Sex Education in Islam

At the time of the prophet, muslims men and women were never too shy to ask the prophet about all affairs, including such private affairs as sexual life, so as to know the teachings and rulings of their religion concerning them. As Aisha, the wife of the prophet testified, "Blessed are the women of the Ansar (the citizens of Madina). Shyness did not stand in their way seeking knowledge about their religion." (All except Termizi).

The way the ladies asked the prophet-directly or through his wives is a proof that sexual matters were not taboo but were fully acknowldged and respected. "Shyness is part of the faith" as the prophet taught, but he also taught "There is no shyness in matters of religion" even entailing the delicate aspects of sexual life.

It is our firm belief that facts about sex should be taught to children in a way commensurate with their age as they grow up both by the family and the school. We emphasize that this should be done within the total context of Islamic ideology and Islamic teaching, so that the youth-beside getting the correct physiologic knowledge become fully aware on the sanctity of the sexual relation in Islam and the grave sin of blemishing such sanctity whether under Islamic law, or far more important in the sight of God. Provided the Islamic conscience is developed we see no reason to shun sex education (unfortunately the rule in many muslim countries), and we believe it is better to give the correct teaching rather than leave this to chance and to incorrect sources and to the concomitant feeling of guilt by the hush-hush atmosphere in which this is done.

Teaching about sex should also have its presence in the curricula of medical schools. We have done this in our medical school as part of the gynaecology and obstetrics program. We had no difficulty whatsoever with our religious and rather conservative men and women students, for the subject is given within an Islamic perspective.

Sex is an important area of marital life, and when people are in trouble they have only the doctor to resort to: and unless the doctor has had some basic teaching of sex, he or she will be quite helpless to help out. Sexual problems may manifest as strained family relations, psychosomatic symptoms or infertility. Medical treatment may affect sex such as some antihypertensive or antidepressant drugs. Sexual counsel is often a neglected aspect of managing such varied diseases as coronary thrombosis, diabetes, incipient heart failure etc. The role of lack of sexual education in some cases of infertility is well known. Surgery may influence sex in men and women. A carelessly repaired episiotomy, or colporrhaphy may have a devastating effect on marital happinnes. The psychological premath and after-math of the operation of hysterectomy is only too well known. On top of all of this, muslim women patients would wish to know the religious ruling on the multitude of gynaecological and obstetric situations relating to worship, and their reference is their doctor. It is therefore a religious, dictate that medical education preparing doctors who will cater for the needs of muslim communities, should equip them with the knowledge necessary to answer this need.


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