Sex and Marriage in Islam

I wanted to share with you an excerpt from my debut book, What Would a Muslim Say. . . I am explaining the Articles of Faith over email to one of my students. After a couple of exchanges about beliefs and worship, he sends me this. . .


“Can you tell me about sex and marriage please? Thank you.”


In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful:

That’s a big jump from beliefs and worship!

I assume you understood belief in God. Belief in the angels, the prophets, the revealed scriptures, the Day of Judgment, and Divine Decree are the other articles of faith. I will continue sending these to you, God-willing, so we can be assured you have all accurate information.

After that, we should talk about the pillars of worship: Testifying that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His messenger, praying five times a day, fasting during month of Ramadan, making the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your life, and giving charity if you possess more than eighty-five grams of gold (or their equivalent in local currency and liquid assets) for a full lunar year.

After that, we can start talking about lifestyle! Usually, we talk about five topics in this section: rules for speech and behavior, rules for earning and spending, rules for love and marriage, rules for eating and drinking, and finally rules for games and leisure.

Since you have asked directly, I will explain the Islamic etiquettes of love, sex, and marriage. God says in the Qur’an “And do no approach adultery; it is immoral and an evil way.” (17:32) From this, we understand that not only is sex outside of marriage a sin, but even coming near to this act is itself a sin. For this reason, the Prophet instructed his community to be very careful around the opposite sex. Flirting, joking, patting, hugging, kissing, and close friendship is not considered appropriate between a man and a woman unless the two in question are related or married to each other.

A man and woman are allowed to interact with each other in a business, educational, political, or medical situation, but all these interactions must be with professional detachment and propriety. That means that personal space is not transgressed and personal conversation is not held.

Most of what goes on in the Western world regarding the mixing and socializing between men and women is considered sinful or at best un-Islamic. Islam defines fidelity and chastity as not just sexual exclusivity, but also physical exclusivity and emotional exclusivity. Most people in the West have evolved the opinion that as long as a man only has sex with his wife, he may get physical and emotional with other women.

Islam takes the comprehensive and pragmatic view that emotions and physicality often lead to intimacy and sexuality; therefore, Islam commands its followers to follow the purer route and keep themselves fully chaste for their spouses only.


“How old do you have to be to get married? Thank you.”


In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful:

There is no age limit for marriage in Islam. Muslims are encouraged to marry young to avoid the temptation of adultery and sexual frustration. The only hard and fast minimum requirements for a valid marriage are that both bride and groom must have physically matured. This means the girl must have demonstrated menstruation and the boy must have demonstrated ejaculation. This is the absolute minimum.

However, in addition, the groom must be able to feed, clothe, shelter, and maintain his wife, so this usually means that man doesn’t marry until after graduating high school or college. Also, the bride usually requires the consent of her guardians, so this usually means that she doesn’t marry until after high school, although I know of people in the Middle East (mainly farmers and country folk) who marry their girls as young as thirteen or fourteen. If the woman has married before, or she is a convert, consent of the family is strongly recommended but not required.

. . . End of Excerpt . . .


Read the rest of this conversation (and more like it) in the book that started the series!

What Would a Muslim Say: Conversations, Questions, and Answers About Islam

Kindle edition ON SALE — 20% off

Get your copy HERE

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