In this section, we shall discuss some general laws and rules concerning marriage, marriage ceremony, practical aspect of sex within marriage and some of the often asked questions.
1. WHOM CAN YOU MARRY?
Islam places certain restrictions as far as the choice of your spouse is concerned. These restrictions are based on blood relationships and religious affiliations of the person.
(A) Restrictions based on Relationship
There are certain blood relations which are considered haram for you as far as marriage is concerned. (As a general rule, anyone who is your mahram is forbidden to you for marriage. Mahrammeans a blood-relative in whose presence hijab is not required.) The list of such relatives is given in the Qur’an as follows:
For Man mother daughter paternal aunt maternal aunt niece foster-mother foster-sister mother-in-law step-daughter daughter-in-law all married women sister-in-law (as a 2nd wife) (See the Qur’an, ch. 4, verse 23-24)
For Woman father son paternal uncle maternal uncle nephew foster-mother’s husband foster-brother father-in-law step-son son-in-law
It worth noting that cousins have not been included in this list which means that: firstly, cousins are not mahram to each other, so hijab has to be observed between them; secondly, cousins can marry each other.
(B) Restrictions based on Religion
Marriage between two people who do not follow the same religion creates problems in the day-to-day life of the couple because no aspect of our life is outside the jurisdiction of the Islamic shari’ah. Consequently restriction in marriage based on religious differences is quite natural
A Muslim Man
· can marry:
a Muslim woman.
however, if there is danger of being misled, then it is haram.
a Jewish or Christian woman in mut’a only.
· cannot marry: a woman of any other faith.
A Muslim Woman
· can marry:
a Muslim man.
although it is better not to do so; and if there is danger of being misled, then it is haram.
· cannot marry: a non-Muslim man.
2. SOME OFTEN ASKED QUESTIONS
(A) Do parents have any right over the marriage of their children?
The father and paternal grandfather have full authority over the children who have not yet reached the age of puberty.
When a child reaches the age of puberty, then there are three different situations:
(a) a child who is baligh but not mentally mature: in this case, the father and the grandfather still have their authority over him or her. Such a child cannot take a decision on marriage without the approval of the father or the grandfather.
(b) a male child who is baligh and also mentally mature: in this case, he has full right to decide about his own marriage.
(c) a girl who is baligh and mentally mature: There are four different opinions on this issue. (Muhaqqiq al-Hilli, Sharaya’, p. 500: Shahid ath-Thani, Sharh Lum’ah, vol. 2. p. 71. ) But the majority of the present mujtahids say that in her first marriage, abaligha and mentally mature girl cannot marry without the permission of her father or grandfather. And if such a girl had already married before. then she has full right to decide for herself in the case of her second marriage. (Al-Yazdi. al-‘Urwah, p. 654; al-Khui, Minhaj, vol. 2. p 255: al-Khumayni. Tahrir, vol. 2. p. 254; for details, see ash-Shahid ath-Thani, Masalik, vol. 1, p 449-452. )
This law is in place to act as an extra protection for the honor of a teenage girl. However, if the father or grandfather refuses to give his consent to a proposal of a suitable man, then a religious judge can over-ride the decision of her father or grandfather. Similarly, if the father or grandfather is inaccessible, then there is no need for his permission.
(B) By considering the hijab in Islam, is a boy permitted to look at the girl before marrying her?
A man is allowed to see without hijab the woman whom he intends to marry. However, this permission is just for the man or the woman to see the prospective spouse once; (Muhaqqiq al-Hilli, Sharaya’, p. 493; Shahid ath-Thani, S’harh Lum’ah, vol. 2, p. 67; al-Yazdi, al-‘Urwah, p. 625; al-Khu’i, Minhaj, vol. 2, p. 253; al-Khumayni, Tahrir, vol. 2, p. 254: ‘Allamah al-Hilli, Tazkirah, vol. 2, p. 572; Shaykh at-Tusi, an-Nihayah, p. 484.) it is not a perpetual license to go out together! I strongly recommend that such a meeting should take place with the supervision of the parent or the guardian.
(C) Can a boy and a girl who are engaged meet each other or go out together ?
In Islam, there is no ceremony known as engagement. According to the shari’ah, engagement is a revocable agreement between two persons to marry each other, nothing more; it does not make the two persons mahram to each other. They still have to observe the rules of hijab. But if two persons who are engaged wish to meet each other, then the only way to legalize that Islamically is by performing mut’a marriage between the fianceand the fiancee. They can even put a condition in the mut’a that there will be no sexual relations. This way, they will be able to meet each other without any objection from the shari’ah. This method can be adopted by those also who wish to go through the engagement ceremony in which the fiance puts a ring on thefiancee’s finger.
However, as mentioned earlier, a girl who has not married before will need her father’s or grandfather’s approval even in such amut’a marriage.
3. THE ‘AQD
In the Islamic shari’ah, marriage is an ‘aqd, a contract.
As a contract, it depends on ijab (proposal from the bride) andqubul (acceptance from the groom). The contract can be verbally made by the parties themselves or by their representatives . The language of this contract must be Arabic. Although just one sentence for proposal (like ankahtuka nafsi = I have given myself to you in marriage) and one word for acceptance (likeqabiltu = I have accepted) is enough but it is the norm to solemnize the marriage by using all forms of legal terms for this purpose; for example, ankhatu, zawwajtu together with the mentioning of mahr; sidaq, etc. It is also recommended to begin with a sermon (khutba) praising Allah, subhanahu wa ta ala, asking for His blessings on Prophet Muhammad and his progeny, and also reciting a Qur’anic verse and a couple of ahadith on virtue of marriage.
One of the necessary conditions of an Islamic marriage contract ismahr. Mahr is usually translated as dowry, and it means the marriage gift which the groom agrees to give to the bride. It is actually the right of the bride and it is for her to specify or fix themahr; and for the groom to either accept it or negotiate with his prospective bride.
The mahr can consist of a material item or a benefit (like training for something); it can be paid up front or can be in form of promise to pay upon demands decided prior to the solemnization of marriage.
4. THE TIME OF MARRIAGE
(A) When to marry?
Are there any special days in the Islamic calendar when marriage is encouraged or discouraged? Basically marriage is allowed at all times. However, there are some days on which marriage is not recommended; some of these are based on ahadith and some on cultural, historical reasons.
Generally, we can categorize these days into three: (a) There are some ahadith which say that it is makruh (not recommended) to have a marriage ceremony on the days when the moon is in the constellation of the Scorpio (this is known as al-qamar fil aqrabor qamar dar aqrab), during the last two or three days of the lunar months, and on Wednesdays. (b) There are some ahadithwhich say that certain days of each month are ill omen days (nahas); these days are the 3rd, 5th, 13th, 16th, 21st, 24th and 25th of lunar months.
However, the ahadith for both the above categories would not stand the scrutiny of the scholars of hadith. Our mujtahids do not normally apply their full expertise in matters not related to obligatory or prohibitive commands. They relax the criteria for acceptability of ahadith in matters related to sunnat and makruhacts. This is not done out of negligence or lack of interest, it is done on the basis of a widely accepted rule in usulu’l-fiqh (the Principles of Jurisprudence) known as qa’idatu’t-tasamuh, that is, the rule of leniency (in ascertaining the acceptability of hadith). (For more information on qa’idatu’t-tasamuh, the specialist readers may refer to as-Sadr, Durus fi ‘Ilmi ‘l-Usul, vol. 2 p 204 and vol. 3 (part 1) p 258 and an-Naraqi’s ‘Awa’idu ‘l-Ayyam,pp. 269-271.)
This has been mentioned very clearly by Ayatullah al-Khu’i in his manual of fatwas. He says, “Most of the mustahab acts mentioned in the chapters of this book are based on theqa’idatu’t-tasamuh in sources of the sunnat acts. Therefore, whatever has not been proved as sunnat in our view should be done with intention of raja’il matlubiyyah. The same applies to the makruh acts; these should be abstained from with the intention of raja’il matlubiyyah.” (Minhaj, vol. 1, p. 14. Raja’i ‘l-matlubiyyah means doing something not because it is sunnat but with the intention that it might be expected of us to do so. )
As far as the two categories for marriage days are concerned, it will suffice to quote Ayatullah Gulpaygani, one of the leadingmujtahids of our time who says: “One may follow thesemustahab and makruh acts with the intention of raja’il matlubiyyah, because there is no clear evidence for some of these things.” (See his annotations on al-‘Urwatu ‘l-Wuthqa, p. 623. )
(c) There are certain days of the Islamic calendar which have become associated with the early events of the Islamic history; for example, the 10th of Muharram is the day of mourning for the massacre at Karbala or the day of the Prophet’s death in Safar, etc. Since such days are commemorated by the Muslims as days of mourning, it is socially and, to some extent, religiously not recommended to have a marriage ceremony on such days.
(B) The Wedding Night:
I must explain why I have written wedding ‘night’ and not ‘day’. The hadith says, “Take the bride to her new home during the night.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 62) Based on this saying, it is recommended that the wedding should take place at night. After all, Allah has made the night “so that you may rest in it.” (10: 67)
After the bride has entered the room, the groom is recommended to take off the bride’s shoes, wash her feet (in a washbowl) and then sprinkle the water around the room.
Then the groom should do wuzu and pray two rak’at sunnat prayer and then recite the following du’a:
Allahummar zuqni ulfataha wa wuddaha wa rizaha bi; war zini biha, waj ma’ baynana bi ahsani ijtima’in wa anfasi i’tilafin; fa innaka tuhibbul halal wa tukrihul haram.
O Allah! bless me with her affection, love and her acceptance of me; and make me pleased with her, and bring us together in the best form of a union and in absolute harmony; surely You like lawful things and dislike unlawful things.
Then he should ask the bride to do wuzu and pray two rak’at sunnat prayer.
When they are ready to go to bed, the groom should put his hand on the bride’s forehead and pray the following du’a while facing the qiblah. (So don’t forget your qiblah compass!)
Allahumma bi amanatika akhaztuha wa bi kalimatika s-tahlaltuha. Fa in qazayta li minha waladan, faj-‘alhu mubarakan taqiyyan min Shi’ati Al-i Muhammad (sal-lal-lahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam) wa la taj-‘al lish Shaytani fihi shirkan wa la nasiba.
O Allah! I have taken her as Your trust and have made her lawful for myself by Your words. Therefore, if you have decreed for me a child from her, then make him/her blessed and pious from among the followers of the Family of Muhammad [peace be upon him and them]; and do not let the Satan have any part in him/her.
Al-‘Urwah. p. 624.
Is it necessary to have sexual intercourse on the very first night after the wedding or can it be delayed? As far as the shari’ah is concerned, it is neither obligatory nor forbidden to have sex on the first night. It is a private decision between the newly wed couple; it has nothing to do with others. However, I must say that the groom should take the feelings of his bride into consideration; after all, she is new to him and to the surroundings.
5. DAYS & TIMES FOR SEX
(A) Is sex forbidden at any time in marriage ?
Yes, by considering the discomfort for the women during the monthly periods, Islam has forbidden both the husband and the wife from engaging in sexual intercourse during menstruation.
The Qur’an says:
They ask you about menstruation. Say: “Menstruation is a discomfort (for women). Do not establish sexual relations with them during the menses and do not approach them (sexually) until the blood stops. Then when they have cleansed themselves, you go into them as Allah has commanded you.” (2:222)
According to the shari’ah, the duration of the monthly period is between three to ten days. If the bleeding was for less than three days, it is not menstruation; if it is for more than ten days, then it is menstruation for ten days and then it is counted as istihazah, irregular bleeding during which sex is permitted. (For further details, see my Ritual Ablutions for Women.)
The prohibition of sex during the periods is limited strictly to sexual intercourse; other intimate contact (with the exception of the vagina and anus) is allowed. However, it is better not to play with her body between the navel and the knees.
If a person who is engaged in sexual intercourse with his wife discovers that her period has begun, then he should immediately withdraw from her.
It is clear from the verse mentioned above (until the blood stops)that once the blood has stopped, intercourse becomes lawful even if the woman has not performed the major ritual ablution (ghusl).But on the basis of the subsequent sentence (then when they have cleansed themselves…), most mujtahids say that it is better to refrain from intercourse till she performs the ghusl or, at least, washes her private parts. (Wasa’il, vol. 1, p. 576)
Sexual intercourse is also not allowed during the post-natal bleeding (10 days), during daytime in the month of Ramadhan, and when a person is in ihram during the pilgrimage to Mecca. At all other times, sexual intercourse is allowed.
(B) Is it discouraged (makruh) to have sex at any time or on any day ?
There are certain ahadith which say that sexual intercourse during some days and at some times is makruh, but not haram.
These days and times are as follows:
i. during frightful natural occurrences, e.g., eclipse, hurricane, earthquake;
ii . from sunset till maghrib;
ii. from dawn till sunrise;
iii. the last three nights of lunar months;
iv. eve of the 15th of every lunar month;
v. eve of 10th Zil-hijjah;
vii. after becoming junub.
Some of these are self-explanatory: I don’t think any one would be in the mood for sexual intercourse during a hurricane or earthquake. The second and third examples are of the prayer times; obviously, a Muslim is expected to spend that time in meditation and prayer. One must remember, firstly, that it ismakruh, not haram, to have sexual intercourse at these times. Secondly, the ahadith for such issues have been accepted on basis of the qa’idatu ‘t-tasamuh mentioned earlier. Thirdly, the reasons given for this karahat are mostly about possible deformity of a child conceived at that time. By looking at these reasons, I am inclined to restrict this karahat only in cases of couples who plan to have children, and not extend it to those who practice birth control.
I would therefore advise the readers to be considerate to your spouse and not to put him or her in unnecessary tension; It your spouse is very sensitive about these makruh days then try to accommodate your likes and dislikes accordingly. Mutual understanding is the key.
(A) Are there days and times when sexual intercourse is recommended?
Yes we have certain ahadith which say that it is better to have sexual intercourse at these times:
i. Sunday night;
ii. Monday night;
iii. Wednesday night;
iv. Thursday noon;
v. Thursday night;
vi. Friday evening;
vii. whenever the wife wants to have sex.
Thursday and Friday are weekends in the Islamic calendar!
(A) Are there times when it is obligatory (wajib) to have sexual intercourse ?
Yes! It is wajib on man to have sex with his wife at least once in every four months; this is considered as one of the conjugal rights of the wife. This obligation stays in force unless there is a valid excuse or the wife waives her right.
6. SEXUAL TECHNIQUES
Before I start writing anything about sexual techniques, it is necessary to say that no rules and laws exist either in foreplay or in intercourse. The only laws and rules are the ones reached by the lovers by mutual and often unspoken understanding. Whatever is pleasing and satisfying to both the husband and the wife is right and proper; and whatever is mutually displeasing is wrong. The only I imitation to this general rule would be any shari’ah rule which goes against the wishes of the husband or the wife.
Man often forgets that woman also has been created with the same desires as himself. Asbagh bin Nubatah quotes Imam ‘Ali that, “Almighty God created sexual desires in ten parts; then He gave nine parts to women and one to men.” But then Allah also gave them “equal parts of shyness.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 40) Many times this shyness makes the man ignore the desires of his wife.
Based on this reality, Islam emphasizes on foreplay. Imam ‘Ali says, “When you intend to have sex with your wife, do not rush because the woman (also) has needs (which should be fulfilled).” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 40) Sex without foreplay has been equated to cruelty. The Prophet said, “Three people are cruel: . ..a person who has sex with his wife before foreplay.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 40) Another hadith equates sex without foreplay to animal behavior: “When anyone of you has sex with his wife, then he should not go to them like birds; instead he should be slow and delaying.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 82) The Prophet said, “No one among you should have sex with his wife like animals; rather there should be a messenger between them.” When asked about the messenger, he said, “It means kissing and talking.” (Tahzibu’l-Ihya, vol. 3, p. 110) Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq has been quoted as follows, “…there should be mutual foreplay between them because it is better for sex.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 82) The Prophet said, “…every play of a believer is void except in three cases: horse-riding, archery and mutual foreplay with his wife these are haqq.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 83)
As for the role of a woman in sexual foreplay, the Imams have praised a wife who discards shyness when she is with her husband. A hadith was quoted earlier from Imam ‘Ali which said that women have been given nine-tenths of the sexual desire but Allah has also given them nine-tenths of shyness. (See p. 32) I had promised in Chapter Two to explain the rationale behind thishadith. There might seem to be a contradiction in this act of God, but it is not so. Both the sexual desire and the shyness have been placed for very specific purpose. The sexual desire is to be unleashed, yes unleashed, when a woman is with her husband, but it must be shielded with shyness when she is with other people. This has been very eloquently explained by Imam Muhammad al-Baqir when he said, “The best woman among you is the one who discards the armor of shyness when she undresses for her husband, and puts on the armor of shyness when she dresses up again.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 14-15) After all, modesty and chastity in public is the hallmark of a Muslim lady.
These sayings clearly show that the husband and the wife should feel completely free when they are engaged in mutual stimulation which is known as foreplay. There is nothing wrong, according to Islam, for a woman to be active and responsive during sex. This is diametrically opposed to the sexual morality of the Christian Western world before the sexual revolution. Russell says, “Western women of a generation or two ago can recall being warned by their mothers that sexual intercourse was an unpleasant duty which they owed to their husbands, and that they were ‘to lie still and think of England’. (As quoted in Sex and Destiny, p. 94) What else but a sexual revolt could such a morality breed?
As for the Islamic shari’ah, all the mujtahids are unanimous in saying that the act of sexual foreplay in itself is mustahab(recommended). Likewise, it is recommended not to rush into sexual intercourse. (Al-‘Urwah, p. 625) The operative word is mutual pleasure and satisfaction.
(B) Techniques of Foreplay:
As far as the methods of mutual stimulation in foreplay are concerned, the shari’ah allows the husband and the wife to see, kiss, touch, smell and stimulate any part of each other’s body. Therefore, oral sex, as it is known in this part of the world is allowed. Imam Musa al-Kazim was once asked, “Can a person kiss his wife’s vagina?” The Imam said, “No problem.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 77; for similar views of present mujtahids see al-‘Urwah, p. 625) The only restriction is that no foreign object should be used. And this restriction is quite understandable: nothing can really substitute the things Allah has created in our bodies!
The restriction I am placing on the use of foreign objects is based on the following hadith. ‘Ubaydullah bin Zurarah says that he had an old neighbor who owned a young slave-girl. Because of his old age, he could not fully satisfy the young slave-girl during sexual intercourse. She would therefore ask him to place his fingers in her vagina as she liked it. The old man complied with her wishes even though he did not like this idea. So he requested ‘Ubaydullah to ask Imam ‘ Ali ar-Riza (a. s.) about it. When ‘Ubaydullah asked the Imam about it, the Imam said, “There is no problem as long as he uses any part of his own body upon her, but he should not use any thing other than his body on her.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 77)
In an earlier discussion, we said that masturbation (i.e., self-stimulation of one’s own sexual organ till emission of semen or orgasm) is not allowed. However, in the case of married persons, there is no problem if the wife stimulates her husband’s penis till the emission of semen or the husband stimulates his wife’s vagina till orgasm. (This issue has also been clearly mentioned by the late Ayatullah al-Khu’i in answer to some questions sent by an ‘alim from London) This is allowed because it does not come under “self-stimulation;” it is stimulation by a lawful partner. The Qur’an clearly says that, “The believers are.. . those who protect their sexual organs except from their spouses.” (23: 5-6) And stimulation of sexual organs by a lawful partner surely comes under the definition of protecting one’s organ s “except from their spouses.”
(C) Sexual Intercourse:
Is there any particular position for sexual intercourse which is forbidden in Islam? No! As far as the basic coital positions are concerned, there are no restrictions. I am using the term ‘basic coital positions’ for the positions known as the man above, face to face, woman above face to face; side position, face to face; rear-entry position in which the husband penetrates the vagina from the rear. Actually, the shari’ah has left it on the husband and the wife to explore and experiment as they wish.
In the early Islamic period, an event took place which clarified this issue for all. The people of Medina, influenced by the Jews, used man-above face to face position during sexual intercourse; whereas the Meccans liked to experiment various positions. After the migration of Muslims to Medina, a Meccan married a Medinan woman and wanted to have sex with her in his own way. The woman refused and said that he can have sex with her only in one position. The case was reported to the Prophet; so Allah revealed the verse saying “Your women are a tilth for you, so go in to your tilth as you like.” (2:223) That is, in any position. (At-Tabataba’i, al-Mizan, vol. 3 (English translation) p. 319)
However, it is makruh to adopt a standing position, or to face the qiblah or keep it on the backside during the intercourse. It is advisable to refrain from the acrobatic positions given by some sexologists of the East and the West which might even cause physical harm. Remember, the basic rule is mutual pleasure and flexibility. If one partner does not like a particular position, then the other should yield to his or her feelings.
(D) Anal Intercourse:
The opinions of our mujtahids vary on the permissibility of anal intercourse. Before mentioning the preferred and correct view, I would like to explain why the mujtahids have differed in their opinions.
This variance in fatwas is because of the difference in the ahadithwe have on this issue. There is a hadith, for example, from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq quoting the Prophet that “The anus of women isharam for my community.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 104) Now thishadith categorically forbids anal intercourse. But, according to ‘Allamah al-Hilli and ash-Shahid ath-Thani, the chain of narrators of this hadith is not completely flawless. (See Hilli’s Tazkiratu’l-Fuqaha, vol. 2, p. 576-7; Shahid’s Masalik, vol. 2, p. 303) On the other hand for example, we have a hadith from ‘Abdullah bin Abi Ya’fur whose chain of narrators is authentic in which Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was questioned about a man who had had intercourse in the anus of his wife. The Imam said, “There is no problem in it if she agrees.” (Wasa’il ‘sh-Shi’ah, vol. 14, p. 103)
When faced which such conflicting ahadith, most mujtahids have tried to bring them together by taking the apparently more authentic hadith (which approves anal intercourse) as a qualifier for the ahadith which totally forbid such sex. And in conclusion, they say that the prohibition in such ahadith is not on the level ofharam, instead it is on the level of makruh. (See ash-Shahid ath-Thani, Sharh Lum’ah, vol. 2, p. 68 and Masalik, vol. 1, p. 438-9)
This conclusion of theirs is supported by a third category ofahadith on this subject in which the Imams have clearly and strongly discouraged their followers from anal intercourse. An example can be found in the question asked by Safwan al-Jammal to Imam ‘Ali ar-Riza (a.s.) in which the latter clearly expressed his personal dislike for such act. (Wasa’ilu ‘sh-Shi’ah, vol. 14, p. 102-103)
Therefore the majority of the Shi’ah mujtahids have derived two conclusions: (l) that anal intercourse is not haram but strongly disliked (karahatan shadidah) provided the wife agrees to it. (2) and if she does not agree to it, then all mujtahids say that it is precautionarily wajib to refrain from it. (See the fatawa of all contemporary mujtahids in their annotations to al-‘Urwatu’l-Wuthqa, p. 628)
With all due respect to the great mujtahids who hold the above opinion, I would like to present the preferred opinion. It is true that we have conflicting ahadith from our Imams on anal intercourse, but the ahadith which approve anal intercourse are not suitable for deriving an opinion. Why? Because, in the case of conflicting ahadith, the mujtahid has to contrast them with the Sunni view prevalent at the time when the ahadith were issued by the Imams. And, then, those which agree with the Sunni view are to be considered as statements issued under taqiyyah and, therefore, not suitable for use in ijtihad. (For this methodology, the specialist reader may refer to Shaykh Murtaza al-Ansari,Rasa’il, p. 464-468) Using this method of solving the conflictingahadith gives strength to the prohibitive ahadith and brings us to the preferred view that anal intercourse is not allowed. (For further details on this view, the specialist reader may refer to the late Ayatullah Syed Rahat Husayn al-Golalpuri, al-Intisar fi hurmati’l-adbar, Lucknow, al-Wa’iz Safdar Press, 1354 AH. To know the views of some prominent Sunnis of the Early Islamic period who approved anal intercourse, the English readers can refer to at-Tabataba’i, al-Mizan vol. 3 (English translation) pp. 320-321) Probably, it was such a consideration which caused the late Ayatullah al-Khu’i to change his view on this issue. During the last decade of his life, Ayatullah al-Khu’i departed from the majority view and gave the ruling that it was precautionarily wajib to abstain from anal intercourse no matter whether the wife agrees to it or not. (See al-Khu’i, Minhaju ‘s-Salihiyn, vol. 1 (Beirut: 22nd edition) p. 64)
I would strongly advise against anal intercourse, and would like to end this section with the saying of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq and Imam ‘Ali ar-Riza about anal intercourse: “Woman is a means of your pleasure, therefore do not harm her.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 101-102)
(E) Decency & Privacy
There was a time when people need not be reminded of some of the basic moral and ethical values, but now we are living in an era where moral values are changing like worn-out car tires!
One such issue is decency of dress at home and privacy at the time of sexual intercourse or intimate contact between husband and wife. There are some people in the West (of course, a minority) who think that it is okay, nay healthy, to stay naked in presence of their children! On a collective basis, they also organize nude camps. Why? So that the children will not think negatively about their own sexuality. Such parents also feel that there is nothing wrong in sexual intercourse in the presence of their children. This behavior is an example of the extreme reaction to the rigid Christian morality. To protect their children from associating sex with evil, some of these parents go to the extent of completely opening up to their children!
Such behavior is not only condemned by those who still abide by religious moral systems, it is equally condemned by those who are familiar with child psychology. A sexual manual read by millions of Westerners says, “Never involve children in adult sexual activities: militant and exhibitionist liberals who try to acclimatize children to the naturalness of sex by letting them in any level of their own sex lives probably do at least as much harm as was ever done by the prohibitive sex-is-dirty generation.”
We have quite a few ahadith in which the Prophet and the Imams have emphasized that when you engage in sexual intercourse, make sure that no child (or, for that matter, any other person) sees you or hears you. Abu Basir quotes Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq as follows, “Be careful not to have sex with your wife while a child can see you. The Prophet used to dislike this (attitude) very strongly.” (Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 94-95) If a child sees and hears the parents engaged in sexual intercourse, he might go through a shocking psychological experience. It might also create a problem in his own adult life. The manual quoted earlier says, “Most young children are biologically programmed to interpret the sight or sound of adult coition as evidence of a violent assault (they are aware of it earlier than you would expect, so don’t keep babies in the bedroom), and the awareness of mother-father sexual relations is on all counts far too explosive a matter to be monkeyed with in the interest of Reichian experiments.”
Islam has laid down clear guide-lines about the privacy of adults. Referring to the children who have not yet reached the age of puberty (bulugh), the Qur’an says:
O you who believe! … Those of you who have not yet reached puberty should ask you for permission (before entering your bedroom during) three times: before the dawn prayer, when you put off your garments at midday (for siesta), and after the night prayer these are three times of privacy for you. Besides (these three times), there is no blame on you or them if you go to one another (without announcing yourselves). Thus God makes clear to you the signs, and God is All-Knowing, Wise. (24:58)
Then referring to the children who have reached the age of puberty, the Qur’an says:
When your children reach puberty, they should ask your permission (at all times before entering your bedrooms) just as those who were before them had asked permission. Thus God makes clear to you the signs, and God is All-Knowing, Wise. (24:59)
These two verses give us the following rules about privacy within and without the family circles:
1. There are three times in a day night, early morning and afternoon which are considered as times of privacy.
2. The minor children should be taught that during times of privacy they are not allowed to enter the bedroom of their parents or adults without first asking their permission. Obviously, by minor we do not mean infants; we mean the children who can understand what is right and what is wrong. I would put that at age five and above. The parents will have to ingrain this teaching to their minor children gradually.
3. At other times, the children are free to come and go into the bedroom of their parents without asking for their permission. In retrospect, this means that the parents should be decently dressed at those other times.
4. As for the mature children and adults, the Qur’an is clear that they may enter the bedroom of their parents or other adults at all times only after asking their permission.