Abdelaziz Aouragh runs an online sex shop for Muslims. “We don’t sell products that simply enhance the love life between man and woman,” he explains. “All of our products provide a deeper meaning to sexuality, sensuality and even spirituality.”
His company El Asira, based in the Netherlands, offers products like “sensual silicone” and “glamour lotion.” All of his products are Halal.
“The majority of our customers are women,” he tells me. “With men there is too much bravado.”
I see this pattern often repeated of Muslim
women leading their male counterparts in the discussion about sexuality and intimacy. According to Islamic law, sex is limited to between those who are married. But when it comes to exactly what you can do, and how sex is generally discussed, Islam itself is quite open.
Sex is of course for procreation, but it’s also for pleasure.
There are stories about how Prophet
Muhammad would be approached in the
mosque by women and men asking open
questions about sexuality. In one famous tale, a woman came to see him on her wedding night, to complain her husband was too busy praying and hadn’t come near her. The Prophet went to see the husband, admonished him for being too
engrossed in religious prayer and instructed him to, erm, pay more attention to his bride.
This openness has been lost over time, and
discussions about sex have become taboo.
However, things are slowly changing.
Wedad Lootah is a UAE marriage counsellor who published an Arabic sex guide, Top Secret:
Sexual Guidance for Married Couples, on how to achieve sexual intimacy with your partner, stating couples needed the advice. Her book was blessed by the mufti of the UAE. But she received intense criticism.
Wedad Lootah’s controversial book
Whilst engaged, my now husband and I
attended a ‘pre-marriage’ seminar, one of the first of its kind in the UK. The one day training included an hour about sex. It wasn’t very good, but nonetheless, I was pleased that the subject was raised and the taboo broken.
Jenny is an Irish Muslim organising a similar two part seminar for young women only, the first on marriage, the second on intimacy. “The girls don’t know what should be happening in their intimate lives,” she explains. “The men tell
them to do X or Y, and they don’t know any better.” Jenny understands that her seminar is unusual, but her primary concern is that the young women receive this education, and criticism is kept at bay. For this reason, she asks I don’t quote her real name: “I’m sticking my neck out here.”
It’s not a sex instruction class that she’ll be hosting. “We’re not telling them what goes where!” laughs Jenny. “But these girls need to know their rights in the bedroom.”
In the USA, controversial Muslim activist Asra Nomani has written an “Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Bedroom.” to ‘uphold women’s right to pleasure”. Nomani says she received negative feedback about the bill. But when I read about it I remember thinking, this
is not in the least controversial or new for
Islam. If anything it shows how little Muslims – even vocal ones – have knowledge about Islam’s un-guilty approach to sex, or understand that
Islam has always been extremely open about sexual pleasure, and in particular women’s pleasure.
Yet, it’s undeniable that to talk about sexuality, especially as a woman, is difficult, and as a consequence I’m genuinely apprehensive about publishing this piece. But push on I will.
It’s a subject that needs to be openly addressed, precisely so that these contradictions can be unravelled.
There is a lack of research about the existing levels of sexual knowledge among Muslims.
How much do they know? Where do they gain their knowledge? And perhaps the most difficult to ask: what is the reality of how they conduct their sexual lives?
Sex is taboo subject for most Muslims.
However, a growing number of young Muslim women are talking about what they really want when in the bedroom. Shelina Janmohamed, author of Love in a Headscarf, explains how women are leading the way in her faith when it
comes to understanding sexuality.
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