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This is a sub-article of Islamic marital jurisprudence and human sexuality.

Template:Fiqh-Mar Sexuality in Islam is largely described by the holy book (the Qur'an), the sayings of Mohammed (hadith), and the rulings of religious leaders' (fatwa) as being confined to marital relationships between men and women. While most traditions discourage celibacy, all encourage strict chastity and modesty with regards to any relationships across gender lines, holding forth that intimacy as perceived within Islam -- encompassing a swathe of life more broad than strictly sex—is largely to be reserved for marriage. This sensitivity to gender difference and modesty (hijab) outside of marriage can be seen in current prominent aspects of Islam—interpretations of Islamic dress and degrees of gender segregation, for example.

While prohibitions against adulterous relationships are strong, permissible sexual relationships are described in Islamic sources as great wells of love and closeness for the couple involved. Specific occasions—most notably daytime fasting and menstruation—are times forbidden for intercourse, though not for other ways of touching and being close to one another. Issues such as masturbation, abortion and homosexuality are also strictly forbidden; contraceptive use is permitted for birth control.

Sex within marriage

To varying degrees Islamic law explicitly states that both men and women are entitled to sexual gratification in marriage; the failure or inability to provide this may be cited as grounds for divorce initiated by either the wife or husband. Throughout the history of Islamic exegetical traditions, philosophies, and law, much has been written to encourage, often in quite frank and explicit terms, Muslims to cultivate between themselves in their marriages both sexual passion and tenderness.

Aims of sex

Sex is viewed in terms of both its procreational value and as a way to strengthen the bonds between a couple.

Template:PresentScholar states:

The preservation of the human species is unquestionably the primary objective of marriage, and such preservation of the species requires continued reproduction.[1]

Islam obligates a married couple to try and have children. The theological understanding and reasons for this are varied, but this essentially means that a spouse is encouraged, religiously, to have sex with their partner on request. However, it is considered forbidden (Haram) for a woman to have sex during her period. This encouragement is on both partners, and while neither partner can force the other to comply, constant refusal to have sex (with a view to conceiving a child) has been recorded as a reason why some women choose to divorce their husband.

Rewards for sex

An oft-repeated hadith emphasize the granting of divine reward for sex within marriage: Template:QuoteHadith

Template:PresentScholar writes:[2]

From Adam till now, including the inhabitants of Jannah, there exists no Ibadat like Nikah and sex and it is a testament of iman, and Nikah with the exception of iman is an act of worship that cannot be compared as copulating is the means via which the Muslim Ummah increases in its size


In hadith, it is said that engaging in sexual intercourse without talking to or kissing one's wife is a sign of a husband's weakness.[3]

Sexual techniques

According to Islamic law, there are no sayings regarding sexual techniques except for prohibiting sex.

Sex outside of marriage


Adultery is strictly, and repeatedly forbidden in the Qur'an.

  • And do not go anywhere near adultery: it is an outrage, and an evil path. (17:32)
  • 4) Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar : The Jew brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from amongst them who have committed (adultery) illegal sexual intercourse. He ordered both of them to be stoned (to death), near the place of offering the funeral prayers beside the mosque." (Book #23, Hadith #413)

This same idea can be found in the Old Testament passage below:

22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. 23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. Deut 22:22-24 (KJV)

Pre-marital sex

While the strictest forms can prescribe the death penalty for adultery which is for the married -the unmarried are punished by 100 lashes to the sinner, with the condition that he/she was never married before.

سُورَةٌ أَنزَلْنَاهَا وَفَرَضْنَاهَا وَأَنزَلْنَا فِيهَا آيَاتٍ بَيِّنَاتٍ لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ ﴿١﴾  

(1) (This is) a Surah (chapter of the Qur'an) which We have sent down and which We have enjoined, (ordained its laws); and in it We have revealed manifest Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations - lawful and unlawful things, and set boundaries of Islamic Religion), that you may remember.

الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِي فَاجْلِدُوا كُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا مِائَةَ جَلْدَةٍ ۖ وَلَا تَأْخُذْكُم بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۖ وَلْيَشْهَدْ عَذَابَهُمَا طَائِفَةٌ مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿٢﴾ (2) The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. (This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime, but if married persons commit it (illegal sex), the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah's Law).

الزَّانِي لَا يَنكِحُ إِلَّا زَانِيَةً أَوْ مُشْرِكَةً وَالزَّانِيَةُ لَا يَنكِحُهَا إِلَّا زَانٍ أَوْ مُشْرِكٌ ۚ وَحُرِّمَ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿٣﴾ (3) The adulterer-fornicator marries not but an adulteress-fornicatress or a Mushrikah, and the adulteress-fornicatress none marries her except an adulterer-fornicator or a Muskrik [and that means that the man who agrees to marry (have a sexual relation with) a Mushrikah (female polytheist, pagan or idolatress) or a prostitute, then surely he is either an adulterer-fornicator, or a Mushrik (polytheist, pagan or idolater). And the woman who agrees to marry (have a sexual relation with) a Mushrik (polytheist, pagan or idolater) or an adulterer-fornicator, then she is either a prostitute or a Mushrikah (female polytheist, pagan, or idolatress)]. Such a thing is forbidden to the believers (of Islamic Monotheism). Glorious Quran 24:1-3

As a result of the Islamic beliefs regarding extramarital and pre-marital sex, many modern Muslim societies highly value virginity and maintain high rates of abstinence until marriage.


Qur'an strictly prohibited homosexuality through the story of Lot (see Qur'an verses:7:80-84,11:69-83, 29:28-35), similarly rendered to the story as it appears in the Biblical Book of Genesis, as well as through a verse addressed directly to Muhammad and his followers, which reads:

  • If two men commit a lewd act, punish them both; if they repent and mend their ways, leave them alone—God is always ready to accept repentance, He is full of mercy. (4:16)


In Islam prostitution is forbidden on all grounds. It is considered a sin in its form. As referenced here: Template:Hadith-usc

Allah's Apostle forbade taking the price of a dog, money earned by prostitution and the earnings of a soothsayer
—Abu Mas'ud Al-Ansari

Sex with slaves

Ma malakat aymanukum is the term for slaves, which may be captives of war. A male master may have sexual intercourse with his female slave, but only after taking them as spouses a man may have sexual intercourse with.

Restrictions on sex

Anal intercourse

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a contemporary Sunni Muslim scholar, states that anal sex is prohibited. The Quran says "And they ask thee concerning menstruation. Say, 'It is a harmful thing, so keep away from women during menstruation, and go not in unto them until they are clean. But when they have cleansed themselves, go in unto them as Allah has commanded you. Allah loves those who keep themselves clean.'" (2:222) A wife must abstain from it should her husband demand it, and may seek divorce over it if her husband persists or tries to force her,[4] as the act is forbidden in the Islamic marriage contract. The act in itself, however, doesn't nullify the marriage, and the wife must seek divorce in order to separate from the husband. [5]

Muslim scholars justify the prohibition on the basis of the Quranic verse 2:223, saying that it commands intercourse only in the vagina (which will lead to the birth of children). The vaginal intercourse may be in any manner the couple wishes, that is, from behind or from the front, sitting or with the wife lying on her back or on her side.

Times to Avoid Sexual Intercourse

Sexual intercourse is prohibited during menstruation, for forty days after childbirth, during the daylight hours of Ramadan, and on pilgrimage.[6]

Purification and hygiene

Islamic sexual hygienical jurisprudence is a prominent topic in Islamic jurisprudence Template:Istr, due to its relevance to the issues prominent in everyday life.

Fasting and Ramadan

Regarding sexual intercourse during the month of Ramadan: Template:QuoteQuran

Through emulation of the actions of Muhammad and interpretation, this same type of prohibition is extended to voluntary fasts (those which fall outside of Ramadan) as well. Select interpreters have held that the right to sexual gratification in marriage is strong enough that a married woman should seek her husband's approval before choosing days to fast; on this contemporary opinions and practices vary.



The bottom line is a man may share the bed with his wife but he is not allowed to have sexual relations with her in those days, because it is not good for either of them.

Template:PresentScholar states:

...it is reported that the Jews and Zoroastrians used to go to extremes in avoiding any physical contact with menstruating women, while the Christians continue to have sexual relations with them without regard to the flow of blood. The Arabs of the period of jahiliyyah would not eat, drink, or sit with women who were menstruating and would send them to separate dwelling just as the Jews and Zoroastrians did. Accordingly, some Muslims asked the Prophet about what is permitted and what is forbidden in relation to menstruating women. The following verse was then revealed:

(verse 2:222 quoted)

Some people understood the phrase, "Refrain from women, as meaning that they should not live together in the same house during the menstrual periods. The Prophet then explained the correct meaning of this verse, saying,

I ordered you only to refrain from having intercourse with menstruating women and did not tell you to send them out of the house as the foreigners do.

When the Jews of Madinah heard this they said, "This man does not like to leave any part of what we do unchanged, but does the opposite." Thus the Muslim can fondle and enjoy his menstruating wife, avoiding only the place of hurt. The Islamic position in this regard is as always, a middle one, between the one extreme of expelling the menstruating woman from the house and the other extreme of having intercourse with her. Recent medical researchers have discovered that the menstrual flow contains a toxic substance which, if undischarged, may be harmful to the body. Likewise; they have discovered the reason why intercourse should be avoided during this time. The reproductive organs become highly congested and the nerves very sensitive due to the secretion of the internal glands; consequently, intercourse may irritate them, possibly impeding the menstrual flow and causing inflammation of the sexual organs.[1]


The Quran does not mention masturbation directly, yet it is strongly discouraged in most traditions of Islamic Jurisprudence. The Shi'a forbid masturbation outright; while some Sunni schools concur with the Shi'a, others take a weaker (though generally condemnatory) stance on the matter.


We used to practice coitus interruptus while the Quran was being revealed. Jabir added: We used to practice coitus interruptus during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle while the Quran was being revealed.[7]
—Jabir ibn Abdullah
A man said: Apostle of Allah, I have a slave-girl and I withdraw from her (while having intercourse), and I dislike that she becomes pregnant. I intend (by intercourse) what the men intend by it. The Jews say that withdrawing the penis (azl) is burying the living girls on a small scale. He (the Prophet) said: The Jews told a lie. If Allah intends to create it, you cannot turn it away.[8]

"O Allah's Apostle! We get female captives as our share of booty, and we are interested in their prices, what is your opinion about coitus interruptus?" The Prophet said, "Do you really do that? It is better for you not to do it. No soul that which Allah has destined to exist, but will surely come into existence."[9]


Islam does not traditionally hold that ensoulment occurs at the point of conception. Two passages in the Qur'an describe the fetal development process:

  • ...We created you from dust, then from a drop of fluid, then a clinging form, then a lump of flesh, both shaped and unshaped: We mean to make Our power clear to you. Whatever We choose We cause to remain in the womb for an appointed time, then We bring you forth as infants and then you grow and reach maturity. ... (22:5)
  • We created man from an essence of clay, then We placed him as a drop of fluid in a safe place, then We made that drop into a clinging form, and We made that form into a lump of flesh, and We made that lump into bones, and We clothed those bones with flesh, and later We made him into other forms—glory be to God, the best of creators! (23:12-14)

Traditional scholarship places the point of ensoulment nearer to the end of this process, naming it as anywhere between 40 and 120 days after conception, making abortion permissible until that point, though increasingly disliked as time passed.

Contemporary scholarship, however, is more likely to more strongly restrict or even forbid abortion, on the grounds that[citation needed] modern technology has permitted us to perceive life in the womb earlier than was previously possible. All schools of thought, traditional and modern, make allowances for circumstances threatening the health or life of the mother.

Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari in a lecture stated that it was murder if done after three months and before that it was a crime, but not to the degree of murder.

See also

  • The Perfumed Garden
  • Mutah: the Shia fixed-term temporary marriage
  • Misyar: the Sunni open-ended, negotiated, marriage contract of convenience
  • Islam and sexual techniques


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam page 310 - 311[dead link]
  2. Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Dur al-Mukhtar Volume 3 page 3
  3. "In three matters, the weakness of a male is disclosed. Firstly if a lover meets his beloved, and then they separate without enquiring into their mutual condition and health; secondly, rejecting the honour which someone wishes to pay him; thirdly to engage in sexual intercourse with the wife or the female who is legally permitted, without talking to her or kissing her or by being unable to restrain the ejaculation of semen before that of his wife." Related by Daylami.
  4. When Husband Insists on Anal Sex with His Wife - IslamonLine.net - Ask The Scholar
  5. Anal Sex with the Wife: Does It Nullify Marriage? - IslamonLine.net - Ask The Scholar
  6. From the article on sexuality in Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  7. Template:Hadith-usc
  8. Template:Hadith-usc
  9. Template:Hadith-usc

External links

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