Sex in Islam
Social System in Islam: The View of Man and Woman and the Human Sexual Instinct
By Taquidin Nubhani
"Woe to Humankind! What has made him reject God? From what thing did He create him? > From a clot He Created him..." [Abasa: 17-19]
Thus, Allah (swt) has addressed Humankind with obligations and He (swt) has made Humankind the subject of that speech and those obligations. He (swt) has revealed the laws (Shar'a) to Humankind and He (swt) will resurrect Humankind, account him/her and admit him/her to Paradise or Hell. Therefore, He (swt) has made Humankind - not men or women - the subject of the obligations.
Allah (swt) has created Humankind, whether male or female, with a specific nature which is distinct from that of animals. The woman is a human, as is the man, and they do not differ from each other in terms of their humanity. Nor is one distinguished from the other in any aspect of that humanity. Allah (swt) has prepared both of them, in their capacity as humans, to enter the walks of life and inevitably made them live in the same society. He also made the survival of the human race dependent on their meeting together and their mutual presence in every society.
It is not permitted to view one of them except as the other is viewed because, as humans, they possess all human characteristics and the essential requirements of life. Allah (swt) has created within each of them a vital energy (Taqa Hayawiya), and it is the same vital energy which He (swt) has created for the other. So He (swt) made in each of them organic needs such as hunger, thirst and the need to relieve nature and He (swt) made in each of them a survival instinct (Gharizat al-Baq'a) and a procreation instinct (Gharizat al-Nau') and a sanctification (Gharizat al-Tadayyun) instinct. They are the same organic needs and instincts that are present in each other.
He (swt) has granted both of them the faculty of thought, and it is the same faculty of thought that is present in the other. Thus, intelligence is present in a man and it is the same intelligence that is present in a woman, since Allah created an intellect for Humankind and not exclusively for a man or a woman.
The procreation instinct can be satisfied illegitimately. However, this will not serve the purpose for which the instinct has been created in Humankind except in one case, that is if a man satisfies it with a woman and a woman satisfies it with a man. Therefore, the relationship of a man with a woman and vice versa from the angle of instinctual sexuality is a natural relationship free from any abnormality. It is the only genuine relationship by which Humankind realises the purpose for which this instinct was created, that is the survival of the human race. So when a relationship takes place between them in terms of sexual intercourse, that is instinctive and natural, and there is nothing strange or odd about that. Rather, it is a necessary matter for the survival of the human species.
However, allowing this instinct to run loose is detrimental to Humankind and his social life. The purpose of its existence is to produce offspring for the survival of the species. Therefore, Humankind's view of this instinct must be oriented towards the purpose for which it is found in him, and that undoubtedly, is for the survival of the species without distinction between men or women. As for the pleasure and enjoyment which is obtained by satisfaction, that is a natural and inevitable matter whether Humankind considers it or not. Therefore it is not correct to say: pleasure and enjoyment should be dissociated from the procreation instinct. Disassociation between them is not attainable, this is because it is not possible. However, Man's view stems from his concept about this satisfaction, and the purpose of its existence. Consequently, Humankind must generate a specific concept about this instinct and the purpose for which it exists in him. This will form a distinct view concerning the procreation instinct, so that he restricts it to the relationship of a man with a woman, and a woman with a man. It will also form in him a distinct view concerning the relationship between men and women in the male-female sense, i.e. the sexual relationship, such that it is directed according to the purpose for which it was created, i.e. the survival of the human race. Through this view, the satisfaction of the instinct is achieved, as is the purpose for which it was created.
The community which adopts this concept and possesses this distinct view also achieves tranquillity (Tamannina). The view of the community - any human community - concerning that which exists between men and women in terms of the male-female relationship, (i.e. their sexual relationship), must be changed from a view focused on pleasure and enjoyment, to one of considering pleasure and enjoyment a natural and necessary matter, but the view is orientated towards the purpose for which this instinct exists. This view maintains and discharges the procreation instinct according to the correct manner for which it was created, and gives man the opportunity to carry out his other activities and frees him to pursue the things that make him happy.
For this reason man must possess a concept concerning the satisfaction of the procreation instinct and the purpose for which it exists. The human community must have a system that ensures co-operation between the man and the woman and eliminates from people's minds the dominance of the notion of sex, making it the concern that overrides all other concerns. This is because the community is of no worth (Salaah) without the co-operation between men and women, considering them as two siblings who support each other in mutual love and kindness. For this reason, we must emphasise the importance of complete change in the community's outlook towards the relationship between men and the women, which will end the dominance of the concepts of sex, turning it into a matter which is natural (marriage) and necessary for satisfaction and ending the restriction of this relationship to pleasure and enjoyment. Instead, it will produce a view which seeks the good of the community, not a masculine or feminine one, and it will be governed by the fear (Taqwaa) of Allah and not by enjoyment or lust. It is a view which does not deny Man the enjoyment of sexual pleasure, but makes it lawful (Mashru'), ensuring the survival of the human race and agreeing with the ultimate goal of a Muslim, which is to seek the pleasure of Allah.
Some verses in the Qur'an came to address the marital aspect, i.e. the purpose for which the procreation instinct was created. Thus, there are verses which make it clear that the creation of the procreation instinct, in origin, is for the purpose of marriage, i.e. survival of the human race. In other words, Allah (swt) has created the instinct only for the purpose of marriage. The verses clarify this using different styles and various meanings in order to ensure that the view of the community towards the relationship between the man and woman, is a view which is focused on marriage and not on sex.
"Oh Humankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women." [An- Nisa: 1]
"It is He Who has created you from a single person, and He has created from him his wife, in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her. When he had sexual relations with her, she became pregnant and she carried it about lightly. Then when it became heavy, they both invoked Allah, their Lord: If You give us a good child, indeed we shall be amongst the grateful." [Al- Araf: 189]
"And Allah has made for you wives of your own kind, and has made for you, from your wives, sons and grandsons." [An- Nahl: 72]
"The Creator of the heavens and earth. He has made for you mates from yourselves." [Ash- Shura: 11]
The Impact of this view on the relationship between Man and Woman
Only when the instinct is excited, will it require satisfaction. Once the instinct requires satisfaction, it will drive Humankind to acquire it, and the human will experience anxiety as long as the instinct is excited. Once it is calmed down, anxiety will no longer exist. The non-satisfaction of this instinct will not result in death or any physical, mental, or psychological harm. Harm will be merely through anxiety and frustration. Consequently the satisfaction of this instinct is not mandatory such as the satisfaction of the organic needs (food, drink ,relieving), it is rather a matter to bring about tranquillity and comfort.
Two matters excite the instinct:
1. The tangible reality and
One of these matters at least, must be present for the instinct to be excited. Meaning, it is not excited due to an internal motive (within the human body), as is the case with the organic need, but rather from an external incentive, namely the tangible reality or associated thoughts. This holds true for all instincts, namely the instinct of survival(for example to become rich...), sanctification (to worship..) and procreation, with no difference between them.
Since the procreation instinct is similar to the other instincts in that if it is excited it will require satisfaction, and since it is not excited except by a tangible reality or associated thoughts, then the human is able to control this satisfaction. As a matter of fact, the human is able to initiate this satisfaction, or to prevent it from taking place except in such a manner that it is geared towards preserving the human race. Seeing the opposite sex or any tangible reality related to the procreation instinct will excite the instinct and cause it to require satisfaction. Consequently, reading sexual stories and listening to sexual ideas will excite the procreation instinct. Conversely, keeping away from the opposite sex (except blood relatives), sexual ideas or anything related to the procreation instinct will prevent the instinct from being excited. This is so because the procreation instinct cannot be excited except by a tangible reality or a sexual thought.
If the community's view of the relationship between men and woman is focused on the male-female relations, i.e. the sexual relations, as is the case in Western society, then it will be preoccupied with creating exciting tangible realities and generating sexual thoughts necessary to excite the procreation instinct, so as to require satisfaction, and by its satisfaction, the relationship is achieved and comfort is gained. Contrary to this, if the view of the community to the relationship between man and woman is focused on the purpose (marriage,protecting one's spouse,training the kids..) for which this instinct was created, namely preserving the human race, then keeping the tangible realities and sexual thoughts away from men and woman in public life is a necessity. Otherwise, the instinct will be excited and require a satisfaction that is not available, a matter which causes anxiety and frustrations. Also, restricting exciting tangible realities to the case of marriage is necessary to preserve the human race, by producing tranquillity and comfort when satisfaction is demanded within marriage.
This is a clear indication of the extent that the community's view of man-woman relations has in directing public life in the community and in the society. Both the Western and Eastern view of the man-woman relationship is one that is sexual, not one geared to preserving the human race. Hence, they purposely worked on finding tangible realities and sexual thoughts for man and woman to excite this instinct, in order to satisfy it. They claimed that if this instinct is not satisfied, this will lead to suppression, which leads to physical, psychological and mental harm. As a result, one finds in the Eastern and Western communities and in the Western and Communist societies, many sexual thoughts in writing, poetry, and literature in general. It is normal in these societies to have unnecessary free mixing between men and women in their homes, parks, roads, and swimming pools for example. This is because they consider these things a necessity that they purposely create. It is a part of organising their life and a part of their life style.
Muslims who believe in the Aqeedah of Islam and the validity of its rules, carry a different point of view. Meaning, Islam views the man-woman relations as for preserving the human race. The Islamic point of view does not focus on the sexual aspect of the relationship: though considering it an inseparable part of satisfaction, its satisfaction, however, is not the real motive. Consequently, Islam views the presence of sexual ideas and the tangible realities that excite the instinct as a cause of corruption and harm. Hence, it forbade man and woman; to meet in seclusion (Khulwa), the woman from showing her charms to strangers and the men and women from looking at each other in a sexual fashion. Islam also has defined the co-operation between men and women in public life and confined sexual relations between men and women to marriage.
Therefore, Islam works to prevent the procreation instinct from being excited by anything in the public life and works to confine sexual relations to marriage. Contrary to Islam, Capitalism and Communism work to create situations that excite this instinct in order to satisfy it and to set it loose (to the level of animals) in everything. Also, while Islam views the man-woman relations as only for the purpose of preserving the human race, Capitalism and Communism view the man-woman relations as a male-female one, i.e. a sexual view. The wide difference between what Islam aims to achieve and what the other two ideologies are designed to achieve becomes evident. This reflects the Islamic point of view as being one of purity, righteousness and chastity. It is a point of view for the tranquillity of the human and the continuation of his race.
With regard to what the Westerners and the Communists claim that suppressing the sexual instinct in men and women alike causes mental, physical and psychological disorders to the human, this claim is wrong and conflicts with reality. This is due to the fact that there is a difference between the organic needs and the instincts in terms of the necessity of satisfaction. The former, such as the need for food, drink, and relieving the call of nature, must be satisfied or it will result in physical harm that may lead to death. As for the instincts of survival, sanctification and procreation, if not satisfied (outside marriage) these will not lead to any physical, mental or psychological harm, but merely lead to anxiety . This is proven by the fact that a person might spend his entire life without satisfying some of the instincts and no harm befalls him. Also their claim that physical, mental and psychological illnesses occur when the procreation instinct is not satisfied is false, since it only happens to some individuals, not humans at large. This shows that such illnesses do not happen naturally due to its non-satisfaction but rather due to other factors. If such complications were a result of suppressing the instinct, it would have happened in every case of non-satisfaction, according to the laws of nature, a matter which has never occurred. And they admit to the fact that it does not occur naturally due to non-satisfaction. Therefore, such complications must be due to factors other than the suppression of the instinct.
Furthermore, an organic need requires satisfaction naturally from within. It does not require an external stimulant, though an external stimulant incites it when the need is present. This is different from the instinct which does not become excited naturally from within, without the presence of an external stimulant. It is not stimulated internally unless there exists an external stimulant which results either from an exciting tangible reality or an exciting sexual thought, part of which is the association of exciting thoughts. When the external factor is absent, there will be no stimulation. This holds true for all instincts with no difference between the instinct of survival, sanctification or procreation and with all their external aspects. Therefore, if a stimulant for any instinct is present, the person will be excited and the instinct will require satisfaction. Once the stimulant is kept at bay or the person becomes occupied in something that is more important, the demand for satisfaction will disappear and he will calm down. This is different from the organic need where once excited, it will never go away until satisfied.
This clearly demonstrates that if the procreation instinct is not satisfied, there will result no physical, mental or psychological illness, since it is merely an instinct, and not an organic need. What in fact happens is that once a person is confronted with an exciting tangible reality or sexual thought, which stimulates the procreation instinct, that person will be excited and demand satisfaction. If the demand is not met with satisfaction, that person will experience nothing more than anxiety. With repetition, anxiety will turn to pain (also sexual problems later and abnormal behaviour). However, if the stimulant is kept away or the person is kept occupied with something that dominates the instinct, the anxiety disappears. Therefore, suppressing the procreation instinct once aroused will result in anxiety and pain, and if not excited, nothing will result, not even anxiety or pain. Therefore, the proper solution is not to excite the instinct. This is achieved by preventing anything from exciting it as long as it can not be satisfied (until one gets married).
This shows the fallacy of the Western and Communist point of view, which made the community's view to the relations between men and women focused on the male-female relations(a sexual one). Consequently, it shows the falsehood of the treatment produced by this point of view of stimulating the instinct in the man and the woman via highlighting things that stimulate it, such as free mixing, dancing, games, stories, etc. It also shows the truthfulness of the Islamic point of view which made the community's view to man-woman relations focused on the purpose for which this instinct was created, namely preserving the human race. Accordingly, it shows the correctness of the solution produced by this view of keeping away any kind of stimulating tangible reality or sexual thought when legal satisfaction through marriage . Therefore, Islam alone is able to completely and correctly treat the corruption caused by the procreation instinct in the society and among the people. Such correct and complete treatment will result in piety, tranquility and elevation in the society and among the people.