Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
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:
1- There is nothing wrong with sex education in Islam.
In his answer to the question you raised Sheikh Faisal Mawlawi, The late Deputy Chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, states:
Allah created the sexual desire in humans. It is as normal as is the desire for food or shelter. Like other desires that Allah created in humans it is powerful and can overwhelm a weak human. Sexual desire like the desire for food can be satisfied legally or illegally.
But we have to stress that Islam is aware of educating Muslims on the proper way of satisfying their desire in the light of its noble teachings.
In seeking this knowledge, shyness does not stand as a barrier in this case, but such knowledge must be imparted in a modest and dignified manner.
Almighty Allah says,
“Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Are those who know equal with those who know not? But only men of understanding will pay heed.” (Az-Zumar 39:9)
`Aishah, the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made this clear: “Blessed are the women of the Ansar (the citizens of Madinah). Shyness did not stand in their way seeking knowledge about their religion.” (Reported by The Group save At-Tirmidhi)
It is natural that such kind of education must exist in the Muslim societies since it aims, originally, at teaching a Muslim the morals of Islam and its rulings.
Muslim Jurists were keen on disseminating such form of useful knowledge to the extent that they had a common dictum that reads: ‘Shyness should not stand in your way to seek knowledge about (sensitive) matters of religion.’
Since the sex education known in the Western societies makes it lawful for any young man and woman to fall in the abyss of adultery, it becomes incumbent on Muslims to inculcate their sons and daughters with the true sex education as shown by Islam and the rulings of Allah regarding such very sensitive and delicate matters.
As we have known that sex education in Islam is a form of imparting religious knowledge to young men or women, for them to be aware of what is required of them in matters of deen and dunya, it is not allowed under any pretext to use such sex education to sanction adultery or moral deviation by any means such as naked photos or direct description of sexual practices.
With this in mind, we can say that it is preferable to begin the process of sex education at the age of puberty, for carrying it before this age is not good.
As for the Western countries where sex education is normally offered at an earlier age, it is good that the Islamic sex education be offered to children at the age of discretion i.e. about the age of seven.
Stressing the Islamic stance on sex education and its significance, Sheikh `Abdul-Majeed Subh, a prominent Azharite scholar, states:
Those who think that sex education is not allowed in Islam are completely wrong. The books of Islamic jurisprudence expose several topics promoting sexual awareness, including discussion of menstruation, childbirth bleeding, pregnancy, delivery, rules of sexual intercourse, rules of marriage, taking a bath (ghusl) after sexual intercourse, rules related to ejaculation of sperm during intercourse and intercourse without ejaculation, and rules related to the punishment for committing adultery or fornication.
All these rulings are dealt with in the books of Islamic jurisprudence in a moral and scientific manner.
In Surat an-Nur, Almighty Allah says,
“The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge you each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment.” (An-Nur 24:2)
Also the Qur’an counts among the attributes of the believer:
“And those who preserve their chastity save with their wives and those whom their right hands possess, for thus they are not blameworthy.” (Al-Ma`arij 70:29-30)
It is natural that in the course of explaining these verses to people, we must explain what is meant by fornication and adultery.
Also at schools, children, males and females, study biology and the topics related to reproduction in plant, animal, and human lives. They even may happen to witness some scenes in which animals reproduce. These are natural phenomenon that is known to all.
Therefore, if we do not give our children proper education in this field, they will be liable to commit mistakes and deviate.
In his book al-Majmu`, Imam an-Nawawi mentions that Imam Ash-Shafi`i is of the opinion that parents are under obligation to give their children such kind of sex education.
As for the age, such kind of sex education is to be given at the age of discretion when a child can distinguish between a male and female.
But from psychology, we learn to start educating children gradually starting from reproduction in plant life, moving to animal life and finally in human life.
Through proper sex education given by parents, they can protect their children against moral deviations and in consequence several fatal diseases.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.