In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful
Sex is a primal urge, a natural source of pleasure, a way of physically connecting and expressing love and a deep spiritual experience. If sex is perceived as evil, nakedness and perversion then it is not possible to see it as an experience of bliss, source of pleasure and joy.
Islamic teachings indicate a clear understanding of the nature of man. Holy Quran mentions about man being weak. In many of its beautiful verses, Holy Quran emphasizes the importance of strong bonding between a husband and wife. Knowing the weakness of man, Islamic teachings strongly encourage sincere and frequent zikr (remembrance of Allah) which helps to stream line and guide the consciousness , intention and behavior in the right path.
Looking at a member of the opposite sex (stimulus) from a sexual perspective is equally discouraged (failing which the basal instincts of man are activated) possibly leading to one or more problems and/or ongoing dissatisfaction.
Continues activation of above stimulus with no transformation of such wishes or fantasies into realistic action may lead to continued subtle personal dissatisfaction and significant increase in sexual frustration. Such a man can never fulfill all his instant sexual wishes and at times may even get into legal problems and possibly end up in jail.
Because sex is a taboo subject for many Muslims, any problems associated with it is literally pushed under the rug and not addressed. This generally results in the problem remaining untreated and silent-ongoing suffering by the individual with negative consequences.
In terms of problematic sexual behaviors, many Muslims are quick to label the individual with such problems as being "bad" "evil" & influenced by Shaitan and/or having received the curse of Allah.
As Editors of this issue, we strongly encourage the Ummah to see such problems from a CLINICAL perspective which then opens up a myriad of possibilities for being successfully treated. Below is an example under a case study.
In terms of secular model of treatment, Psychotherapist Marek Ruzdziewicz says conventional sex therapy does not address or really consider spiritual aspects of sex. For practicing Muslims who base their life on the gems of Holy Quran and Hadith, the field or Islamic oriented sex therapy is still in the embryonic stage.
At the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the Sahaabah were not too shy to ask about all affairs, including sexual matters, so as to know the teachings of Islam in these matters.
As Aisha (RA), the wife of the Prophet testified:
"Blessed are the women of the Ansar. Shyness did not stand in their way of seeking knowledge about their religion."
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
"There is no shyness in matters of religion."
We believe that the above applies to sex too, because even a Muslim's sexual behavior be it between husband and wife (positive act) or wrong sexual acts such as Zina (adultery) are connected to Islam in terms of reward or punishment.
Both the Holy Quran and Prophet Mohamed (SAW) had strongly emphasized on seeking knowledge. Needless to say that seeking knowledge was not just confined to KNOWLEDGE OF ISLAM but to all the other fields too.
As referred to in the earlier paragraph, below is an example to highlight the consequences of ignoring the CLINICAL aspects of problematic unintended sexual behavior.
A young non-practicing Muslim male who was a womanizer, alcoholic & drug addict finally began significantly changing his life in a dramatic new way after he was recommended by a friend to go out of town with tabligh jamaat. To many of those who knew him real well, his positive change was almost a miracle, thanks to the mercy and blessings of Allah he stopped above vices and seemed to move towards becoming a practicing Muslim in day to day life.
However on one particular trip that he made with his tabligh jamaat members, while asleep within the Mosque close to his tabligh jamaat brothers, he made inappropriate sexual moves towards a brother who was sleeping next to him. This created problems between the brother and others within the tabligh group and the Ameer (leader) expelled him from the group accusing him of being under the influence of Shaitan.
The brother felt humiliated, disappointed and stressed leading to his complete disassociation from his local Tabligh jamaat. Having historically learnt to cope with stress by resorting to alcohol and drugs, he again relapsed and went back to his old vices.
Did the Ameer (Leader) make the right decision to expel the brother from the tabligh jamaat ? Was the brother under the influence of Shaitan OR was the Ameer lacking the clinical knowledge to understand the clinical problem that the brother had ? If it was a clinical issue, was it fair for the brother to have received such a punitive response of expulsion ? Last but not the least, let's analyze if the brother suffered from SEXSOMNIA (making sexual advances towards another person while asleep).
Sexsomnia, also called sex sleep, was first identified in 1996 and is a classified sleep disorder characterized as a non-rapid-eye-movement (N-REM) parasomnia. (A parasomnia is a disorder characterized by partial arousal during sleep or during transitions between wake and sleep).
People who experience sexsomnia engage in sex while sleeping, though they have no memory of their actions once they wake up. The intensity of this sleep sex varies, with some sexsomnia victims merely moaning and groping, and others engaging in sexual activity either with themselves or with another person in the bed. On the extreme end of the scale are those who become violent and dangerous while performing sexual acts. Specific causes of the disorder are unknown, but some scientists believe that there is a genetic component involved with sexsomnia. Research also suggests that sleep sex is caused by a genuine sleep disorder combined with other emotional problems.
It is important to seek medical help for this condition, as a sufferer may experience many negative emotions, including:
These negative emotions often lead to tremendous stress. Clearly, relationships are put to the test when couples have to deal with this awkward and sometimes dangerous problem. Also, many sexsomnia sufferers are concerned about legal issues, as sexual advances occurring during sleep can be unwanted and violent.
"Addressing triggering factors - stress or sleep deprivation - can help, while Michael Mangan, a psychologist at the University of New Hampshire in the US has set up a website to help sufferers. Meanwhile, Trajanovic is devising a procedure for diagnosing sexsomnia in legal cases where sufferers have been accused of sexual assault".
Additionally, doctors may prescribe the drug clonazepam, which has been effective for some individuals suffering from this parasomnia. Sexsomnia is a chronic condition, and, therefore, treatment is essential. Seeking help can increase awareness and understanding and can help both individuals and couples deal with this disorder in a constructive and understanding way. (www.sleepdeprivation.com)
As we could see from the above paradoxical case study, a Muslim brother who reformed himself from the real shaitan elements of the society had ultimately due to lack of clinical knowledge of the Ameer (leader) ended up being branded to be under the very influence of the shaitan.
WE CALL FOR GREATER CO-ORDINATION BETWEEN THE IMAMS, ISLAMIC SCHOLARS AND MULTI-DISCIPLINARY PROFESSIONALS. OUR WORLD IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY COMPLEX AND RELYING HUNDRED PERCENT ONLY ON HISTORICAL RESOURCES MAY NOT BE AS EFFECTIVE AS INCORPORATING CURRENT KNOWLEDGE FROM VARIOUS DISCIPLINES ALONG WITH HISTORICAL RESOURCES.
BEHAVIORAL AND SEXUAL MEDICINE FROM ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE
The most taboo elements of society are also the most misunderstood and sex is no exception.
According to Der Spigel’s article on “Sex and Islam” a part of it was how the Web is changing the Islamic world that had erected strict taboos around sex.
The Internet is a refuge for hidden desires, even though it offers only virtual relief. Google Trends, a new service offered by the search engine, provides a way to demonstrate how difficult it is to banish forbidden yearnings from Muslims. By entering the term "sex" into Google Trends, one obtains a ranked list of cities, countries and languages in which the term was entered most frequently.
According to Google Trends, the Pakistanis search for "sex" most often, followed by the Egyptians. Iran and Morocco are in fourth and fifth, Indonesia is in seventh and Saudi Arabia in eighth place. The top city for "sex" searches is Cairo . When the terms "boy sex" or "man boy sex" are entered (many Internet filters catch the word "gay"), Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the first four countries listed.
One has to be very careful when discussing above issue and one needs to have a balanced approach. On one hand we are in NO way suggesting anyone to deal with above topic to the point of being indicative of advocating sexual permissiveness.
On the other hand, we DO NOT approve the practice of completely covering the above complex topic and its related problems literally under the rug by saying “it is a personal matter and should not be discussed any further”.
Lack of active discussion on above topic leads to multiple misunderstandings and lack of facts makes it easier for certain Muslims to twist the Islamic gems out of context and essentially not only violate Islamic principles but also cause undue harm to one’s spouse.
Most of our discussion with regard to addressing the identification and treatment of sexual problems is in terms of a Muslim couple.
Sheik Muhammed Sali Al-Munajjid in his book “ MUHARRAMAAT PROHIBITIONS TAKEN TOO LIGHTLY” stated:
“Some husbands even deceive their wives who may be too shy to ask a scholar about this matter, they tell them that this (anal sex) is halaal, and they may even misquote the following aayah from the Holy Quran to support their claim: “YOUR WIVES ARE A TITLTH FOR YOU, SO GO YOUR TILTH WHEN OR HOW YOU WILL”. (Surah al-Baqarah 92:223).
But the facts are contrary to the above by below two hadiths.
“Whoever has intercourse with a menstruating women, with a woman in her rectum or goes to a fortune-teller has disbelieved in what was revealed to Mohamed.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi from Abu Hurayrah, 1/243; see also Saheeh al-Jaami, 5918).
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (SAW) stated:
“The one who has intercourse with a woman in her rectum is cursed”. (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 2/479, see also Saheeh al-Jaami, 5865).
The Prophet Mohamed (SAW) stated that it is permitted to have intercourse with one’s wife in whatever way one wishes whether approaching from the front or the back, so long as intercourse is in the place from which a child is born. ….It is also well known that anal intercourse is haraam even if both parties consent to it:
In terms of treatment, if the difficulties arising from sexually related issues continues to be crushed under the rug and not addressed, then problems due to misunderstandings and misinterpretations are likely to increase with no hope of successful treatment and resolution to it.
Let’s analyze two examples:
(1) MUSLIMA MISINTERPRETS A HADITH (THAT DID NOT APPLY IN HER CONTEXT) AND VOLUNTARILY GIVES IN TO A NON-AGGRESSIVE HUSBAND:
A Muslim female had an Ob/Gyn surgery and the Dr had recommended a particular time frame for healing and to abstain from sexual relations until then. However when the time frame was almost coming close to an end, the client’s husband could not muster any more “sabr” or patience and went ahead and had sexual relations with her (voluntary consent), resulting in increased pain to her private part.
Not able to withstand the pain, she went to her Dr on an unscheduled appt but had to wait for too long in the lobby. Being very shy and much against her own wishes, she gathered enough strength to go and explain to the receptionist in a low tone about the urgency to see her Dr since her husband had relations with her last night.
The receptionist told her to remain seated in the lobby and left the reception area to talk to the patient's Doctor.
Not before long, the police arrested the client’s husband and charged him with sexual abuse.
The client was shocked (and was against her husband's arrest) & stated that she told the receptionist about her husband mainly to be seen earlier since her pain continued to increase, while she was impatiently waiting in the lobby area. The client had no idea that her above disclosure would lead to her husband’s arrest.
The wife stated that in Islam she should not reject a husband’s sexual request and voluntarily gave in to her husband's request to have sex because she felt that anyway she was nearing the timeframe of Dr’s recommended sexual abstinence period. She referred to the hadith: “If a man calls his wife to his bed, and she refuses, and he goes to sleep angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning”.
We would like to clarify that each hadith is applicable within a particular context. In above case of the client, the above hadith may not be applicable due to her medical condition (post status surgery healing). From above, we see how an issue of lack of patience on the husband, misinterpretation on the part of the wife of a hadith in terms of the context had led to major legal problems for her husband and devastation to the whole family.
Muslims are not immune from problems faced in the general community. We already know for a fact that Muslims definitely have medical and psychological problems. Besides medical and psychological problems, some of them have sexual problems too. While in general, there are resources in the form of hospitals, clinics and private providers offering treatment for both medical and psychological problems, there are extremely few if any resources to offer treatment for psycho-sexual problems. In reality, there are millions of Muslims who silently continue to suffer and are reluctant to seek treatment for a wide variety of reasons. To better understand the dynamics of sexual disorders, we analyzed examples pertaining to sexual sadism and masochism).
(Details under Clinical Perspective Below: If yes, would successful treatment have significantly reduced his partner's suffering).
Alexis Asher in her book “PLEASE DON’T LET HIM HURT ME ANYMORE” gave an example of a sexually abused female:
“I was smothered during sex. I sustained internal injuries. My breasts and genitals were often bruised. I sometimes ended up torn and bleeding. I was forced to model “sexy” clothes or re-enact scenes from the pornographic movies he rented and I was humiliated or injured if I refused or didn’t seem enthusiastic enough. …Once, my husband ruptured a disc in my lower back by pushing me up against a wall and twisting my body into an unnatural position during sex. Despite doctor’s orders, he insisted on having sex, while I recovered from injury. My moans of pain only seemed to give him pleasure. Because of the constant aggravation to my back, it took much longer to heal than it should have. I learned to “go blank” during an assault. I fantasized about dying. After one particularly brutal and degrading experience, I slipped out of bed, went into the bathroom and found myself quietly and desperately searching for a razor blade. I felt backed into a corner. I suffered silently, guarding a secret shame. I was too humiliated to reach out for help".
The recurrent urge or behavior involving acts in which the pain or humiliation of a person is sexually exciting.
DSM-IV-TR requires the following criteria be met for a Sadist:
2. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant stress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of function.
Treatment typically involves psychotherapy aimed at uncovering and working through the underlying cause of the behavior.
Prognosis is good although often there are other issues which may surface once the behaviors are extinguished. If this is the case, these issues must be worked through as well. (allpsych.com)
(Details under Clinical Perspective Below) If yes, would successful treament helped resolve her husband's dilemma ?
A Muslim male husband requested help with his dilemma. He stated that he was trying to follow Islam to the best of his ability but does not know, how to deal with his wife. He quoted few verses from Holy Quran and sayings from Hadith to emphasize that he should be kind and gentle to his wife. But his dilemma was that only during sex she wanted him to be rough and hard to her and her sexual experience and subsequent orgasm was not complete until he causes her enough pain. He wanted help as to how to deal with his wife who contradicts what Islam teaches him in terms of husband-wife relations.
The recurrent urge or behavior of wanting to be humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer for sexual pleasure.
There are different theories related to sexual masochism, many stemming from the psychoanalytic camp. They suggest that childhood trauma (e.g., sexual abuse) or significant childhood experiences can manifest itself in exhibitionistic behavior.
Sexually masochistic behaviors are typically evident by early adulthood, and often start with masochistic or sadistic play in childhood. The disorder is characterized by either intense sexually arousing fantasies, urges, or behaviors in which the individual is humiliated, beaten, bound, or made to suffer in some way.
Treatment typically involves psychotherapy aimed at uncovering and working through the underlying cause of the behavior.
Prognosis is good although often there are other issues which may surface once the behaviors are extinguished. If this is the case, these issues must be worked through as well.
NEGATIVE IMPACT OF STRESS ON A COUPLE'S SEXUAL HEALTH
THEIR SUBSEQUENT LACK OF DESIRE IN THE BEDROOM IS PUTTING THEIR RELATIONSHIPS IN DANGER”.
Denise Knowles, a relationship counselor stated: “This research really emphasizes the extent to which sexual problems, including stress, take on a bigger significance within the relationship”. Denise continues- “I have worked with many couples who are so embarrassed about intimate health complaints that it has caused a huge breakdown in communication and put serious pressure on the relationship.
TALKING TO A PARTNER OR A PROFESSIONAL CANDIDLY ABOUT THE ISSUE IS NOT EASY, BUT IT MAY SAVE A GREATER DEAL OF EMOTIONAL STRAIN”, Denise added.
"SEX CAN BE A GREAT STRESS RELIEVER, WITH THE PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL RELEASE AND RELEASE OF ENDORPHINS. HOWEVER AT TIMES, STRESS CAN IMPAIR ONE’S SEX DRIVE . WHEN EXCESSIVE STRESS LEADS TO LOW SEX DRIVE , SEX SOMETIMES GOES BY THE WAYSIDE".
In the light of the above, how could a Muslim couple learn new skills to share with each other about a great physical experience that they had in their marriage ? What kind of signal could the partner give out to let the other know that he or she is “in the mood” ? What role could the Muslim Psychotherapists and Muslim Sexologists play in educating the Muslim couple on the topic of Sex and Stress Management and to recharge and tune up their marital relationships within the limitations of Islam. What tools they could offer to the Muslim couple to get recharged and tuned up in order to “get in the mood” when one is too stressed for sex.
FROM INTENSIVE DEEP MEDITATION LEADING TO SPIRITUAL ORGASM TO AROMATHERAPY AND OTHER LIFESTYLE CHANGES, ONE CAN GET PAST EXCESSIVE STRESS SO THAT ONE CAN ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF SEX.
Many well meaning Muslim Professionals of the Healing Arts by inadvertently taking on the role of “MORAL POLICEMAN” and equating “sex with bad” have lost the ability to find solutions to sexual problems faced by the vulnerable Muslims.
According to Saade Abadaalh, “Allah has created a cure for every illness. It’s upto the people to discover the cure”.
This is applicable not only for medical problems but also for sexual problems that may arise in a marital relationship. The importance of having an open mind and willingness to problem solve such taboo issues cannot be overstated.
In the website www.allahuakbar.net, it is told:
“Islam is freedom, it upholds free will and encourages rational thought; it recognizes only that virtue or sin which an individual earns is through free action and choice. Within its parameters is a code of behavior, a complete social pattern for man and for woman, that looks out to the whole of life through the harmony of a balanced state.
How can the Ummah translate the above “balanced state” in this delicate and taboo issue.
In a study by Karen Matthews Ph.D and Linda Gallo Ph.d, they found that “Marriage appears to be beneficial to women's health, but only when marital satisfaction is high, New Research Shows”.
From an Islamic perspective, how best can a Muslim couple use the gems from Islam to work towards not only achieving but also consistently maintaining a high level of marital satisfaction ?
“Being involved in a healthy loving relationship is good for the heart”.
Most of the theories seem to be related to the fact that people who are married or who are in close, healthy relationships tend to be less likely to smoke, are more physically active and more likely to have a well-developed social structure. Along with that, they are more likely to have lower levels of stress and anxiety in their day-to-day lives. (Newsmax.com).
“One of the most misunderstood areas of religion particularly within Islamic teachings, is relations between men and women. ……"The mutual WORK that is required of each individual in Islam – the jihad al-akbar- in which we all must engage through our life course, is the very foundation of the ideal male-female relationship in Islam. Marriage, for example, in traditional spiritual teachings is often referred to as a mutually supportive path towards self- and God-realization, where the goal is not the other, but God Himself".
"The role of the relationship or partnership on this path is to support one another with tenderness, kindness, open communication, and strength towards achieving this goal. The ideal is that each partner focuses on giving, not receiving, in the spirit of service. This can only occur, however, if each partner understands that the relationship itself does not exist for the purpose of power, subordination, or solely for the fulfillment of sensual desires. It is a truly spiritual partnership, where inherent differences are acknowledged, respected and appreciated, thus meeting in cooperation to further the mutual goal of achieving true love. This difficult process, however, requires mutual commitment towards personal wholeness, which can only be achieved through dedicated to self and God-realization. When men and women as individuals are complete and whole, at peace with who they are , and filled with love of God, they have no need to seek another to complete themselves".
“Among the innumerable signs of the Creator is that He has created for your spouses from the same species that you may find tranquility and has facilitated love and compassion between you. Surely, in this there are signs for those who reflect”.
Prophet Mohamed (SAW) stated: “The honorable men treat women honorably; and only a mean person treats women with contempt”. Ibn Assakir “When the Prophet was alone with his wives (they say), he used to be MOST LOVING, AND MOST GENEROUS, LAUGHING AND SMILING A LOT”. Ibn Assakir.
“Prophet Mohamed (SAW) did not carry out any conversation without a smile. (Musnad of Ahmad).
Prophet Mohamed (SAW) would race with his wife Aisha-radi Allah – anha in the desert. When was the last time we did like that?
Prophet Mohamed (SAW) stated:
“The best of you are those who treat their families the best”.
Ask yourself whether you treated your family the best. Cross check your assumptions with feedback you obtain from the family to confirm the accuracy of your assumptions.
Imam Mohamed Baianonie in one of his Friday Speeches on the Topic of “Building the Muslim Family” stated: