Normalize Muslim Girls and Women Talking and Asking About Sex

Exactly one day before my 11th birthday, I got my period. 

Here’s what I found out when I learned what a period was, and what it meant for me as a Muslim girl, other than its monthly occurrence. 

  • I couldn’t pray when I had my period.
  • I couldn’t fast when I had my period, but I had to make up those days.  
  • I couldn’t touch the Quran without gloves when I had my period.
  • Warm fluids and pain killers will get you through it.
  • My body was going to change, and hence I was now “a woman” 

Yeah, a woman, at 10 going on 11. You might be wondering why I led off with a story about my lovely childhood ignorance about my body. 

It’s because everything I learned about the religious boundaries associated with getting my period was somewhat factual, yes — but it wasn’t sufficient enough for me to understand my body, and to understand my worth as a Muslim woman and a sexual being, and that hurt my self-esteem. I say “somewhat factual” because while although a period means maturation biologically and physically, it in no way made me “a woman” at age 11. I was very much still a child, as is anyone who is aged 11.

Having my period and a changing body seemed to mean I was no longer an innocent kid, and I didn’t understand why, because nobody told me. My body was being policed because we live in a hyper-sexualized culture dominated by the male gaze, while I was simultaneously ignorant as to why it was being policed. And I wasn’t given the proper sex education to reclaim agency over this. 

All the information I learned about specific feelings that came with hormonal changes, such as being horny, I would later learn on the internet. 

Because nobody talked to me about my own body’s relationship with sex and desire.

Sex is such a taboo topic in our culture, but not in our religion. But why? There’s literal hadiths where Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) spoke about sex often. He talked about the importance of foreplay, consent, and spoke about how men should always ensure their wives or partners have pleasure, too. Hadith also suggest that the prophet (PBUH) described good sex as sadaqa, meaning a holy act. 

All the information I learned about specific feelings that came with hormonal changes, such as being horny, I would later learn on the internet. 

Because nobody talked to me about my own body’s relationship with sex and desire.

If the prophet (PBUH) himself was so explicit about it, how could we continue to shame people for even speaking about sex openly? We’ve made the topic taboo, despite it being an open discussion in early Islamic history. 

With girls and women specifically, I wish more Muslim families helped their daughters understand their bodies. You know how all the corny movies tell you that you should love yourself before you love anyone else? We should normalize applying that to your body, too. 

Why should you feel guilty when getting your clit(oris) lit? You shouldn’t, but our community seems to want us to. It’s almost like we have a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rule of social conduct, even with masturbation. I’ve never heard of a Muslim boy getting shamed for masturbating. It’s not only expected, but accepted. 

Girls and women? Not so much. How dare we have pleasure? It’s that type of misogynistic thinking that leads to the horrific practice of female genital mutilation. That’s how terrified some people are of women experiencing orgasms and pleasure; of women having education, autonomy, and ownership of our own bodies. (Note: Female genital mutilation predates Islam, is not an Islamic practice, and is prohibited in Islam.)

And that sucks. Because whether you choose a partner through marriage or not, you should advocate for yourself in the bedroom, get pleasure out of it, and also understand that you’re not just there for him/her/them.

When you shame Muslim girls and women for talking (or asking) about sex and knowing their worth, and their right to pleasure, you’re going against the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) own advice. I mean, I would say “Leave the taboo stigma in the past,” but it’s not even in the past. 

I don’t want more Muslims girls to grow up thinking that their relationship with sex is soley reliant on reproducing. While that’s great (shoutout to all the moms out there), I don’t want that to be the only reason women are taught about sex…especially since those “talks” always seem to come when someone is about to get married, and already had plenty of years to get an educated online.

We cannot continue to burden Muslim girls’ and womens’ worth based on whether they could (or want) to be mothers just because we’ve gone backwards to a culture that sex-shames, institutes a code of silence for inquiring minds, and doesn’t teach us about pleasure. 

So really, let’s talk about sex more, please.