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Islam's Diversity Permits Many Acts Beyond Vanilla Sex

02/15/2017 02:42 EST | Updated 02/15/2017 02:43 EST

There is sadaqa (worship through giving) in sexual intimacy. -- The Prophet

Muslim puritans thump the sex positivity of Islam in their polemics. Paradoxically, they reject sexual conduct beyond coitus and project their personal views as consensus. However, Islam is too diverse and vast for there to be any consensus position on sexuality. The following commentary on sexual acts beyond coitus showcases this diversity of Muslim thought.

arab couple

(Photo: Antonio Guillem via Getty Images)

1. Masturbation

Puritans generally prohibit masturbation. Muslim youth are made to feel guilty and the only recourse given to them is based on the necessity argument.

However, based on linguistic principles of classical Arabic, Muslim scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi concludes:

Thus, it can be said with full certainty that there is no injunction or general principle in the Qur'an on the basis of which masturbation can be regarded as prohibited or undesirable. No different is the case of the Hadith. Its whole corpus is devoid of any narrative on this subject, which is acceptable to the scholars of Hadith.

Puritans argue for patience or fasting to curb masturbation. However, they fail to acknowledge that fasting is not pragmatic, patience is a finite thing and one cannot expect people to be abstinent for years.

While puritans like to attack texts that oppose their viewpoints, they use weak texts to justify their own viewpoints. Regardless, prominent past jurists viewed the act as permissible for both men and women. Contemporary scholar Moiz Amjad writes:

Mujaahid is also reported to have said that those gone by used to advise their young ones to practice it, to save them from indulging into fornication. Mujaahid has also reported Hasan as saying; "there is no harm in masturbation".

2. Oral Sex

Puritans prohibit oral sex based on arguments that such a lowly act contravenes propriety, the mouth is used to read the Qur'an, and that genital secretions are impure.

However, those who support the permissibility of oral sex deem genital secretions as pure, equating them with breast milk and spittle. They also allude to texts that encourage foreplay, uphold permissibility of enjoying the body, distinguish genitalia from the anus and see no harm in oral sex.

Contemporary scholar al-Turayri opines:

There is no evidence whatsoever from these two sources [Qur'an and Sunnah] forbidding this practice. Therefore, as things are basically lawful unless evidence to the contrary exists, then this practice is lawful. Some people may dislike a practice for their own personal reasons, but we cannot say that it is an unlawful practice in Islam.

arab couple cuddling

(Photo: Franck Reporter via Getty Images)

3) Non-penetrative sexual acts

Acts, which include kissing, touching, inter-crural intercourse are all deemed permissible within a legal contract. Contemporary Imam Habeeb Alli deems rimming permissible just as past jurist al-Nawawi deemed non-penetrative anal stimulation permissible. Another past scholar stated:

To enjoy the backside without entering the rectum is permissible, because with that exception, all parts of a woman's body may be enjoyed by the husband.

Some past jurists even viewed non-penetrative acts outside a legal contract through the lens of minor faults. Notwithstanding the opinion that repeated minor sins become major sins, al-Jahiz argued that some Companions of the Prophet interpreted the Qur'anic word lamam (venial faults) to include kissing, touching and other non-penetrative sexual acts.

Others claimed that such acts, even if committed ma al-israr (repeatedly and willfully) without repentance, would be expiated by supererogatory works, as good deeds remove evil deeds.

4) Sex Toys and Role-Play

Like past scholar Hasan Basri, who saw no harm in a female inserting an object, Habeeb Alli allows for the use of vaginal toys. Alli also writes:

FETISH ... KISSING OF THE feet. Dressing in school girl uniform or a hot nurse. [sic] ... Dressing in leather with strap in hand whipping a man until he cries for love! ... However one chooses to joke around and dress sexy, that's a private affair and Islam doesn't regulate techniques and methods of sexual satisfaction.

5) Anal Sex and Pegging

Puritans categorically forbid anal sex and treat dissenting opinions as heresy. However, they downplay the difference of opinion that comes from Shia and minority Maliki jurists like al-Asili. Many past Hanafi jurists like al-Taftazani resisted tainting the permissibility opinion with disbelief.

Scholars like Shafii and Bazzar claimed that that there do not exist credible texts on anal sex. Bazzar wrote:

I do not know in this field a (single) Hadith that is sahih (authentic), neither in permission nor in prohibition ...

Paradoxically, puritans reference weak texts that support their position but downplay texts on permissibility. However, many scholars deemed the permissibility texts trustworthy. Al Jassas stated polemically:

Abu Bakr said: It is well known that Malik allowed it [anal intercourse] but his companions deny it because it was a nasty statement. In fact, it is well known and cannot be rejected by their denial.

Regardless, Sunni scholars sustain the prohibition by alluding to noxiousness, disgust, nature and harm to the wife. However, many Shia scholars temper the detestability position with permissibility contingent upon the wife's permission and avoidance of any harm.

On pegging, past scholar al-Raghib opined that a woman sodomizing an effeminate man with a dildo was the ultimate sexual irregularity. Habeeb Alli writes

While this must be a pleasurable experience for some and not a real anal sex there must be some providion for it however this is not the traditional case of sexuality ...

In general, anal sex for men is different than that for women, as some men derive pleasure from prostatic massage. Thus, the harm argument in the context of pegging is moot.

The above indicates that the puritan position on sexuality is not based on any consensus. However, instead of being fettered by permissibility-prohibition debates, Muslims should be guided by a higher ethical conduct on sexuality. This means rejecting physical and financial exploitation in sexual conduct. This means giving instead of usurping by upholding consent as an Islamic value. This also means choosing for LGBTQ Muslims what we choose for ourselves -- intimacy, affection and companionship.

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