So, earlier today, I answered a question that brought me more concern than I’ve felt in a very long time. A young girl, mid-teens, asked a question about sex. To keep her safe and to respect her, I have chosen to keep her identity anonymous. What makes this scarier for me is that it hits close to home, because one of my sisters is about the same age as her. The question (posted below) is one that is most likely common amongst Muslim youth, especially living in today’s society (at least from what I know of here in North America). I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a worldwide issue. Either way, I thought it would be wise to share my thoughts and understanding of the issue with all of you, as well as to take this as an opportunity for fellow Muslims to kindly and wisely express their thoughts and suggestions to the young sister that is trying to do the right thing in a very emotionally fragile and sensitive issue. You can post your comments in the section below the article. That said, any harsh, insensitive, or negative comments will be deleted immediately.
Ramadan Mubarak. Insha Allah, you’re doing well. No need to feel embarrassed. In fact, I’m glad to hear that you’re taking steps to ensure that you’re doing everything correctly, according to Islam.
When it comes to the relationships between men and women, it’s important to understand that the relationship between any two people of the opposite gender is always considered to be unlawful unless the person is their mahram (through being married to the person, or if the person is a person that falls under the descriptions in this Ayah from the Quran: “… and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons…” [al-Noor 24:31]).
About the two of you engaging in anything sexual, it would be haram to do so. Intention is definitely a major factor, but it is not the sole reasoning behind whether something counts as a good or bad deed.
“Allah has decreed for every son of Adam his share of zina (adultery, fornication), which he will inevitably commit. The zina of the eyes is looking, the zina of the tongue is speaking, one may wish and desire, and the private parts confirm that or deny it.” – Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
(I had misquoted this Hadith in the actual response, but I have corrected it here. Still, the lesson was the same.)
The Quran also states:
“And come not near to unlawful sex. Verily, it is a Faahishah (i.e. anything that transgresses its limits: a great sin, and an evil way that leads one to hell unless Allaah Forgives him)” – [al-Isra’ 17:32]
These two points show us that Islam not only forbids pre-marital relations between a man and woman, but also explicitly reminds us to avoid even coming near them.
What I would recommend is that you and the brother, if you are both sincerely interested in marriage, to keep your distance from one another as much as possible, and only meet and communicate with the presence of a mahram. If you feel you need to keep in touch, keep it minimal, and avoid things like sensual speech, pet names, and excessive talk.
I know that this is all probably extremely hard to hear, and you may not want to act on it because of that, but as you are sincerely wanting to learn the right approach and want to avoid sin and falling into difficulty in the future, this is something you’ll have to take heed in. I know how hard it can be. I’ve been there before as well, and I assure you, this is what brings to light the true nature and intentions of individuals, and is what makes clear the truth of where one’s heart lies.
Until you are both ready to get married, keep your interaction to a minimum within the bounds of Islam as mentioned above. I pray that the brother supports you in this. If he does not, I ask you from the depths of my heart and as a person who has three younger sisters, please do not act in any way based on your emotions, but rather, put your trust and heart in Allah’s Hands. He will give you what’s best for you. Remember, we want what will benefit us most in this life and the Hereafter, and sometimes, what we want doesn’t coincide with that. Grow closer to Allah, and take steps from there.
If you would like to discuss this further, or have any more questions, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can go from there. I pray that Allah continues to guide you, ease your struggle and journey, and bless you with a husband, be it this man or someone better, who will inspire you towards greatness in every aspect of your life so that you may reach the heights of Jannah. Take care of yourself, and I hope to hear good news from you soon.
– Nadir Keval (www.nadirkeval.com)
A few more notes:
Parents, take these things seriously!
I wouldn’t be surprised (because I’ve witnessed it time and time again growing up) if the parents don’t even realize how serious the two people are. I’ve seen many parents joke with their kids about someone being like a husband or wife to their child, after the child becomes shy or mentions that they’ve got a crush on someone. It’s innocent until taken seriously. Problem is, a lot of parents today don’t realize what their children go through on a daily basis. Shoot, when I was 15, swearing was considered a horrifically gutsy thing to do. Now, having sex and being intimate with someone is considered not only a norm, but is almost a prerequisite for many cliques at the different schools around the nation.
In addition to this, many parents, especially those from “back home”, don’t take the time out to have the birds and the bees talk with their children, leaving their children with no defense against the temptations and pressures of living in the incredibly active sexual environments of schools today. I know it’s difficult to hear, parents, but pretending like it doesn’t exist won’t prepare your child in facing it when it hits them in the face like the reality it is. Start early, and discuss it with them before they enter the 8th grade. I fear that my generation will have to start speaking to their children about this alongside their basic multiplication timetables. Do this before it’s too late, because once your child is attached, it’ll be incredibly difficult to help them detach. And going to sheikhs and imams when you’re child isn’t listening to you anymore, is out dating, is sexually active, or even gets pregnant or gets someone pregnant, won’t be of any avail, because by then, it’ll be too late for anything other than divine intervention (i.e. if Allah chooses to guide them). At that point, it’ll be on you to remind them, make dua for them, and try your best to help them deal with the consequences of their and your actions. But that’s most likely all you’ll be able to do.
God-Fearing Is A Loosely Used Term
I hear this too often, especially amongst young Muslims that are looking to marry someone they’re “in love” with. I understand where they’re coming from, especially considering I was in their place once, and believed that love was something that could exist before marriage. Truth is, before marriage, it’s all lust. And your relationship with a person of the opposite gender, no matter your intentions, is that of strangers or acquaintances, at least until you get married. There are ways to get to know someone before marriage, but they must be maintained within the bounds of Islam, as mentioned in my response to the question above.
Also, keep in mind, that to be God-fearing means to be one who puts God first. If Allah has commanded that pre-marital relations are forbidden, then a God-fearing person wouldn’t be comfortable with pursuing anything that would incline him or her towards having any sexual or intimate relations before marriage. Now, I’m not claiming that the brother in the question isn’t God-fearing – I can’t open his heart and know his intention, but what I can say for certain is that knowledge is definitely lacking if he believes that intention is all that matters (I’ll talk more about that in a minute). Take the time out for the both of you to grow as individuals in both worldly and religious matters. A man and a woman should be in a position where they should be ready for marriage, but at such a young age, I highly doubt that he has the income to support a wife and home, or that either of you even have the religious or worldly knowledge of how to handle yourselves in your personal growth, let alone a relationship of marriage.
You’ve Heard It Before, But You’re Too Young!
Ask anyone who went through their teens, and they will tell you that there were so many occasions in which they though they had things under control and knew what they wanted out of life. They believed that everything was a now or never type thing, and that if they didn’t act now, they’d be missing out on a huge part of life. Now, ask them if they later realized that they were wrong, and most will tell you they were. Life is a journey. It’s not about getting things done as soon as possible, but it’s about making the most of what you aspire and hope for. So, when you go to school, have goals towards a career that you’ll love, then take your time and work towards it. When it comes to relationships and marriage, recognize that who you’re meant to be with will be yours when the time is best for you, and instead of rushing through it and feeling like it’s the end of the world if you don’t end up with the person you like right now, take a moment, step away from it, and ask yourself if the person is truly right for you, and if that person will help you take the right steps towards becoming a better person and a better Muslim. If the person fails your tests of sacrificing certain desires (like sex) until after marriage, ask yourself how committed that person really is to you. Most likely, the person is acting on their hormones, and although I’m sure you’ve heard it before, in your teens and sometimes into your twenties, your hormones will be RAGING.
There is far too much to experience and enjoy in life before marriage, and it can be done successfully within the bounds of Islam as well. I’ll give you my own example: I’ve strived towards living my life to the fullest by enjoying every moment, but one of the key things that allows me to do that is accepting life as it comes, not rushing in to things, and working hard to build on myself and my faith. I’m not married yet, but because of this mindset, I’ve been able to accept what comes, and pray and wait patiently until Allah brings the right woman my way. I’ve had multiple moments in my past where I’ve felt that I found the right person, being the hopeless romantic I am, and was hurt and disappointed when things didn’t work out. But, I look back at those women or those circumstances and thank Allah because I now recognize how Allah saved me from what wouldn’t have been good for me.
“As long as your intention is pure…”
I was a teenager not too long ago, and I can tell you right now, especially as a guy, there’s one thing he’s looking for. Alhamdulillah, I grew up with Islam being the forefront of my life, and I know others who did the same, but when we were in our teens, there was always one main thing on our minds when it came to the opposite gender. Some may think it sounds gross, but it’s the truth. You wouldn’t believe how many people I know that fell for that line in their teens and ended up either pregnant or depressed when after fulfilling his desires, the guy left, got bored, or went on to live out his life in an attempt to avoid his responsibilities.
Intention is the first step, and action is the second. Purity of intention is based on its relation to what Allah has permitted and what He has prohibited. Regardless of how “pure” your intention is, if what you intend to do is haram, it’s haram. Simple as that.
This is something that is close to my heart, and makes me feel a great amount of worry and concern for future generations. As a man who has grown up with three younger sisters, and has experienced a great deal in the short life I’ve been blessed to live so far, I’ve faced a lot of ups and downs. One thing that I have learned is that the only solution and key to happiness is living out in a way that is most pleasing to Allah through the complete submission to Allah and practice of the Quran and Sunnah. I’ve felt the physical effects of not living that way, and I assure you, it’s not worth the fulfillment of any desire. And unfortunately, desires are a thing that once fulfilled will resurface quickly and with a greater pull. I pray that we, and the generations to come, can all live our lives in a way wherein we are happy and pleased through pleasing Allah. Ameen.