"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Dr.Maqsood
Full Name: Dr. Maqsood Jafri
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Religion, Sex and Morality

By:  Dr. Maqsood Jafri (New York)


The Family of the Heart is a forum of intellectuals based at Toronto, Canada. It invites open discussion on various social, political and religious issues. The people of different faiths and ideologies participate in it. From extreme hardliners to liberals and atheists, people express their views frankly and freely. Unlike the closed religious cultures, it has an edge over them, and that is a free environment to discuss different subjects. Had these intellectuals been living in a country like Saudi Arabia, they would have been guillotined by now for their free thinking. It is a very fruitful forum. But the problem with it is that some people do not have even the basic knowledge of religion or philosophy who comments on some very sensitive matters without any solid arguments. Recently, I read the brief comments of some intellectuals on the topic "Religion, Sex and Morality" given by the FOTH. The topic was discussed by some intellectuals. In the quest or craze of being free thinkers, a few wrote on the subject that was quite unsubstantial and baseless. Suppose a commentator coined up a new term such as "Islamic Rape."  By this term, this atheist writer only desired to undermine Islam. He writes, "In Islam, a husband has the right to have a sexual relation with his wife without her consent."  Ijtehad (soul searching or rational enquiry) is essential in Islam, but in the name of "Ijtehad" you cannot play with an ideology. It is tantamount to smothering the reality. Undoubtedly, the Quran instructs the wives to cooperate and respect the natural desires of their husbands, but nowhere does it permit forced sex. Rather, it instructs the husbands to care for the wives and respect them. The holy prophet Hazrat Mohammad, in a Hadeeth, is on record to have said that if a mother does not want to feed her child from her breast for some reasons, the husband should arrange for the milk of the child and cannot force the wife for suckle of the child. Then how could the religion of such a humane prophet permit forced sex? It is absolutely a concocted charge with malicious intent. Such free thinkers need proper training to write on sensitive issues.


The topic under discussion has a vast range. The religious morality and the social morality are not contradictory to each other or conflicting matters. The religions prohibit theft, backbiting, murder, adulteration, adultery, hoarding, robbery, brigandage, lying and jealousy. All social philosophers also condemned these social evils. The religion counts these evils as sins, and sociology names them as social evils. The religions permit and promote love, mercy, humanity, decency, tolerance, wisdom, truth, piety, parity, sacrifice, peace, justice and patience. All social philosophers have praised these social positive norms. Then what is the difference between the divine morality and social morality? Even the atheists believe in above mentioned human values. Some people want to break the social fabric in the false plea of modernity and push the humans in the dark dykes and dungeons of damnation. Even the communist countries like Russia and China believe in social ethics. No society whether religious or secular can run without certain social, human and moral norms. Morality is essential. Morality has many facets. Political morality requires sincerity with the national cause. If someone is a political leader, he is supposed to work for the betterment of the nation. If he beguiles or befools the nation, eventually, he is condemned and loses his place in the society. The Quran, at certain places, hints about the traits of the leaders and rulers. Piety, honesty, wisdom, patience and truth are the basic prerequisites of a Muslim ruler and leader. Al- Mauwardi, a great Muslim political thinker, considers knowledge, administration, piety and justice as the prerequisites for a Muslim ruler. Similarly, in Nahjul Balagha, Hazrat Ali has succinctly elaborated the requirements and responsibility of a Muslim ruler. On the other hand, we find political thinkers like Machiavelli, Chankiya and Bacon who preach political fraudulent modes and methods to achieve the goals. Besides political morality, we need to safeguard economic morality. No society can permit looting, plundering, black marketing, hoarding, money laundering and adulteration. Then, how it comes that we should deny the social and moral norms?


Now, briefly, I would shed some light on the crux of the topic given by the FOTH. It is about the sexual morality in religion. All religions such as Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Christianity, Islam and Bahaism condemn adultery and fornication. The Torah says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Exodus, The Ten commandments). The Bible says, "You have heard that it was said,'Do not commit adultery,' but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27).  The Quran ordains, "Nor come nigh to adultery" (Al-Isra 17: 32).

What is adultery? According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is, "sexual unfaithfulness of a married person." What is fornication? It is, "consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other." What is rape? The dictionary defines it as, "unlawful sexual intercourse of any kind by force or threat." In all religions, adultery is prohibited. It means that one should not have sexual intercourse with the wife of another person as she is in a social contract with someone. If a married lady indulges in sex with a person who is not her husband, she breaches the social contract and is liable to punishment. Similarly, if a married or unmarried person has sex with a married lady, he is liable to punishment as he has crossed the social limits. It is written in The Torah that when Lady Zulaikha tried to engage Prophet Joseph for sexual cohabitation, he refused and asked how he could have sex with a married lady. The Torah declares capital punishment for the married adulterer and the married adulteress. The Quran announces one hundred lashes for the adulterer and the adulteress. But the Muslim clerics believe that one hundred lashes are prescribed for the fornicators, not for the adulterers. According to them the adulterer and the adulteress must be stoned to death. They argue it from the Hathith (saying of the prophet). In the case of fornication (i.e., the sexual intercourse between the unmarried couple), there are different opinions. Some Muslim clerics believe that they should be lashed while some believe that the sexual intercourse between the bachelor couple with their mutual concern is not punishable. So far as rape is concerned, it is punishable in Islam. Even if you do force sex with your wife, you can be punished. This punishment varies from the punishment of a rape with a lady who is not your wife. It can be a mild punishment, not severe as in the case of a rape with some other lady who is not your wife. There is no as such "Islamic rape" as mentioned by an anti-Islam, free thinker who commented on this subject.


In Islam, three ways for sexual satiation are prescribed. Proper marriage, timely marriage and concubines. There is a question that needs prompt answer. Can we have sex with a bachelor girl, a divorcee, and a widow? The Muslim jurists are of the opinion that it is preferable if they marry. But if a bachelor, a divorcee or a widow is not getting a spouse, then should she remain aloof from sexual life? In Hinduism, a widow can neither marry nor can have sex with any person, but in Islam such ladies can re-marry. They can have timely marriage (Muta) as the Shias believe or can have "Misyar" marriage as the Sunni jurists believe. Misyar marriage, according to Hanafia Fiqh, is a timely marriage without announcing the time period but with the intention of divorcing the bride after some time.  In Muta marriage, one has to announce the time period of marriage. Both are Islamic and are the forms of marriage. The Sunnis call "Mutu" (timely marriage announcing the time period) like Zina (adultery). But they practice "Misyar" marriage (timely marriage without announcing the time period) as "Zina" (adultery). Actually, both are Islamic. They are to prevent adultery. Suppose a person from Saudi Arabia visits from France to study for two years. He cannot marry for certain reasons. If he is sexually active and potent, he is vulnerable to adultery. So, it is better to have timely marriage instead of committing adultery. Now, we cannot have concubines as we cannot keep war prisoners and also cannot purchase poor ladies and keep them. In the USA and the West, we find that prostitution is illegal, but it is in practice. Some rich people have kept ladies. They financially support these ladies and are known as mistresses. The unmarried ladies in Islam can have sex under timely marriage norm.


So far as the same-sex is concerned, it is prohibited in Islam. Islamic moral philosophy does not allow homosexuality and lesbianism activities. In the Quran, the nation of Prophet Lot was punished for homosexuality. As marriage of man and woman is a natural process, hence it is permitted. Other sexual methods are unnatural. Gay marriages result in psychic and physical ailments. The purpose of marriage between man and woman is not only the satiation of the animal drive. It is also for the procreation of human lineage. Even the animals do not indulge in same-sex. A male dog has sex with a bitch dog, not with another male dog. A stallion has sex with a mare, not with another stallion. Similarly, we never see a mare having sex with another mare. I wonder on the mentality of the advocates of the same-sex. I think it incumbent on me to make it clear that sex is not a forbidden tree. It is a natural drive like hunger. When we feel hungry, we eat food. If we are believers, we do not eat the meat of dogs and pigs. The Hindus do not eat the meet of cows. Every religion has its instructions. Being Muslims, we have moral instructions in all sections and fields of life. We need objective and rational scrutiny. The time factor and the needs of modern minds must be kept in view while finding the solutions of our day to day issues. A great classical British poet John Donne whose Love Poems and Holy Poems are well known for his lascivious youth period and then spiritual age, in a poem addressed to his Mistress expresses lewdness that shows the perversion of mind of the modern mind advocating sexual perversion. In Islam sex is disciplined but not denied. The ladies who cannot find husbands even after serious quest and search are not prohibited to have sex. They can have timely marriage or willingly become the mistresses. In my opinion the clerics have failed to decide about the sexual matters of the chronic bachelors, divorcees and the widows. It is a serious social and human issue and needs decree in the light of human nature and psyche.

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