Since publishing Love InshAllah, we’ve received countless e-mails from women and men with questions about love, relationships, and sex. For many of us, there isn’t a safe space to voice our most intimate concerns without fear of shame, humiliation, or judgment.
Recognizing that we all have questions – but not all of us have someone to turn to for answers – we are launching a bimonthly Love InshAllah advice column to answer your burning questions about love and sex and everything in between. We’ve recruited two friends – a man and a woman – whose opinions we value and who have important perspectives to share. Neither are health professionals nor Islamic scholars. Both are compassionate, empathetic, and wise souls who will answer your questions with grace and honesty.
Send in your questions to advice [AT] loveinshallah dot com. All names and identifying information will be held in the strictest of confidence. Check back with us tomorrow for our very first column and meet our columnists below!
I was the beneficiary of an excellent sex education. I was taught early that my body was inherently good and beautiful and wonderful. I was taught that violations of my body were the fault of the violator and the violator alone. I knew that sex was something that should be consensual and pleasurable. I learned that sex was a private expression of communion– not shameful in any way.
My first experiences were consensual, gentle, caring and halal, my satisfaction always a priority. I existed in a sexual fairy tale. But being a married woman meant women felt comfortable discussing their own sexual experiences in my presence. I met women who’d grown up so sheltered, that they didn’t quite know what the sex act entailed, only to be assaulted and hurt on their wedding nights by husbands who believed it was their divinely granted right to use their wife’s body in any way they chose. I heard of experiences dripping in fear, shame and all manner of sexual dysfunction related to ignorance perpetuated in the name of chastity, purity and family honor.
I’m a fully grown adult woman now with children of my own to educate. I want them and everyone else to understand sex to be a divine gift: sometimes a means of bonding, sometimes procreation, and always joy. I know that sex can also be a soul-ripping act of violence. The only way to disperse the darkness of the latter and spread the warm joy of the former is through honest, quality sex education. I’m honored to be part of this effort to provide help to those who need it.
With du’as for lots of love and consensual orgasms.
Shy Desi Boy
I once knew a mawlana who could not get himself to say the word semen. When you get excited, he taught his all male madrasa students, you discharge a liquid and then you have to take a shower to perform ghusl before you can pray again.
The students were curious. Describe this substance.
“It is like chewing gum,” he told them.
Either the mawlana had never tried chewing gum or he had never tasted his own semen. I am inclined to believe the former.
Regardless, he exhibits the paralysis/awkwardness/hilarity of talking about sex among Muslims. If we cannot even say the word semen or clitoris without feeling embarrassed or feeling that we need to make two rakats salah in forgiveness, how can we move towards a sex positive discussion?
Hence this column. I have seen so many married and non-married couples struggle with sex. Some of my friends went to a religious scholar for guidance but they often came back feeling even more distraught. When your husband just does not want to have sex anymore and you catch him watching porn, how should a woman feel any better to know that their mawlana is making dua for them?
One friend of mine started subscribing to Maxim and Cosmopolitan magazine before he got married so that he could learn sex positions. When he got married and he tried the scissors (yes, there is a sex position called that), his wife told him he watches too much TV.
Another Muslim friend Googled endlessly to find out why he just can’t get an erection when he is with a woman but can when he is alone. I suggested he see a therapist but he told me “it wasn’t for him.”
One female I spoke to said that when her husband has sex with her, it is like she is not there. “I could literally just wave my hand in front of his face and he would not notice. So I just tune out. And he never asks or cares if I cum.”
And there was one guy, let’s call him Ahmed, who had great sex in undergrad with a non-Muslim girl. Now he is married and the sex is awful. What keeps his marriage alive, he said, is that his wife makes for a good mother and role model for his kid. When Ahmad travels, sometimes he visits prostitutes (“actually massage parlors”) to fulfills his sexual desires. “The things I enjoy doing during sex,” Ahmad told me. “I can’t imagine my wife enjoying them.” When I asked Ahmad if talked to his wife about these desires, he was silent. “Maybe Allah’s test for me that sex with my wife will never be good.”
Part of our problem is that when we discuss sex we list what is haram (permitted) and halal (forbidden). But we are not walking checklists. The beauty of life is that we often do irrational things, things which we know may hurt us; things we know quite well go against everything we are taught. You may not understand why you have a desire for anal sex, for example. It may go against everything you believe in. You might even find the idea of it repulsive. And yet you desire it. But you will not understand yourself and your sexual desires if you pretend it is not there.
I always think of our thoughts/sexual desires has being a wardrobe full of clothes. Each of those originates somewhere and we owe it to ourselves to pick up each item and examine why it is there.
So a disclaimer before we move to the first question: this column is not a vending machine that will dispense Shariah compliant answers. Nor is this the place to get advice from a health professional. You should, I hope, have a health professional that knows of your sexual past/present. The purpose of this column is to engage in uncomfortable discussions, to learn about ourselves, and yes, to encourage us all to have better, more fulfilling relationships and sex.
As for me, well, I have learned about sex and relationships because I keep screwing up. I am writing this because I struggle and I stumble. And I am the most awkward person when it comes to talking about sex. But I am trying to be better—better at sex and better at talking about sex.
In this column, I want to share the things that make embarrass me most. And I hope you will also share the things that frighten you most. If Love Inshallah taught us one thing, it is that we are all better Muslims because of these discussions.
Have a question for our columnists? Leave an anonymous query, here!