Question on Muslim women’s sexuality

One of the readers of Metis asked all of us if it is an important part of Islam that a man is responsible for his wife’s salvation. She had read that “the husband, in the afterlife, is responsible for the eternal status of his wife, and must account for her performance during earthly life, as well as his own” and wanted us to talk about this if we wanted.

I am re-reading Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks and while reading the book I recalled Helene’s comment. I was thinking about women in Arabia in the 7th Century and the coming of Islam and what opportunities were available to them. I see a lot of Muslim men being involved in wars for long periods of time. I see them balloting to decide which wife accompanies them to war. I read ahadith in which those without female company are sexually frustrated and want to engage in sex with the female captives of war. They are allowed. At one time Mutah was also allowed with Muslim women who can’t be treated as concubines. There are some incidents of jealousy and rivalry. I see a healthy system being actively created to satisfy the needs for sexual wellbeing of Muslim men.

But I can’t find similar steps being taken for women who were not allowed to engage in polyandry any longer and who had to stay inside the safe compounds of their homes while men went out to war. While the men had female company (as wives or concubines) to keep them from erring, women didn’t. The Right Hand Possessions are mentioned several times in the Quran so they were an integral part of the male society. This vacuum for Muslim women has continued and today women are pointing out that “It’s a bit unfair to tell kids “don’t do ANYTHING” before marriage, when marriage can happen as late as 40! The thing is, there isn’t really a solution. What can replace dating and pre-marital sex? Can we ask a person to not date or have sex until they are 35 and married? I don’t think that’s reasonable anymore…

Obviously this is a problem for both Muslim men and Muslim women in the modern world but in ancient Arabia women must have been in a similar situation. Strangely there is hardly any literature on what women did or how they functioned when their sexual partners disappeared for long periods of time.

Some early scholars like Ghazali were quite aware of the power of female sexuality but there seem to be more restrictions on how to control female sexuality than how to satisfy it. Perhaps this is why there is some literature available on a Muslim man’s responsibility for his wife’s conduct on this earth – there is some obsession with keeping women chaste, virgin, and exclusively for one man. According to this sheikh a Muslim woman “must take care of herself, fast, pray, be God-fearing, keep herself busy…instead of thinking about satisfying her urges” and she is warned that if she errs she might even be killed by her family! A Muslim woman who feels sexually frustrated is advised to make “frequent supplication to Allah in the last part of the night to keep away from temptation, to help overcome the companion devil, and to grant you a pious husband with whom you will feel peace and comfort and with whom you can achieve the prescribed state of chastity.”

I understand that there is a hadith that if a man is financially not able to get married or own slaves for sex then he should fast to keep his sexual urges in check. This hadith is often applied broadly for Muslim women as well. But I see that to be an issue only for those men who were in weaker financial situations who were too few. But even those few men were considered and given advice. In the early Muslim society when men had multiple wives, one wife would not have access to her husband while he was visiting his other wives. Potentially that would mean she would spend a week with him once a month or a day after every four days if they had a weekly schedule. If he went to war for weeks or months then a woman would never know when she’d see her husband again.

In such a society one would expect some movement to create a system for the sexual wellbeing of the women. I was wondering if anyone is aware of what was available to the early Muslim women? Potentially that could be applied to modern times and many women could be advised on what to do if they are not married and can’t date or masturbate. Have you thought about this as a Muslim Feminist? Do you have any thoughts on this topic? I’m planning a section on Muslim women’s sexuality in a chapter on early Muslim women in my thesis and would greatly appreciate any help you can offer.

Thanks!

PS: Zuhura’s blog wouldn’t let me post comments (I have lost two long comments in cyberspace!) but you can try and help her with her research on a similar topic here.

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49 thoughts on “Question on Muslim women’s sexuality

  1. M says:

    I am SO HAPPY this is being addressed!

    • Zuhura says:

      As a feminist I think it is important than women have self-determination about their own sexuality. If a woman wants to date and/or masturbate, she has the right to make that choice and it is between her and God.

      I had to laugh at your sentence, “While the men had female company (as wives or concubines) to keep them from erring, women didn’t” because I assume you mean women didn’t have male company. Women did have female company, and I think it’s quite likely that in some cases women were sexual with one another. In fact there are hadith (or maybe legal opinions) that mention that lesbianism should not be punished as much as other forms of zinaa because it doesn’t involve penetration (although that’s not necessarily an accurate assumption about sex between women). This also raises the possibility that when it happened it was largely ignored (and/or invisible to men) and that’s why we don’t know more about it. I know that Muslim women in contemporary Zanzibar, for example, are able to have clandestine same-sex corporeal relationships because of seclusion.

      I recently read a decent book called Sex and Sexuality in Islam (Khan, Muhammad Aftab. Lahore: Nashriyat, 2006). The author is more orthodox than I care for but I was impressed with the thoroughness of the topics he addressed, included masturbation, pre-marital dating, use of vibrators (use by widows is okay in his opinion), STDs, teen pregnancy, etc. Although he follows hadith, etc., he was very sympathetic to modern Muslims about the difficulties in doing so, and urges parents to be understanding of their children’s struggles with these issues, etc.

      I’m sorry to hear your comments got lost! Must have been during Blogger’s recent problems. Care to try again? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

      • Metis says:

        Zuhura, “I had to laugh at your sentence, “While the men had female company (as wives or concubines) to keep them from erring, women didn’t” because I assume you mean women didn’t have male company.”

        I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. I should have written “While the men had opportunities to engage in sex with their wives/concubines and hence not err, women didn’t.” That is what I meant but wasn’t clear in how I said it. So would you say that women had company (even lesbian company perhaps) but that they were not given the same allowances/opportunities as men?
        About your point on lesbianism and punishment for it – I’m glad you mentioned it. In Nine Parts of Desire I read that the legal opinion for lesbians is that if one of the women gets pregnant (apparently by using the same toy that the other woman had used and she had semen from her husband in her vagina) then after delivery of the child, the child should go to biological father and both women should be stoned to death. It seems like pregnancy turns lesbian sex into adultery. In a male gay couple the man who is being penetrated is to be killed “for acting like a woman” – that quote is quite telling how women were viewed.

  2. Coolred38 says:

    Women are not the actors of their own lives…they are the acted upon. Therefore, they are not viewed as sexual creatures having needs and wants, but recepticles waiting to fullfill the needs and wants of the males in their lives…who are the actors in their own lives. There isnt much written for Muslim women because they were not viewed as sexual beings with sexual needs….they were meant to wait, be chaste, remain virgins, until the actor came into their lives and gave them purpose to the sexual parts of their bodies. Yes, Muslim women and sex in general in Islam is talked about with openess and frequency…lots of hot poetry out there from centuries ago and hadith are fairly open and women werent shy to ask the prophet about sexual matters….BUT all of that pertains to women that were no longer virgins, no longer meant to remain chaste, no longer ignorant in the ways of sexual matters. There is no need to give information to virgins, chaste women etc about sex that they arent engaging in anyhow, thats like leading a thirsty horse to water but not letting him drink…if they dont know about it they wont be interested in engaging in it…or something like that.

    You wont find much pertaining to Muslim women on how to control their sexual desires before they are married because they simply arent viewed as having them…and after…well after they are meant to submit to their husbands whenever HIS desires are inflamed…most literature you find in this regard is aimed at the Muslim wife pleasing her Muslim husband….or else the angel will curse her until morning….so still we have HIS needs first…hers in conjunction with his…never JUST hers. (muslim men are never warned about not fullfilling the needs of their wives with threats of vengeful angels)

    • Metis says:

      Coolred, Thanks for this brave comment! I said brave because many women must think about this but don’t always say it. I have no doubt that women must have found some ways to satisfy themselves but I haven’t been able to identify where their needs have been addressed by Islam. There are ahadith that tell that men approached the Prophet and said they wanted to have sex with the war captives because they were frustrated and they also wanted to sell those captives later on – this wasn’t frowned upon and was allowed. However, we are not told how the women these men left behind coped without them.

      “You wont find much pertaining to Muslim women on how to control their sexual desires before they are married because they simply arent viewed as having them”

      That is a strong possibility. Thanks for sharing your opinions, Coolred!

      • susanne430 says:

        “You wont find much pertaining to Muslim women on how to control their sexual desires before they are married because they simply arent viewed as having them”

        That’s an interesting thought. I wonder if it’s truly what they think or if they just don’t care or didn’t bother to think of women’s needs because women were expected to be chaste, to be covered, to be hidden in some cases. Women can tempting to men yet they have no desire for men thus one reason men don’t have to cover as much? Women are beautiful and tempting but they have no sexual feelings for the men they might see on the street. Therefore men can be a bit more relaxed on covering?

        Just thinking through some possibilities that came to mind …

      • Zuhura says:

        That might have been true when girls were married off at puberty, but there is the sense in post-Prophet Muslim discourse that women have sexual desires that must be fulfilled by their husbands. If they’re not, the women will seek out other men and cause those other men to commit zinaa.

  3. Zuhura says:

    I forgot to respond to the original question. It says in the Qur’an that no one is responsible for another’s salvation. Ghazzal, however, emphasized that a man needs a wife so he can focus on his religious duties and not have to worry about household duties. This suggests that it’s actually men who are dependent on women for their salvation! (And women’s doesn’t matter.) Both viewpoints are ridiculous, IMO.

    • Metis says:

      “This suggests that it’s actually men who are dependent on women for their salvation! (And women’s doesn’t matter.) Both viewpoints are ridiculous, IMO.”

      That is a great way of looking at it. Interetsing!

  4. Nahida says:

    As far as I’m concerned, anything in regards to sex that is made permissible to men is permissible to women.

    • Metis says:

      Thanks Nahida!

      But don’t you think that would be a difficult assumption since men are allowed to have sex with up to four legal wives and women aren’t? Men were also allowed to have sex with their slaves but Muslim women weren’t allowed to sleep with their slaves. There is a difference, don’t you think?

      • Nahida says:

        Men are allowed to have sex with whom they’ve married, and women are allowed to have sex with whom they’ve married–it’s why I worded it “in regards to sex” as opposed to “in regards to marriage.” I was also thinking of what Zuhura pointed out already, that it’s highly likely women were sexually active with other women. Both men and women could get away with sexual acts with women.

        • Nahida says:

          LOL Mira was using my computer and I didn’t realize. Metis can you change the name before you publish the comment? =)

        • Metis says:

          I understand that but when you say “Men are allowed to have sex with whom they’ve married, and women are allowed to have sex with whom they’ve married” that is right as long as we don’t consider that men are also allowed to have sex with concubines whom they don’t marry above and over the four legal wives allowed to them.

          “t’s highly likely women were sexually active with other women. Both men and women could get away with sexual acts with women.”

          I’m thinking that is a great possibility since after living in Muslim societies for over a decade I have learned that it is very, very common and women don’t think it is a grave sin unlike the sheyookh.

          • Zuhura says:

            I think the blind eye turned toward same-sex corporeal intimacy between women stems from a heterosexist definition of sex as penis in vagina intercourse. For example, my husband did not consider our activities “sex” before we were married even though to me they were just different kinds of sex.

          • Zuhura says:

            Are men still allowed to have sex with concubines today?

            • Nahida says:

              My interpretation is No–the Qur’an aimed to slowly rid of slavery by making certain rules in the treatment of slaves. Slaves were to be set free at once if beaten–and paid. Slaves were to be set free if they became believers. Keeping slaves is sacrilegious because only God is our Master. By the very conditions in which it is allowed, God did not make it permissible in this century. That’s my interpretation of it, much like my interpretation of polygamy: polygamy is only allowed Islamically when widows who cannot support themselves are being supported in times of war. Using the verse and conditions from the Qur’an we conclude that God did not make polygamy permissible in this century, and therefore the practice itself is unlawful.

              Any polygamous marriage that exists today in which (1) the second wife was not a widow AND did not need support &(2) the women did not consent to the marriage is unlawful according to Islam.

            • Metis says:

              “Are men still allowed to have sex with concubines today?”

              According to Sharia and Fiqh they are. Many of the liberal scholars will just say that since slavery has been banned globally men can’t have concubines, but it is being practiced even today and is supported by more traditional scholars. There is a famous Saudi prince who is the child of an African slave whom his father never married. Until as late as 1908 women were sold openly in the Ottoman Empire and until the early 20th Century Muslim emperors had as many as 1,200 concubines.

              I know that there are men who have concubines for a time period and that there are also scholars who support it like this one who says, “Islam allows a man to have intercourse with his slave woman, whether he has a wife or wives or he is not married… This is indicated by the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and this was done by the Prophets. The scholars are unanimously agreed on that and it is not permissible for anyone to regard it as haraam or to forbid it. Whoever regards that as haraam is a sinner who is going against the consensus of the scholars… The wife has no right to object to her husband owning female slaves or to his having intercourse with them” (http://islamqa.com/en/ref/10382).

              The practice is not as open any more and men don’t own as many concubines but it still happens.

              • almostclever says:

                That is an excellent example of powerful people molding religion to fit their desires.

                There are slaves today, hundreds of thousands. Slavery is alive and well, let’s not get fooled that it is a thing of the past.

              • Nahida says:

                Oh please, these same dunderheads are the ones saying that music is haraam when it is not forbidden in the Qur’an because they’ve skewed the vocabulary of a single verse. Music can be said to be haraam without enough evidence/twisted evidence, but to say that God CLEARLY made certain things permissible for certain eras as evidenced by the restrictions in the Qur’an itself makes us sinners? Talk about hypocrisy!

                “The wife has no right to object to her husband owning female slaves or to his having intercourse with them”

                She sure as hell does! The Prophet’s own great granddaughter did! She DIVORCED a man because he went against her wishes. But you won’t hear them talk about that, because they’ve nearly cut their own balls off trying to erase women’s history. This is why I’m so infuriated when they talk about things people did during the Prophet’s time, as if they haven’t modified it according their own desires.

  5. susanne430 says:

    Interesting post. I remember reading that book.

  6. Lat says:

    I have this hadith qouted from the book by Ameenah Abu Philips,I think,

    “Anas ibn Malik reported that Umm Sulaym came to the prophet while he was with Aishah and asked him,”O messenger of Allah,when a woman sees and experiences in a dream what a man does,what should she do? Aishah remarked,”O Umm Sulaym you have humiliated women,may you right hand be covered in dust( an old Arabic expression of disapproval).(The prophet told Aishah off with this same remark) and he told Umm Sulaym,”O Umm Sulaym..take a ghusl if she sees any discharge.”

    He didn’t actually disapprove of the wet dream but only asked her to take a ghusl afterwards.So when I read this I thought that it was okay for women to fantasize in their husband’s absence.I’ve no idea if Umm Sulaym had a husband alive at that moment.If she was widowed then i suppose the hadith concerns her too.And it could be showing that the prophet knew women have needs.

    And in another hadith I read,he was telling a woman that women have discharge too with regards to how a baby can resemble the mother,when she has her discharge first before her husband during intercourse.I thought this would help as it shows that the woman is …er…in climax? 🙂 Maybe refering to orgasm? because the hadith says has the woman covered her face in embarrassment.

    Generally men are the ones that seem to have the attention when it comes to sexual needs.One of the reasons could be because it isn’t thought to be a good character for a woman to talk about such things because only loose women will do that.Old Tamil songs have lyrics where the woman says that she is ready to give and the man is there to take,that sort of attitude towards sexuality.A woman is still thought of as part of goods/commodity range like wine and food to be consumed while men are not considered that way. Tamil songs still have this attitude which I point out immediately to my kids if they happen to hear them.To change this attitude women must be removed from the goods section and put in par with the men or men put in the goods section together with the women.I hope this makes sense to you 🙂

    • Metis says:

      Thanks for this enlightening comment, Lat!

      I agree with you. What I see is that there is an understanding in traditional Islam that women have sexual need, but in the absence of men the opportunities given to women is what I can’t locate in literature. In hadith we find men being told to marry early and marry young maidens so “you might play with her and she with you.” Men are urged to keep themselves satisfied with slaves if they can’t afford to get married. So there is a difference between marriage as a sacred institution and release of sexual energy with slaves/concubines lest one may commit sin. However, if a woman lost her husband or the husband went missing or if she never got married or even during iddah her sexuality is treated differently.

      It just occurred to me while typing this that iddah is 3.5 months. That is a long time for a woman to be expected to remain without sex and in the event of a divorce the man can potentially be having sex with a new wife the same day but the woman would not be allowed Islamically to have sex with anyone for 3.5 months. Now my question is why is there this difference? Only because women can get pregnant?

      • Zuhura says:

        The book that I referenced earlier cites a legal ruling that women can be expected to go 4 months without sex and that a man can’t be gone any longer than that without her permission.

        • Lat says:

          To continue from Zuhura,I’ve read that after the 4 mths period,she can apply for divorce and marry another man.all sounds fine but there was a case somewhere in India,where a man thought to be dead returned after 4 years to see his wife married to someone else and being heavily pregnant.Instead of accepting the circumstances as they are,he insisted that she was his wife and the unborn baby was his!! poor woman who had to experiene much stress died after delivering her child.Men!!!

  7. susanne430 says:

    “where the woman says that she is ready to give and the man is there to take,that sort of attitude towards sexuality.”

    Isn’t that kind of what we portray through prostitution? My goods are sex. I’m ready to give it to you and for a price you can take me home for the evening. Maybe this is even more liberating to women because they are at least the ones in control of their goods.

    Also I was thinking of how some societies “shop” for women to marry. Or at least that’s the way it comes across a bit.I remember when a friend told me how his brother found a wife. He and his mom went to various women’s houses to see who was available. It reminded me a bit of shopping for appliances or cars here, but the good part is that the women also had a say so. (Well, in the case of my friend’s brother, the young lady’s DAD had a say so because initially he said no!) Still I found the whole idea of having to wait for men to call on me in order for me to get married a bit odd. It’s like I’m at the mercy of the men who happen to be window shopping.

    But, hey, it works. And it’s rather cute, I suppose. Just makes me think of women being there for men to take home..that same mentality. But we probably have it here in the West only I’m being blind to it! Maybe someone will point it out so we can eradicate it all! 🙂

    • Lat says:

      “Isn’t that kind of what we portray through prostitution? My goods are sex. I’m ready to give it to you and for a price you can take me home ..”

      The particular old song is where a female lover sings to her partner.And they definitely were not talking about a price for sex.Indian movies have strong inclination to monogamy esp in the old movies.So they were not referring to prostitution but the wedding ceremony itself does have dowries involved 🙂 But where true lovers go,they are willing to beat the odds. What I was trying to point out was that female sexuality was/is not addressesed as mens’.

      Btw,women too with or without their parents do window shopping for grooms 🙂 I don’t see much difference in love marriages nowadays.To an extent everyone who is interested in marriage does window shopping for love!

  8. almostclever says:

    Lat,

    I love your answers.

    • Lat says:

      Thank you almostclever! Your helping attitude amazes me.And sometimes I wonder if I can be like you 🙂

  9. I’m thinking that maybe when laws came into practice where men were “allowed Islamically ” to have sex with women that weren’t their wives/concubines because they were at battle/away/whatever, maybe FGM became a “Islamic cultural acceptance”. Women have the same urges as men, but it was obviously culturally frowned upon…so maybe, while men mutilated Islamic law allowing them to fornicate, women just had their genitals mutilated to keep them from breaking Islamic law already in existence. Does anybody know if FGM was an already wide-spread practice before sex laws changed for men? Or is that information available? I’m curious….

    That being said, I’m sorry I think these changes in sex laws for men are utter bs. It says a man is so helpless to any inkling of sexual urge that it must be immediately taken care of; it holds men to a very low, animalistic standard and I know several guys who find the notion insulting. It also retards human development (at least for men) completely- saying that all one need to do is change the law so you can have sex with any woman is an attractive idea to a lesser, weaker man and when it becomes culturally accepted, it becomes “okay” for guys to be horny, sex-driven barbarians who treat women as they’ve been trained- tools for sexual pleasure…Personally i think a ‘man’ is someone who is strong enough to be faithful, strong enough to be loyal, and strong enough to love one woman completely, just as a ‘woman’ is someone who can do all the same for her man.

    To me, all this does is point a huge finger at the problem of sexual repression- men and women are told that anything sexual (whether that be doing anything sexual, or having sexual thoughts) before marriage is dirty and to be avoided at all costs. But humans like sex and we like pleasure! In Saudi Arabia for example, men and women are forced into separation to keep things sexually “halal” but all it does is make men and women more sexually frustrated- connection between this and an increase in homosexual tendencies, anyone? There was a study done of societies where woman and men were strictly separated and guess what? In those societies, there was waaay more guy on guy, girl on girl action. [Anyone who has traveled in the Middle East has definitely noticed guys holding hands]. My point is, there is no way around human sexuality: deny it, and you get men bending rules to have sex, women repressed sexually, or more same-sex action. Acknowledge it, and only good can come- boys and girls, men and women, can better handle themselves and respect each other.

    • Metis says:

      That is a good question about FGM. I was thinking about it too but I know that FGM predated Islam by at least 1000 years – at least in Egypt. What do you mean by “sex laws changed for men”? Are you referring to sex laws after Islam? Leila Ahmed and Fatima Mersini believe that after Islam most sex laws were changed for women than for men. The most effective law for men was a cap on the number of wives for common men.

      In traditional Islam the power of female sexuality is acknowledged and also feared and I see a problem there because men’s sexuality is celebrated.

      “My point is, there is no way around human sexuality: deny it, and you get men bending rules to have sex, women repressed sexually, or more same-sex action.”

      Ditto!

    • Zuhura says:

      It seems to me that making men’s sexual transgressions halal (e.g. through temporary marriages during war, etc.) was only accomplished because it was the men deciding what was halal. If women had the power to determine what is halal and what is not, we would have similar “laws” for women.

  10. Lat says:

    @Metis,
    You talked about Iddah 3-5 mths,men allowed to marry another woman while she has to wait.
    ” Now my question is why is there this difference? Only because women can get pregnant?”

    As I mentioned in my paper,Muslim Laws,the pre-Islamic Arabs also had this law but it was one month.It was extended because ,as the saying goes,to give extra time for the husband and wife to talk things over and perhaps situations could change and salvage the marriage.But how does this happen if the husband is allowed to marry another woman during the iddah period? If one aspect of this law is extended from the woman side then it should have done a similar form of extension from the men’s side.Meaning he should not be allowed to remarry so soon,if salvaging the marriage was the purpose.What’s the point of making the wife wait longer? I wondered about this before.I mean a woman should know by one or two months whether she’s pregnant or not.Why wait to 3-5 mths,including a widow? I think we may not be aware of the pre-Islamic Arabic laws enough to argue this? Maybe a custom is not properly addressed here.I don’t know.
    Because women getting pregnant is a big issue.Everything seems to revolve around that and many times it’s used against her.

    • Metis says:

      Lat, there is a hadith I’m going to look for according to which in pre-Islamic time a woman could go into Iddah for as long as a year if her husband was a VIP. Is it possible that this practice was carried forward and so the Prophet’s wives were banned from marrying like a kind of eternal iddah?

      So yes I think we don’t know all the pagan customs. But then iddah even according to the Quran is too long for women. Maybe there are women who continue to bleed during pregnancy and so 3-5 months is a safer period by which time a woman would definitely know if she’s pregnant. In the case of death of a husband the iddah is a comfort period in which a woman is allowed to recover from her loss (if she loved the husband :D), but in case of divorce a woman may resent the inability to get to know another man.

      • Lat says:

        Could it be then that rules addressed to exceptional cases were made general to apply for all women? And when you say,

        “.. a woman could go into Iddah for as long as a year ..” Who decides the time period? A council or the woman herself?

        Just because it appears in the Quran doesn’t mean it’s for the application for all. Well that’s what I think.Rulings could be there for specific cases like the beating for example.It need not be a ruling enacted for all. So I think that some scholars didn’t do a good job and still don’t.
        I don’t understand why an old woman has to observe iddah.It’s rubbish.But it has become a habit that the word ‘iddah’ has become so normal.But you know what? People ask if the woman is going to observe iddah because they are some who don’t.women had to go to work and men can’t be depended for everything.Times are changing and so does iddah. Maybe one day it will disappear! At least in my society but in Arab societies it’s part of their culture.So I don’t think that will happen soon.

        I think women do fall in love with other men while still married.And when divorce is complete,they just marry their men of choice.They don’t have to wait to know a man only after divorce.Modern convenience has provided just that kind of space 🙂 I know a well-read Quran reading Ustadza who did just that.

        • Metis says:

          That’s the problem! We’d never know. The laws could have been for exceptional cases or could have been for everyone. I think culture of a tribe decided what the iddah period would be for a woman but after Islam I see more standardisation – one rule for everyone unless you are the Prophet or his wives. His wives had different rules.

          • Zuhura says:

            I think we need to look at the purpose behind eda rather than the letter of the law. The purpose is to establish paternity. Today we have pregnancy tests, so a woman will know if she is pregnant, and thus can decide on her own how long to avoid future male sex partners.

  11. @Metis- Sorry I’ll try to clarify! I meant what Zuhura pointed out- that when a man was away to battle or whatever the circumstances may have been, laws were created so that he could have”halal” sex with a woman who wasn’t his wife or concubine. As to the FGM, I’m thinking that maybe instead of similar laws being enacted for women, FGM just became a common practice to rid women of their urges. I mean, if a woman has her genitals mutilated, I doubt something as painful as sex (due to FGM) would have been the first thing on her mind- it takes care of the “problem”of female sex drive.

    • Metis says:

      Ah alright, I get it now. I don’t think that laws pertaining to sex during wars were changed. Even in pagan times during major wars (not raids where men were not allowed to kill anyone) people would have sex with war captives who sometimes became the concubines.

      The one difference I see is that in Judaism (that influenced some pagan tribes) if a female captive’s husband was killed in war she had to first convert to Judaism and then given a period of mourning after which if the master fancied her he would marry her. In Islam marriage was not necessary. A master is allowed to cohabit with the slave without marriage. He could marry her if he liked. Linked to this the other difference is that before Islam (and again because of Jewish influence) a master was not allowed to have sex with a captive whose husband was alive and was either on the enemy side or was taken captive. This was because the woman was already married and captive women couldn’t have two husbands. However, after the coming of Islam a Muslim man was allowed to annul the marriage of a war captive since she wasn’t married Islamically and could so proceed to have sexual relations with her whether her husband was also a captive or was on the enemy side.

      From ahadith we can note that the first Muslims didn’t give captives a period of iddah whether they married them or not (the Prophet consummated his marriage with Safiya three days after her husband was killed, and there is a hadith that Ali had intercourse with a captive even before the booty was divided) but under sharia law slaves/concubines have to follow an iddah period of one month.

  12. Lat says:

    “…but under sharia law slaves/concubines have to follow an iddah period of one month”

    You mean VIP’s like the prophet,Ali etc married captive women who were already married without observing iddah but the law which came forbade this practice for the other men,with captive women having to observe one month iddah?

    This one month iddah is a continuation with the pagan practice.Now I’m thinking about Khalid Masud’s paper mentioning about the Royal laws and how fiqh was derived to make a parallel system to it.

    • Metis says:

      I don’t know when exactly the one month iddah rule was created because from the ahadith it seems like men began sleeping with the captives as soon as booty was divided. It was an exceptional case if they didn’t and then if they wanted to swap women they actually mentioned that they hadn’t “de-robed” her. I don’t think it was only the VIPs who were doing this. Ali didn’t marry the captive but he slept with her before the booty was divided. He had concubines but no other wife apart from Fatima as long as she lived.

  13. indigo says:

    Salam
    I read your article and thought you would be a great person to ask my question to. I have actually tried asking different online “fatwa” places but dont get an anwser from them. So what should I do.I am not sexually attracted to my husband. I love him but I dont find him attractive he is some what over weight but more importanlty he does NOT satisfy me sexually. I have asked him for the 8 years of our marriage to lose weight but he doesnt (mind you he’s not huge just not attractive to me) . We have kids together and I always managed to lose all my weight and I try to everything dress up, role play, I put on all sorts of sexy outfits(within the bonds of Islam) to satisfy him sexually I always obey his call, but I dont get it from him in return. I dont want to divorce him because he is a wonderful husband & father but my rights as a wife are being not met.For some time i have mentioned to him that he doesnt satisfy me and he fianlly went to the doctors and was diagnosed with slight erectile dysfuntion he has begun taking medication and there has been slight imporvment but wit the aid of a vibrator is the only way he can get me to orgasm. What if i never orgasm wit hjust him again?! I want to be happy with him but there is so much tension and stress that I have started getting sick just trying to be with him. All the foucus is on his member and making sure hes ready. Is it ever allowed for a Muslim women to take a 2nd husband? I feel tempted to commit adultery but have never done it for I fear Allah. Am I allowed to find other means ( an other partner)to be sexually satisfied or stay misserable? Thanks you for your time A frustrated sister.

  14. Majeedah khalil says:

    As a muslim wife what do you do if your husband isnt meeting your sexual needs ?

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