Marriage, Intimacy Related Questions

Published December 27, 2010

By Dr. Shahid Athar

Twenty years ago when my children were growing up, living in American society, I realized the need for appropriate Islamic sex education for Muslim youth and parents. I wrote an article on this topic. At that time, and even now to some degree, “sex” was considered by some Muslims to be a dirty word.  Thus my article was rejected by nearly all the American Muslim magazines, and their explanation was “We are not ready for it”. Finally the Journal of the Islamic Medical Association (JIMA) published it. Then I edited and published the book Sex Education for Muslim Youth and Parents (1994- Kazi). Although conservative Muslims consider sex a taboo subject and avoid talking about it, young Muslim men and women frequently ask me questions regarding sex and marriage via email.

Here are some of those questions, which have been left unedited, and my responses (these should be taken as my personal opinion and not a fatwa as I am not a mufti but a physician; readers may or may not agree with my opinion – and Allah SWT knows best.)

Q I am 28 year old and getting married in 3 months. I like to know what is permissible islamically and what is not in matters of sex after marriage?

A Sex is an expression of love. All acts of sex between husband and wife are permissible with mutual consent except anal sex, sex during menstruation and sex out side marriage. There are no laws about sexual positions. It is up to a couple to decide what pleases and satisfies them.

Q Are husband and wife allowed to look at and touch each other’s private parts or should they do it under cover in the darkness?

A Modesty (haya) is part of the Islamic faith. It is preferable that a couple protect each other’s privacy. Nudity even in front of husband or wife is not encouraged.  However, what spouses do behind closed doors is up to them. To my knowledge, Prophet (pbuh) used to cover when in private relationship with his wives.

Q  Is oral sex permitted in Islam? (This is the most frequently asked question.)

A Oral sex is neither forbidden nor encouraged but falls into a gray area. It is up to husband and his wife to mutually agree to it making sure organs are clean and disease free. What appears to be normal to non-Muslims may not be good for Muslims.

Q What should be the frequency of sex? It appears my husband wants sex every day and I don’t.

A This is a common complaint. There is no hard rule. In the first year of marriage a couple may have sex daily. After that it may be a couple times a week or a couple times a month. It has to do with the mutual desire for each other. Islam does not permit forced sex or marital rape.

Q We have a 3 month infant. While the baby nurses on my breast, my husband wants to nurse on my other breast. Is this allowed in Islam?

A NO. If he does that, this act will nullify his marriage to you.

Q We are engaged. Our marriage is planned after 6 month. During this period, is it permissible that we go out to Movie Theater together, hold hands or kiss each other?

A No. You two should not be alone together. If you go out, maybe you can have another family member with you. No holding hands or kissing before marriage. You will have plenty of time to show your affection after marriage.

Q Is masturbation allowed in Islam? (a frequently asked question)

A Masturbation falls in the category of makrooh (detestable). Some scholars have allowed it for young single Muslim men living in a non-Muslim society to prevent falling into temptation of adultery.

Q Is watching porn OK between husband and wife?

A NO. The same concept of haya applies here. Remember, the woman and man who are nude and performing lewd acts in these movies (for money) are someone else’s sister, brother or wife. Do you wish your sister, brother or wife to be seen like this by others? Treat others as you wish to be treated.

Q Is it OK to take Viagra or Cialis to improve my sexual performance?

A Please refer to my article “Sex, Viagra and Islam” available on line at . If you have ED (erectile dysfunction) you should see your doctor (an internist, an endocrinologist or a urologist) to find the cause. Indiscriminate use of such drugs may damage your health and may not be effective if you have hormone deficiency or pituitary tumor.

Q We just got married. Both of us are still college students and want to delay having children till we graduate. Is contraception allowed in Islam?

A Delaying pregnancy and family spacing is allowed in Islam. In fact Imam Ghazali has cited several reasons for this including preserving the health and beauty of the wife. However certain criteria have to be met to be allowed to do so.

The contraceptive should not lead to abortion, should be by mutual consent, and it should  not be irreversible. Thus tubal ligation, vasectomy, IUD and the morning after pill are not allowed. Using a condom or the withdrawal method is permissible. Oral contraceptives (pill) may be permissible if no other medical contraindication is present as they prevent the formation of a zygote (egg) rather than cause the expulsion of it.

I seek Allah’s protection and forgiveness from misleading and being misled.

by Shahid Athar

Dr. Shahid AtharAuthor Shahid Athar, MD, FACP, FACE is a physician (endocrinologist) in private practice and on the faculty of Indiana University School of Medicine (

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