NEW YORK – Conversations about sex in Muslim cultures across the globe remain in the context of heterosexual marital relations. Consequently, many Muslims struggle to find frank spaces to address issues regarding their sexuality and relationships.
Although sex within the parameters of marriage remains the Islamic ideal, some Muslims live outside that ideal and must make difficult decisions as to whether to have sex, especially when approached by a partner and faced with societal pressures.
In the US and the UK, Muslims must explore their sexuality in spaces—inside and outside of Muslim cultural spheres—that don’t always jibe with Islamic teachings. Messaging about sex begins with the very young and extend into adulthood.
“We live in a hypersexualized society,” said Nadia Mohajir, Founder and Executive Director for HEART Women & Girls.
“From media messaging to peer pressure at school, young people are constantly bombarded with the message that they should be having sex.
“This is no different inside of Muslim communities, as young people are still consuming the same media and receiving the same messaging.”
Muslims are not immune to social messages encouraging sexual activity outside of Islamic parameters.
“People forget Muslims are human beings first and foremost with desires like anyone else,” explains Islamic erotology scholar and author of A Taste of Honey, Habeeb Akande.
“A person wearing a hijab or beard does not prevent them from having desires for love, companionship or intimacy, irrespective of how ‘religious’ or ‘pious’ they are or appear to be.”
Akande mentions that Muslim youth also face peer pressure to become involved in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.
“There is extreme pressure from peers to be in a relationship for young Muslims in western countries.
Some find it unbearable as it is normalized in western societies to be romantically involved with someone without being married.
This is prevalent within Muslim and non-Muslim communities, irrespective of their ethnic background, cultural heritage or religiosity.”
Mohajir points out the natural inclination for intimacy.
“The desire to have sex and engage in intimacy is one that is natural to the human experience, so the pressure to have sex is also one that is internal and natural to feel from adolescence onward.”