La Tahzan Wa La Khauf

Don't Be Sad My Friends

Sex Education: An Islamic Perspective

By: Shahid Athar, M. D. IslamiCity* -

Islamic concept of sexuality
Islam recognizes the power of sexual need, but the

subject is discussed in the Quran and the saying of

Prophet Muhammad in a serious manner, in regard

to marital and family life. Parents should familiarize

themselves with this body of knowledge.
Saying of Prophet Muhammad

* "When one of you have sex with your wife, it is a

rewarded act of charity." The Companions were

surprised and said, "But we do it purely out of our

desire. How can it be counted as charity?" The

Prophet replied, "If you had done it with a forbidden

woman, it would have been counted as a sin, but if

you do it in legitimacy, it is counted as charity."
* "Let not one of you fall upon his wife like a beast

falls. It is more appropriate to send a message before

the act."

* "Do not divulge the secrets of your sex life with

your wife to another person nor describe her physical

feature to anyone."

Concept of adultery in Islam
God says in the Quran, "Do not go near to adultery.

Surely it is a shameful deed and evil, opening roads

(to other evils)" (Quran 17:32). "Say, 'Verily, my

Lord has prohibited the shameful deeds, be it open or

secret, sins and trespasses against the truth and

reason"' (Quran 7:33). "Women impure are for men

impure, and men impure are for women impure and

women of purity are for men of purity, and men of

purity are for women of purity" (Quran 24:26).

Prophet Muhammad , has said in many place that

adultery is one of the three major sins. However the

most interesting story is that of a young man who

went to the Prophet and asked for permission to

fornicate because he could not control himself. The

Prophet dealt with him with reasoning and asked him

if he would approve of someone else having illegal sex

with his mother, sister, daughter or wife. Each time

the man said 'no'. Then the Prophet replied that the

woman with whom you plan to have sex is also

somebody's mother, sister, daughter or wife. The man

understood and repented. The Prophet prayed for his


Adultery is a crime not against one person but against

the whole of society. It is a violation of marital

contract. 50% of all first time marriages in this

country result in divorce in two years and the main

reason for divorce is the adultery of one of the

partners. Adultery, which includes both pre-marital

and extra marital sex, is an epidemic in this society.

Nobody seems to listen to the Bible which says

frequently, "Thou shall not commit adultery." The

Quranic approach is, "Do not approach adultery."
What does it mean that not only is illegal sex

prohibited, but anything which leads to illegal sex is

also illegal? These things include dating, free mixing

of the sexes, provocative dress, nudity, obscenity and

pornography. The dress code both for men and

women is to protect them from temptation and desires

by on lookers who may lose self-control and fall into

sin. "Say to the believing men that they should lower

their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for

greater purity, and God is well acquainted with all

they do. And say to the believing woman that they

should lower their gaze, and guard their modesty"

(Quran 24:30-3 1).

Concept of marriage in Islam

Islam recognizes the strong sexual urge and desire for

reproduction. Thus Islam encourages marriage as a

legal sexual means and as a shield from immorality

(sex without commitment). In Islam the marriage of a

man and woman is not just a financial and legal living

arrangement, not even just for reproduction, but

providing a total commitment to each other, a

contract witnessed by God. Love and joy of

companionship is a part of the commitment. A

married couple assumes a new social status and

responsibility for himself, his wife and his children

and for the community. The Quran says, "Among His

signs is that He created consorts for you from among

yourself, so that you may find tranquility with them,

and (He) set love and compassion between you. Verily

in this are signs for people who reflect" (Quran


Saying of Prophet Muhammad
"Marriage is my tradition. He who rejects my

tradition is not of me" (Bukhari, Muslim).
"Marriage is half of religion. The other half is being

Godfearing" (Tabarani, Hakim).

In Islam there is no fixed rule as to the age of

marriage. It is becoming fashionable for young

Muslim men
not to marry until they have completed their

education, have a job, or reached age 26-30 or more.
Similarly young Muslim girls say they want to marry

after age 24. Why? When asked, they say, "I am not
ready for it." Not ready for what? Don't they have

normal sexual desire? If the answer is yes, then they
have only one of the two choices a) marry or b)

postpone sex (abstinence until they marry). The

says, "Let those who find not the where withal for

marriage, to keep them selves chaste till God find
them the means from His Grace" (Quran 24:33).
The Prophet said, "Those of you who own the means

should marry, otherwise should keep fasting for it
curbs desires" (Ibn Massoud). The Western reason for

delaying marriage is different than ours. When I
suggested this to one of my sexually active young

female patients, she bluntly said, "I don't want to
sleep with the same guy every night."

Role of Muslim parents and Muslim organizations
I am not proposing that all Muslim youth be married

at age 16. But I must say that youth should accept the

biological instinct and make decisions which will help

to develop a more satisfied life devoted to having a

career rather than spending time in chasing (or

dreaming about) the opposite sex. Parents should help

their sons and daughters in selection of their mate

using Islamic practice as a criteria and not race, color

or wealth. They should encourage them to know each

other in a supervised setting. The community

organization has several roles to play.

To provide a platform for boys and girls to see and

know each other without any intimacy. Offer

premarital educational courses to boys and girls over

18 separately to prepare them for the role of father

and husband and of mother and wife. The father has a

special role, mentioned by Prophet Muhammad ,

"One who is given by God, a child, he should give it a

beautiful name, should give him or her education, and

training and when he or she attains puberty, he

should see to it that he or she is married. If the father

does not arrange their marriage after puberty, and the

boy or girl is involved in sin, the responsibility of that

sin will lie with the father"

Marriage of Muslim girls in the USA
Marriage of Muslim girls in this country is becoming

a problem. I was not surprised to read the letter of a

Muslim father in a national magazine. He complained

that in spite of his doing his best in teaching Islam to

his children, his college-going daughter announced

that she is going to marry a non-Muslim boy whom

she met in college.
As a social scientist I am more interested in the

analysis of the events. To be more specific, why would

a Muslim girl prefer a non-Muslim boy over a

Muslim? The following reasons come to mind:

She is opposed to and scared of arranged marriages.

She should be told that not all arranged marriages are

bad ones and that 50% of all love marriages end up in

a divorce in this country. Arranged marriages can be

successful if approved by both the boy and girl. That

is, they need to be a party to the arrangement. I am

myself opposed to the blind arranged marriage.

Muslim boys are not available to her to make a

choice. While parents have no objection or cannot do

anything about non-Muslim boys with whom she

talks or socializes at school or college for forty hours a

week, she is not allowed to talk to a Muslim boy in

the mosque or in a social gathering. If she does, they

frown at her or even accuse her of having a loss

character. As a Muslim boy put it, "If I grow up

knowing only non-Muslim girls, why do my parents

expect me to marry a Muslim one?"

Some Muslim boys do not care for Muslim girls. On

the pretext of missionary work after marriage, they get

involved with non-Muslim girls because of their easy

availability. Muslim parents who also live with an

inferiority complex do not mind their son marrying an

American girl of European background but they

would object if he marries a Muslim girl of a different

school of Islamic thought (Shiah/Sunni) or different

tribe like Punjabi, Sunni, Pathan, Arab vs. non-Arab,

Afro-American vs. immigrant, or different class, Syed

vs. non-Syed. Both the parents and the body should

be reminded that the criteria for choosing a spouse

that was given by the Prophet Muhammad was not

wealth nor color but Islamic piety.

She may have been told that early marriage, that is,

age 18 or less, is taboo and that she should wait until

the age of 23 or 25. According to statistics, 80% of

American girls, while waiting to get settled in life and

married, engage freely in sex with multiple boyfriends.

However, this option is not available to Muslim girls.

Every year nearly one million teenage girls in this

country who think that they are not ready for

marriage, get pregnant. By the age of 24 when a

Muslim girl decides that she is ready for marriage, it

may be too large for her. If she reviews the

matrimonial ad section in Islamic magazines, she will

quickly notice that the boys of the age group of 25 to

30 are looking for girls from 18 to 20 year age group.

They may wrongfully assume that an older girl may

not be a virgin.

She may also carry a wrong notion not proven

scientifically that marrying healthy cousins may cause

congenital deformities in her offspring.

Thus, unless these issues are addressed, many Muslim

girls in the US may end up marrying a non-Muslim or

remain unmarried.

Curriculum for Islamic Sex Education
Islamic sex education should be taught at home

starting at an early age. Before giving education about

anatomy and physiology, the belief in the Creator

should be well established. As Dostoevsky put it,

"Without God, everything is possible," meaning that

the lack of belief or awareness of God gives an OK for


A father should teach his son and a mother should

teach her daughter. In the absence of a willing parent,

the next best choice should be a Muslim male teacher

(preferably a physician) for boys and a Muslim female

teacher (preferably a physician) for a girl at the

Islamic Sunday school.
The curriculum should be tailored according to age of

the child and classes be held separately. Only

pertinent answers to a question should be given. By

this I mean that if a five year old asks how he or she

got into mommie's stomach, there is no need to

describe the whole act of intercourse. Similarly it is

not necessary to tell a fourteen year old how to put on

condoms. This might be taught in premarital class just

before his or her marriage. A curriculum for sex ed

should Include:

a. Sexual growth and development
* Time table for puberty
* Physical changes during puberty
* Need for family life

b. Physiology of reproductive system
* For girls- the organ, menstruation, premenstrual

* For boys- the organ, the sex drive

c. Conception, development of fetus and birth

d. Sexually transmitted disease (VD/AIDS)

(emphasize the Islamic aspect)

e. Mental, emotional and social aspects of puberty

f. Social, moral and religious ethics

g. How to avoid peer pressure

Sex education after marriage
This essay is not intended to be a sex manual for

married couples, although I may write such someday.

I just wanted to remind the reader of a short verse in

the Quran and then elaborate. The verse is, "They are

your garments, and you are their garments" (Quran

Husbands and wives are described as garments for

each other. A garment is very close to our body, so

they should be close to each other. A garment protects

and shields our modesty, so they should do the same

to each other. Garments are put on anytime we like,

so should they be available to each other anytime. A

garment adds to our beauty, so they should praise and

beautify each other.
For husbands I should say that sex is an expression of

love and one without the other is incomplete. One of

your jobs is to educate your wife in matters of sex

especially in your likes and dislikes and do not

compare her to other women.
For wives I want to say that a man's sexual needs are

different than a women's. Instead of being a passive

recipient of sex, try to be an active partner. He is

exposed to many temptations outside the home. Be

available to please him and do not give him a reason

to make a choice between you and hellfire.

Source: Islam-USA
This from the first chapter of the book: Sex

Education: An Islamic Perspective
(Edited by Shahid Athar , M.D.)


Having a feeling and love in your heart for someone

of the opposite sex is different and beyond control,

while expression of the same through sex is entirely

different and should be under control.


About Dr. Shaihd Athar

Dr. Shaihd Athar was born at Patna, India. He did his

medical training in Karachi, (Pakistan), Chicago,

(Illinois), and at Indiana University where he is a

Clinical Associate Professor. He was President of

Islamic Society of Greater Indianapolis 1986 - 1987.

He is an alternate delegate to UN (NGO) for World

Muslim Congress, the president of Interfaith Alliance,

an active member of Council For National Interest,

Christian & Muslims For Peace, Amnesty

International, Physicians For Human Rights, lslamic

Medical Association, Solidarity Int. For Human

Rights, advisor to weekly TV Progrwn, "Faces of

Faith", WTHR Indianapolis. Indiana Council for

Foreign Affairs and Foreign Relation Committee.

He was nominated for 1992 Jefferson Award and

received Diamond Award for outstanding

volunteerism from the "United To Serve America". He

is a U.S. Citizen and lives in Indianapolis with his

wife and four children.

He has written and published over 110 articles on

Islam, authored "Peace Through Submission" (PTS)

and edited "Islamic Perspective in Medicine". He is

currently working on "Invitation to Islam - Letters of

a Dayee". He has spoken to many Muslim

institutions, mosques, universities and churches all

over the USA. He is listed in the International

Directory of Specialists in Islamic Studies published

from Rabbat, Morocco, 1991, and North American

Muslim Resource Directory, 1994.

Update 2000
Other books are "Health Concerns for Believers" , "

Reflections of an American Muslim" and "Sex

Education -An Islamic Perspective " all published by

Kazi Publications in Chicago and available from and can be read at his webpage His collection of English poems

was just released by Watermark Press "Reflections in



12/5/2003 - Social - Article Ref: IC0312-2161
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By: IslamiCity
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