I wanted to discuss something of a sensitive topic in our Ummah – Marital Intimacy. I will be following this up with further pieces on marriage and intimacy, especially different cultural interpretations on these, but I wanted to start with the matter of how to prepare those who are about to be married for what is ahead of them. InshAllah you will enjoy this and please feel free to comment below or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
The world today is so full of contrasts, that we often find ourselves thrown from one extreme to the other. In particular, this applies to the discussion of sex in the Ummah. Prior to my conversion, I would have thought nothing of discussing intimacy with my friends (often in a way which I now consider to be inappropriate), but since my conversion I have found very few women willing to discuss marital intimacy or affection, let alone sexual advice on a practical level.
In Islam, we are required to keep the personal details of our sex life between husband and wife private so this can often lead to a “lack of preparation” between couples, shame about desire, fear of discussing wants and needs, embarrassment when things “don’t go as planned” and most commonly a serious lack of satisfaction which is most keenly felt from the women’s side. As women, sex = emotions, so if we don’t have a satisfying experience, we will commonly feel that all is not well in our relationship. Many men who haven’t got a good understanding of emotions rarely realize how strongly women need and rely on this connection in their marriage; and lets be honest, how many young and inexperienced men actually have any idea how the female mind works?
This said, what responsibility do we have an adults, educators, leaders and parents have to educate our children on the proper way to handle sex within a marriage? Most people from any walk of life have easy access to the internet, which leads to stimulants which are not halal for us, which leads to unrealistic expectations in marriage and haram behaviors prior to marriage, and unfortunately sometimes after. What I have found in the religious community is a reluctance to discuss any sexual matters with their about to be married children, due to a fear that it may “encourage” them in the wrong way or sometimes there is just a sense of embarrassment from the parents side, so it is considered better to let them work it out for themselves. Personally, I disagree with this viewpoint. I feel that with all personal matters, we should do our best to prepare young people as we would with any other aspect of their life – college, career, health, friends, religion – so when it comes to sex, intimacy and married life, why do we more often than not, stay silent?
Finally, I come from a background where I did sex education in school from age 10, had the birds and the bees talk with my Mum around age 12, had friends and peers in relationships from age 14, and lived on my own from age 17! This is not an article to rant about how I think the way I was raised is wrong, although I do personally feel that I knew too much too young, but there is some value to being honest and open about these matters, before it is too late and the damage is already done. Most Muslim couples (especially the men) would find it incredibly hard to discuss this even with a doctor, counselor, Imam or parents if they were experiencing problems; so lets aim to give anyone approaching marriage a solid understanding of the Islamic requirements on this matter, and most importantly an emotional preparation for what they are about to face.
I have attached the below links that I really enjoyed reading/watching on this matter – InshAllah others will find them beneficial also:
*Q+A section from the brilliant “Love – InshAllah” here
*Advice on the “first night” from the wonderful Papatia here
*MashAllah I had the chance to meet the amazingly intelligent Zakir Naik before, and here he is discussing love and sex in Islam here
*Abdul Nasir Jangda on love and marriage here