. Everything else, however, remains permitted.

And Allah knows best.

The principles of Conjugal Life in Islam Are Few and Uncomplicated

  • Sexual relations are for the pleasure of both the husband and the wife and for the procreation of children. Sexual intercourse is not limited to vaginal penetration but includes other forms of sexual caressing, such as kissing and fondling of various kinds.

  • Nothing should be done that is offensive or harmful to either person. Each has a duty to be sexually available to the other, but neither has the right to disgust or injure the other.

  • With a few exceptions, the couple can engage in any activities that they like, in any manner and in any position. Allah rewards such activities as surely as he punishes sinful activities. The Qur'an says, "Women are your fields. Go then into your fields as you please." (2:223)

  • It is forbidden to have vaginal intercourse while a woman is menstruating (Qur'an 2:222). According to the Sunnah of the Prophet (God's grace and peace be upon him), a man and his menstruating wife can however give one another pleasure so long as the woman's genitals are avoided.

  • There are ahadith that forbid anal intercourse and scholars generally agree that it is not permissible. However, in his tafsir (commentary) Tabaari (3d century A.H.) while forbidding sodomy, says that earlier authorities were divided on the question.

  • The Qur'an and the Sunnah are generally silent as to the various forms that sexual relations may take. Most authorities consider that it is up to the husband and wife in love and mutual respect to decide how to physically express their sexual desires.

  • What goes on in bedroom, is a private matter and should not be discussed or revealed to other persons unless there is some necessity, such as health or safety. Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet (pbuh) said this about people who reveal and discuss openly their sexual practices: "Do you know what those who do this are like? Those who do this are like a male and female devil who meet each other on the road and satisfy their desire while the people look on."

Therefore, in Islam the husband and the wife choose their sexual activities according to the sure teaching of the Qur'an, in the light of the Sunnah as we are able to understand and appreciate it, in mutual respect for one another and knowing that the only witness to the expression of their desires will be Allah the Exalted, who will judge them according to their deeds and their heartfelt intentions.

The question of the lawfulness of oral-genital contact is difficult because there are many opinions. For some, it is forbidden. For others, tolerated. For some it is lawful. Some consider it to be lawful as long as the couple use such contacts as foreplay and conclude their love-making with vaginal intercourse.

I believe that this is a matter to be decided by the husband and wife together after seeking the guidance of Allah, who alone knows best.

Peace to all who seek God's face.