Hallal, Haram, Sex, and Shaytan

And the controversy begins…

In Islam, there seems to always be this continuous debate about what is hallal (permissible) and what is haram (forbidden). One of those topics that seems to always strike controversy – and I’m addressing it anyway – is sexuality. 

Sex, according to most religion – Islam included – is only permissible within marriage. I’ll agree to that. Where I will argue is in the definition of marriage.

Ideally and at its very core, marriage is a contract, an agreement, between two consenting adults. While religion will debate that it is a contract between two people before God, governments will argue that it is a contract between two adults before the state/province/country. The “institution” of marriage is a highly politicized institution where religion and governments fight for the power to legislate contracts. Governments and religions both will try and dictate who and what is permissible for marriage, from race, religion, gender, number, etc.

Unfortunately, throughout all these debates, “people” have been taken out of marriage a long time ago. It is one of a number of reasons why fewer people marry and why so many divorce: many view marriage as legal or religious contracts rather than true promises, vows, to one another. I know, I know, I promised to talk about sex and instead I’m going off in a rant about marriage. I swear I’m getting there.

Sexuality is an intricate part of the human experience. While asexuality does exist and should be recognized, most of us will experience some form of sexual attraction at one point in our lives. Sexuality, and sexual relations, can be a healthy part of the human experience, but what it requires to be healthy – maybe you saw it coming – is agreement.

Marriage can be legal or religious, but I would also add that they can also be sexual. Everyone has different comfort levels and expectations. There is no wrong or right answer to questions of sexuality and only the individuals can discuss the terms. Here are a list of talking points which should be discussed before entering any kind of marriage, sexual marriages included:

  • What are my expectations out of this partnership?
  • What do we need to do to ensure we both meet eachother’s expectation?
  • What are the responsibilities that each partner takes on through this partnership?

These important questions are the basis of any succesful marriage: discussing expectations, means of fulfilling expectations and responsibilities. Sexual relations should in ALL CASES occur only in consent. True consent can only be given when all parties are aware of and understand the terms of the agreements. I am not defining marriage according to religion or according to the law, I’m defining marriage as an agreement between people. People need to define the terms of their own agreements, their own marriage to one another and set the responsibilities because people are the ones who need to live up to these expectations and fulfil those responsibilities, even in religious or legal marriages.
Can I get an Amen?!

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