Islamic Concept of Sexual Morality

By: Dr. Maqsood Jafri

The recent statement of Malala Yousuf Zai that a couple can live together with our wedlock has created much hue and cry in Pakistan. Like a squall this statement has invited a squabble and spur in the religious circles. The liberals have welcomed it while the religious minded people have strongly condemned it. Where the truth lies? Let us patiently try to analyze this socio-religious Issue in the light of the Islamic perspective. In my three published books titled “ Charagh-e Afkar” In Urdu and two books in English titled “The Message of Islam” and “Moderate Meditations “, I have explicitly thrown light on the Islamic concept of sexology. I would suggest to my readers to go through the book of Jafar Subhani titled “ Sex in Islam”, and the book of an American Muslim Physian Dr. Shahid titled “ Sex Education- An Islamic perspective”. Both, have scientifically argued and concluded that free sex or same- sex germinate psychological and physical ailments such as mental retardation, depression, syphilis, gonorrhea and AIDS. When we promote the sexual cohabitation out of wedlock, we promote prostitution. Now , the Americans and the Westerners use the terms “ Mistress” and “ spouse” instead of using the word “ wife”. Mistress is like a concubine who willing surrenders her body to somebody, either by choice or for monetary gains.
There is not a shred of doubt in it that sexual urge is a natural urge and needs blissful satisfaction. But, the question is how to satiate this natural urge? Naturally or unnaturally?
In Hinduism, the “ Kok Shastar”, “ The Tantar”, and “ The Kama Sutar”, amply highlight on the matter of sex. Dr. Sigmund Freud considers sex motivation and urge as the pivot point of human personality and human interest. D. H. Lawrence found the sexual intercourse as the focal point to know the existence of God. For him sexual pleasure is the soul and source of the recognition of divinity. The Holy Quran stresses on the need of marriage and strictly prohibits adultery , homosexuality, lesbianism and fornication. In the Quranic chapters such as Sura Al- Momenoon, Sura Rome, Sura Mumtehenna, Sura Nisa and Sura Noor, the instructions and ordinations of wedlock are clearly mentioned.
The point to be analyzed is that some orientalists and non- Muslim theologians and thinkers have criticized the Quranic concept of concubines. Theses slave- women or maids were sexually used by Arabs before the advent of Islam and Islam did not stop this practice. This is the point which the enemies of Islam exploit and consider it against women rights and women dignity. Now, the Muslim liberals and the agents of the anti- Islam lobby keep on beating the trump that Islam permits sexual cohabitation even without wedlock and disgraces women by permitting to have concubines. They plead , if you can have a concubine, then why you can’t have a Mistress or a spouse? When the president of Iraq Saddam Hussain attacked Kuwait, the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabbah, fled to Saudi Arabia along with his seventy concubines. The Western world was jolted and shuddered to know this news and mocked at the Islamic concept of having limitless concubines. This is a very serious charge of the enemies of Islam and needs rational and factual answer. We provide them the opportunity to mock at us.
Briefly, I would like to shed light on this topic. The Quran permits four wives with the condition of justice and says that you can not maintain justice, hence better to have one wife. It seems pertinent to mention that no religion except Islam permits polygamy. But it should be kept in mind that Islam came to Arabian peninsula, wherein, there was no limit on having concubines and wives. It was Islam that restricted limitless marriages and prescribed to have one wife and discouraged having the concubines. So far as , the matter of concubines is concerned, before Islam, there were two types of slave- women. The women captured during war and the purchased one from the open market like cattle. They were maltreated, abused, disgraced, beaten , sexually exploited and even presented to friends like prostituets. Islam treated slave- girls with dignity and decency. Of course, In Sura Al- Nisa , in the verse 24, the Muslims are permitted to do sex with the slave- ladies but are also ordained to marry them in verse 25. The Muslims are strictly prohibited to force the slave- ladies to be used for prostitution. They are also permitted to marry any one of their choice and the Quran also encourages and ordains to free the slave- women.
According to dictionary, the definition of concubine is, “ a woman, who lives with a man but is not his wife”. According to this definition, are we ready to permit free sex and make our daughters mistresses of the moneyed class and give them the status of concubines? The holy prophet of Islam had said:” Marriage is my practice. Whosoever deflects from my practice is not from me.” He also said:” Marriage is half faith”. He further asserted by saying that get married the youth as soon as possible. The delay in marriage brings and brews many social and moral ills and evils. In America and in the West church marriages are being shunned as in Christianity, the divorce is nor permitted. May be under very special and specific circumstances, it is permitted but in Catholicity, it is not an easy task. Furthermore, the court marriages are also discouraged as on the act of divorce, the husband has to forego half of his property and wealth. To avoid this process, mostly the men avoid wedlock and remain as spouses. The religious custom of nuptial is discouraged. This is the religious and legal problem with the West but the Muslims have no such restrictions or laws. Then, why they should not marry and live like spouses?
Here, it must be mentioned that some dogmatic and retrogressive Muslim clerics even today, preach and promote the practice of concubines as their such decrees please the Arab Kings and moneyed class or they are incapable of decreeing in the light of Ijtehad on such ticklish and sensitive issues. They want to avoid passing judgment or have no insight and vision to decree. They do not decide the modern issues in the spirit of Islam. The Quran has not liked or supported slavery. It time and again stresses on freeing the salves. Then , how Islam can endure or sustain the practice of having “keeps” in the shape of concubines? We need to decide the issues in the Quranic spirit and reject inhuman customs and practices which were in vogue before the advent of Islam. In any Islamic State free- sex concept or practice can not be permitted. Besides, the Charter of Human Rights of UN does not permit to arrest or keep in custody the women arrested in war and there is binging on the sale of women. The Muslim countries are signatories on the UN Charter. Then how it comes that some of the Arab Kings and people are permitted to have concubines? The Human Rights Commission of UN must take serious notice of this inhuman heinous practice.
June 5, 2021

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