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Purpose of Sex in Islam

11 July, 2023
Q I have a question. Is sexual intercourse between husband and wife only for the purpose of gaining children? Would it be sin if they had sex for the purpose of enjoying sex?


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

Procreation is one of the purposes of marriage in Islam. However, there is nothing in the sources to say that sex in Islam is only for procreation.

In responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

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Does Islam allow sex?

Islam is a life-affirming faith that caters to humankind’s well-being; all Islamic teachings aim to build a balanced human personality. Prophet Muhammad’s words make it clear: “Your body has rights, your eyes have rights, and your spouse has rights; so give each one their due.” (Muslim)

Unlike the prevailing tendency in some quarters considering sex a taboo, Islam celebrates it when fulfilled within lawful union or marriage bounds. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “You stand to gain rewards for your sexual intimacy with your spouses.” They asked, “How can we gain rewards for our sexual fulfillment? He asked, what if someone fulfills it outside marriage; will he not be punished for it? They said, “Of course; they do.” He said, “Likewise, when someone fulfills it in a lawful way, he will be rewarded for it.” (Muslim and others)

Can Muslims marry only for procreation?

Procreation is one of the purposes of marriage. Allah wills that humankind should be propagated on earth through marriage. However, there is nothing in the sources, including the Quran or the Prophetic sunnah, to say that sexual intercourse is only for procreation.

While mentioning the purpose of marriage, Allah describes the main purpose of marriage as a union that helps them repose a relationship of tranquility and bliss; Allah says, “He made a spouse for man for them to relate in peace.” (Al-Araf 7:189)

This peaceful union between husband and wife climaxing in sexual intimacy is a foretaste of paradise by some of Islam’s greatest spiritual masters.

Is marriage in Islam inevitably linked to procreation?

On a close examination of the Qur’anic verses on marriage, one can discern that marriage is not inevitably linked to procreation. One can infer from the Quranic references to marriage and procreation that sexual intimacy does not always result in procreation. Allah says,

Unto God belongs sovereignty over the heavens and the earth; He creates whatsoever He will, bestowing females upon whomsoever He will, and bestowing males upon whomsoever He will or He couples males and females and causes whomsoever He will to be barren. Truly He is Knowing, Powerful.”  (Ash-Shura 42:49-50)

It is clear from the above that sexual intercourse in marriage engendering in offspring is not left to humans; instead, it is Allah’s sole will based on His supreme wisdom.

It is no wonder then that the Prophet had a very active sex life until the end of his life. And yet, he was gifted with children only from two of his wives. He had no children from his beloved wife, Aishah, the only virgin he married and whose relationship with her was full of romance and love.

Thanks to his positive approach to sexuality, the Prophet (peace be upon him) warned us against rushing into sexual act without sufficient foreplay. He thus reminded us that we should do what it takes to make it as fulfilling and enjoyable as we can.

Through such precedents and examples, the Prophet (peace be upon him) countered negative attitudes prevailing in his time. Most of the religious traditions then considered sex a taboo and chose celibacy as the ideal; some of them even taught that since the sole purpose of marriage is procreation, if they are unable to produce children, they should abstain from sex.

All of these, according to Islam, are against the Fitrah or natural way decreed by Allah. Allah, who created the sex drive, wants us to fulfill it healthily to realize our full human potential.

Almighty Allah knows best.