In this counseling answer:
“In some cases, masturbation is permissible and can be a lesser of two evils, such as committing zina versus masturbation.”
As-Salamu ‘Alaikum Brother,
Firstly, I will define masturbation as ’sexual self-gratification or release of sexual energy through orgasm’.
There is no clear verse in the Quran or hadith that says masturbation is haram. The position that masturbation is haram is not an absolute one. There are different opinions on the matter. Some scholars and madhabs rule it haram, others say it is disliked (makruh), while others say it is permissible under certain circumstances. Often this verse is quoted as a proof:
“And those who guard their private parts save from their wives and those (slave-girls) which their right-hands own – so there is no blame upon them. Then whoever seeks beyond that (which is lawful), they are the transgressors.” (23: 5-6)
The position is based on the meaning that guarding one’s private parts could imply from his or her own self (masturbation). A similar subject that we often hear is haram is oral sex, yet once again there are no clear commands referring to oral sex being haram.
The Prophet taught us that only two sexual acts are haram: anal sex and sex during menstruation. If the Prophet got that explicit and did not mention oral sex or masturbation, then perhaps these acts were left unsaid as they require interpretation based on context. Allah knows best.
Islamically, there are different positions and it is not correct to make an absolute claim that masturbation is haram in all cases. I suggest you do more research on the Islamic positions as there are many.
In some cases, masturbation is permissible and can be a lesser of two evils, such as committing zina versus masturbation. This was the position of Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ibn Qayaam al Jazawi, for example.
Thus, it is based on circumstances. I personally believe that masturbation is not haram, and in our times of pornography, highly sexualized stimuli and zina being so accessible in some societies, masturbation can be a way to protect many young people.
If you take the position that masturbation is permissible, then take heed of the following points:
1 – Like anything, too much of something can be damaging. Do not overindulge or make it a habit to such a degree that you become dependent on it. It can become an addiction, and some people feel angry and frustrated unless they masturbate daily due to its pleasurable release. It can have the same dependency on a drug.
2 – Do not masturbate with other items that are clearly haram like pornography.
3 – Masturbation between spouses is not considered masturbation. Rather this is a type of foreplay when partners touch or excite using one another’s private parts. Again, married partners are allowed to do whatever they want to meet sexual needs as long as it is consenting between the two of them and is not one of the two forbidden acts clearly stipulated by the Prophet, peace be upon him.
4 – I’m unaware of the research you mentioned in your question, but I have read by Ibn Qayum al Jawazi in his book (the prophetic medicine) that release of semen is healthy and should not be avoided for long periods of time as it can affect moods negatively and helps promote stronger semen. Of course, one must research current medical findings as well and not base positions on medical sciences of the past.
5 – In Islam, some scholars take the position that in difficult situations where one fears zina or cannot marry, it is permissible to masturbate.
We should also fast when possible, but this does not mean fasting and masturbating cannot be used together to protect oneself from zina and using pornography. Note that masturbation does break your fast, hence you cannot do both at the same time but can alternate if your condition is severe and requires both.
6 – Acknowledge that many Islamic positions were crystallized centuries ago and sometimes the issues are not re-addressed in the current context. Hence, one should seek knowledge and research not only the positions of past but contemporary views as well, since times and conditions change.
May Allah help you,
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