May 042016
 

By Anonymous

For the past few years, I have struggled with pain associated with vaginal intercourse. I visited doctors but none could provide me with the answers I was looking for. “Have more sex, it’ll open up…it is supposed to hurt…try different angles.” The advice was never helpful and only reinforced my worry that there was something wrong with me. I was unable to find help or an escape, but I wasn’t necessarily looking for one. I was content not having my vaginal issues resolved because I wasn’t in a hurry to have children. I was able to enjoy other sexual activities and had a patient and loving partner. I knew I would have to figure it out eventually and waited until I had the emotional and financial capacity to dig deeper for the answers I was looking for.

A few weeks ago I visited a new doctor. She had me hold a mirror as she took a look down there and pointed out the problem. “Now sit still, does that hurt? Hmm have you ever touched yourself before, you are pretty fidgety. Oh there it is – I see what the problem is. Can you see that – you have two tiny holes instead of one big one.” A septate hymen. Clear and visible to me and the doctor – a nostril in my vagina.

As the doctor typed on her computer, I sat uncomfortably still trying to process what she was saying. “We’ll need to see what’s going on through an MRI and given how difficult it is for you to be touched, we’ll have to knock you out for the procedure.” I nodded in agreement. There was no way in hell I wanted to be awake for this.

My doctor recommended me for physical therapy. The physical therapist took me in at around 8:20am. She had me walk, sit, lay down, move around until the big reveal moment when she herself poked around. I was watching her face as she observed my pelvic muscles and knew in an instant that this was complicated. I asked her what was wrong and to just tell me what she thinks honestly. “Honestly, my patients with just a septate hymen do not react like this. My patients with vaginismus do. Go through with the surgery and then talk to your doctor. We may have to bring you back for regular sessions. In the meantime, here’s a list of exercises I want you to do twice a day.” I thanked her and walked out.

As the weeks passed, I visited the hospital for various appointments. Each time I got back to my car, I sat in silence taking deep breathes, then drove to work in tears while jamming to Adele on blast to get all my emotions out of my system. You see, you can’t talk vag in the office. Sure, you can talk about how you caught a cold, or need to get a root canal – that’s all work appropriate. But to bring up your vag problems is awkward to discuss with anyone really.

Being that I’ve been married for a few years, I often get asked if I want to have children or if I am planning to have kids soon. You can plan all you want, but the reality is that nothing is in your hands. Even after all the treatment, surgeries, therapy and healing – Will I be able to have kids? Will I be able to experience vaginal intercourse without the pain? Only Allah knows. All I know is that this is so freaking hard and I can only try my best. I am exhausted and emotionally drained and want it all to be over. I want to not have to worry about missing work for my medical appointments or budget a portion of my salary for medical expenses. I want to not have to hold back tears whenever anyone asks me if I like kids. I want to let myself be vulnerable with the ones I love and not have to show that I have everything under control. I can’t wait for the day when I can finally be excited about the possibility of being pregnant. About the possibility of painless sex! And surprise my patient partner with the news of our own little one. I want a lot of things in life. But I’ll make do with what I have for right now. My story, this space to share it and your duaas, iA.

The author of this post has chosen to remain anonymous.

 

Dec 112015
 

by Sobia Ali-Faisal

If the recent controversy in Ontario over the new sex education curriculum has demonstrated anything, it’s that many Muslim parents are VERY passionate about their children’s sexual education, or preferable lack thereof. For those who may not be aware, the province of Ontario introduced a new health education curriculum to be implemented for all grades, which includes a sexual health component at each grade level. It’s a well-researched, age-appropriate curriculum but many parents, including many Muslim parents, protested when it first was introduced in the spring. In the new school year nearly 700 hundred children were kept out of Thorncliffe Park Public School (almost half their population) on the first day of school and their parents have vowed to keep their children out of school until the new sex-ed curriculum is changed (I’m not sure if that happened but I have heard, anecdotally, that many parents have pulled their children out of public schools and put them in private Islamic schools, which, for their part, have been offering discounted tuition). Other Muslim groups, however, have come out in favour of the curriculum as have a group of local imams.

It’s obvious that many Muslim parents are fearful of what it will mean for their children to learn about sexuality and sexual issues but by denying their children sexual health education, for whatever reason, they are doing their children a huge disservice.

Many Muslim parents are genuinely fearful of the impacts sexual education may have on their children. Perhaps they worry that their children will be more likely to engage in sexual activities if they learn about sexual health. Perhaps they believe that their children will view sex and sexuality differently than they do which may result in cultural and worldview conflicts. For many parents, this may mean they do not understand their children, or worse, that their children will differ from them on fundamental values. So how do we allay their fears? How do we convince parents that sexual health education is nothing to fear?

First, and possibly most important, is the understanding and acceptance of the fact that parents and their children may indeed differ in their values as children get older. Children growing up in North America will have social experiences that will differ in many ways from those of their parents who grew up elsewhere, and these experiences will inevitably influence the ways in which said children view the world.  The key is to not view this difference as a negative development and for parents to understand that these differences, which could include cultural differences, can actually enrich the relationship as long as they are not ignored or denied and are explicitly acknowledged.

Second, parents should not be in any denial that that their children WILL face sex and sexuality related decisions, and most likely sooner than later. From body exploration at a young age to school friends having two dads or two moms to peer pressure in their teens, sexuality issues will be an inevitable part of their lives beginning early in life. When it comes to sex itself my research demonstrated that young Muslims are no different than any other young people. Very often this information conflicts with what many parents expect, believe, or teach their children. Many take an abstinence-only approach, expecting that their children will only engage in sexual activity once married. But that is not the reality for many young Muslims.

Third, parents need to know that all the evidence suggests their children will be much better off, and healthier, being educated about sexual health, relationships, inclusivity, and consent (all of which are included in the Ontario curriculum). Research further suggests that providing sexual health education to young people actually will often result in young people delaying their first sexual experience. Education is a tool that helps us navigate the world. Just as children need to learn the basics of math, science, literature, and history to understand their world, they need to learn the basics of their sexual health to understand themselves, their bodies, their relationships with others, and their boundaries. We cannot place less importance on the health of our children than we do on math, science, and literature. All youth need to be armed with sexual education so that they are able to make healthy sexual decisions, which they will most certainly be confronted with throughout their entire lives.

Finally, Islamically, it is absolutely appropriate to provide sexual health education to children. Islam encourages education and views regarding sex have been relatively progressive. Even the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spoke about sexual relations openly and advised his ummah on the issue. The various hadith on this point demonstrate he did not shy away.

In summary, children of Muslim immigrant parents will experience growing up differently than their parents. These children WILL be faced with sexuality and sexuality-related decisions throughout their entire lives. Providing them with sexual health education will provide them with the tools needed for them to make healthy decisions, whether it be the ability to recognize an abusive and dangerous situation, to respect those of sexual orientations or genders different than their own, or to delay sexual activity until they are completely prepared and comfortable. Islam does not forbid learning or talking about sex. This is often a restriction we place on ourselves. The fears that parents face regarding this topic is real and should not be discounted, but there are ways to allay those fears. Indeed, educating parents and decreasing their fears and anxiety around issues of sex and sexuality needs to be a part of the sexual health education of young Muslims.

Sobia Ali-Faisal received her PhD in Applied Psychology from the University of Windsor in 2014. She currently resides in Canada.

Dec 112015
 

by Amber Khan

In the presence of his wife Umm Salamah, Umm Sulaym asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):  “Messenger of Allah, if a woman has a wet dream must she bathe when she wakes up?”

“What shame!” Umm Salamah remarked. “Do you slander women like this in front of Allah’s Messenger?”

Umm Sualym replied: “Allah is not ashamed of the truth. It is better that we ask about what we do not understand than to continue in ignorance about it.”

The Prophet (pbuh) said to Umm Salamah: “Indeed, you should be ashamed. The best of you are those who ask about what concerns them.” He then turned to Umm Sulaym and said: “Yes, Umm Sulaym, you should take a bath if you see a discharge.”

Umm Salamah then asked: “Do women have a sexual discharge as well?”

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Indeed, how else does the child bear a resemblance to the mother? Women are the full sisters of men.” (Reported by Umm Salamah; related by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.)

In today’s time, to ask such a question to anyone, let alone a knowledgeable figure, would undeniably evoke an immediate discomfort.  Yet despite its sensitivity, Umm Sulaym had pure conviction that the answer to her question was her deserving right.  So she asked with a balance of decency and directness.  And when Umm Salamah expressed the shock we are so familiar with today, Umm Sulaym pointed out that ignorance is worse than embarrassment.

And the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, defended her.  He clearly expressed that the best of people are those who ask.  It is they who will benefit not just for themselves but also for others who fear to ask.  It is they who will achieve knowledge.  Achieve success.

This caused Umm Salamah to immediately change her demeanor.  It led to herself asking a similar question.

Let’s now compare the above with today’s time.  The following anecdotes are based on real women who came directly to HEART Women & Girls to share their stories.

  • A child gets her period.  She has no idea what it is.  She feels scared.  Confused. She doesn’t know who to turn to, not even her own mother out of fear of what she will think.
  • A young girl discovers that her intimate relationship with her uncle is actually a form of sexual abuse.  She feels violated, ashamed, and guilty.  She fears her parents won’t believe her; that the abuse will continue.
  • A newly married woman feels sexually frustrated.  She didn’t expect intimacy to be so hard and in her case, impossible due to an easily treatable condition called vaginismus.  “What is wrong with me?  Why is this so painful?  My husband doesn’t understand.  Will he divorce me?”

All three women above were denied a basic Islamic right – access to sexual health information.  They lacked available resources, a safe space to ask questions, and a supportive network to guide them with comfort and protection.

Sexual health education is a lifelong journey of acquiring information that shapes our beliefs, attitudes, and values on sex.  It encompasses physical development, sexual and reproductive health, relationships, intimacy, body image, gender roles, and signs of abuse. Ideally, it should begin at a young age and be taught by the primary caregivers on an ongoing basis.

However, when someone goes through life without proper sexual health education they are left with a void during their transition from child to adult.  They lack the necessary decision-making skills and critical thinking process needed for all major adult life stages. They grow up feeling confused, naïve and vulnerable.

The women of Madinah were considered quite bold in character; they were not shy to seek advice and inquire about women’s health issues.  Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “How good were the women of the Ansar that they did not shy away from learning and understanding religious matters.” (Muslim, Kitab al-Hayd; 168/649).  They recognized that learning about women’s health had a strong influence on their relationship with Allah.

The books of Islamic jurisprudence include several topics promoting sexual awareness such as:

  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum health
  • Breastfeeding
  • Intimacy
  • Family planning
  • Ghusl (bath)
  • Nocturnal emissions
  • Body Image
  • Self-Esteem
  • Abuse

These matters are essential to our faith and can be learned in a decent and respectable way whilst also upholding an appropriate element of shyness.  When one suppresses a person’s right to learn these topics, expecting them to rely solely on cultural practices and societal standards, the effects can be spiritually, physically, and psychologically damaging.

Through Umm Sulaym’s inquiry, Umm Salamah learned something that she had assumed was impossible for women.  Despite her apparent uneasiness to the question, it gave her added insight to her body and its relation to the deen.

To the child unaware of menstruation, to the girl who was unaware of her sexual abuse, and to the woman suffering from vaginismus: ask as Umm Sulaym asked. “Allah is not ashamed of the truth. It is better that we ask about what we do not understand than to continue in ignorance about it.”

Amber Khan is a trained physician and Director of Education – US for HEART Women & Girls. She lives with her husband and children in Michigan.

Nov 202015
 

by Amber Khan

In the presence of his wife Umm Salamah, Umm Sulaym asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):  “Messenger of Allah, if a woman has a wet dream must she bathe when she wakes up?”

“What shame!” Umm Salamah remarked. “Do you slander women like this in front of Allah’s Messenger?”

Umm Sualym replied: “Allah is not ashamed of the truth. It is better that we ask about what we do not understand than to continue in ignorance about it.”

The Prophet (pbuh) said to Umm Salamah: “Indeed, you should be ashamed. The best of you are those who ask about what concerns them.” He then turned to Umm Sulaym and said: “Yes, Umm Sulaym, you should take a bath if you see a discharge.”

Umm Salamah then asked: “Do women have a sexual discharge as well?”

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Indeed, how else does the child bear a resemblance to the mother? Women are the full sisters of men.” (Reported by Umm Salamah; related by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.)

In today’s time, to ask such a question to anyone, let alone a knowledgeable figure, would undeniably evoke an immediate discomfort.  Yet despite its sensitivity, Umm Sulaym had pure conviction that the answer to her question was her deserving right.  So she asked with a balance of decency and directness.  And when Umm Salamah expressed the shock we are so familiar with today, Umm Sulaym pointed out that ignorance is worse than embarrassment.

And the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, defended her.  He clearly expressed that the best of people are those who ask.  It is they who will benefit not just for themselves but also for others who fear to ask.  It is they who will achieve knowledge.  Achieve success.

This caused Umm Salamah to immediately change her demeanor.  It led to herself asking a similar question.

Let’s now compare the above with today’s time.  The following anecdotes are based on real women who came directly to HEART Women & Girls to share their stories.

  • A child gets her period.  She has no idea what it is.  She feels scared.  Confused. She doesn’t know who to turn to, not even her own mother out of fear of what she will think.
  • A young girl discovers that her intimate relationship with her uncle is actually a form of sexual abuse.  She feels violated, ashamed, and guilty.  She fears her parents won’t believe her; that the abuse will continue.
  • A newly married woman feels sexually frustrated.  She didn’t expect intimacy to be so hard and in her case, impossible due to an easily treatable condition called vaginismus.  “What is wrong with me?  Why is this so painful?  My husband doesn’t understand.  Will he divorce me?”

All three women above were denied a basic Islamic right – access to sexual health information.  They lacked available resources, a safe space to ask questions, and a supportive network to guide them with comfort and protection.

Sexual health education is a lifelong journey of acquiring information that shapes our beliefs, attitudes, and values on sex.  It encompasses physical development, sexual and reproductive health, relationships, intimacy, body image, gender roles, and signs of abuse. Ideally, it should begin at a young age and be taught by the primary caregivers on an ongoing basis.

However, when someone goes through life without proper sexual health education they are left with a void during their transition from child to adult.  They lack the necessary decision-making skills and critical thinking process needed for all major adult life stages. They grow up feeling confused, naïve and vulnerable.

The women of Madinah were considered quite bold in character; they were not shy to seek advice and inquire about women’s health issues.  Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “How good were the women of the Ansar that they did not shy away from learning and understanding religious matters.” (Muslim, Kitab al-Hayd; 168/649).  They recognized that learning about women’s health had a strong influence on their relationship with Allah.

The books of Islamic jurisprudence include several topics promoting sexual awareness such as:

  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum health
  • Breastfeeding
  • Intimacy
  • Family planning
  • Ghusl (bath)
  • Nocturnal emissions
  • Body Image
  • Self-Esteem
  • Abuse

These matters are essential to our faith and can be learned in a decent and respectable way whilst also upholding an appropriate element of shyness.  When one suppresses a person’s right to learn these topics, expecting them to rely solely on cultural practices and societal standards, the effects can be spiritually, physically, and psychologically damaging.

Through Umm Sulaym’s inquiry, Umm Salamah learned something that she had assumed was impossible for women.  Despite her apparent uneasiness to the question, it gave her added insight to her body and its relation to the deen.

To the child unaware of menstruation, to the girl who was unaware of her sexual abuse, and to the woman suffering from vaginismus: ask as Umm Sulaym asked. “Allah is not ashamed of the truth. It is better that we ask about what we do not understand than to continue in ignorance about it.”

Amber Khan is a trained physician and Director of Education – US for HEART Women & Girls. She lives with her husband and children in Michigan.

Nov 112015
 

*Trigger warning for sexual abuse

by Aya Khalil

Five. I was sexually abused at an age where I didn’t even have enough life experience to properly process and identify what was going on. Not by a random stranger. Not by a family member. But by someone whom the community trusted: someone who taught children how to read and memorize Quran, God’s holy book. Someone who abused his power and religious authority to hurt children. As an imam and a sheikh, he had a wealth of Islamic knowledge and an entire community turned to him for spiritual guidance. A Muslim. A teacher. A role model.

**

Twenty-eight. I’m a teacher, a journalist, a mother, and a wife. I had forgotten about the incident for twenty years, until I had a child myself. And then I remembered.

I have been teaching my almost three-year-old daughter the proper terms for private parts since she was two. I remind her that her body is hers and that nobody can force her to hug or kiss if she didn’t want to. Even if that meant offending a relative or going against cultural etiquette and expectations. “If you don’t want to hug someone, it’s okay,” I tell her. “You can say no. You are strong. Your body is yours. Never keep secrets from mom or dad. We trust you. We won’t get angry at you. We are here to keep you safe. We will always believe you.”

A well-intentioned relative or friend will repeatedly ask her “can I have a hug?” I smile, and say, politely, but firmly, “Aw, it’s okay, she’s not really in the mood.” That friend or relative will probably get offended. But that’s okay. I would rather have everyone get offended by my daughter not forcibly kissing or hugging someone than the horrifying experience I went through when I was five.

**

Five. It was at an Islamic school in New Jersey. I was in kindergarten. I had recently immigrated with my parents a couple of years back. We wore cute little white and grey uniforms with a white hijab. He sat at his desk in front of the class and recited Quran and we would all repeat. Then he would call a student, one-by-one, up to his desk. And it would happen right there, behind his desk, where the other students couldn’t see. He would continue reciting and have us repeat. But we knew what he was doing, yet nobody said anything to him or anyone else. We were just five.

**

Twenty-eight. I’ve been teaching preschool at an Islamic school. Sometimes I pause in the middle of a lesson when I call on a student to come up to write on the board, remembering what that was like when I was their age. I hope and pray none of my 23 students ever experience what I endured. I never ask my students for hugs, although other teachers often do. A high five will suffice. If a child does get too close to me, I take a step back. If a child wants to hug me, I let them, but no clinging. Just a quick hug and let go.

**

Five. I was always taught to tell my parents everything and not to lie. And so, when I told my parents what happened, they believed me. As should all parents when their child says they were abused. Yet, when my parents called another student’s parent, she denied it. My parents believed me and called the police.

I vividly remember police cars and shining, bright lights in the dark of the night. My parents drove to the Islamic School and he was arrested. They wanted me to see that and know that they took what I said seriously. Five-year-olds should not have to watch an Imam, a man of great respect in the community, being handcuffed and put away in the police car for abusing children. For abusing me. But I watched, confused, betrayed, and in disbelief. Why? This was a man who parents trusted him with their children. This was a man who the community looked up to for spiritual guidance and to uphold morality and goodness and our faith that we so treasured. This was a man who should have instilled the love of the Quran in children. Yet he used the most beautiful words – the words of God – as an accomplice to commit the most horrid of acts to those who did not yet have the agency to even understand it.

**

Twenty-eight. A couple of months ago we searched for a preschool for my daughter. Male teacher? Male coach? Male music teacher? Islamic school? Quran school? Why did it all make me feel uncomfortable? “One of the lead teachers will always be with the kids when they play soccer with the coach,” another teacher assured me.

I had already declined a top-notch school because the music teacher was a male. Trust no one, I thought. Should I just say no to preschool and enroll her in full-time elementary school in a couple of years?. Yet, I wondered how would I let my daughter interact and socialize without me being there. I just need to help prevent it. And that starts with me.

**

Five. My parents took my brother and me out of the Islamic school and enrolled us in a private school. We later moved out of New Jersey and attended both public schools and Islamic schools. They often brought Quran and Arabic teachers at home, and stayed with us during the lesson. My parents were also probably the only ones who wouldn’t let us sleep over at friends’ houses. In fact, they wouldn’t let us spend the night at the Mosque when they had Qiyam El Layl (Night prayers) for high school students Ramadan. I remember envying my friends who brought their sleeping bags and snacks to the Mosque during Ramadan and my dad would come pick me up at midnight. But now I understand why they did that. And it’s what I will do with my own kids.

**

Twenty-eight. A couple of years ago when I was in high school, Hajj season came during winter break. I had the honor of performing Hajj with my sister, mom, and older brother. I felt safe. Well, at least I thought I was safe. I was sexually harassed in front of the Kabah, while making tawaf.

Safe spaces. Holy places. Schools. Mosques. Mecca. Kabah. It doesn’t matter. No matter how safe and inviting these places might seem to be, one needs to be prepared and mindful of what’s happening around them. I’m writing this to remind everyone that sexual abuse is real in the Muslim community. I’m tired of making it a taboo topic and hiding it and pretending it will never happen. I’m tired of blaming the victim and shaming Muslim women. And I’m so tired of believing that imams or religious scholars are perfect and the community siding with imams who clearly sexually abused women yet people accuse the victim of being a liar because the imam is “well-respected in the community and old.” I am a Muslim woman and I was sexually abused at two places should be safe havens in our faith. I am writing this to tell you that Muslim women, regardless of what they’re wearing (hijab or no hijab), how old they are, where they from, how they look like, can be sexually abused, even in the holiest of places by the holiest of men.

I am so glad organizations like HEART recognize and speak about important topics like sexual abuse in Muslim communities. Read more about them and check out all of the resources they have available on how to prevent sexual abuse and how to heal. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, contact them.

Aya Khalil is a freelance journalist, educator and blogger. Contact her at www.ayakhalil.blogspot.com.

Sep 032015
 
A Sexual Education Communication Project About “The Talk”

HEART Women & Girls is thrilled to host Salah Abdul-Razacq as he completes his Masters’ capstone project. Below, you will find a webinar on why having open conversation on sex and sexuality is important between parent and child, and tips on how to begin that conversation. Learn from this important webinar below, and fill out the brief survey here before watching the webinar and once again after watching the webinar.

Sep 012015
 
Reflections on Culpability, Forgiveness, and Mercy

By Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

In March 2015, Imam Mohammad Abdullah Saleem, founder of the Institute of Islamic Education (IIE) in Elgin, IL, was indicted on charges of criminal sexual abuse stemming from a series of encounters between the religious teacher and an administrative assistant employed at the school. While the woman who initially brought charges is an adult (in her early 20s), other victims came forward with allegations of abuse reaching back over decades.

In the wake of Maulana Saleem’s arrest, the Muslim communities of the greater Chicago area—understandably shocked at the allegations—offered up a range of responses. HEART Women & Girls, a nonprofit that advocates for sexual health awareness in faith-based communities, published a strongly-worded statement calling for justice for Saleem’s victims and swift action to move the case forward.

Other Muslim-led organizations in Chicago, however, put out statements that attempted to find a compromise between public censure of Saleem and silence toward his victims. Puzzlingly, the statements invoked the concept of adultery, which, in my view, was a distraction from the original issue: that a prominent religious leader allegedly used his position to victimize an unsuspecting woman and children. While all of the above statements were unanimous in their recognition that sexual abuse is prohibited in Islam, the different responses highlighted the tensions inherent in the various approaches embraced by Muslim leaders in Chicago and beyond. Sherman A. Jackson, a nationally-renowned scholar, elaborated on these tensions in an article published for the ALIM Institute, wherein he reminded readers that the accused reserves the right to make tawba (repent) for his actions.

In writing this reflection for the HEART Women & Girls blog, I would like to explore the notion of tawba further. Specifically, I would like to consider whether the act of tawba absolves one of his or her responsibility to submit to the legal process, reckon with the victims’ stories, and acknowledge the harm done by one’s actions. In other words, does tawba exonerate the (alleged) abuser from additional culpability toward his or her victims? And does tawba also require a reciprocal effort from the victims to forgive their victimizer? In other words, can the victims be compelled to forgive their abuser, drop charges, and “move on” because he or she repented?

Before I consider these questions, I would like to define the concept of tawba. Per classical Islamic manuals like Reliance of the Traveller, when a human commits a sin, that sin can be categorized as major or minor. The latter category of sins can be expiated by acts of worship, such as praying and fasting. The former category—major sins—can only be expiated by performing tawba, a process of atonement in which the penitent recognizes the sinful nature of his or her act, feels remorse, and resolves not to repeat the act. Additionally, if the act involved the violation of someone else’s rights, the performer of tawba must attempt to restore the victim’s rights. Furthermore, some scholars mention that if the act was tied to a specific environment, the penitent must take measures to change his or her environment.

While Saleem certainly reserves the right to make tawba—in fact, given the nature of the accusations, he is required to make tawba—does his repentance remove additional responsibility toward the accusers? I would argue, no. Tawba is a private spiritual act intended to make things right with God. The performance of tawba, however, does not remove one’s responsibility toward those who suffered as a result of one’s actions. For example, when I wrote about the issue of “blurred lines” between religious teachers and their students and the culture of celebrity we have built up around some of our scholars, someone contacted me with the critique that I had disregarded the role of tawba when I took my position. On the contrary, I do not discount the necessity or benefit of tawba for those who have committed wrongdoing; in fact, it should be part of their rehabilitation process. However, the possibility of their tawba does not preclude the community from addressing the fallout of their actions.

One of the hadiths that was most frequently cited in the wake of the IIE scandal was the hadith of “amr bil ma’ruf wal nahy ‘an al-munkar,” or enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong. In this hadith, the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, exhorts the Muslim community to confront wrongdoing in one of three ways: changing it with one’s hand, or with one’s tongue, or with one’s heart, the latter being the “weakest in faith.” What this means is that we have an obligation to confront wrongdoing with direct action, and, in the event such action is impossible, then at least speak out. If saying something is not an option, the least we can do is detest wrongdoing in our hearts. Lest we think these measures only apply to those witnessing abuse, they also apply to the abuser. God the Exalted says in the Qur’an, “Believers, turn to God in sincere repentance. Your Lord may well cancel your bad deeds for you and admit you into Gardens graced with flowing streams, on a Day when God will not disgrace the Prophet or those who have believed with him” (Al-Tahrim, 66:8).

The term used in the above verse, nasuh, is reminiscent of a word in another hadith: Religion is nasiha. In the Qur’an, Allah calls upon the believers to turn to Him, making their repentance sincere. In the hadith, the Prophet, peace be upon him, links the practice of good counsel, or nasiha, to religion itself. In other words, there is a dialectic between community members and leaders, a mutual process of taking ourselves to account, and requiring those in authority to uphold certain standards of conduct. In this reciprocal relationship, we expect that those who commit wrong will sincerely repent, but we also reserve the right to advise them about their conduct. Returning to the responsibility of the abuser, he or she, after making tawba, is also required to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong per the Prophet’s directive. The abuser must take direct action to stop the abuse, acknowledge the nature of his or her actions, and despise those actions on a spiritual and intellectual level. Once this multilateral approach to wrongdoing is initiated, the healing process can begin. However, there must be recognition that the victims have the right to decide when—and if—they will forgive. In the case of the plaintiffs in the Saleem case, the majority of them have carried the scars of abuse for decades. It is not appropriate for the community (or the alleged abuser and his supporters) to demand that the victims simply forgive and forget. The victims must be given the space to determine what constitutes proper justice in their case.

In the Qur’an, we read, “God commands you to return things entrusted to you to their rightful owners, and, if you judge between people, to do so with justice” (Al-Nisa, 4:58). If the restoration of trust is an imperative of justice, what then of the betrayal of the ultimate trust—the safety, sanctity, and inviolability of our children, under the guise of teaching them the word of God, no less! Yes, tawba is important, but so is the right of the plaintiffs to seek justice, speak out, and, I pray, have something of what was taken from them restored. And God knows best.

Jun 252015
 

previously published on Muslimah Media Watch

by Rana S.

I no longer feel awkward saying it out loud – some may think I’m too blunt about it. You know, like, about my period.

Menstruation is one of the factors that nullify a person’s fast (regardless if it is during the month of Ramadan or not) – it automatically “breaks” it. Every Ramadan, I get asked by at least a few people I know (and a few strangers have asked as well) about why I’m not fasting whenever I get “caught” eating or drinking a beverage. I would also get teased with “Ha! You’re cheating!” or “I caught you red-handed!” I suppose some people feel obliged to say something due to the fact that I do wear the hijab, and thus it is assumed I am also the Ramadan fasting type.  Sometimes these are people that I have already told that I fast during Ramadan, but then they suddenly see me “breaking” it.

During my high school and college years, I felt awkward confessing to guys that I was on my period. I would reply vaguely with something along the lines of “well, you know, there are circumstances in which Islam prohibits fasting, and I’m in one of those situations.” Some of the guys would look confused and simply reply with “Oh…okay.” If they inquired further, I would then explain that a person may break his/her fast for health reasons. I would lie that I had a health issue, but never say what that health issue was – I’d basically hint that I did not want to discuss the matter any further.

That changed seven years ago.  I was on the metro drinking an iced cappuccino on a Ramadan day, when a Muslim guy I knew got on. When he spotted me, he walked over and said hi. Then he stared at the iced cappuccino in my hands. “Oh, you’re not fasting?” he asked casually.

“Not today…”

“I guess you don’t feel like fasting today?”

“It’s not that. I just can’t.”

“Why?”

“You do realize that there are exceptions to the fasting rule?”

“Well I know illness is one of them. Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m fine…”

“Then how you come you just can’t?”

“Um, I’m a woman?”

“Huh?”

“You do know, right, that the rules of fasting differ for women?”

“Really?”

“Yes…”

“Like what?”

“Like, a woman’s period. It nullifies the fast. And yes, I’m on my period. ”

“Oh…I didn’t know that.”

[silence]

“I honestly didn’t know that…”

The incident with the Muslim guy was my trigger of change. The fact that even some Muslim guys either don’t know or forget that anyone menstruating is exempt from fasting (an ignorance largely due to the taboo of “exposing” men to it) is simply…not right. To be fair, the metro guy wasn’t the only Muslim guy who asked – but he was the only one who kept asking to the point where I confessed that I was on my period.

The metro incident made me realize that the taboo of talking about menstruation or admitting that one is on her period to guys – even when it would be for educational purposes (as in the case of Ramadan) – was only because patriarchal societies devalue and censor women’s bodies whereby only some aspects are fully acknowledged while others are taboos. Menstruation is a defining symbol of womanhood for many women. It is human – yet I have always felt that I should be as secretive about it as possible, to the point as if it does not exist. I did not want to hide that unnecessarily anymore.

I have some Muslim girlfriends who would still prefer lying to guys during Ramadan than confess their menstruation status. A few even go as far as only abstaining from food and beverages in public so as to not be “caught.” A few others abstain from food and beverages only whenever they are at home, so as to fool their fathers and brothers. The taboo nature of periods, and the extent to which some Muslim women will go to hide it, is perhaps why some Muslim guys either don’t know or forget.

Fast forward six years later. I spent the next six Ramadans bluntly telling anyone who asked, man or woman, that I was on my period whenever I got “caught.” With guys, it always occurred on a one-to-one basis.  That changed one day in Ramadan 2014. I was at work, and it happened to be an employee’s birthday. After the birthday cake was divided unto plates, I casually picked one up.  One of male co-workers asked, while the kitchen was still crowded with all employees, “hey, how come you’re not fasting? I thought you were really into that.” All eyes turned towards me. I looked around the kitchen, then responded with “Okay, now that I have your utmost attention, I want to say:  I’m on my period. I can’t fast when I’m on my period.”  One of my other male co-workers laughed and said “Oh yeah! I remember last Ramadan when you told me. I knew when it started and ended!” The conversation ended thanks to a third male co-worker who cautiously said “Okay…this is getting awkward. Can we change the conversation?”

The work incident still makes me laugh. It also made me realize that I no longer feel awkward about explaining my period status during Ramadan to men, regardless of who they are or how many men are in the same room as me.

Just for the record, not every Muslim breaks his/her fast due to exceptions to the fasting rule. There are Muslims that don’t fast simply because they don’t want to.  Others choose to fast on only some Ramadan days, but not all. Then there are those that were obliged to break their fast for a number of days, but don’t make up for them before the next Ramadan – or not do them at all. Fasting is a spiritual journey – not everyone is on the same pace with it.

I procrastinate horribly when it comes to making up my period days. Every year I get lectured by my mom about why I fast them anywhere between one to four weeks before Ramadan – especially since Ramadan these past few years has been in the summer, and thus the days are long. I half-heartedly convince myself that at least I’m preparing myself for Ramadan. That’s still smart, right?…Right?

Muslim girls: Take advantage of your period days in Ramadan. Organize an outing that involves food nearly every day before you return to your fasting routine. You should especially do this with other Muslim girls that are on their period. You deserve a break! How about even a dance party?  Call it “The Period Party” and invite all your menstruating Muslim friends. That is, if you don’t think it sounds too cheesy. I have yet to try this. Or how about even a one week trip to somewhere around the world? You know like, during your period days.

Will I have any period stories this Ramadan? I probably will. Since I was 14, I’ve never fasted a whole Ramadan (one month) without getting my period and without getting “caught”!

Happy Ramadan and Happy Break-Fasting!

May 282015
 

originally posted on muslimmatters.org

by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

“You who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives. Whether the person is rich or poor, God can best take care of both. Refrain from following your own desire, so that you can act justly–if you distort or neglect justice, God is fully aware of what you do.” (The Qur’an, 4:135)

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), God bless and grant his peace, said, “Religion is good counsel. We [Sahaba] asked, ‘To whom?’ He, peace be upon him, replied, ‘To Allah and His Book, and His messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and the masses.’”  (Muslim)

“It is said that a man from the Children of Israel acquired much knowledge from books that would fill up eighty vaults. But that knowledge was of no benefit to him. Allah, the Exalted, revealed to the prophet of that time to tell that person, ‘Even if you were study more books to further your knowledge that would still be of no benefit to you as you do not act upon three things: (1) do not fall in love with this world for this world is not the permanent abode for the faithful believers (lit.mu’minin), (2) do not befriend Satan for he is not a friend of the faithful believers, and (3) do not trouble any of Allah’s creation because such is not the nature of any faithful believer.’” [1]

Disclaimer: The following article represents my views and my views alone. None of what follows should be attributed to the people or organizations with whom I currently work or with whom I have worked in the past. While names and identifying information have been left out, the following accounts are based on verifiable events.

While I welcome comments and questions on this subject, I will not respond to speculation about the identities of the individuals involved in these scenarios. This essay is also not about any particular approach to Islam, school of thought, or minhaj. It is about human behavior.

In the Name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy[2]

People are often curious about my role as a female teacher and speaker in the male-dominated field of “traditional Islam.” [3] “What does a woman scholar-in-residence do?” I am often asked. To the non-Muslim questioner, my role is seen as a bit of a curiosity, especially given the stock, standard media image of the oppressed Muslim woman. To the Muslim questioner, the question goes deeper. For some women, I am a potential role model for their daughters and a mentor to them. For some men, I represent the rare woman in the circles associated with traditional Islam who is willing to speak in public. I am simultaneously called upon to speak for the women in the audience, while defending the Shar’i (Islamic legal) basis for my presence on stage. Event organizers, typically quite gracious, believe that I contribute to the diverse perspectives they hope to offer to audience members. Often the only woman in a lineup that is otherwise exclusively male, I represent, supposedly, a continuation of the tradition of the scholarly Muslim woman.

At first glance, it may appear as if I am successfully negotiating the gender politics of the American Muslim conference. It is really offstage, however, that the tensions between my public role and private reality collide. While I enjoy learning from and interacting with the teachers, callers, andShuyukh who attend the conferences, events, and retreats that constitute the American Islamic socio-intellectual scene, I have experienced moments that have given me pause. These are the moments in which the lines between the public world of the “celebrity” Shaykh and his private life become blurred, and the women who inhabit both worlds reach out to me for clarity.

When I first started writing Islamic advice columns, I was completely unprepared for the deluge of questions I would receive from men and women around the world. A laid back former colleague told me the job would not be difficult. “You’ll just be the Muslim version of Dear Abby,” he chuckled. Unless Abby has started fielding questions on Shari’ah law, however, I have come to disagree with his assessment. Over the years, thousands of questions have poured in on every conceivable topic: theology, Qur’anic exegesis, hadith studies, human rights, environmentalism, disability, marriageand family law, sexuality, gender relations, Islamic ritual law, history, politics…the list goes on. I quickly realized that the Muslim (internet) public was consuming and demanding answers at a faster rate than I or any other writer could provide. Perhaps dissatisfied with the limitations of online Islamic answers and quasi-fatawa, prospective students of knowledge—which included women in large percentages—began signing up for classes with their favorite teachers and scholars. They also flocked to retreats, intensives, and conferences, looking for the personal connection that was missing from online forums.

This combination of electronic delivery of Islamic content and personal interaction with scholars and teachers at onsite venues has led to a revolution in “classical” Islamic learning. [4] Suddenly, students did not have to spend thousands of dollars and experience the culture shock of living overseas. They could access sacred texts from the comfort of their home computers—and, increasingly, their smartphones—and even communicate with the teacher in real time using Skype, chat, and other instant messaging applications. In an instant, the distance between student and teacher shrank and the boundaries of decorum that circumscribed the public interactions of males and females shifted and relaxed. The blurring of lines sparked by this technological revolution has resulted in the creation of fan pages for ‘ulama, “friending” unrelated men and women on Facebook, following favorite teacher profiles on social media, and casually messaging heretofore inaccessible people at all times of day and night.

Adab on the Internet

From the perspective of the democratization of Islamic knowledge, the above developments might appear promising. However, from the perspective of adab (etiquette), the “formality between men and women” so keenly articulated by a prominent woman scholar; the integrity of the knowledge itself and its purveyors; and the safety of the family structure; the above developments are alarming.[5] Before I discuss why I find this trend disturbing, let me say a word about the “celebrity” Shaykh. Lest anyone think I am being dismissive toward our ‘ulama, I am not. I do not believe teachers, scholars, and speakers set out to become famous. I pray that all of us serving in a public capacity read and reread imam Al-Ghazali’s (God rest his soul and sanctify his secret) warning to teachers of sacred knowledge, particularly regarding their susceptibility to arrogance, showing off, and amassing followers. I believe the celebrity Shaykh is a victim of his own success, a product of the techno-obsessed culture that dictates that every ‘alim, school, and institution market its “authentic,” “classical” and “traditional” Islamic “products and services” or perish. Moreover, the celebrity Shaykh has become enthroned on a pedestal, the pedestal of unimpeachable piety and character, the pedestal of “see no wrong, do no wrong,” in which we, the adoring students, have cast this very fallible human being as larger than life.

We are doing ourselves and our teachers a tremendous disservice when we elevate them beyond human frailties. Our ‘ulama, teachers, and Mashayikh are not perfect. They are flawed human beings, with the same weaknesses, shortcomings, and challenges with which we struggle. The only perfected human being was the Prophet Muhammad, God bless him and give him peace. And if we read his biography, we realize that even he, peace be upon him, his wives, companions, and associates had to deal with real human problems. So why do we try to ascribe perfection to our teachers and scholars today? It is natural to feel affection for the person who guides and directs us, but are we helping our religious leaders when we declare them beyond reproach?

I contend that we have created a toxic environment for our religious leaders: an environment in which the proper boundaries between student and teacher have become blurred, an environment in which misuse of power is rife, and an environment in which women, in particular, are subject to deception and spiritual abuse. I raise this issue, not to cause dissension (fitna) in the ranks of the Muslims, but to warn our leaders, our elders, and our masses that we have to address this social ill before we lose all credibility when it comes to the Qur’anic injunction to the

“[Believers], you are the best community singled out for people: you order what is right, forbid what is wrong, and believe in God.” (The Qur’an, 3:110).

Adding Up Islam in Public and Private

Our leaders, particularly those who claim to be spiritual guides, must practice what they preach. Our ‘ulama are not politicians, for whom a wide disparity between public image and private conduct is expected. Yes our ‘ulama are fallible, but they have a responsibility to recognize the tensions inherent in their roles, the pitfalls of the celebrity Shaykh culture, and the integrity of the positions they hold. How can our leaders recite platitudes about women’s empowerment and status in Islam publicly, while privately undermining those very rights they claim to cherish? How is it acceptable to publicly proclaim respect for women, while privately deeming them little more than sexual conquests?

It has recently come to my attention that there are well-known individuals who are using their platforms for more than the dissemination of Islamic teachings. There is evidence demonstrating that these individuals are using their positions in circles of sacred learning to groom, recruit, and entice female followers with promises of marriage, access to Shuyukh, study abroad opportunities, and entrée to exclusive socio-spiritual networks. Under the guise of mentoring, these individuals areengaging in private, unsupervised conversations with marriageable members of the opposite sex. These conversations, carried out in the relative anonymity of cyberspace, appear to run the gamut from fairly innocuous exchanges of biographical information (à la pen pals in the pre-computer era) to material that is merely suggestive to thoughts and sentiments that are wildly inappropriate. For those who want to make the excuse that the conversations are a prelude to marriage, I would merely remind them that the individuals involved in this scenario are teachers of Islamic law and, hence, know full well that there are rules surrounding courtship in Islam. I would also point out that when said teacher is engaging in conversations with multiple women at the same time, we also have a math problem. Islamic law only allows a man to marry four wives, so if the already-married teacher is “courting” multiple women at once, only a certain percentage can expect the relationship to become licit. What then of the remaining percentage? Again, a math problem.

One could make the excuse that our ‘ulama are not mathematicians. True, but surely they have some knowledge of Newtonian physics, “for every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” After making the cold calculus of choosing and excluding whom to marry from their adoring students, these teachers may very well be able to move on, accepting the next exciting or lucrative speaking engagement. However, the women who were promised marriage and then jilted are having a more difficult time of it. It is not an easy thing to be played, particularly when the player is your favorite Shaykh. One can only imagine what these women’s perception of Islam has become, especially when the Shaykh was their Islam.

As a direct consequence of these individuals’ actions, women have become disillusioned, embittered, and depressed. Every time these individuals raise their voices up to proclaim their sincere love of the deen, these women’s hearts fall just a little more. The harm is even more egregious when these women are actually the ex-wives of Shuyukh. Typically, these women start out as eager students who strike up an online relationship with the Shaykh (or with whom the Shaykh initiates contact), which then descends into banter and flirtation, then promises of commitment, talk of marriage, etc. In some cases, the Shaykh proposes marriage, in other cases, it is the women. The common denominator though, in all situations, is the existence of the first wife. Her presence is often alluded to in online conversations, but her consent for the relationship is rarely sought. She is either said to be “okay with it,” or believed to be able to “deal with it.” In most cases, the first wife is not okay with it, nor is she able to deal with it. In fact, in most cases, the poor woman has no idea the other woman even exists, until it is too late.

Talaq by Text Message

Since the purpose of this essay is to draw attention to the plight of the “other woman,” I will not belabor the point about the first wife, except to say that when her husband’s dalliances and marriages are revealed, the trust between them is irreparably broken. If she is legally married (per the laws of the United States, for example), she may have some means of redress. However, the other woman has no such means. As the clandestine second (or third or fourth) wife of the Shaykh, she has no legal avenues through which to pursue her rights. Her Islamic nikah (marriage contract) is not enforceable, placing her in an extremely vulnerable position. It is a position no one’s daughter or sister should find herself in, but it is happening to good women from good families. As the secret second wife of the Shaykh, the poor woman receives no public recognition or respect. She cannot appear with him in gatherings. She cannot announce herself to the community. And she dare not contact his first wife and speak out lest she be accused of causing fitna. To add insult to injury, the Shaykh, who will not even deign to acknowledge the woman publicly, still retains conjugal access, enjoying all the pleasures of marriage without the responsibility, for, in many cases, he has not provided a marital home nor financial support to the secret second wife. To cap it all off, when he is done with the second wife, the marriage is ended without much ceremony, unless one deems talaqby text message ceremonious. Predictably, when the woman reacts badly, as anyone would under the circumstances, the Shaykh and his followers write her off as “unstable.” [6]

I will leave everyone with a few thoughts. What is a woman’s broken heart worth? What does a woman’s lost faith mean to us? What would the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, who conducted his marriages with total transparency, think of us? Is it appropriate to use one’s access to knowledge and teachers as a lure for needy, vulnerable women? Is it fair to marry a woman in secret, knowing one lacks the means to support her? When a man marries behind his wife’s back, does he truly value the marriage bond? When individuals abuse their religious authority in this fashion, are they upholding the integrity of the tradition with which they have been entrusted? Is it not inconsistent to publicly lecture about modesty and the niqab (face veil) for women, yet let one’s guard down in private communication? We need to think very carefully about how we as teachers, scholars, Mashayikh, and students contribute to the blurred lines that have resulted in broken homes, broken hearts, and broken minds.

“By the declining day, man is [deep] in loss, except for those who believe, do good deeds, urge one another to the truth, and urge one another to steadfastness.” (The Qur’an, 103:1-3).

Shaykha Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq is a native Southerner with Northern roots. She spent several years studying the core Islamic sciences, including Arabic, jurisprudence, Qur’anic recitation & commentary, Hadith, and Prophetic biography in Damascus, Syria at Abu Nour masjid’s college preparatory program. Currently, she is the scholar-in-residence at the Tayseer Foundation in Knoxville, TN.

 

[1] Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani and Mawlana Muhammad Abdul Jabbar, tr. Habib Siddiqui, Al-Munabbihat: The Counsel (Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust, 2007), 17.

[2] This invocation and all translations of Qur’anic verses come from the M.A.S. Abdel Haleem Oxford World’s Classics Qur’an. The hadith translation is my own.

[3] I am enclosing this term in quotation marks given the fact that most observant Muslims would regard themselves as practitioners of a traditional Islam vs. a non-traditional Islam.

[4] Again, this term is enclosed in quotation marks given that there are a plethora of institutions embodying varying approaches to Islam that lay claim to this mantle. Again, this essay is not about any one particular approach or institution.

[5] See “Formality between men and women” at http://www.peacespective.org/formality/ (accessed May 7, 2015).

[6] All conversations enclosed in quotation marks are either paraphrased or quoted directly.

May 182015
 
Exploring sexual experiences, shame, and access to sexual health information among Muslim Youth in Canada: A Research Study

We welcome guest writer and researcher Sobia Ali Faisal, who recently earned her doctoral degree from the University of Windsor. Her research is compelling and was recently turned into an info graphic. Below is a guest post where she succinctly explains what her research findings were and why it is so important for our communities to begin making a commitment to sex education for Muslim youth. We congratulate Sobia for such compelling research and look forward to more of her work in this field.

by Sobia Ali Faisal

infographicSome of my research findings from my doctoral work were put into an infographic to make the results more accessible than they are right now in the huge dissertation document. It’s great to see the information get out there and be shared. Research on sex and Muslims in Canada and the US is virtually non-existent. People have had some questions on it so I thought I would explain my research a little (and save people having to read my entire dissertation). I’m hoping to get it published in the near future, insha’Allah, but some of this information is relevant right now. Although, the issue is not being covered in the media as much anymore, this is an issue that is and will be relevant for Muslims for a long time.

Muslim Youth Need Sex Education

Yes they do.Why? Because Muslim youth are having sex. I surveyed 403 Muslims in Canada and the US between the ages of 17 and 35. More than half (221) reported they had engaged in sex. I did not ask for any particular time frame. I was simply asking if they had ever had sex. Of those 221, two-thirds (148) said they had done so before marriage. Before anyone thinks that most of those 148 people were men, I found these proportions were the same for men and women – two-thirds of the women and two-thirds of the men had sex before marriage.

Even when looking at those who had not engaged in sex before marriage, half of those Muslims reported that they had considered doing so.

It’s clear that sex is relevant to Muslim youth. Previous research on the sexual education of Muslim youth (done mostly in New Zealand or the UK) has found Muslim parents DO want their children to have sexual education, but not until they are getting married. Knowing that Muslims are having sex before marriage means that having them wait until they are getting married to provide them with this education is too late, and dangerous. They clearly need to know about issues of consent, violence in relationships, and healthy sexual decision making long before that time.

The Greatest Source of Sex Ed is the Media and Parents are the Least Likely Source

I asked my participants to rate, on a scale from 0 – 4, how much sexual education they received from the media, their friends, and their parents. Media received the highest rating and was statistically significantly higher than the rating given to parents as a source of education.

This isn’t unique to Muslims, but it highlights the problem that plagues all young people – parents aren’t talking about issues of sex and sexual health so the school systems need to provide this education. My research simply points out that Muslim youth are no different than their non-Muslim counterparts in this regard.

Lack of Sexual Knowledge -> Fear of Negative Sexual Self-Judgement -> Unhealthy Relationships

The main focus of my dissertation was sexual guilt and sexual anxiety of young Muslim adults. Previous research has found belief in sexual myths and lack of sexual knowledge to be related to higher levels of sexual guilt. Sexual guilt is a fear of negatively judging oneself for either engaging in or possibly engaging in sexual activity.

Previous research has also found a sexual guilt to be related to greater sexual dissatisfaction, higher frequency of sexual problems, and dissatisfaction with a current sexual relationship, which in turn has been found to be related to decreased relationship and marital satisfaction.

Lack of sexual knowledge can therefore result in negative feelings about sexual activity which will have an impact on sexual and romantic relationships.

Conclusion

My conclusion is the same as before – young Muslims need sexual health education, just as their non-Muslim counterparts do.

References:

Brezsnyak, M.,& Whisman, M.A. (2004). Sexual desire and relationship functioning: The effects of marital satisfaction and power. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 30, 199-217. doi: 10.1080/00926230490262393

Cado, S., & Leitenberg, H. (1990). Guilt reactions to sexual fantasies during intercourse. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 19, 49-63. doi: 10.1007/BF01541825

Darling, C.A., Davidson, J.K., & Passello, L.C. (1992). The mystique of first intercourse among college youth: The role of partners, contraceptive practices, and psychological reactions. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 21, 97-117. doi: 10.1007/BF01536984

Mendelsohn, M. J., & Mosher, D. L. (1979). Effects of sex guilt and premarital sexual permissiveness on role-played sex education and moral attitudes. Journal of Sex Research, 15, 174-183. doi:10.1080/00224497909551039

Trudel, G., & Goldfarb, M.R., (2010). Marital and sexual functioning and dysfunctioning, depression and anxiety. Sexologies, 19, 137-142. doi: 10.1016/j.sexol.2009.12.009

Witting, K., Santtila, P., Alanko, K., Harlaar, N., Jern, P., Johansson, A.,… Sandnabba, K. (2008). Female sexual function and its associations with number of children, pregnancy, and relationship satisfaction. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 34, 89 – 106. doi: 10.1080/00926230701636163

originally published on sobiaalifaisal.com