We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more Sexuality - Oxford Islamic Studies Online
Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
Chapter: verse lookup What is This? Select one or both translations, then enter a chapter and verse number in the boxes, and click "Go."
:
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Next Result

Sexuality

Source:
The Islamic World: Past and Present What is This? Accessible coverage of Islam from the seventh century to the twenty-first century

    Related Content

    Sexuality

    Islamic law recognizes the sexual nature of human beings. Sexuality provides a balance to the spiritual, material, and intellectual spheres of life. Nevertheless, the Islamic tradition emphasizes that the only basis for sexual fulfillment is a heterosexual marriage. Premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality are considered sinful, and therefore, punishable. As more Muslim women have participated in the workplace and other aspects of public life, issues regarding female gender roles have also come to the foreground.

    Sacred Union.

    Sex within marriage is neither sinful nor reserved only for the purposes of procreation. Indeed, Muslims understand sexual fulfillment within marriage—for both the husband and wife—to be a fundamental part of the relationship. Marital sex serves as a means of communication between partners and as a source of comfort. The Qur'an prohibits sex outside of marriage, however, and identifies it as a sin comparable to murder or stealing. In classical Islamic law, those convicted of this crime are subject to set punishments, either flogging or stoning.

    To confront the sexual impulses that may arise after puberty, many Muslim societies have developed separate spheres for males and females. In general, girls and boys do not attend school together or interact in social settings. Some societies may permit young couples to date, either with a chaperone or in a group. Islam stresses the virginity of both boys and girls before they enter into their first marriage. Brides are sometimes required to present a doctor's certificate to confirm it.

    Modern trends have begun to complicate sexual issues in many Muslim countries. Economic factors and educational pursuits have led many young people to marry at a later age, resulting in a longer period of celibacy and greater difficulty in honoring Islamic teachings about premarital sex. In Iran, clerics and government leaders endorse temporary marriage, which is permitted under Shi'i law, as an acceptable alternative to sexually promiscuous behavior.

    The presence of women in the workplace has also generated tension in the Islamic world, and has resulted in the harassment of women in public. The employment of women outside the home has also triggered debate about the proper behavior of Muslim women and the potential moral dangers posed by changes in sexual norms.

    Education has promoted new ideas about family planning and population growth. Muslim societies accept birth control as an aid in managing family resources and as something that enables married couples to enjoy sex just for pleasure. Nevertheless, Muslims generally consider infertility to be very shameful, and many resist the use of birth control. Islam permits infertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization, but most Muslims believe that Islam forbids abortion unless the mother's life is threatened by the pregnancy.

    Sensitive Topics.

    Homosexuality exists in the Muslim world, but virtually all Muslims believe that Islam condemns same-sex relationships. Most schools of Islamic law require punishments for homosexual activities. In Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, the penalty is execution. Offenders in Bangladesh, Egypt, Malaysia, and Pakistan receive prison sentences ranging from 3 to 20 years.

    Islam emphasizes that sexual relations must be based on mutual respect and consent and strongly condemns prostitution and rape. However, prostitution is a major social problem in many Muslim countries. Child prostitution has become a serious concern in Indonesia, and human rights groups have charged that female migrant workers in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are subjected to sexual abuse from their employers.

    The practice of female circumcision, which occurs in parts of the Persian Gulf region and some Muslim countries of Africa, began long before Islam arrived in these regions. Intended as a means of controlling female sexuality and ensuring virginity at marriage, it limits a woman's ability to experience sexual pleasure. Many Muslims regard this practice as contrary to Islamic principles. See also Harem; Marriage.

    • Previous Result
    • Results
    • Highlight On / Off
    • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
    • Next Result
    Oxford University Press

    © 2021. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice