As an 18-year-old Nigerian Muslimah, I have a pretty different upbringing from others. I was raised purely in a halal way. That includes attending a Muslim school and attending sister circles every Friday where various issues concerning Muslim women are presented. Conversations range from marriage, being a virtuous woman, to dressing modestly, and other topics. Still, we never discussed the most glaringly obvious of all topics: sexual health.
Sex is not something to be hidden forever. Raging hormones and curiosity will lead young people to seek information from the wrong side of the internet, like pornography. When a person steps into that world, there’s no going back, except with the grace of Allah.
The world is finally opening up to discuss sex, but there are still barriers and reservations in the Muslim community; it’s still somewhat of a taboo topic. Sexual health education is a lifetime process of gathering information, attitudes, beliefs, and values about essential issues such as identity, relationship, and intimacy. It is learning about sex-related topics and sexuality and managing one’s sexual health.
Sexual health education in Muslim communities is almost treated as a forbidden topic — when the truth is, it’s not. Most parents have the assumption that once they tell their wards about sex, they will go right ahead to do it.
Islam prides itself on purity, and many parents try to enforce their own understanding of purity by making sex out to be shameful, or a dirty word. They do this with the “If a boy touches you, you will get pregnant” speeches, or they would rather not talk about sex at all. And these conversations about staying “untouched” are usually directed at girls, rather than telling boys not to do any touching. But sex isn’t shameful; it’s natural, and is encouraged when it’s halal.
But what most of them fail to realize is that there is information virtually everywhere, both good and evil, and knowledge that doesn’t come from suitable sources lead to dire consequences.
Sex is not something to be hidden forever. Raging hormones and curiosity will lead them to seek information from the wrong side of the internet like pornography, which is haram. When a person steps into that world, there’s no going back except with the grace of Allah.
Some would argue that sex education is better left until marriage. Dare I ask, will the union of sex magically appear on the wedding night? Teaching sexual health education to Muslims does not mean they will start having pre-marital sex. Instead, it will give a better understanding of their bodies, the dynamics involved, sexually transmitted diseases, and so much more.
Islam’s attitudes towards halal sex is different than towards zina. The various Adhkars before sex can only be taught by those knowledgeable. There are barely any literary materials on Islamic sexual health education.
There are many pregnant out-of-wedlock Muslimahs out there. They are sent into hiding or forcefully wedded to cover up the “shame” they brought to the families. Situations like that could have been avoided if there had been proper sexual health education.
Muslimah and hijabi circles need to give sexual health education the same attention they give to modesty, marriage, and other topics. And discussions about how Muslim youth need to be educated about sex needs to also include our young men — not just target our girls with “Don’t get pregnant before you get married because then everyone will know you had premarital sex and that’s haram, astaghfirullah!” scare tactics.
Sexual health education is a fundamental part of every Muslim life, and it’s only proper for it to be learned the right way and gain appropriate knowledge of it. It builds conscious Muslims that are aware of their bodies and makes the Islamic community better.