Sex, a simple word, has created so much controversy among the conservative Muslim households. Even though it is something that happens so normally yet, we Muslims don’t talk about it. Children, teens to young adults often wonder why it creates so much discussion among the Muslim community and households. Why do we Muslims pretend sex doesn’t exist? Why do we just brush it off? Why do we just not talk about it or have sex education? While Islam encourages us to talk about these things, why do we get pressured from the cultural and societal norms and, in the end, not talk about sexual education?
Growing up as a Muslim, at the age of 12, I got my first ever periods, but all my mum could tell me is, they are called “periods,” and I have become a lady. I wasn’t taught how hitting adolescence could affect me in multiple ways emotionally, physically, and mentally. Periods are something so normal which happens to a lot of women were considered a taboo topic in homes. It was considered something shameful and a topic we should never discuss in-front of men. While periods knocked on my door, I lacked basic knowledge of periods and on how to use any of the period products. My mum has never taken me to a proper gynecological appointment in all my life. All of these could have been taught to me by giving me proper sex-ed, but sadly it wasn’t in any Muslim households or in the communities.
”While periods knocked on my door I lacked basic knowledge of periods and on how to use any of the period products”
The importance of sex-ed is usually not discussed or taught due to fear of rising in Zina (pre-marital sex) a common misconception though held within the society. By getting sexual education, it doesn’t mean that we will be going astray from the religion but instead, it will keep us getting closer to God spiritually and get us a more understanding of how to act and practice what is taught on ourselves later privately. However, the little bit we Muslims know that sex education is more than just simply ‘sex.’
In sexual education, the schooling syllabus not only covers sex, but it also covers rape (including marital rape), consent, periods, sexual reproduction system, and all of the taboo topics we don’t talk about in households. It talks about how we can teach ourselves to tell people in authority if they are subjected to abuse emotionally and mentally. It teaches everyone how to love themselves unconditionally and selflessly. It helps us to talk about the importance of consent in any situation, whether it is during sex or even the simplest thing to reserve something from others. It covers how sexually transmitted diseases that are so frequent in the community, but often, many are skeptical about seeking help making it riskier to their health. Not only does it teach us about mutual consent, but it also shows how to be a responsible citizen and respect individuals and their boundaries in the spectrum of sexuality.
While some of you may disagree on the subject of sex education, you must consider how sex-education has helped numerous countries. It has helped limit unplanned pregnancy, safe contraceptive methods, proper family planning, and has created a safe space to report sexual abuse/assault. It has given a choice to everyone to talk about their needs and be comfortable talking about anything and practice it in their daily lives. Moreover, it has given a place in the community on how to take care of themselves and seek help medically in their reproductive lives.
While addressing sexual education in the Muslim community, we need to carefully think about how we should be addressing as many of the households still consider this as a prohibited topic among themselves. One of the ways is making sure addressing this topic is age-appropriate. However, it is advisable to address this topic in a way where they can understand this as children are often more curious while they grow up. Moreover, make sure to refer to anatomical names since the majority of the time, addressing different names has led to offenders using it as a way that is beneficial for them. While many Muslims are taught sex-education in segregated sessions, it can be done in a way where all genders are comfortable and guided by a therapist or a sex-education specialist who has adequate and proper training. But it’s more effective to be educated by one’s parents as it creates a space for a special bond and trust among the family.
As a Muslim community, we all should be ready to talk about this and raise perception about how sex education is just more than sex, teaches how to respect each other and their boundaries.
Our prophet Mohammed has said, ‘seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.’ We all should be seeking knowledge no matter what age we are in. Let’s all talk about sex education in a healthy way and make it a civil conversation among our households where we all could create a safer environment with lesser crime rates for the young generations in the future.