Islam and Sexuality: Sex for Men, But Not for Women?

Regulation for some but not for others.

Often I receive notes from Iran or Arab Muslim countries, from educated women who want to raise awareness and learn how to overcome the fear that has being indoctrinated in them regarding how they handle their body and, most importantly, think about their sexual life and sexuality.

“Socially speaking the average age for virginity has gone up in Muslim countries. I am thirty-five years old now, and I am still a virgin.  They have planted deep rooted guilt and shame in us if we think about these issues before getting married,” an Iranian woman, a writer and teacher from city of Kerman wrote in a note in Persian.

I am not a therapist, but I have analyzed the issue from religious, political, social, and theological perspectives (Allah, a God Who Hates Women). First of all, it is crucial to detect the roots of the problem.  The religion of Islam intervenes, in an unlimited way, not only in how women should dress (veil and cover), but also how woman should think about their sexuality and body.

The Quran (literal words of Allah according to Muslims and Islam) and life of Muhammad are the two most crucial sources through which Sharia law views women and tells them how to reflect on their sexuality.

These two sources are used to teach, train, and brainwash women from childhood, through social media, Imams, Sheikhs, mosques, TV, families, tribes, schools, and colleges.  As I will explain later in the article, guilt, shame, and feeling sinful about their sexuality are indoctrinated at this level.

Then there is the hard power level, which imposes thfear. If a girl or woman breaks one of the Sharia laws above, she will be punished. The punishment can be from the state (execution, lashing, imprisonment, stoning, torture), or it can come from community and family members (such as honor killing, beatings, imprisoning the girl in home, etc.). Often the punishment comes from both the state and community or the family.

Those who impose these laws could be either women or men. For example, in Iran, there are many female moral police in the street working for the state to monitor the population. In addition, some Muslim mothers are stricter on their daughters than their fathers or brothers.

Since the Quran is the indisputable word of Allah according to Muslims, it is the most powerful tool. If we analyze the Quran meticulously, we see that many verses related to sex are directed towards how men can enjoy their sexual life, but women play a passive role.

[2:223] Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish and put forth [righteousness] for yourselves. And fear Allah and know that you will meet Him. And give good tidings to the believers.

[2:187] It has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your wives [for sexual relations].

[4:25] And whoever among you cannot [find] the means to marry free, believing women, then [he may marry] from those whom your right hands possess of believing slave girls. And Allah is most knowing about your faith. You [believers] are of one another.

There is no verse telling women that they should enjoy their sexual life as well. In fact, those verses that are directed towards women are objectifying, subjugating, dehumanizing, disempowering and impose fear in them if they break the Sharia laws.

For example:

[4:15] Those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse of your women – bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them or Allah ordains for them [another] way.

[24:31] And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their head covers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers that you might succeed.

Some Islamic and Sharia laws and teachings even spread the idea that women should feel filthy, guilty and bad about being a women, as well as about their natural physiological attributes. For example:

[2:222] And they ask you about menstruation. Say, "It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves."

These teachings become more powerful when the state joins the religion to impose the Sharia law.

These teachings and punishments have been going on for over a thousand years. As a result, it is not easy for some Muslim women to free themselves from these feelings about their sexuality. The process would be slow if a woman decided to liberate herself from these Islamist, political and social chains. For a Muslim woman, it is much harder to do so in the Muslim world rather than in the West. But the most important thing is to raise awareness and continue educating people about these issues.

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