More sex please, we’re Muslim

Recently, I had one of the most uncomfortable car journeys of my life. It was not a problem with the road or my suspension, but what was on the radio. I was driving my mother-in-law to the shops and we had BBC Radio 4 on in the background as we chatted politely about all the safe topics that mother-in-laws and son-in-laws tend to talk about. After the news, the announcer told us, there was a programme about Muslim attitudes towards sex.

I knew that we had both heard the mention of Muslims and sex – when Muslims hear that there is going to be a discussion about Islam on the BBC they tend to take notice – but we pretended that we hadn’t, out of mutual embarrassment.

After the news, the show started and it quickly became clear that this was going to be more than just the usual, gentle Radio 4 discussion; the first words we heard were from a gay British Pakistani Muslim. The presenter went on to interview several more Muslims about their sex lives. She spoke to couples, Imams and even a Muslim marriage counsellor who had a special interest in sex, purely in her capacity as a professional psychotherapist, we were assured.

If I had been listening on my own I would have been fascinated by all of this and probably would have turned the volume up so I could concentrate; it is not often that you hear sex discussed so openly by Muslims.

As it was, I had a choice to make: turn off the radio and continue the journey in an awkward silence; or listen and try my best to look as though my interest was of an entirely academic nature, when in reality my thoughts were more along the lines of: “by listening to this programme we have both acknowledged that sex exists and is a perfectly natural act performed between a married couple; and I am your daughter’s husband”.

I was surprised, as I often am, by the reaction of my mother-in-law, who was born and raised in a Muslim country, but has lived around the world. She listened, clearly very interested, commenting at times about what we were hearing and occasionally reciting relevant lines of the Quran and providing a helpful English translation for me. In fact, she did not seem shocked or embarrassed at all.

It got me thinking that most British people think that Muslims are conservative in their attitudes towards sex, but that isn’t the whole story.

I think there are many reasons why Islam forbids sex outside of marriage. One is that unmarried sex, if it involves promiscuity, carries a high risk of spreading disease which, in the early days of Islam, would have been particularly problematic, being more than a millennium before the discovery of penicillin; having sex could have literally made your dick rot off [trust me on this, I’m a doctor]. Back then there was no effective way to prevent the transmission of STIs either; any condoms that did exist were not widely manufactured, owing to the fact that they were made from things like sheep intestines rather than rubber. The only effective prevention was abstinence, and since abstinence is not a natural human state, the next best thing would have been to limit the number of sexual partners that each person had.

Sex outside marriage, even today, leads to abortions, but at that time an abortion would have carried a very high chance of death for both mother and baby. There was no welfare state either, so a single mum would have been forced to rely on family or charity, and this would have lead to a reduced standard of living, at the very least.

Sex within a marriage is a completely different ball game, no pun intended.

I like to think that the main reason that Islam restricts sex to the marital bedroom is that, simply, it is better.

People talk about the walk of shame – being caught leaving the bedroom of a one night stand the next morning. There is no walk of shame in a marriage, you both know what happened was halal, and rather than avoiding eye contact and dashing for the door, you can both congratulate each other on job well done.

Sex within a committed loving relationship is just much, much better. Both of you know what the other likes and when, how fast and how hard. You can take things slow and you can experiment – after all you have your entire married lives together to enjoy it. And it is true that there isn’t a skill in the world that can’t be improved with regular practice.

When you think about it, Muslims must be having lots of sex: just look at how many children we have. Within marriage Muslims are permitted to have sex pretty much whenever and however they please. There are some restrictions like not having sex during Ramadan or when your wife is on her period, but all of them seem fairly sensible to me.

Sex is incredibly enjoyable, and we should be thankful that it exists. If all of us were getting more of the good quality, safe, responsible stuff I am certain that there would be fewer problems in the world.

I would love to hear what people have to say about this still-controversial subject in Islam.

17 thoughts on “More sex please, we’re Muslim”

  1. Hi, White British Muslim. I read with interest your article about muslim’s sex life, but there are some things I do not find clear, perhaps you can help me.
    You said that “Islam forbids sex outside marriage”, and this was due, in your opinion, to prevent the transmission of STIs. That’s weird, since the Quran allows men to have sexual relationships not only with their wives (up to 4, sura 4:3), but also with their sex slaves (sura 4:24, sura 23:1-6 and sura 70:22-30). The prophet Muhammad (perfect example for all muslims to follow, sura 33:21) had sex slaves, including one, Mary the Copt, who gave him a son, Ibrahim (Sira or biography of Muhammad, al-Sira al-Nabawiyya by Ibn Kathir, vol. I, Garnet Publishing, p.191). As a matter of fact, the prophet stated, after the battle of Khaybar in 628 a.C., that women captives could be used as sex slaves provided that they were neither dirty nor pregnant (Sira or biography of Muhammad, Sirat Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq, Oxford University Press, p. 512). What do you think about that?
    Finally, since I’ve cited the limit of 4 wives for muslim men in Islam, in Sahih al-Bukhari 5215 (book 67), we read that the prophet Muhammad used to have sex with each one of his 9 wives every single night. Since you are a muslim, could you explain to me why the prophet did not have any limits in terms of the number of wives he could have while every other muslim man did? Thanks in advance for the reply.

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    1. Hi carpet. It’s good to hear that you read my article with interest. Thanks for the information – it sounds like you have done a lot of really detailed and fascinating research.

      In answer to your first question, I don’t think I really care what I think about it: I don’t have any sex slaves (chance would be a fine thing) and no Muslim men I know have one either, but I suppose it’s nice to know that if we did, Islam is always looking out for us by advising that they are both clean and not pregnant.

      In your second question you assume that, because I am a Muslim, I can explain something in Islam. I don’t know why he had so many wives (but I’m not convinced that any mortal man could have had sex nine times a night before the invention of lube) and to be honest it really doesn’t affect me because I’m not planning to have more than one.

      I hope that helps! White.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear White, I really thank you for your reply. You are right, it’s certainly a good thing that Islam is looking out for us when it comes to female slaves…not a very good thing for them, I would imagine. I mean, the prophet Muhammad could have abolished slavery entirely, right? He didn’t. Perhaps he thought “How are my successors going to fuel the unprecedented and enormous territorial expansion of Islam in centuries to come?”. Slavery served Islamic expansion very well indeed: Rashidun, Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, the Timurid and Ottoman empires, the very tolerant Aurangzeb reign…the prophet had certainly vision. But he was also a great trader when it came to slave trading. As we read in Sunan an-Nasai’ 4625 (hadith of sahih grade), book 44, chapter 66 (interestingly titled “Selling animals for other animals”), the prophet Muhammad bought 1 slave that converted to Islam with 2 of his black slaves. What an interesting slave exchange ratio for the perfect example to follow for all Muslims, don’t you think? Once again, thank you very much for your reply.

        PS The prophet Muhammad was allowed as many wives as he wanted because Allah granted him this right in sura 33:50, “in order that there should be no difficulty on him”. Oh yes, Islam does look out for female slaves and, more importantly, for Muhammmad’s sexual well-being. Interestingly, that verse also allowed him to marry his cousins, which he did when he married Zaynab, after she divorced from Muhammad’s adopted son Zayd (allowed to the prophet by Allah, once again, in sura 33:37).

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        1. ‘prophet Muhammad could have abolished slavery entirely, right? He didn’t’

          No neither did Jesus (as) or any of the Old Testament Prophets (as), in fact many OT Prophets owned slaves.

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          1. Jesus did not have any of the political power that Muhammad obtained in Medina after the Hijra in 622 a.C. and that could have allowed him to abolish slavery entirely. So this is a false equivalence.

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          2. That is ridiculous. Jesus (as) did not seek political power his mission was his words.

            His words did have great political power and neither he nor the Church founding fathers forbade slavery.

            In fact he said that he came not to change one jot in the Law (Law of Moses) and that Law allowed slavery.

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          1. There are over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world today, but only about 15 million Jews, so this is another false equivalence (by two orders of magnitude). Besides, you have not stated, explicitly or implicitly, that having sex slaves is morally right, hence 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Another logical fallacy on your part, I’m starting to lose count.

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          2. There is no correlation between the numbers of Jews and Muslims alive today and the number of concubines (sex slaves) possessed by Prophet David according to the Bible.

            Abuse and accusations of logical fallacy are clear indicators of a commenter being a narcissistic troll.

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      2. Good answer. Trying to explain things to a person like this is a waste of time because their heads are full of slanders and twisted half truths.

        Such commenters are usually either Zionist Evangelicals, hobby racists, sadistic compulsive trolls or Zionist hasbara volunteers who trash Islam to help dehumanize Palestinians in the non-Muslim world.

        These people just cut and paste off anti-Muslim hate sites. There are some Muslim sites that answer these lies, so a lot of people just cut and paste back at them. Personally I would just delete hate comments like that one, however I love your answer!

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        1. “…hobby racists…”, and here comes the race card, normally caused by a total lack of arguments and intellectual laziness. I have not written anything remotely racist in my posts, but Mr. The White British Muslim wrote “…Islam is always looking out for us by advising that [female sex slaves] are both clean and not pregnant”, and here I thought that in 2018 slavery was supposed to be a repugnant concept. Let alone the fact that the guy who runs this blog wants to call himself WHITE BRITISH muslim, how come the adjective WHITE comes before muslim?!? Why does he need to address himself like that? But I am the racist, right? Lastly, in my posts I gave 11 different references from the most reliable Muslim sources, did you bother reading them AT ALL? FIY, the hadiths I cited come from the Darussalam editions, so I suggest you go and look them up.

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          1. “the hadiths I cited come from the Darussalam editions, so I suggest you go and look them up.”

            Darussalam are Wahhabis and are nothing to do with me : )

            Liked by 1 person

          2. ‘I have not written anything remotely racist in my posts’

            Islamophobia is the acceptable face of racism in the West which even left wingers may bear with pride.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. ‘the guy who runs this blog wants to call himself WHITE BRITISH muslim, how come the adjective WHITE comes before muslim?’

            You would have to ask him, but loving one’s race is not the same thing as racism.

            Racism is when we go about denigrating others because of their race or culture. : )

            Have a lovely winterfest : )

            Liked by 1 person

          4. I’m done. I offered Muslim sources to support my arguments, you didn’t. You conflated race and religion for the sole purpose of insulting me. “Islamophobia is the acceptable face of racism in the West”, no it’s not. I think that is just a cheap trick to play the victim card. But this exchange has certainly been fruitful: since “Darussalam are Wahhabis and are nothing to do with me”, you must know at least 1 alternative translation of the hadith Sunan an-Nasai’ 4625, book 44, chapter 66 that I cited earlier, the one where the prophet Muhammad sold 2 of his black slaves…well, he didn’t, did he, because that was Wahhabis nonsense, right? Kindly provide me with an alternative reference/translation/publisher for that hadith, so that I will not make the mistake of trusting Wahhabi sources again.

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  2. Ok, so you’ve speculated about reasons why sex outside of marriage might have been forbidden in Islam. In a way it makes sense to you. BUT – there’s protection against diseases today. Abortions aren’t that risky anymore. So, does this still hold up? Are we still supposed to adhere to it?

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