Islamic sexual jurisprudence

Islamic sexual jurisprudence is a part of Islamic family jurisprudence that concerns the Islamic laws of sexuality in Islam, as largely predicated on the Qur'an, the sayings of Muhammad (hadith) and the rulings of religious leaders' (fatwa) confining sexual activity to marital relationships between men and women. While most traditions discourage celibacy, all encourage strict chastity, modesty and privacy with regard to any relationships between genders, holding forth that their intimacy as perceived within Islam  encompassing a swath of life broader than sexual activity  is largely reserved for marriage. This sensitivity to gender difference, gender seclution and modesty outside of marriage can be seen in current prominent aspects of Islam, such as interpretations of Islamic dress and degrees of gender segregation.

In Islam, prohibitions against extramarital sex are strong and permissible marital sexual activities are familiar subjects.[1][2] Marriage and concubinage are permitted sexual relationships and they are described in Quran and Hadith as great wells of love and closeness. In these permitted relationships, there are also some limitations as well as permissions: a man should not have intercourse during his wife's menstruation and afterbirth periods. He is also considered to be sinning when penetrating anally. Contraceptive use is permitted for birth control. Actions and behaviours such as abortion after 4 months post conception (other than for medical risk to the pregnant woman)[3] and homosexuality are strictly forbidden.

Sex education


Parents are responsible for the upbringing of their children,[4] and that responsibility includes protecting them from anything that may corrupt their morals. Early sex education for children is not recommended by Islamic scholars, as the knowledge contained in such curriculum may be a negative influence on a young child's mind.[5][6]

According to Muhammad Al-Munajjid, young children should instead be taught Islamic rules involving covering the ‘awrah, controlling one's gaze, and asking permission before entering private spaces.[5]

Munajjid also suggested to separate the bed of children at the age of ten according to hadith:[5]

It was narrated from ‘Amr ibn Shu‘ayb, from his father, that his grandfather said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Instruct your children to pray when they are seven years old, and smack them if they do not do it when they are ten years old, and separate them in their beds.”

Abu Dawood (495)

Shaykh Muhammad Shams al-Haqq al-‘Azeemabaadi said:[5]

Al-Mannaawi said in Fath al-Qadeer Sharh al-Jaami‘ as-Sagheer: That is, separate your children in the beds in which they sleep when they reach the age of ten, as a precaution against provocation of desire, even in the case of sisters. At-Teebi said: Allah mentioned together the ideas of instructing them to pray and separating them in their beds in childhood, so as to discipline them and obey all the commands of Allah, and to teach them, to show them proper etiquette with people, and to teach them not to put themselves in suspicious situations and to keep away from sin.

Awn al-Ma‘bood (2/115)

Munajjid stated, this advice and guidance from this verse has to do with protecting and concealing the ‘awrah and avoiding provocation of desire which begins, as we have seen, in the tenth year, which is the age at which most children reach discernment.[5]

When puberty approaches, children should be taught the signs of puberty and the characteristics which distinguish men from women, and the types of discharge that may be emitted from the front passage of both sexes. They should also be taught the rulings on wudoo’ and ghusl, paying attention to the phrases used in teaching and ensuring that it is taught according to what the child needs to know. Munajjid has maintained two as important matters which should begin at a very early age – around the age of three years – that have a basic connection to the issue of sex education. They are:[5]

  1. The necessity for the boy or girl to be able to distinguish between male and female. Confusion between them at that early age could lead to troubles and confusion in concepts, characteristics and actions, in both sexes. Hence it is essential to make a boy understand that he cannot wear his sister's clothes, or wear earrings or bracelets, because these are for females, not for males. By the same token, a girl should be told similar things about her brother's actions and characteristics.
  1. Teaching children that the ‘awrah is private, and that it should not be uncovered for anyone. Teaching them this, and bringing them up with it, is a way of instilling in them the characteristics of chastity and modesty, and will help prevent perverts from transgressing against them.[5]

Finally he stated, “With regard to the issue of sex education having to do with intercourse, or what happens between spouses in general, this should come when there is a need for it, such as when marriage is approaching, or when he is mature enough to understand some issues of fiqh, such as the rulings on zina (fornication or adultery) and the like, which have to do with intercourse and ‘awrahs. What is needed of that knowledge is basically something that is natural and instinctive in the first place, and what you need to point out must be taught to children gradually, in accordance with the stages of their development, by means of lessons of fiqh, study circles and classes in school. We should be conservative in the words and phrases we use, and attention must be paid to the appropriate ages and stages to discuss this topic. We must also warn against the promiscuous practices of the disbelievers and contrast them with the beauty of Islam, with regard to urging Muslims to cover up and be modest, and to guard their chastity and avoid that which is haraam."[5]


Muslim men and women asked Islamic prophet Muhammad about issues concerning sexual behavior, so as to know the teachings and rulings of their religion. Muslims could pose their questions either to Muhammad directly or to his wives.[7][8] A hadith attributed to Muhammad's wife Aisha states that the Ansar women in particular were not shy about asking questions regarding sexual matters.[9]


Khitan or Khatna (Arabic: ختان, Arabic: ختنة) is the term for male circumcision carried out as a cultural rite by Muslims and is considered a sign of belonging to the wider Islamic community.[10] Whether or not it should be carried out after converting to Islam is debated among Islamic scholars.[11][12][13][14]

The Qur'an itself does not mention circumcision explicitly in any verse. Some hadith mentions circumcision in a list of practices known as fitra (acts considered to be of a refined person). Abu Hurayra, a companion of Muhammad, was quoted saying,

Five things are fitra: circumcision, shaving pubic hair with a razor, trimming the mustache, paring one's nails and plucking the hair from one's armpits

(reported in the hadiths of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).

So, despite its absence from the Qur'an, it has been a religious custom from the beginning of Islam. However, there are other hadiths which do not name circumcision as part of the characteristics of fitra[15] and yet another hadith which names ten characteristics, again without naming circumcision; in Sahih Muslim, Aisha is quoted,

"The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Ten are the acts according to fitra: clipping the mustache, letting the beard grow, using toothpicks, snuffing water in the nose, cutting the nails, washing the finger joints, plucking the hair under the armpits, shaving pubic hair and cleaning one's private parts with water. The narrator said: I have forgotten the tenth, but it may have been rinsing the mouth."[16]

Hence, the different hadiths do not correspond on whether circumcision is part of fitra or not. According to some traditions Muhammad was born without a foreskin (aposthetic), while others maintain that his grandfather Abdul-Muttalib circumcised him when he was seven days old.[17][18] Many of his early disciples were circumcised to symbolize their inclusion within the emerging Islamic community.[19] Amongst Ulema (Muslim legal scholars), there are differing opinions about the compulsion of circumcision in Sharia (Islamic law). Imams Abū Ḥanīfa, founder of the Hanafi school of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), and Malik ibn Anas, maintain that circumcision is a Sunnah Mu'akkadah—not obligatory but highly recommended. The Shafi`i and Hanbali schools see it as binding on all Muslims.[20] Islamic sources do not fix a particular time for circumcision. It depends on family, region and country. A majority of Ulema however take the view that parents should get their child circumcised before the age of ten.[21] The preferred age is usually seven although some Muslims are circumcised as early as on the seventh day after birth and as late as at the commencement of puberty.[10]


Bāligh or bulūgh (Arabic: بالغ or بُلوغ) refers to a person who has reached maturity or puberty, and has full responsibility under Islamic law.

For example, in issues pertaining to marriage, baligh is related to the Arabic legal expression, hatta tutiqa'l-rijal, which means that a wedding may not take place until the girl is physically fit to engage in sexual intercourse. In comparison, baligh or balaghat concerns the reaching of sexual maturity which becomes manifest by the menses. The age related to these two concepts can, but need not necessarily, coincide. Only after a separate condition called rushd, or intellectual maturity to handle one's own property, is reached can a girl receive her bridewealth.[22]

Nocturnal emission

Nocturnal emission is not a sin in Islam. Moreover, whereas a person fasting (in Ramadan or otherwise) would normally be considered to have broken their fast by ejaculating on purpose (during either masturbation or intercourse), nocturnal emission is not such a cause. They are still required to bathe prior to undergoing some rituals in the religion. Muslim scholars consider ejaculation something that makes one temporarily ritually impure, a condition known as junub; meaning that a Muslim who has had an orgasm or ejaculated must have a ghusl, before they can read the Qur'an or perform the formal prayer known as salat.[23]


And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is an illness; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean; then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.

Verse 2:222 in the Qur'an implies that sexual relations during menstruation are prohibited. However, unlike Jewish tradition, Islam does not forbid men from interacting with menstruating women entirely.[24] Ibn Kathīr, a muhaddith, narrated a hadith that describes Muhammad's habits with his menstruating wives. This hadith demonstrates that Muhammad gave license to all forms of spousal intimacy during the period of menstruation with the exception of vaginal intercourse. Women are required to perform ritual cleansing (ghusl) before resuming religious duties or sexual relations upon completion of her menstruation.[25]


Islam has strongly emphasized the concept of conservatism, decency and modesty; besides the lawful sexuality, priority is given to modesty and chastity both inside and outside the marital relationships. In the hadith literature, modesty has been described as "a part of faith.".[26]

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: Once Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) passed by an Ansari (man) who was admonishing to his brother regarding Haya'. On that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Leave him as Haya'(self-respect, modesty, bashfulness) is a part of faith." and in another narration, he said: “Haya’ does not bring anything except good.”

Sahih Bukhari: 24

The messenger of Allah said: "Indeed from the teachings of the first prophets which has reached you is, ‘If you do not have shyness, then do as you please."

Sahih Bukhari

The Prophet ﷺ‎ was “more bashful than a veiled virgin girl”.

(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Quran warns against fahisha or immoral lust.

Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] evil lust want you to digress [into] a great deviation.

An-Nisa 4:27

Indeed, those who like that fahisha (sexual immorality) should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know.

An-Nur 24:19

Some hadith warn against Fahisha (immodesty) including as follows,

Narrated on the authority of Anas bin Malik, the Prophet (saw) said: When Fahisha (lewdness) is a part of anything, it becomes defective; and when haya (modesty) is a part of anything it becomes beautiful.


The Messenger of Allah said: ‘ ... There are five things with which you will be tested, and I seek refuge with Allah lest you live to see them: Fahisha (promiscuity, sexual immorality) never appears among a people to such an extent that they commit it openly, but plagues and diseases that were never known among the predecessors will spread among them. ...

Modesty is maintained by gender segregation and seclution and it is verily required in the interaction between members of the marrigiable opposite sex called ghair-i mahram and in some case between the members of same sex and regardless of gender also. Dress-code is part of that overall teaching.[27][28] In Quran, the subjects deal with modesty and privacy of men and women has been mostly described in An-Nur. For example, it has been mentioned,

Say to the believing men that they lower their gaze and restrain their sexual passions. That is purer for them. Surely Allah is Aware of what they do. And say to the believing women that they lower their gaze and restrain their sexual passions and do not display their adornment except what appears thereof. -- And let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms. And they should not display their adornment except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or those whom their -- right hands possess, or guileless male servants, or the children who know not women's nakedness. And let them not strike their feet so that the adornment that they hide may be known. And turn to Allah all, O believers, so that you may be successful. And marry those among you who are single, and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves. If they are needy, Allah will make them free from want out of His grace. And Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing. And let those who cannot find a match keep chaste, until Allah makes them free from want out of His grace.

An-Nur 24:30-33

O you who believe, let those whom your right hands possess and those of you who have not attained to puberty ask permission of you three times: Before the morning prayer, and when you put off your clothes for the heat of noon, and after the prayer of night. These are three times of privacy for you; besides these it is no sin for you nor for them -- some of you go round about (waiting) upon others. Thus does Allah make clear to you the messages. And Allah is Knowing, Wise. And when the children among you attain to puberty, let them seek permission as those before them sought permission. Thus does Allah make clear to you His messages. And Allah is Knowing, Wise. And (as for) women past childbearing, who hope not for marriage, it is no sin for them if they put off their clothes without displaying their adornment. And if they are modest, it is better for them. And Allah is Hearing, Knowing. There is no blame on the blind man, nor any blame on the lame, nor blame on the sick, nor on yourselves that you eat in your own houses, or your fathers' houses, or your mothers' houses, or your brothers' houses, or your sisters' houses; or your paternal uncles' houses, or your paternal aunts' houses, or your maternal uncles' houses, or your maternal aunts' houses, or (houses) whereof you possess the keys, or your friends' (houses). It is no sin in you that you eat together or separately. So when you enter houses, greet your people with a salutation from Allah, blessed (and) goodly. Thus does Allah make clear to you the messages that you may understand.

An-Nur 24:58-61

Hadith also describes the laws of modesty. Along with Quran it has also emphasized marriage as a requirement for modesty and chastity. For example,

Narrated by Abdullah ibn Masud, the prophet said, "O young men, whoever among you can afford to get married, let him do so, as it lower the eyesight and guard his modesty and whoever cannot afford it, let him fast, for that will be a shield for him."

It has been mentioned in Hadith ranging about men's and women's private parts that,

Regarding men follows:

Narrated by Muawiah ibn Haydah, " I said : Apostle of Allah, from whom should we conceal our private parts and to whom can we show? He replied : conceal your private parts except from your wife and from whom your right hand possesses (concubines). I then asked: Apostle of Allah, (what should we do), if the people are assembled together? He replied: If it is within your power then no one will look at it, then you should try that no one can look it. I then asked: Apostle of Allah, if one of us is alone? He replied: Allah is more entitled than people that bashfulness should be shown to him (feel shy more to Allah than to people)."

Narrated Jarhad: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) sat with us and my thigh was uncovered. He said: Do you not know that thigh is a private part.

The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Do not uncover you thigh, and do not look at the thigh of the living and the dead.

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (pbuh) said, "The part of an Izar (a kind of lower garment) (of men) which hangs below the ankles will be on hellfire."

Sahih Bukhari: 5787

Regarding women follows:

"Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) turned his attention from her. He said: O Asma’, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands." Abu Dawud[29]

"After Muhammad issued the command (Quran 24:31) for women to cover themselves, the women responded by tearing up sheets [or outer garments] to cover their faces." Sahih Bukhari (60:282)[30]

Safiyyah, daughter of AbuUbayd, said: When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) mentioned lower garment, Umm Salamah, wife of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), asked him: And a woman, Messenger of Allah? He replied: She may hang down a span. Umm Salamah said: Still it (foot) will be uncovered. He said: Then a forearm's length, nor exceeding it.

Abu Dawood: 4117

It is forbidden for both spouses to spread the secrets of what happens between them in their private marital life; indeed, this is one of the most evil things. Quran says,[27]

So the good women are obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded.

An-Nisa 4:34

And also the Muhammad said:[31]

“Among the most evil of people before Allaah on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who comes to his wife and has intercourse with her, then he spreads her secrets.”

Muslim, 4/157

It was reported from Asmaa’ bint Yazeed that she was with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and men and women were sitting with him, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Would any man say what he did with his wife? Would any woman tell others what she did with her husband?” The people kept quiet and did not answer. I [Asmaa’] said: “Yes, by Allaah, O Messenger of Allaah, they (women) do that, and they (men) do that.” He said, “Do not do that. It is like a male devil meeting a female devil in the road and having intercourse with her whilst the people are watching.”

Abu Dawood, no. 1/339

Allah's Messenger said: The most wicked among the people in the eye of Allah on the Day of judgment is the men who goes to his wife and she comes to him, and then he divulges her secret (to others).


Privacy between unmarried man and woman is not allowed following:

Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "A woman should not travel except with a Dhu-Mahram (her husband or a man with whom that woman cannot marry at all according to the Islamic Jurisprudence), and no man may visit her except in the presence of a Dhu-Mahram." A man got up and said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! I intend to go to such and such an army and my wife wants to perform Hajj." The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to him), "Go along with her (to Hajj).

Muslim 1740

Narrated `Uqba bin 'Amir: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Beware of entering alone upon the ladies." A man from the Ansar said, "Allah's Apostle! What about Al-Hamu the in-laws of the wife (the brothers of her husband or his nephews etc.)?" The Prophet (ﷺ) replied: The in-laws of the wife are death itself.

Sahih Bukhari: 4849,Sahih Muslim: 2172, Musnad Ahmad: 27352

The prophet said, "No man alone with an (unknown) woman but the Shaytan (evil) is the third one present."

narrated in Musnad Ahmad and Jami` at-Tirmidhi: 2165

The following hadiths also commands maintaining basic privacy in societal gathering:

Narrated by Abu Said Khudri: The prophet said, "A man should not look at the private part of another man, and a woman should not look at the private parts of another woman. A man should not lie with another man without wearing lower garment under one cover; and a woman should not lie with another woman without wearing lower garment under one cover."

In another hadith it has been mentioned,

The Messenger of Allah said: "Instruct your children to pray when they are seven years old, and smack them if they do not do it when they are ten years old, and separate them in their beds."

Narrated by Abu Dawood (495)

There is also prescription of modesty and privacy in case of unlawful sexual acts. It is mentioned in the hadith below from Muwatta Imam Malik:

Malik related to me from Zayd ibn Aslam that a man confessed to fornication in the time of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, called for a whip, and he was brought a broken whip. He said, "Above this," and he was brought a new whip whose knots had not been cut yet. He said, "Below this," and he was brought a whip which had been used and made flexible. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, gave the order and he was flogged. Then he said, "People! The time has come for you to observe the limits of Allah. Whoever has had any of these ugly things befall him should cover them up with the veil of Allah. Whoever reveals to us his wrong action, we perform what is in the Book of Allah against him."

An-Nisa' 4:27

Sexual relationships

In Islam, there are two types of permitted sexual relationship: marriage and concubinage. They are also extended rulings regarding on the affairs.


Marriage (Nikah) is a contract between Muslim men and his wife. Marriage has been described in tradition (hadith) as half of the religion with the regards of preserving chastity.[32][33]

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever Allah provides with a righteous wife, then Allah has assisted him in half of his religion. Let him fear Allah regarding the second half.”

al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ 992, Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb (1916) Al-Bayhaqi narrated in Shu’ab al-Eemaan from al-Raqaashi, Al-Haakim narrated in al-Mustadrak from Anas, in a marfoo’ report[34]

In Islamic law, marriage legalizes sexual intercourse between the husband and wife. Marriage is not restricted to a platonic relationship nor is it only for procreation. Marriage is greatly encouraged in Islam, partially because it provides a lawful institution in which to fulfill one's sexual urges.[35][36][37] Islam does provide extensive rules regarding sex; however, within the conditional institution of marriage, there are sources in both the Qur'an and hadith, which promote the well being of humans and their natural sexual instincts. In the Surah Baqarah, sex in married life is openly recommended:

When they [i.e. wives] have cleansed themselves [after menstruation], you go into them as Allah has commanded.


[Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project 1] It has been also said:

Those who guard their chastity (ie. private parts, from illegal sexual acts) except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, - for them, they are free from blame.

[al-Mu’minoon 23:5-6]

Additionally, sources of hadith illustrate similar promotion of fulfilling sexual urges in lawful ways within a marriage. The Wasaelush Shia quotes Muhammad as encouraging his followers to marry, saying:

O, you young men! I recommend marriage to you.

The Wasaelush Shia (vol. 14, p. 25)

[Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project 2][38]

Prophet Muhammad also declared marital sex as charity:[39]

"When one of you have sex with your wife, it is a rewarded act of charity." The Companions were surprised and said, "But we do it purely out of our desire. How can it be counted as charity?" The Prophet replied, "If you had done it with a forbidden woman, it would have been counted as a sin, but if you do it in legitimacy, it is counted as charity.”

Muslim. Number 1674

Do not marry idolateresses until they believe, a believing slave woman is better than idolateress even if she pleases you and let (your women) not be married with idolater, a believing slave man is better than idolater even if he pleases you; they call towards fire and God calls you toward paradise and forgiveness with his will; and he explains his verses so that you may understand. (Al-Qur'an 2:221)

Marriage with an idolatress or idolater is forbidden (2:221).[40] Muslim men can marry Muslim, Judaist, and Christian women, but can not marry any other religious or irreligious women, where Muslim women can marry only Muslim men. A Muslim man can maintain at-a-time four marital relationship, but Muslim women can at-a-time maintain only one marital relationship.

Islam has forbidden marriage to one's father's wives (4:22), one's mother, daughters, sisters, father's sisters, mother's sisters, brother's daughters, sister's daughters, foster-mothers, foster-sisters, mother-in-law, stepdaughters born of women with whom one has had conjugal relations, the wives of blood-sons, and two sisters from the same family (unless it was unknown at the time that the two were related) (4:23), as well as all married women except who have become slaves as their previous marriage ends on becoming slave (3:24).[40]


Concubinage is the only legal practice outside marriage in Islam, which is a sexual relation between a Muslim man and an unmarried female slave whom he owns. The term refers to the status of the female; Malik ibn Anas cites a report in which "Umar b. al-Khattab says that when a female slave gives birth to a child by her master, then the slave becomes an umm walad (mother of a child, concubine)."[41] The Hanbali jurist Ibn Qudama explains that the father is not allowed to sell or transfer ownership of his concubine, though he is entitled to have sexual relations with her, to employ her service, to hire her out and to marry her. Ibn al-Humam adds that the slave-owner must acknowledge the kinship of the child.[42]

"Concubine" (surriyya) refers to the female slave (jāriya), whether Muslim or non-Muslim, with whom her master engages in sexual intercourse. The word "surriyya" is not mentioned in the Qur'an. However, the expression "Ma malakat aymanukum" (that which your right hands own), which occurs fifteen times in the sacred book, refers to slaves and therefore, though not necessarily, to concubines. Concubinage was a pre-Islamic custom that was allowed to be practiced under Islam through some reform with Jews and non-Muslim people. Muhammad also inspired to free "converted pious" concubines and marry them.[43]

Islamic jurisprudence sets limits on the master's right to sexual intercourse with his female slave. A man's ownership of his unmarried slave-girl gave him an exclusive right to have sex with her that he could not sell to others (in order to prevent prostitution of slaves). A man could own a limitless number of concubines, but could not have access to the slave-girls owned by his wife. Marriage between the master and his concubine was only possible if she was granted free status first. To avoid pregnancies, the master had the right to practice coitus interruptus. The birth of progeny would change the legal status of the concubine to that of umm al-walad ("mother of the child"); as such, the concubine could not then be sold. On the (lawful) death of her master, she would automatically acquire free status and her children would be considered free and legitimate.[42]

Surah Al-Muminun (23:6) and Surah Al-Maarij (70:30) both, in identical wording, draw a distinction between spouses and "those whom one's right hands possess" (female slaves), saying " أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ" (literally, "their spouses or what their right hands possess"), while clarifying that sexual intercourse with either is permissible. The purchase of female slaves for sex was lawful from the perspective of Islamic law, and this was the most common motive for the purchase of slaves throughout Islamic history.[44]

One rationale given for recognition of concubinage in Islam is that "it satisfied the sexual desire of the female slaves and thereby prevented the spread of immorality in the Muslim community."[45] Most schools restrict concubinage to a relationship where the female slave is required to be monogamous to her master[46] (though the master's monogamy to her is not required), but according to Sikainga, "in reality, however, female slaves in many Muslim societies were prey for [male] members of their owners' household, their [owner's male] neighbors, and their [owner's male] guests."[45]

The history of slavery in Islamic states and of sexual relations with slaves, was the "responsibility of Muslims, and not of the Quran", according to Parwez, as quoted by Clarence-Smith.[47] Amir Ali blamed the history of Islamic slavery in racist terms, states Clarence-Smith, stating that slave servitude and sexual abuse of captive slaves may have been because of degeneration of the Arabs from their admixing over time with "lower races such as Ethiopians".[48]

Sexual techniques

One of the areas of Islamic sexual jurisprudence in which there are not many restrictions is the discussion of sexual techniques. Almost all of what is practiced under Islamic law concerning sexual techniques and the act of sexual intercourse come from hadith, which are not restrictive in nature, but followed by a mutual etiquette known as foreplay,[49][50][51] as the hadiths follow:

Imam al-Daylami records a narration on the authority of Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) is reported to have said: "Not one of you should fulfil one’s (sexual) need from/fall upon his wife like an animal; but let there first be a messenger between you." "And what is that messenger?" they asked, and he replied: "Kisses and words".”

Musnad al-Firdaws Of al-Daylami, 2/55

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim reports from Jabir ibn Abd Allah in his famous “Tibb al-Nabawi” that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) forbade from engaging in sexual intercourse before foreplay.

al-Tibb al-Nabawi, 183

The main tendency within these hadith are saying for Muslims to follow in the bedroom, saying which "clearly show that the husband and the wife should feel completely free when they are engaged in mutual stimulation which is known as foreplay. These sayings recommend foreplay, and only except anal intercourse,[52][53][54] these hadiths put no direct restrictions on the type of techniques used during foreplay or during intercourse.[55][56][57]

Allah says in the Qur'an:

Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth (have sexual relations with your wives in any manner as long as it is in the vagina and not in the anus), when or how you will, and send (good deeds, or ask Allah to bestow upon you pious offspring) for your own selves beforehand. And fear Allah, and know that you are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give good tidings to the believers (O Muhammad).

Quran 2:223

In the foregoing verse the word harth (tilth) indicates that any kind of vaginal sex is permissible in Islam, but not anal sex, because vagina is the place from where children are produced; and it is also regardless any of sexual positions, because, the semen lodged in the womb from which offspring comes is likened to the seeds that are planted in the ground, bringing vegetation, and anyhow the seed is sown, it will bring out seedling; similarly vaginal intercourse regardless any position results in offspring generation. Although some claims that, top to bottom position has been encouraged most, but none of the vaginal sexual positions has been mentioned as prohibited in scripture and tradition.[52][58]


In Islam, the husband should have intercourse with his wife according to what satisfies her, so long as that does not harm him physically or keep him from earning a living. The husband is obliged to treat his wife in a kind and reasonable manner. Part of that kind and reasonable treatment is intercourse, which he has to do. The majority of scholars set the time limit beyond which it is not permissible for the husband to forego intercourse at four months, but according to some scholars, the view is that there is no time limit.[59]

Most of the scholars have said that, It is obligatory on women alike not to refuse their husbands if they call them, so long as the woman who is called is not menstruating or sick in such a way that intercourse will be harmful to her, or observing an obligatory fast. If she refuses with no excuse, then she is cursed.[60]

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: "If a man calls his wife to his bed, and she refuses to come, the angels curse her until morning comes."

al-Bukhari, 3065; Muslim, 1436.

But it is not permissible for a husband to force his wife to do more than she is able to bear of intercourse. If she has an excuse such as being sick or unable to bear it, then she is not sinning if she refuses to have intercourse.[61]


All Muslim jurists agree that anal sex is haram (prohibited), based on the hadith of Muhammad:

Do not have anal sex with women.

Reported by Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah

Muhammad also said, "Cursed he. ..who has sex with a woman through her back passage."


Khuzaymah Ibn Thabit also reported that the Messenger of Allah said: "Allah is not too shy to tell you the truth: Do not have sex with your wives in the anus."

Reported by Ahmad, 5/213

Ibn Abbas narrated: "The Messenger of Allah said: "Allah will not look at a man who has anal sex with his wife."

Reported by Ibn Abi Shaybah, 3/529; At-Tirmidhi classified it as an authentic hadith, 1165

Further, it is reported that Muhammad referred to such an act as "minor sodomy". (Reported by Ahmad and An-Nasa'i)

It is reported that `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab came one day to Muhammad and said, "O Messenger of Allah, I am ruined!" "What has ruined you?" asked the Prophet. He replied, "Last night I turned my wife over," meaning that he had had vaginal intercourse with her from the back. The Prophet did not say anything to him until the verse cited above was revealed. Then he told him, "[Make love with your wife] from the front or the back, but avoid the anus and intercourse during menstruation."

(Reported by Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi)[62]

Sexual intercourse is prohibited:

  • during menstruation;
  • for forty days after childbirth (puerperium);
  • during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan (i.e. while fasting);
  • on pilgrimage; while in the sanctuary (in Ahram) at Mecca, pilgrims are not allowed to have intercourse. Marriages performed during the pilgrimage are invalid.[63]


In Islamic jurisprudence, the primary purpose of sex between marriage and concubinage is procreation.[64] Islam recognizes the strong sexual urge and desire for reproduction.[65] Dr. M.A. Rauf from his book 'Marriage in Islam'. In this excerpt, he discusses in great detail the advantages and possible disadvantages of marriage. Among the advantages that he discusses are procreation, fulfilment of the natural urge, companionship, comfort and relief to the soul, and so on. He also discusses the disadvantages and the types of burdens and risks involved with marriage. All of the advantages or benefits are in effect meant to be regarded as the secondary purpose of marriage which supplement its major aim or purpose, namely procreation. To beget children. This is the main purpose for marriage. The aim is to engender and preserve the human race. Four objectives are accomplished through procreation: - (i) to increase mankind (ii) Islam is propagated by increasing the number of followers of the prophet Muhammad (iii)parents will hope to leave behind children who will pray for them (iv) and According to Islamic belief, if a child dies before the parents, the prayers of the child in paradise will be very beneficial for the parents.[64] The children born of the matrimonial union become legitimate and mutual rights of inheritance are established.[66] Islam always supports a pro-natalist view of procreation through many hadith.

Ma’qil ibn Yasaar said: A man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, “I have found a woman who is of good lineage and is beautiful, but she does not children. Should I marry her?” He said, “No.” Then he came again with the same question and he told him not to marry her. Then he came a third time with the same question and he said: “Marry those who are loving and fertile, for I will be proud of your great numbers before the other nations.

Abu Dawood (2050)

This hadeeth indicates that it is encouraged to marry women who are fertile, so that the numbers of the ummah will increase, and so the Prophet Muhammad will feel proud of his followers before all other nations. This shows that it is encouraged to have a lot of children.[67]

Narrated 'Abdullah: We used to participate in the holy battles led by Allah's Messenger and we had nothing (no wives) with us. So we said, "Shall we get ourselves castrated?" He forbade us that and then allowed us to marry women with a temporary contract (2) and recited to us: -- 'O you who believe ! Make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, but commit no transgression.' (5.87) Narrated Abu Huraira: I said, "O Allah's Messenger! I am a young man and I am afraid that I may commit illegal sexual intercourse and I cannot afford to marry." He kept silent, and then repeated my question once again, but he kept silent. I said the same (for the third time) and he remained silent. Then repeated my question (for the fourth time), and only then the Prophet said, "O Abu Huraira! The pen has dried after writing what you are going to confront. So (it does not matter whether you) get yourself castrated or not."

Bukhari, 4705

the Messenger of Allah said: "Marriage is part of my sunnah, and whoever does not follow my sunnah has nothing to do with me. Get married, for I will boast of your great numbers before the nations. Whoever has the means, let him get married, and whoever does not, then he should fast for it will diminish his desire."

Ibn Majah 1846

The Messenger of Allah disapproved of Uthman bin Mazun's desire to remain celibate; if he had given him permission, we would have gotten ourselves castrated.

Ibn Majah, 1848

the Messenger of Allah forbade celibacy. Zaid bin Akhzam added: "And Qatadah recited: 'And indeed We sent Messengers before you (O Muhammad ), and made for them wives and offspring.

Ibn Majah 1849

In vitro fertilization

Regarding the response to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) of Islam, the conclusions of Gad El-Hak Ali Gad El-Hak's ART fatwa include that:[68]

  • IVF of an egg from the wife with the sperm of her husband and the transfer of the fertilised egg back to the uterus of the wife is allowed, provided that the procedure is indicated for a medical reason and is carried out by an expert physician.
  • Since marriage is a contract between the wife and husband during the span of their marriage, no third party should intrude into the marital functions of sex and procreation. This means that a third party donor is not acceptable, whether he or she is providing sperm, eggs, embryos, or a uterus. The use of a third party is tantamount to zina, or adultery.

Purification and hygiene

Sexual hygiene in Islam is a prominent topic in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) due to its everyday nature. Ibn Abidin, a 13th century Hanafi Islamic scholar explains:[69]

When there is discharge of thick, cloudy white fluid (wady) (that exits before or after urinating) or unlustful discharge of thin, sticky, white fluid (madhy) caused by play or kissing, it requires ghusl. And wudu.

Regarding things that necessitates ghusl:

  1. sperm or female ejaculate that leaves its place of origin with desire [f: whether actual or effective], even if it exits the body without desire, even if without sexual intercourse;
  2. the head of the penis entering either private part of a living human being who is fit for sexual intercourse, even without any release of sexual fluids...” [al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya (Gifts of Guidance, unpublished translation)][70]

After partaking in sexual activity where penetration or ejaculation occurs, both men and women are required to complete a full-body ritual ablution known as ghusl in order to re-establish ritual purity before prayer.[71] Ghusl requires clean, odorless water that has not been used for a previous ritual and begins with the declaration of the intention of purity and worship.[72] A Muslim performing complete ablution then washes every part of his or her body.[72] There are reports in the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad which indicate that the pubic hairs should be removed, he had set a time limit of 40 days, and the hair should not be left any longer than that and he set a time limit of no more than forty days for trimming the moustache, clipping the nails, plucking the armpit hairs and shaving the pubic hair.[73]

Fasting and Ramadan

It is made lawful to you to go into your wives on the night of the fast; they are an apparel for you and you are an apparel for them; Allah knew that you acted unfaithfully to yourselves, so He has turned to you (mercifully) and removed from you (this burden); so now be in contact with them and seek what Allah has ordained for you, and eat and drink until the whiteness of the day becomes distinct from the blackness of the night at dawn, then complete the fast till night, and have not contact with them while you keep to the mosques; these are the limits of Allah, so do not go near them. Thus does Allah make clear His communications for men that they may guard (against evil).

According to Qura'nic verse 2:187, one may have sex during the month of Ramadan but not during the time of fasting. As such, sex during Ramadan is only permitted at night.[74] Although this passage is explicitly addressed to men, the regulations on sex in regard to fasting are universally taken to apply equally to both male and female Muslims.[75]

Illegal sexualities

Islamic law establishes two categories of legal, sexual relationships: between husband and wife and between a man and his concubine.[42] All other sexual relationships, according to Islamic laws made by exegesis of the Qur'an and the hadiths, are considered zinā (fornication).[42]


Pornography is considered haram and a clear sin.[76][77]

The Quran states:

“Tell the faithful men to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts ...Tell the faithful women to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts, and not to display their charms except what is apparent thereof and put their scarves over their bosoms...

(Quran, 24:30-31)


According to majority jurists, masturbation is generally considered Haram or prohibited in Islam.[78][79][80][81] But there are varying opinions among few jurists on the permissibility of masturbation. The Qur'an has been cited as being ambiguous on the issue of masturbation. The hadith regarding masturbation are, too, not considered to take a definitive stance on the subject. As such, positions on masturbation vary widely.[82] According to alDin Tarbiyyah, it is permissible if done out of necessity.[83] He also permitted masturbation as a means whereby soldiers, far away from their wives on a tour of duty may remain chaste. The four Sunni schools of jurisprudence (known as Madhaahib - the Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki and Hanbali schools of Fiqh) have differing stances on the issue. Some see it forbidden in certain cases (i.e. if it leads a man/woman to ignore their spouse sexually) but recommended it when they see it as a lesser evil to illicit sex. It is generally prohibited according to the Hanafi and Hanbali Mazhabs, unless one fears adultery or fornication, or is under the desire pressure, in which case, it is permissible to seek a relief through masturbation. According to Ahmed ibn Hanbal, it is permissible for prisoners, travellers and for men and women who have difficulty in finding a lawful spouse.[80] It is prohibited all the time according to the Maliki and Shafi`i Mazhabs.[84] It is haram in Shi'ite jurisprudence.[78] There has always been a view to permit masturbation as the lesser of two evils (so as to ward of falling into fornication).[85] Thus it is categorically incorrect to state that all Islamic scholars of the early Islamic age have unanimously agreed upon its complete prohibition. Those few jurists who permits masturbation in different cases, they distinguish between those who masturbate out of necessity and those who have these means yet still masturbate to gratify their lust.[82]

Oral sex

In Islam, oral sex between a husband and wife is considered "Makruh Tahrimi"[86] or highly undesirable by some Islamic jurists when the act is defined as mouth and tongue coming in contact with the genitals.[87][88] The reason behind considering this act as not recommended is manifold, the foremost being the issue of modesty, purification (Taharat) and cleanliness.[89]

The most common argument states[88] that the mouth and tongue are used for recitation of the Qur'an and for the remembrance of Allah (Dhikr).[90] Firstly, scholars considers touching genital by mouth as discouraged mentioning the reason that, touching genitals with the right hand rather than the left hand has been prohibited by Muhammad; as in their opinion, mouth is comparatively more honorable than the right hand, for that touching genitals with the mouth is more abhorrent and vacatably excluded. Secondly, the status of genital secretions is debated among the four Sunni schools, some scholars viewing them as impure and others not.

Fornication and adultery

Just as Islamic law fosters sexual actions within a marriage or lawful concubinage with wholly owned female slaves, there is also judicial opinion concerning sexual relations outside of these institutions. These laws, however, observe much stricter restrictions. Additionally, these laws have textual confirmation from the Qur'an.

Fornicatoress and fornicator flog each one of them one hundred lashes; and do not take pity on them in the application of God's law if you believe in God and last day; and their punishment should be witnesses by a party of believers. Fornicator does not marry except a fornicatoress or polytheist women; and fornicatoress no one marry her except fornicator or polytheist man;and it is prohibited to believers. And those who accuse chaste women and then never bring four witness flog them eighty lashes; and do not accept their testimony for ever; they themselves are disobedient. Except those who repent after this and become good then God is forgiving and merciful. And those who accuse their wives and do not have witness except themselves then witness of each of them are four witnesses by God that he is of truthfuls. And fifth that curse of God be on him if he is of lier. And it can save her from punishment that she witnesses by God four times that he is of liers. And fifth time that wrath of God be on her if he is of truthfuls. (al-Qur'an 24:2-9)

Verse 24:2-3 states that outside marriage and concubinage, Islamic law prohibits sexual relations as zina [fornication]. Verse 24:2-3 establishes that male and female fornicators are to be flogged one-hundred times. According to Hadith, married male and female fornicators are to be stoned to death.[91]

Similar to laws that prohibit extramarital sexual relations, the Qur'an also stipulates categories of women with whom men are prohibited from engaging in sexual intercourse. Verse 4:22-4 lists mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, wet nurses, wet nurses' daughters, wives' mothers, daughters of wives from different fathers, wives of sons, and women already married.

Additionally, Verse 2:222 prohibits sexual relations with women during menstruation. Muhammad specifically restricts the injunction "to segregate the women" and "not go near them" in 2:222 to a prohibition against sexual relations with menstruating women.[41]


Prostitution is banned in Islam.[92] Quran states,

And compel not your slave-girls to prostitution when they desire to keep chaste, in order to seek the frail goods of this world's life. And whoever compels them, then surely after their compulsion Allah is Forgiving, Merciful..

Quran 24:33

Prostitution (trading sex for money) is haraam. If any does this then he shall be stoned to death. It was practiced by some Arabs during the 6th century. In the 7th century, Muhammad declared that prostitution is forbidden on all grounds.

Jabir reported that 'Abdullah b. Ubayy b. Salul used to say to his slave-girl: Go and fetch something for us by committing prostitution . It was in this connection that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, revealed this verse:" And compel not your slave-girls to prostitution when they desire to keep chaste in order to seek the frail goods of this world's life, and whoever compels them, then surely after their compulsion Allah is Forgiving, Merciful" (xxiv. 33).

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:

The Prophet said: There is no prostitution in Islam. If anyone practised prostitution in pre-Islamic times, the child will be attributed to the master (of the slave-woman). He who claims his child without a valid marriage or ownership will neither inherit nor be inherited.

In Islam, prostitution is considered a sin, and Abu Mas'ud Al-Ansari is attributed with the saying:

"Allah's Apostle forbade taking the price of a dog, money earned by prostitution and the earnings of a soothsayer".

Narrated 'Urwa bin Az-Zubair:

'Aishah, the wife of the Prophet told him that there were four types of marriage during Pre-Islamic period of Ignorance. One type was similar to that of the present day i.e. a man used to ask somebody else for the hand of a girl under his guardianship or for his daughter's hand, and give her Mahr and then marry her. The second type was that a man would say to his wife after she had become clean from her period. "Send for so-and-so and have sexual intercourse with him." Her husband would then keep awy from her and would never sleep with her till she got pregnant from the other man with whom she was sleeping. When her pregnancy became evident, he husband would sleep with her if he wished. Her husband did so (i.e. let his wife sleep with some other man) so that he might have a child of noble breed. Such marriage was called as Al-Istibda'. Another type of marriage was that a group of less than ten men would assemble and enter upon a woman, and all of them would have sexual relation with her. If she became pregnant and delivered a child and some days had passed after delivery, she would sent for all of them and none of them would refuse to come, and when they all gathered before her, she would say to them, "You (all) know what you have done, and now I have given birth to a child. So, it is your child so-and-so!" naming whoever she liked, and her child would follow him and he could not refuse to take him. The fourth type of marriage was that many people would enter upon a lady and she would never refuse anyone who came to her. Those were the prostitutes who used to fix flags at their doors as sign, and he who would wished, could have sexual intercourse with them. If anyone of them got pregnant and delivered a child, then all those men would be gathered for her and they would call the Qa'if (persons skilled in recognizing the likeness of a child to his father) to them and would let the child follow the man (whom they recognized as his father) and she would let him adhere to him and be called his son. The man would not refuse all that. But when Muhammad was sent with the Truth, he abolished all the types of marriages observed in pre-Islamic period of Ignorance except the type of marriage the people recognize today.

According to Shia Muslims, Muhammad sanctioned fixed-term marriage – Nikah mut‘ah or sigheh, which is used as a legal alternative of prostitution in West Asian Shia population, where prostitution is forbidden.[93]

By contrast, in the Sahih al-Bukhari, Mut'ah marriage is classed as forbidden because Ali bin Abu Talib said that he heard Muhammad say that it is forbidden. As narrated by 'Ali bin Abu Talib:

On the day of khaibar, Allah's Apostle forbade the Mut'a (i.e. temporary marriage) and the eating of donkey-meat.

Zaidi Shia texts also state that Ali said Mut'ah marriage was forbidden and for this reason the Zaidi Shia do not practise Mut'ah marriage.


Rape is considered a serious sexual crime in Islam, and can be defined in Islamic law as: "Forcible illegal sexual intercourse by a man with a woman who is not legally married to him, without her free will and consent".[94]

Rape is forbidden under Islamic law.[95] It is defined as having extramarital intercourse by force or fear, including any subsequent injury both to the victim's mental and physical health. According to Islamic law, it is classified as hirabah, i.e. a violent crime causing disorder in the land in the manner described in the Qur'an as fasad (destructive mischief). A similar crime, for example, would be highway robbery, as it puts fear in people going out or losing their property through violence. Some other branches of Islamic law consider it to be part of zina, as a crime called "forced fornication" (zina-bil-jabr). In Sharia, rape is punishable by stoning to death.[96]

When a woman went out in the time of the Prophet for prayer, a man attacked her and overpowered (raped) her. She shouted and he went off, and when a man came by, she said: That (man) did such and such to me. And when a company of the emigrants came by, she said: That man did such and such to me. They went and seized the man whom they thought had had intercourse with her and brought him to her. She said: Yes, this is he. Then they brought him to the Messenger of Allah. When he (the Prophet) was about to pass sentence, the man who (actually) had assaulted her stood up and said: Messenger of Allah, I am the man who did it to her. He (the Prophet) said to her: Go away, for Allah has forgiven you. But he told the man some good words (AbuDawud said: meaning the man who was seized), and of the man who had had intercourse with her, he said: Stone him to death. He also said: He has repented to such an extent that if the people of Medina had repented similarly, it would have been accepted from them.

Jami` at- Tirmidhi, 17:37, Sunan Abu Dawood, 38:4366

Under Islam, sexual intercourse is regarded as a loving act within marriage and should only be by mutual consent. There is, however, no explicit concept of rape within marriage in Sharia; a wife is deemed to have accepted conjugal relations as part of the marriage contract. She can only refuse on grounds which are specified as prohibited for sexual intercourse such as when she is fasting, menstruating, undergoing post-natal puerperal discharge, or whilst on Hajj or Umrah.[97]

Classical Islamic law defined what today is commonly called "rape" as a coercive form of fornication or adultery (zināʾ).[98] This basic definition of rape as "coercive zināʾ" meant that all the normal legal principles that pertained to zināʾ  its definition, punishment and establishment through evidence  were also applicable to rape; the prototypical act of zināʾ was defined as sexual intercourse between a man and a woman over whom the man has neither a conjugal nor an ownership right.[98] Sane adult male and female convicted of zināʾ were to receive a fixed corporal punishment (ḥadd):

  • One hundred lashes and exile for one year for unmarried free persons;
  • Stoning to death for married or previously married free persons;

Zināʾ was established, according to classical law, through confession by one or both parties as well as proof. A second type of evidence  pregnancy in an unmarried/unowned woman  was contested between the schools. The stringent evidentiary and procedural standards for implementing the zināʾ punishment may have functioned to offset the severity of the punishment itself, an effect that seems to have been intended by legal authorities, who in the early period developed legal maxims encouraging averting the ḥadd punishments as much as possible, whether through claiming ambiguity (shubhah) or a lack of legal capacity (ahliyya).[98]

What distinguished a prototypical act of zināʾ from an act of rape, for the jurists, was that in the prototypical case, both parties act out of their own volition, while in an act of rape, only one of the parties does so. Jurists admitted a wide array of situations as being "coercive" in nature, including the application of physical force, the presence of duress, or the threat of future harm either to oneself or those close to oneself; they also included in their definition of "coercion" the inability to give valid consent, as in the case of minors, or mentally ill or unconscious persons. Muslim jurists from the earliest period of Islamic law agreed that perpetrators of coercive zināʾ should receive the ḥadd punishment normally applicable to their personal status and sexual status, but that the ḥadd punishment should not be applied to victims of coercive or nonconsensual zināʾ due to their reduced capacity.[98]

According to the Mālikī, Ḥanbalī, and Shāfiʾī schools of law, the rape of a free woman consisted of not one but two violations: a violation against a "right of God" (ḥaqq Allāh), provoking the ḥadd punishment; and a violation against a "human" (interpersonal) right (ḥaqq ādamī), requiring a monetary compensation. These jurists saw the free woman, in her proprietorship over her own sexuality (buḍʾ), as not unlike the slave-owner who owns the sexuality of his female slave. For them, in the same way that the slave owner was entitled to compensation for sexual misappropriation, the free woman was also entitled to compensation. The amount of this compensation, they reasoned, should be the amount that any man would normally pay for sexual access to the woman in question   that is, the amount of her dower (ṣadāq or mahr).[98] As far as abortion in the context of rape, most jurist do not consider rape to be a valid reason: the sanctity of the new life takes precedence over the autonomy of the pregnant women.[99]

However, some womenin the middle east were arrested after they went to the police to report rapes.[100]


Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a contemporary Sunni Muslim scholar, states that sodomy is prohibited.As the act is forbidden in the Islamic marriage contract, a wife must abstain from it should her husband demand it and may seek divorce if her husband persists or tries to force it on her.[101] The act in itself, however, does not nullify the marriage and the wife must seek divorce if she is to leave her husband.[102]

Muslim scholars justify the prohibition on the basis of the Qur'anic verse 2:223, saying that it commands intercourse only in the vagina (i.e. potentially procreational intercourse). The vaginal intercourse may be in any manner the couple wishes, that is, from behind or from the front, sitting or with the wife lying on her back or on her side.

There are also several hadith which prohibit sodomy.

From the story of Lot it is clear that the Qur'an regards sodomy as an egregious sin. The death by stoning for people of Sodom and Gomorrah is similar to the stoning punishment stipulated for illegal heterosexual sex. There is no punishment for a man who sodomizes a woman because it is not tied to procreation. However, other jurists insist that any act of lust in which the result is the injecting of semen into another person constitutes sexual intercourse.[42]

Sodomy often falls under that same category as sex between and unmarried man and women engaging in sexual acts. Male-male intercourse is referred to as liwat (literally, "joining") while female-female intercourse is referred to as sihaq (literally, "rubbing"). Both are considered reprehensible acts but there is no consensus on punishment for either. Some jurists define zināʾ exclusively as the act of unlawful vaginal penetration, hence categorizing and punishing anal penetration in different ways. Other jurists included both vaginal and anal penetration within the definition of zināʾ and hence extended the punishment of the one to the other.[103] Religious discourse has mostly focused on sexual acts, which are unambiguously condemned. The Qur'an refers explicitly to male-male sexual relations only in the context of the story of Lot, but labels the Sodomites's actions (universally understood in the later tradition as anal intercourse) an "abomination" (female-female relations are not addressed). Reported pronouncements by Muhammad (hadith) reinforce the interdiction on male-male sodomy, although there are no reports of his ever adjudicating an actual case of such an offense; he is also quoted as condemning cross-gender behavior for both sexes and bsnishing them from local places, but it is unclear to what extent this is to be understood as involving sexual relations. Several early caliphs, confronted with cases of sodomy between males, are said to have had both partners executed, by a variety of means. While taking such precedents into account, medieval jurists were unable to achieve a consensus on this issue; some legal schools prescribed capital punishment for sodomy, but others opted only for a relatively mild discretionary punishment. There was general agreement, however, that other homosexual acts (including any between females) were lesser offenses, subject only to discretionary punishment.[104]


The Qur'an strictly prohibits homosexuality[105] through the story of Lot (see verses 7:80-84, 26:165-166, 11:69-83, 29:28-35 of the Qur'an; which is also rendered in the Biblical Book of Genesis), in Al-Nisa, Al-Araf and possibly verses in other surahs.[106][107][108] For example, this was the verse addressed directly to Muhammad and his followers:

We also sent Lot: He said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds."

In another verse, it has been also pointed out,

Do you approach males among the worlds And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing.

Quran 26:165–166, trans. Sahih International

If two (men) among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, Leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful.

The Hadiths consider homosexuality as zina, and male homosexuals to be punished with death.[109] For example, Abu Dawud states,[107][110]

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet said: If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did,[111] kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death.

Al-Nuwayri (1272–1332) in his Nihaya reports that Muhammad is "alleged to have said what he feared most for his community were the practices of the people of Lot (he seems to have expressed the same idea in regard to wine and female seduction)."[112]

It was narrated that Jaabir: “The Prophet said: ‘There is nothing I fear for my followers more than the deed of the people of Lot.’”

All major Islamic schools disapprove of homosexuality,[105][113] Islam views same-sex desires as an unnatural temptation; and, sexual relations are seen as a transgression of the natural role and aim of sexual activity.[114] Islamic teachings (in the hadith tradition) presume same-sex attraction, extol abstention and (in the Qur'an) condemn consummation.

Most of the jurists believe there should be severe punishments according to the above Quranic and prophetic orders, such as death or floggings,[115] while some others disagree.[99] Early caliphs were known to have had both of the male partners executed in various ways.[104] Some other jurists believe that there is no punishment that will serve as an effective purgative for this act, and therefore its immorality precludes an earthly punishment.[99] Some jurists are so morally offended by homosexuality that just the discussion around it is cause for excommunication and anathematizing.[99]

The discourse on homosexuality in Islam is primarily concerned with activities between men. There are, however, a few hadith mentioning homosexual behavior in women;[116][117] the jurists are agreed that "there is no hadd punishment for lesbianism, because it is not zina. Rather a ta’zeer punishment must be imposed, because it is a sin..'".[118] Although punishment for lesbianism is rarely mentioned in the histories, al-Tabari records an example of the casual execution of a pair of lesbian slavegirls in the harem of al-Hadi, in a collection of highly critical anecdotes pertaining to that Caliph's actions as ruler.[119] Some jurists viewed sexual intercourse as possible only for an individual who possesses a phallus;[103] hence those definitions of sexual intercourse that rely on the entry of as little of the corona of the phallus into a partner's orifice.[103] Since women do not possess a phallus and cannot have intercourse with one another, they are, in this interpretation, physically incapable of committing zinā.[103]


Hadith forbids incestous relationship (zinā bi'l-mahārim), sexual intercourse between someone who is mahram and prescribes execution as punishment.[120][121]

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: That the Prophet said: "If a man says to another man: 'O you Jew' then beat him twenty times. If he says: 'O you effeminate' then beat him twenty times. And whoever has relations with someone that is a Mahram (family member or blood relative) then kill him."


According to hadith, bestiality is defined under zina and its punishment is execution of the accused man or woman along with the animal.[122][123]

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: That the Messenger of Allah said: "Whomever you see having relations with an animal then kill him and kill animal." So it was said to Ibn 'Abbas: "What is the case of the animal?" He said: "I did not hear anything from the Messenger of Allah about this, but I see that the Messenger of Allah disliked eating its meat or using it, due to the fact that such a (heinous) thing has been done with that animal."

Gender non-conforming people


Mukhannathun (مخنثون "effeminate ones", "men who resemble women", singular mukhannath) were men who acted in ways interpreted as feminine. As time went on, the mukhannathun were forced to be castrated. There has been significant mention of "mukhannathun" in ahadith and by scholars of Islam. The word refers to a person who behaves like a woman in gentleness, speech, appearance, movements and so on. The mukhannath or effeminate man is one who is obviously male, unlike the khuntha (intersex). Effeminate people are of two types. (i)Those who are created that way (intersex); there is no sin on them. (ii)Those who were not created that way; rather they choose to imitate women in their movements and speech. This is the type which is cursed in the hadiths.[124] The following tradition speaks to their behavior:

Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet cursed effeminate men; those men who are in the similitude (assume the manners of women) and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, "Turn them out of your houses." The Prophet turned out such-and-such man, and 'Umar turned out such-and-such woman.

Sex change operation means that healthy males or females suffering from no deformity, who are able to marry and reproduce, choose to undergo elective surgery to transform themselves into the appearance of the opposite sex. This kind of surgery is prohibited by Islamic Law because it is altering Allah's creation needlessly and in vanity. Allah relates that Satan says:

“And I shall order them and they will alter Allah’s creation.”

[Sûrah al-Nisâ’:119]

Muhammad also said regarding people "imitating" (i.e. transgender) the opposite sex:[125]

“Allah curses men who imitate women and women who imitate men.”


An intersex person may have sex characteristics or organs that are not typically male or female. This person is called a Khunthaa in the books of Fiqh.[126] There are three types of Khunthaa:

1. A person has aspects of both organs, and urinates from the male organ. This person will be included among the males and the laws regarding males will fall on him.

2. The person urinates from the female organ so will be included among the females. The laws related to females will fall on this person. This applies before the person reaches maturity. After maturity, the person will be rechecked. If he experiences wet dreams like a male then he will be counted as a male. On the other hand, if the person develops breasts and other signs of being feminine the she will be included among the females.

3. When both masculine and feminine signs are equal and it cannot be determined whether the person is more male or more female then such a person is termed Khunthaa Mushkil. There are different laws regarding such a person, a few examples: It is not permissible for a Khunthaa Mushkil to wear silk and jewellery. Both these are permissible for females. But because this person's condition cannot be ascertained, so precaution demands that such a person not wear silk and jewellery, because of the possibility that the person may be more male. Such a person cannot travel without a Mahram because of the possibility of being more female. When this person dies, Ghusl will not be given because the question arises that who will render the Ghusl, male or female. The law is that this person will be given Tayammum. If a Ghayr Mahram is rendering the Tayammum then the person has to wear a cloth over the hands. A Mahram does not have to wear a cloth over the hands.[126]

With regard to marriage of one who is intersex, if it is an unambiguous case, then according to how he or she is classified, he or she may marry someone of the opposite gender. If it is an ambiguous case, then the marriage of such a person cannot be valid, the reason being that he may be male, in which case how can he marry another male, or may be female, in which case she can't marry another female like her. If this individual is sexually attracted to females and claims to be a man, this is a sign that he is most likely male, and vice versa.[124]

Intersex medical interventions are considered permissible to achieve agreement between a person's exterior, chromosomal make-up or sex organs. They are regarded as treatment and not the altering of Allah's creation or imitation of the opposite sex.[125]


The Qur'an does not contain explicit text regarding contraception. Muslims refer to the hadith on the question of contraception. According to Muslim scholars, birth control is permitted, when it is temporary and for a valid reason.[127] The companions of Muhammad are cited when addressing this issue. For example, Jabir, one of Muhammad's companions, relates a hadith in which a man came to Muhammad and said

"I have a slave girl, and we need her as a servant and around the palm groves. I have had sex with her, but I am afraid of her becoming pregnant." The Prophet responded, ″Practice coitus interruptus with her if you so wish, for she will receive what has been predestined for her.″[128]

As such, the withdrawal method of contraception is allowed according to the hadith. Muslim jurists concur with its permissibility[129] and use analogical deduction to approve other forms of contraception (e.g. condom usage).[130] Supporting Sunnah include:

A man said: "Apostle of Allah, I have a slave-girl and I withdraw from her (while having intercourse), and I dislike that she becomes pregnant. I intend (by intercourse) what the men intend by it. The Jews say that withdrawal method (Al-azl) is like burying the living girls on a small scale." He (the Prophet) said: "The Jews told a lie. If Allah intends to create it, you cannot turn it away."[131]

"O Allah's Apostle! We get female captives as our share of booty, and we are interested in their prices, what is your opinion about coitus interruptus?" The Prophet said, "Do you really do that? It is better for you not to do it. No soul that which Allah has destined to exist, but will surely come into existence."[132]


It is not permitted to carry out operations on men or women that will lead to complete sterility, such as cutting the vas deferens (vasectomy) in men, or removing the ovaries or womb (hysterectomy or ligation) in women. Irreversible methods of contraception and birth control called sterilization are not allowed for both male and female, except in the case of the wife who becomes terminally ill and perpetually incapable of having babies.[133] Therefore, if the sterilization is irreversible and cannot be undone, it will not be permissible unless the woman is terminally ill.[134] Under normal circumstances, sterilization is considered to be absolutely and decidedly prohibited in Shari’ah. The irreversible nature associated with both the male and female sterilizations clearly contradicts one of the primary purposes of marriage which is to have children, as mentioned by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali in his Ihya’ Ulum al-Din. Furthermore, sterilization is a form of mutilation of one's body (muthla), which has been clearly forbidden in the Shari’ah. Allah Most High mentions in An-Nisa the words of Satan, when he said:

I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires; I will order them to slit the ears of cattle and to deface the (fair) nature created by Allah.


However, in cases of absolute necessity, sterilization does become permitted. The well-known principle of Islamic jurisprudence based on the guidelines of the Qur’an and Hadith states:

Necessities make prohibitions lawful.

(Ibn Nujaym, Al-Ashbah wa al-Naza’ir 85)


Being sterilized permanently may mean one of two things:

  1. – It may be done out of necessity, such as if it is determined by trustworthy medicinal evidence that pregnancy will pose a danger to the mother's life, and there is no hope of a cure, so permanent sterilization will ward off that danger. In this case it is permissible to be sterilized.
  2. – When there is no need for it. Undoubtedly in this case it is a criminal act and a major sin, because it is a transgression against the creation of Allaah for no reason, and preventing the production of offspring which was encouraged by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and being ungrateful for the blessing of children which Allaah bestows upon His creation. And it is not permissible to do anything that will put a stop to pregnancy.[136]

The Islamic Fiqh Council stated the following:

It is haraam to sterilize both men and women, if there is no necessary reason for doing so unless there is a necessity which is to be determined according to the guidelines set out by sharee’ah. It is permissible to take temporary measures to space pregnancies or prevent them for a limited period of time, if there is a legitimate shar’i need to do so, so long as this decision is made on the basis of mutual consultation and approval between the spouses. That is subject to the condition that no harm should result from that, and that the means should be acceptable according to sharee’ah, and that there should be no harm caused to an existing pregnancy.

Islamic Fiqh Council, report no. 39 (1/5)

Based on this, if preventing pregnancy is for a legitimate reason as outlined above, then there is nothing to do anything. But if it was not for a necessary reason, then sterilizing is prohibited.[137][138]


Castration is removal of the testicles. The Arabic word translated here as castration may also refer to removal of the testicles and penis. Some scholars differentiated between the two and said: If his testicles only are cut off, then he is a eunuch; if his penis is cut off, then he is emasculated. It is prohibited for a person to do that deliberately to himself or to someone else. Castration of the human is prohibited in Islam, whether he is a child or an adult, because of the prohibition on hadith on that.[139] Ibn Hajar said:

it is prohibited, therefore it is haraam, and there is no difference of opinion concerning that in the case of the sons of Adam (i.e., humans).

Among the reports that confirm this prohibition is the following prophet Muhammad's era, when some followers wanted to be castrated in abstance of their wives, but the prophet forbade it and permitted three days temporary marriage for them for a certain period, but after the period he declared it permanently forbidden:

Abdullah (b. Mas'ud) reported: We were on an expedition with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and we had no women with us. We said: Should we not have ourselves castrated? He (the Holy Prophet) forbade us to do so He then granted us permission that we should contract temporary marriage for a stipulated period giving her a garment, and 'Abdullah then recited this verse: 'Those who believe do not make unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, and do not transgress. Allah does not like trangressers" (al-Qur'an, v. 87).

Sahih Bukhari, Chapter: 62, Hadith no: 11, Sahih Muslim, 1404:

Sabra al-Juhanni reported on the authority of his father that while he was with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon hm) he said: 0 people, I had permitted you to contract temporary marriage with women, but Allah has forbidden it (now) until the Day of Resurrection. So he who has any (woman with this type of marriage contract) he should let her off, and do not take back anything you have given to then (as dower).

Sahih Muslim: Book 008, Number 3255

According to the hadeeth of Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqaas: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) forbade ‘Uthmaan ibn Maz’oon to be celibate. If he had given him permission, we would have gotten ourselves castrated.

Sahih Bukhari, Chapter: 62, Hadith no: 12, Sahih Muslim, 1402:

It was narrated from Salamah bin Rawh bin Zinba', that : his grandfather came to the Prophet and he had castrated a slave of his. The Prophet manumitted the slave in compensation for having been mutilated.

Narrated Qatadah: Samurah reported the Messenger of Allah as saying: Whoever kills his slave we shall kill him, and whoever cuts the nose of his slave we shall cut off his nose. If anyone castrates his slave, we shall castrate him.

Ibn Hajar said, commenting on these hadiths:

The reason behind the prohibition on castration is that it is contrary to what the Lawgiver wants of increasing reproduction to ensure continuation of struggle against the disbelievers. Otherwise, if permission had been given for that, then many people would have done that, and reproduction would have ceased, and the numbers of Muslims would have become less as a result, and the numbers of non-Muslims would have increased, and that is contrary to the religious purpose.[140]


Islamic schools of law have differing opinions on abortion, though it is prohibited or discouraged by most.[141] However, abortion is allowed under certain circumstances, such as if the mother's health is [seriously] threatened. If the abortion is necessary to save the woman's life, Muslims universally agree that her life takes precedence over the life of the fetus.[142] Muslim jurists allow abortion in this context based on the principle that what is considered the greater evil  the woman's death  should be warded off by accepting the lesser evil of abortion. In these cases, the physician is considered a better judge than the scholar. Abortions of pregnancies that are merely unplanned or unwanted are generally haram (forbidden). The Qur'an forbids the abortion of a fetus for fear of poverty:

...kill not your children on a plea of want; We provide sustenance for you and for them

Quran 6:151

Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you: verily the killing of them is a great sin.

Quran 17:31

Muslim views on abortion are also shaped by the Hadith as well as by the opinions of legal and religious scholars and commentators. In Islam, the fetus is believed to become a living soul after four months of gestation,[143] and abortion after that point is generally viewed as impermissible. Many Islamic thinkers recognize exceptions to this rule for certain circumstances; indeed, Azizah Y. al-Hibri notes that "the majority of Muslim scholars permit abortion, although they differ on the stage of fetal development beyond which it becomes prohibited."[144]

Most Muslim scholars hold that the child of rape is a legitimate human being and therefore subject to the same laws of abortion (i.e. its abortion is permitted only if the fetus is less than four months old, or if it endangers the life of its mother[3]). Some scholars disagree with this position. Some Muslim scholars also argue that abortion is permitted if the newborn might be sick in some way that would make its care exceptionally difficult for the parents (e.g. deformities, mental retardation, etc.).[145]

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  • Suad Joseph, Afsaneh Najmabadi, ed. (2003). Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures: Family, Law, and Politics. BRILL. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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