Muslim Marriage Guide – 11
A Short A to Z of Marriage
Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
`The quest for knowledge is every Muslim’s duty.’ (Hadith from Ibn Maja)
`You will not have faith until you love one another.’ (Hadith from Muslim)
ABANDONMENT. A major sin. Imam al-Ghazali records: `It is related that if a man runs away from his family, Allah will not accept his prayer or his fasting until he returns home.’
ABORTION. The Prophet (s) believed that every conceived child had a right to life, and there are strong Quranic ayats against the killing of children. `Do not slay your children for fear of poverty. We provide for you and for them.’ (6:151)
Every human being has a living soul, and should be loved, respected, and have his or her proper place in a family. Muslim jurists are of the unanimous view that after the foetus has been given a soul by Allah, it is forbidden to kill it. An unborn child has legal rights, depending whether it was formed and showing signs of independent life. If it was, and if someone hurt a pregnant woman and she miscarried, full diya (blood compensation) has to be paid, just as for an adult person. A foetus can also inherit. The janaza prayer is performed for a `formed’ foetus, and it is given a name. If the foetus is not `formed’, janaza is prohibited.
The majority of jurists are of the opinion that the soul does not enter the body of the unborn baby until the time it is `ensouled’ (nafh al-ruh), which is in the sixteenth week of pregnancy; and if an abortion is absolutely necessary, it has to be performed before that time. The Hanafis permit abortion until the end of the fourth month. Others, particularly the Maliki scholars, feel that the matter of when the soul enters the foetus is unproven, and therefore prohibit abortion absolutely.
The Hanafis grant women the right to an abortion even without the man’s permission, but urge that this not be done without genuine and pressing reasons.
After `ensoulment’, abortion is only allowed if the pregnancy will endanger the mother’s life, the principle being that the real life of the mother takes precedence over the potential life of the unborn child.
A casual attitude to abortion has developed in a few countries, where it is often used routinely whenever contraception fails, but it is now increasingly realised that many women who have abortions in order to solve one problem end up with psychological problems later on as the result of the guilt and sadness of destroying their unborn child.
ABSTINENCE. Sometimes a couple decides to live without sex for a period of time. This is not generally advisable in a marriage, because if can lead to a range of inhibitions and problems. If both parties wish to rest from sex, then that is their business. Both partners have to agree, of course, as the Shari’a forbids either to renounce sex without the other’s permission. There is a danger, however, that marital relations may not start up again, and the man and wife may be attracted to others. Islam is alert to the need to prevent adultery, and therefore sees abstinence as encouraging a temptation that is unnecessary.
`Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire hardship for you.’ (Quran, 2:185)
There is a hadith of Salman al-Farisi to Abu’1-Darda’, whose wife had begun to neglect herself because she was so depressed by her husband’s lack of care for her: `Allah has rights over you, and so do your wife and children. So try to fulfill all these rights. The fulfillment of one duty should not cause the negligence of others.’ When the Prophet (s) was informed about this, he said that Salman was right. (Bukhari.)
See also `Celibacy’.
AGE. It is generally best if the husband is older than his bride, because women seem to mature more quickly, and also because he will be better able to support her financially.
As far as the sex drive goes, this diminishes far less quickly with age than is commonly imagined. Sexual activity will continue well into the sixties and even seventies, provided that the couple have developed an active and varied sex life from early marriage, and have taken steps to avoid getting bored.
AIDS. This terrible disease is transmitted sexually, or through the sharing of hypodermic needles. Most victims are homosexuals, but it is now spreading among the heterosexual population as well, and some unfortunate children are being born with it. The only protection is to go into your marriage without previous illicit sexual contact, and to remain faithful to your partner.
The Blessed Prophet remarked:
`Never does immorality appear among a people to the extent that they make it public, but that there shall appear among them plagues and agonies unknown to their forefathers.’ (Malik, Muwatta’)
It is hardly necessary to remark that men and women who have come to (or come back to) Islam from a promiscuous background should have an AIDS test before they get married.
For some palliatives for AIDS in Islamic medicine, see Chishti, T
ANAL INTERCOURSE. Some people find this gratifying, although most women do not, and are grateful that the Prophet (s) spoke out strongly against it. Abu Hurayra reported that he said:
`Do not approach women from the anus.’ (Tirmidhi.)
`Allah will not look at the face of he who has committed sodomy with his wife.’ (Ibn Maja.)
This practice still seems to be quite common in some societies, and is a very traumatic thing for a woman to be forced to submit to. It has been used as a method of contraception, of not spoiling a girl’s virginity, or as a novel method of intercourse in a tighter `channel’ than the vagina. According to the Hanbali scholar Ibn alQayyim:
`It is the right of the wife that her husband should have natural sexual relations with her. By committing sodomy he deprives her of her right, and also fails to satisfy her sexual desire … She was not created for this dirty act. Hence all those who avoid the natural course and indulge in unnatural means have ignored the wisdom of Allah and His Shari’a.’ (Ibn al-Qayyim, Zad al-Ma’ad)
Incidentally, it should be made clear than when the Prophet (s) sanctioned `intercourse from behind’, he did not mean anal intercourse, but vaginal intercourse from behind. But there is nothing wrong with enjoying the areas nearby. Imam Zabidi says: `To enjoy the backside without entering the rectum is permissible, because with that exception, all parts of a woman’s body may be enjoyed by the husband.’ (Ithaf al-Sada al-Muttaqin, V 331.)
ARBITRATION (tahkim). In cases where the spouses seem unable to resolve a dispute, it is useful to put it to arbitration. The Holy Quran explains how this is to be done: `If you fear a split between the two of them, then appoint an arbiter from his family and an arbiter from her family. If they wish for reconciliation, then Allah will reconcile them. For Allah was ever Knowing, Aware.’ (4:35)
ARRANGED MARRIAGE. A good thing if all parties are happy with the match. It is not permissible in Shari’a for a woman to be married against her will.
A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, once asked the Prophet (s) whether a family who wished to marry off a young girl should ask her permission, and he said: Yes, her permission should be sought.’ (Muslim.)
`The woman has a right over herself concerning marriage, and her guardian has a right over her concerning marriage; but her right takes precedence over his. If he wishes to marry her to someone of a proper background, and she refuses, then she cannot be compelled; while if she wishes to marry someone who has a proper background, and her guardian refuses, he will be compelled to submit to her wishes; and if he persists in his refusal, the qadi is authorised to give her away in marriage in his stead.’
BEATING. See under `Corporal Punishment’.
BODY ODOURS. Underarms, underpants, and feet. Keep them sweet. See `Cleanliness’.
BREASTS. An important erogenous zone (see Chapter 10). If they get sore, rub in `Masse’ cream, available at any chemists.
BREATH. Some people have an awful problem here, especially smokers and pan chewers – and they may not realise it. First thing in the morning is another dangerous time for bad breath. All married Muslims have a duty to make themselves as palatable as possible for their spouses. Newlyweds might like to keep a packet of mints under the pillow, to be sucked on waking. Keep a miswak handy, and use it regularly. Smokers, especially pipe smokers, should do something about their breath before they attempt to have sex. Islam strongly condemns smoking anyway, and getting married would be a good opportunity to give it up!
CELIBACY. The Sunna of the Prophet (s) was marriage, and he regarded total celibacy as unnatural and against the will of Allah. Anas ibn Malik recorded the case of a man who decided that all troubles were caused by marriage, and so instead of marrying he would pass his life in prayer. When this came to the attention of the Prophet (s), he said: `By Allah, I keep nafl (optional) fasts, but I also discontinue them; I pray at night, but I also sleep; I also marry women – and this is my sunna. Whoever shuns my sunna is not of me.’ (Bukhari.)
`O young people! Whoever among you is capable of sexual intercourse should marry, for that is more modest for the gaze and safer for the private parts; and whoever cannot, should fast, for that is a form of castration.’ (Muslim)
A’isha recorded that he said: `Nikah (marriage) is my sunna, and he who shuns my sunna is not of me.’ (Muslim)
`Anyone who refuses to marry is shirking his farm-work, wasting the seed, and leaving idle the appropriate tools created by God; he sins against the purpose of creation and the wisdom visible in the evidence of natural structure. The man who refuses to marry has severed a chain of being, a previously unbroken chain linking his own existence to that of Adam.’ (al-Ghazali)
A bachelor once asked Imam al-Ghazali: `Which should I choose: marriage, or total devotion to God? ‘Both’, he replied.
It is related that after his death, the pious bachelor Bishr al-Hafi appeared to someone in a dream, and was asked: `How has God treated you? ‘I have been given a high rank in the Garden of Paradise,’ he said, `and was allowed to look upon the stations of the Prophets; yet I never attained to the ranks of the married.’ When asked what had become of Abu Nasr al-Tammar, he replied: `He has been raised seventy degrees above me.’ People were surprised, and asked how this could be, and he answered: `He earned that by his patience with his little daughters and his family burdens.’
Celibacy of the unmarried is to be solved by marrying someone suitable as soon as possible, in the light of one’s financial circumstances, while widows and divorced people should try to remarry.
CHILDREN. These should always be welcomed and wanted. It is irresponsible to bring into the world children who will be hurt because they are not wanted. This is one of the things you have to think most carefully about even before you get married, because it is all too easy to get pregnant very quickly, even on the wedding night, and your families may well put pressure on both of you to do this. See `Contraception’; and also the texts by Silma Buckley and Dr. Alia Schleifer mentioned at the end of this book.
CIRCUMCISION (khitan). According to some madhhabs, this is not completely obligatory for adult male converts, but it is nevertheless a very strong sunna. An uncircumcised penis quickly accumulates smelly material under the foreskin, and medical studies have indicated a connection between failure to circumcise and cancer of this organ.
`Female circumcision’ of the type practiced by some people in Somalia, Egypt and some other African countries is a mutilation forbidden by Islam.
CLEANLINESS. This is one of the basic aspects of Islam, and has been likened to half the faith. (Hadith in Ibn Hanbal.) It is certainly vital to marriage, as we saw in Chapter 10. The Blessed Prophet recommended ten things as being part of the fitra:
`Cutting the hair close on the lips, letting the beard grow, using the miswak for the teeth, cleaning out the nose, paring the nails, washing out the base of the fingers, removal of the hair in the armpits and pubic areas, washing the affected parts after a call of nature, and the rinsing of the mouth.’ (Muslim.)
Some people need reminding of the obvious point of adab that not all of these cleansing activities should be done in public. People who have shaved off a large amount of hair in the bath or shower should remember that it can clog the drains. The Prophet’s preferred method of disposal of haircutting’s and nail parings was burning or burial, since these are part of the human body, and should not be discarded with ordinary filth and rubbish. See also `Washing’ below.
COIL. See I.U.D.
COITUS INTERRUPTUS. Some people use azl – `coitus interruptus’ (the male withdrawing from the female just short of climax) as a form of birth control. It is very unreliable. The Blessed Prophet allowed it as a method of contraception, but only with the wife’s permission.
Some men practised it when their wives were suckling children, so as not to risk impregnating them again to the detriment of the baby. Others used to practise it when their wives were pregnant, superstitiously fearing to harm the unborn child (in fact, there is no evidence that sex during pregnancy is dangerous). Usama narrated that a man once came to the Prophet (s) and said: `O Messenger of God, I withdraw from my wife during sexual intercourse.’ The Prophet (s) asked why, and he said that it was that he might not harm the child. The Prophet (s) replied: If there was any truth about harming the child, the people of Persia and Byzantium would suffer the same harm.’ (Muslim.)
The Caliph Umar said it should never be done without the wife’s permission; and the scholars hold that this applies to all forms of contraception.
CONDITIONS (shurut). When a man marries a woman he takes upon himself certain conditions as duties, of which the Shari’a specifically mentions kindness, financial maintenance, clothing, sex and accommodation, all in accordance with the woman’s background and normal expectations. If he fails to comply, he is sinning and the wife can take him to an Islamic judge to force him to mend his ways. If she lays down additional conditions for her marriage before the actual ceremony takes place, he must honour these also, as long as they do not invalidate any Islamic principle. According to the madhhab of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the bride can make it a legal condition of the marriage that the husband will not take a second wife. (Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, IX, 202.)
`The condition most deserving to be honoured is that through which you make private parts halal for you. (Hadith in Muslim.)
CONDOM. If you are using these as your only method of contraception, remember that they easily split, burst or slip off, and there is quite a high rate of accidents. If you really don t wish to conceive, use a spermicide as well, or some other halal contraceptive.
CONTRACEPTION. This is important if you do not want twenty children! There are numerous methods, and you should consult your doctor for advice. Islam is not against any method of contraception that prevents the conception of a child, but it is against destroying a foetus once it has life. Choose a method that suits both partners, not just one of you. Contraception should always be done after consultation.
If the wife chooses to go `on the Pill’, remember that there are sometimes side effects, and that it is not always advisable to take a drug over a long period of time. Taking the Pill is often recommended for new wives because it is relatively safe and foolproof, but doctors often recommend taking a break from it after a couple of years.
Some varieties of the Pill are not permissible in the view of those madhhabs that regard all abortion as sinful, as they cause the fertilised egg to be dislodged and lost, which is a kind of early abortion. `Morning after’ pills are of this type, killing the embryo after fertilization has taken place.
Taking the body temperature regularly can indicate the times when ovulation is most likely; and avoiding these times is the most natural method of contraception. However this `rhythm’ method is notoriously unreliable – and because of its favour among Catholics it has been nicknamed `Vatican Roulette’. Remember, too, that most women feel most sexual desire at the very time when they are ovulating, so other means must be taken if they are to have a satisfactory sex life.
CONTRACT. An Islamically-valid marriage requires the fulfillment of five obligatory conditions: (1) the consent of the guardian (or in his absence, or unjust refusal, the qadi); (2) the consent of the man and the woman; (3) the agreed-upon dower (mahr); (4) two Muslim witnesses of good character (shahiday adl); (5) an `offer and immediate acceptance’ (ijab wa-qubul) using the word `marriage’ or `wedding’. Practices which are sunna but not obligatory are: (1) the engagement proposal (khitba) made earlier to the guardian or in his presence; (2) the religious speech (khutba) before the marriage; (3) the bride and groom should see each other and learn about each other before consent is given; (4) friends and relations should attend the ceremony; (5) the couple should intend `upholding the Sunna, preserving modesty and seeking offspring’; (6) the ceremony should ideally take place in the local mosque and during the month of Shawwal.
CORPORAL PUNISHMENT. The Prophet (s) did not forbid a man from giving instructions to his wife, as long as these were in accordance with Islam, or from giving his wife some form of physical discipline – even though he himself never struck any of his wives. However, this did not mean that a husband was allowed to beat his wife for things like burning the dinner, or forgetting something she should have done, or simply because he was in a foul mood!
There is one Quranic verse that grants husbands permission, but it states that this is only in cases where they genuinely fear nushuz (`rebellion’, which in this context means treating the husband with arrogance and refusing the marital bed as a permanent principle, not just the odd occasion when the woman might have been ill).
`Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, through that in which Allah has given one more than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part you fear rebellion, (first) admonish them, (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them; but if they return to obedience then do not seek against them any (further) means.’ (Quran, 4:34)
The Prophet referred to this verse in his Final Sermon. He said:
`Hear me well! Treat your women kindly, for they resemble prisoners in your hands … if they are guilty of flagrant misbehaviour, you may remove them from your beds, or beat them, but do not inflict upon them any severe punishment! Then, if they obey you, do not seek against them any (further) means. Hear me well! You have your rights over your wives, and they have their rights over you!’
The idea of punching or beating up a woman was totally repugnant to the Blessed Prophet, and belonged to the attitude towards women shown in the time of Jahiliya, or of societies where the consumption of alcohol was widespread. The hadiths tell us that he laughingly suggested that if a husband was obliged to spank his wife, he should use a miswak, the soff stick which Muslims use to clean the teeth (Tabari, Baghawi) or even a handkerchief (Razi).
A balance has to be struck between being a responsible male caring for a partner’s earthly life and eternal fate (in trying to make her do the right thing), and allowing her the freedom to be herself -for in the end, her fate will be of her own making. It is obvious that when this permission was abused by violent men, the Prophet was very quick to listen to the complaints of the wives and rebuke the husbands.
Ibn Sa’d, for instance, comments that `the Prophet (s) had always persisted in his opposition to the beating of women. And men came to him to complain about their women; then he gave them permission, but said: “I cannot bear to see a quick-tempered man beat his wife in a fit of anger.”‘ (Ibn Sa’d.)
The Prophet (s) also said: `How can any one of you beat his wife as he might beat a camel, and then expect to embrace her at night?’ (Bukhari and Muslim.)
According to other hadiths, he appears to have forbidden the beating of women completely: `Do not beat Allah’s handmaidens! ` (Abu Daud, Nasa’i, Ibn Maja, al-Hakim.)
Put together, all these sources suggest that beating, if it has to be done at all, should be a last resort to punish a wife for some major sin, such as adultery. It is the final manifestation of the husband’s authority, not the first; a deterrent aimed at holding the marriage together.
DAUGHTERS. In some Muslim cultures influenced by non-Islamic traditions, these are welcomed less than sons. This attitude is condemned by Allah. Islam criticises the pre-Islamic Arabs by saying:
`When one of them receives the good news of [the birth of] a female, his face remains darkened, and he is angry within. He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that of which he has been given good news: Shall he keep her in contempt, or bury her beneath the earth? Evil indeed is their judgment.’ (Qur’an 16:58)
`A man who has three daughters, and who maintains them and treats them well until God makes them independent of him, to him God will grant the Garden irrevocably, irrevocably, unless he commits an act which is unforgivable.’ (Hadith from Khara’iti)
`A man should not be too overjoyed at getting a boy, or unduly sad when he is given a girl, ,for he cannot know which of them will turn out to be the greater blessing for him. How many fathers of sons wish they had had none at all, or girls instead! In fact, girls give more peace, and the reward they bring from God is more bountiful.’ (AlGhazali)
DOMINANT MALES IN BED. Most women rather like their men to be dominant, so long as they know they will not be forced to do anything they would not wish to do. Many wives enjoy quite `rough’ sexplay, being `forced’ (in a pretence situation) to comply with a husband’s wishes – it can be quite flattering! Some even enjoy being spanked if `naughty’. However, remember that other women would not like this at all. It is not safe to assume that when your wife says `No’ she really means `Yes’. Every man has the right to be the leading partner in his marriage, and there are few women who really appreciate `soft’ men, although they may never care to admit the fact! However, men should always be very careful to observe where to draw the line, and never hurt their wives. There is always a difference between fun and cruelty, and Islam has no place for torture and abuse.
DOWRY. In the Subcontinent, the practice of giving dowries to the bridegroom or his family is on the increase among Muslims, but this habit is hardly known elsewhere in the Islamic world, and is almost certainly a borrowing from Hinduism. According to the Sharia, it is the man who has to give a wedding-gift, not the other way around, the idea being to make him take the marriage seriously, and to provide her with some financial security. The practice of the Companions was to hand this mahr over at the time of the marriage itself. See also `Weddings’ below.
DRY PARTS. A frequent cause of painful intercourse in women, and hence of marital stress. It can be caused by nervousness, illness, or inadequate foreplay. Lubricants such as `KY jelly’ can be bought over the counter in any chemists.
EGO (nafs). This is the biggest problem of all. Nothing in Islam is easy until the lower and selfish desires of the nafs are under control. Happiness and fulfillment in marriage come about through making sacrifices for the sake of spouse and children; and such sacrifices will be painful and perhaps even impossible if one’s own ego regularly wins its battles against mind (aql) and spirit (ruh).
There are many ways of controlling and weakening the nafs. The first is observing its activities, and cutting down on things it is strongly attached to, such as laziness, suspicion, or even certain types of food or TV programmes. Fasting can be a real help here. It is also important at the end of every day to think back over one’s actions, and consider how to rectify obvious faults and acts of selfishness. Saying each prayer at the beginning of its time, and regularly reciting the Holy Quran and any wird or wazifa you may have, will also help to grind down the ego, and replace its darkness with light and ease in the heart. `And as for him who fears the standing before his Lord, and forbids his nafs its whim, assuredly the Garden shall be his place of refuge.’ (79:40)
FANTASIES. Almost everyone has these. Sexual fantasies in dreams are not sinful, just the workings of an active imagination. No one could be held to blame for the content of their dreams, since this is out of their control. They are only harmful if they become a major part of your waking life so that they damage your partner, or turn into an obsession that makes a normal relationship difficult.
A good Muslim will obviously try to live in reality, rather than in a fantasy. He or she will try to avoid consciously fantasising about something that is forbidden in Islam, even though thinking about doing something but not doing it is not considered a sin.
Fantasies can sometimes prove useful as mental stimulants when a marriage is growing stale. But it is not always a good idea to reveal your fantasies to your partner – they could well have a good laugh at your expense, or, alternatively, feel threatened by them if they think that the spouse is getting bored or disappointed.
FATHERHOOD. This usually comes as a shock the first time round. Couples are often unprepared for the sheer exhaustion, if they are not in an extended family situation which can ease the strain. Babies cry a lot, need feeding at night, and so on. Things are never the same again – you cannot put the clock back. To make matters worse, babies often come along just at the time when the husband is trying hard to get on at work. Although these days there are various aids to help busy mothers (like disposable nappies), the decline of old-fashioned family life means that there is often no doting granny or aunt to help look after baby, and the stress for mothers can seem overwhelming. Many new mothers feel tired and sometimes depressed as a result, just when everyone is expecting them to be bouncing around with enthusiasm. Actual physical help and a lot of sympathy and love are the Muslim husband’s duty. Also, men have to realise that the experience of childbirth is so total for a woman that her feelings for him may be pushed into the background, and although it is foolish for a man to feel jealous of his own child, this often happens. A Muslim woman tries to ensure that her husband is not neglected, and that he shares her love for the baby. It is very important that the husband picks up and loves the child, helps to nurse it when sick, and generally relates to it. A wife should not be expected to recommence intercourse with her husband for at least six weeks, and even then, if they are both too tired, it is important to reestablish a loving and private relationship that is consoling and tender.
FOOT MASSAGE. This is sheer delight for some people, and torture for others. It can also be highly beneficial to the health – get a book on massage or reflexology, or go on a course.
FRIGIDITY. Women appear frigid when they do not wish to make love to their husbands. This is not normally because they are frigid, but because they are unhappy about their spouse for some reason. It could be because the husband always waits until the wife is too tired, or fast asleep; or because he is not very clean, or his breath smells, or he does not bother to prepare his wife for lovemaking, or because sex has become painful to the wife, or something of a chore. It is the duty of a Muslim husband to be alert to the needs of his wife, and act with sensitivity. (Remember, when your wife won’t speak to you, she is trying to tell you something!) If men could talk to their wives, and listen to what they say, so much female frigidity could probably be defeated once and for all! See Chapter 10, and Chishti, The Traditional Healer, 285-93.
GENEROSITY. The Holy Quran warns frequently against niggardliness. Good Muslims `prefer others over themselves, though theirs be the greater need.’ (59:9) Remember your spouse regularly, and offer gifts and surprises. A Muslim wife will always be on the lookout for little ways to treat her husband – husbands should try to return the compliment. Some men will go to any lengths to impress wealthy male friends, and yet cannot bring themselves to buy their wives a box of sweets!
`Whatever you spend for the pleasure of Allah, you will be rewarded for it. You will be rewarded even for that morsel which you put in the mouth of your wife.’ (Bukhari and Muslim)
`The dinar you have spent in the way of Allah (is the one used) to liberate a slave, to help the poor, or on your wife and children; while the one that fetches the highest reward is the one you spend on your wife and children.’ (Muslim)
`Give the worker his wage before his sweat dries!’ (Muslim)
G-SPOT. See page 100.
HEAD MASSAGE. Another delightful way of expressing your love and care.
HOMOSEXUALITY. This is not allowed in any revealed religion. We should recognise, however, that a few people do have a mental inclination towards the same sex, and the evidence is growing that this is often due to a defect in the chromosomes. Every human being is a mixture of male and female traits, and sometimes a person is born with an inner balance unsuited to his or her physical characteristics. Nowadays, when the distinction between male and female character is being increasingly blurred in the population at large, homosexuality is becoming more socially acceptable to the secular mind. This is no justification, of course, for committing what is the most unnatural of all human acts; but Muslims have to recognise that a person struggling for self control deserves approval. The increasing recognition of this tendency as a genetic rather than a purely moral problem holds out hope of medical treatment, as technology advances; and the day may not be far off when all human beings can benefit from the delights and responsibilities of parenthood.
`What – of all creatures do you come unto the males and leave the spouses which your Lord created for you? Assuredly, you are a people who transgress the limits.’ (Quran, 26:165-6)
`Do you approach men in lust rather than women? You are a people that are ignorant.’ (Quran, 27:54-5)
HOUSEWIFE. Never say that a woman is `only’ a housewife. This infuriates every woman. It is a massive, demanding job, sometimes without a break for sixteen hours a day, and there is no retirement age. It requires intelligence, forethought, compassion and skill, and should never be thought of as inferior to so called `real’ jobs outside the home. In fact, it is usually more difficult. If a man is lucky enough to have a housewife, he should appreciate her as one of life’s greatest treasures. The sunna of the Blessed Prophet was to help his wives cheerfully: he helped with the less pleasant `chores’, and lived in appreciation and respect for his wives. (See pages 22 and 56.)
IMPOTENCE. For the penis to become erect the blood-vessels inside it must be relaxed to allow blood to flow in. If they cannot relax, either because of tension or disease, erection cannot occur. Nearly all men experience this at some time or other, and if is recognised as a particular problem in stressful modern societies. It may be that a man is too tired, or anxious, or his mind is full of something, or he may simply be ill. It is the duty of a Muslim wife to be very patient, and not act in a way that would upset the husband or make him feel like a failure, since that would make the problem far worse. Wives should not stress their husbands by making demands of them at these times, but should show that they still appreciate and respect them, perhaps by some tenderness that does not lead to full intercourse. In most cases, the husband will soon pick up again. A good Muslim wife has the duty to ensure that her husband’s diet is adequate and that he is generally in good health. She will also encourage him to take regular exercise. For some Islamic herbal remedies see Chishti, The Traditional Healer, 276-8.
Husbands with recurrent difficulties of this sort should pluck up the courage to see a doctor, as the cause is often a disease of the arteries, and there are new `conventional’ treatments available such as Prostaglandin E 1 which are frequently very effective.
I.U.D. (Inter-uterine device, or `coil’). This is a plastic loop inserted into the uterus by a doctor, and left in place for long periods of time. It can sometimes be expelled or be painful, and it needs renewing every two years. Not usually recommended until after bearing the first child, and not recommended in Islam because it allows conception to take place but then prevents the embryo from embedding itself in the wall of the uterus.
JANABA. The state between sexual emission or penetration, and ghusl. It is permissible to sleep, eat, and do most things in this condition, but not to touch the Quran, or to mention sacred words and phrases more than is absolutely necessary.
KISSING. A few cultures do not seem to include kissing in their sexual repertoire, but most people find it a vital part of lovemaking, especially in the preliminary stages. The Blessed Prophet once rebuked a man who claimed he had never kissed his children; and the case of a man who never kisses his wife will presumably be similar. There are many different kinds of kissing, and they all require a clean mouth and teeth, and fresh breath (remember your Miswak.). Muslims should not inflict kisses on their spouses which are distasteful to them, and both should realise that there are skills to be learned. The kind of behaviour seen in films may be distasteful to them, and sexual kissing and petting (as opposed to the kiss of the relative as part of a greeting) should not be done in public.
LOOSE TALK. Never speak about your intimate life to another person, unless you are seeking medical help. Loose chatter about intimate things is extremely damaging, and you will never know to whom these secrets will be passed on, or when they will return again to embarrass you.
`On the Day of Judgment the lowest person in the sight of God will be the man who is intimate with his wife and then broadcast her secrets.’ (Hadith in Muslim)
`A man should never discuss sexual matters with any of his wife’s relatives.’ (Imam al-Nawawi, Sharh al-Arba’in)
MALE EGO. A husband should recall that he is not making love to his own ego, but to his wife. He has an unconscious need to impress himself, but he will be more impressive if he listens to his wife, and works with her as a team.
MAKING UP. Ending a row can be the sweetest moment in a marriage.
`If a woman, on her husband’s being displeased, says to him that she will not sleep unless he is pacified and her hand is in his, she is deserving of Paradise.’ (Hadith in Tabarani)
MASOCHISM. There are many women and men, especially, it seems, in Anglo-Saxon and Protestant cultures, who cannot achieve orgasm without the fantasy of beating or being beaten. (See `The Role of Muslim Women in Society’, Afzalur Rahman, Seerah Foundation, 1986, pp.416ff, quoting Dr Norman Haire in the Encyclopedia of Sexual Knowledge, p.315.) Where this is only `token’ in nature, rather than a real desire to be tortured and abused (something which requires spiritual and medical attention), it can on rare occasions enhance a marriage, when the partner is kind and considerate as regards the fantasies of the other.
MASSAGE (tadlik). This is a wonderful part of marriage, very important in the traditional Islamic world, and all couples should buy a book or go on a course to learn it. Obviously it should be a two way act of love. It is not right for the husband to accept his wife’s labours on his behalf, and not be willing to return the compliment. See `Head massage’, `Foot massage’, and `Treading.’
MASTURBATION (istimna’). Although the Prophet (s) advised fasting to develop will-power and weaken the sex drive of unmarried people, this is a common (albeit very private) practice among young people who have not yet married. It seems to be particularly common in societies where marriage is left late. Most Muslim scholars permit it in the absence of a legitimate partner to satisfy one’s desires. For instance, Imam Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Hazm allow it for those who fear that without a sexual outlet they might otherwise commit adultery or fornication, such as those financially unable to marry, prisoners, travelers, and others (both men and women) without access to a legitimate partner.
Masturbation should not be necessary once a person is married, but in some cases it persists. On occasion, where birth control is not available, men can get into the habit of some form of masturbation instead of intercourse, so that their wives do not get pregnant. Many men do not realise that if they choose deliberately to come to climax outside the wife’s vagina, then this is really a form of masturbation. The Prophet (s) recommended that this be done only with the wife s permission, because it will leave the wife open to possible temptation to zina if her husband is not satisfying her. And some women get so little satisfaction from their husbands that they secretly carry out these rather sad practices rather than tell them and hurt their feelings or risk rejection.
MEN UNUSED TO WOMEN. If a man has not had to live with sisters, he will often be quite taken aback by female `trappings’, such as tights hanging up in the bathroom, or girl’s underwear on the radiators. The most important woman in his life has been his mother, and he may expect his wife to have the same habits and views, opinions on going out to work, looking after husbands, and so on – in which case living with a modern young woman may come as a shock! Worse, if his mother spoiled him, he may be completely untrained, and may even have treated his mother rather like a servant, and now expects his new wife to endlessly run round after him picking things up. A good Muslim man takes on marriage as a new form of living, and should be willing to be sympathetic, to be helpful, and to adjust to the new situation. A Muslim wife recognises that in some ways men nowadays always remain boys, but it is her duty to make him take responsibility for himself and his children – she is not his slave!
`Make things easy for people, and do not make them hard; cheer people up and do not rebuff them.’ (Hadith from Muslim.)
MENSTRUATION. See `Periods’.
MODESTY (haya’). Most Muslim women are extremely modest -the Prophet (s) said that `modesty brings nothing but good’ – and so do not like to be looked at when nude. Have respect for your wife’s feelings, and allow her to retain some clothing or put out the lights if she feels happier that way. Otherwise, she may be very inhibited and unhappy. Similarly, some Muslim men prefer to retain some clothing when in the bedroom. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with this. Others enjoy complete nudity, which is acceptable also. The scholars hold that is permissible to look at the private parts of one’s spouse. (See page 88 above for more details.)
`When anyone from among you wishes to have sexual intercourse with his wife, he should pull a cover over him, and they should not be naked like two donkeys.’ (A weak hadith in Ibn Maja)
NAGGING. The idea is to wear down the partner by continually going on about something. It rarely works, is never attractive in either partner, and can push a marriage onto the rocks because of one partner’s tireless campaign to change the character of the other rather than loving them for what they are. The Prophet (s) disliked nags and gossips, and those with caustic tongues – no matter how religious they were.
A man said: `O Messenger of Allah, such-and-such a woman has a reputation for praying to an enormous extent, fasting and giving charity, but she harms her neighbours with her tongue.’ He replied: `She is of the people of Hell.’ Then the man mentioned another woman who didn’t fast or pray much, but who `gives a piece of curd as sadaqa, and does not harm her neighbours with her tongue.’ He replied, `She is of the people of Paradise.’ (Ibn Hanbal)
And remember that your spouse is your nearest ‘neighbour’!
MOTHER. Men need to remember that a wife is not a mother. A young woman just starting out is not likely to have all the social skills of the older woman. A good Muslim mother will have sat the bride down and given her a few clues and tips as to things that will please her husband – but it is not her place to `push in’ or become interfering and a cause of stress or rivalry. The Muslim man, while honouring his mother, should not make his wife resent her, but should help her to acquire the skills so that she will in her turn learn the art of motherhood herself.
`O Messenger of God, to whom should I be loyal and good? ‘Your mother.’ `And then whom? ‘Your mother.’ `And then whom? ‘Your mother.’ `And then whom? ‘Your father.’ (Tirmidhi)
OVULATION. >From the onset of puberty (usually when a girl is about 12 or 13) the female releases one `ovum’ (buwayda, egg-cell) every month, and this continues until she is between 45 and 50 years of age (the ‘menopause’). If the ovum is not fertilised by male sperm, the ovum and the lining of the uterus come away as blood (a ‘period’). Most women ovulate every 28 days, but some have cycles as short as 21 days. See `Periods’.
PERIODS (hayd). New husbands often haven’t got a clue about these. The matter should be explained to them, or they may get worried and upset, and not know how to sympathise with the wife’s symptoms. Husbands need to know that the wife may bleed from 3 to 7 days in a period of time roughly corresponding to the lunar month, and that she may well be extra tired and weepy at these times. Women frequently suffer from PMT (pre-menstrual tension) for anything up to a week before their period starts. If they do, they are likely to be bad-tempered, depressed, illogical, and suffer from psychological disorders, and some are even at extra risk from things as serious as driving accidents, or moral disorders such as temptation to theft, etc. Sympathy is the best thing to offer – and make sure the wife has had medical advice. It is quite normal for doctors to recommend cutting down on salt (to limit water retention and bloating).
Some women also experience considerable physical pain at this time, and become sick and faint. Do not suffer in silence – go to a doctor.
A woman is not `dirty’ during her period time unless she does not wash; the Prophet (s) recommended keeping up close contact with a menstruating wife, so that she did not feel hurt or rejected. His advice was to make sure she was well-covered between the navel and the knees, and to caress and enjoy her without penetration.
A man questioned Allah’s Messenger (s), saying: `What is permitted to me of my wife when she is menstruating?’ He said: `Let her wrap her waist-wrapper round herself tightly, and then what is above that is for you.’ (Malik, Muwatta’)
On one occasion A’isha was sleeping with him in one garment, when suddenly she jumped up and left his side. The Messenger (s) said to her: `What is the matter? Are you losing blood?’ She said, `Yes.’ He said, `Wrap your waist-wrapper tightly about you, and come back to your sleeping-place.’ (Malik, Muwatta’)
POLYGAMY (ta’addud al-zawjat). Islam did not institute plural marriages, but acknowledged that they are sometimes of value, restricting the maximum number of wives to four:
`Marry women that seem good to you, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (between them), then only one.’ (Quran, 4:3)
Polygamy can be a useful and caring way of resolving serious difficulties. It can be a solution, for instance, when a wife is suffering from a disease such as paralysis which prevents the husband fulfilling his needs, and consumes his time with caring for her. It can help in situations where she is of unsound mind, or has a bad character that cannot be reformed. And in social circumstances where women greatly outnumber men, as after a war, it can save thousands of women from being left `on the shelf’ – half a husband being preferable to none at all.
A few, however, believe that Allah has in fact forbidden plural marriages, on the grounds that it is impossible for a man to deal justly between co-wives.
`You will not be able to deal equally between wives, however much you may wish to.’ (Quran, 4:129.)
Nonetheless, the fact that polygamy was part of the Prophet’s sunna makes it impossible that he could have adopted this interpretation himself. But he counseled strict fairness in expenditure, allowances and timesharing:
`When a man has two wives and he does not observe equality and deals unfairly with them, he will come before the Throne of Justice with only half of his body.’ (Hadith in Tirmidhi and Abu Daud)
The Sharia tells us that the women should receive equal financial maintenance and be accommodated in separate but equal homes. Obviously, it is not permissible for more than one woman to be in one bed at any time.
A happy polygamous relationship, perhaps a menage a trois in which one woman looks after the home while the other is free to work without feeling guilty, can be a source of great strength to the women. But given human nature, the pitfalls are many and varied, and no-one should enter upon this kind of marriage unless there is a compelling moral rather than a selfish reason for it, and the full and intelligent consent of all parties has been obtained. Anything else is likely to end in disaster.
POWER GAMES. No Muslim, male or female, is permitted to use or withhold sex to get their own way – either as a bribe, or for barter.
`Gentleness adorns everything, and its absence leaves everything tainted.’ (Muslim)
`If a man invites his wife to sleep with him and she refuses to come to him, then the angels send their curses on her until morning.’ (Bukhari)
See `Refusing Sex’ below.
PRAYER (salat). It is important to a close relationship to pray together as much as possible. One purpose of the salat is to bring people closer together through spiritual and physical proximity, and this can be especially therapeutic in marriage. If also has the effect of attracting angels to the house.
PREMATURE EJACULATION. See pages 91-2, 100 above.
PREPARATION. Sex without foreplay, known in the West as a `quickie’, may be suitable on some occasions, but is likely to make the wife frustrated and unhappy if practised a lot. See pages 85-6, 99.
PRIVACY. It is fatal to have sex interrupted by phone calls or children. Take the phone off the hook (remember to replace it later!), and put a bolt on the door.
REFUSING SEX. Unless there is a genuine and legitimate reason, the refusal of the partner’s advances is forbidden in Islam. It is a hurtful rejection. Men and women should realise that sometimes the partner has a very strong urge, which may prevent sleep, and should be kind.
The texts of Shari’a affirm that the wife, too, has the right to sex.
If either partner is `not in the mood’, or perhaps is in deep sleep when the other partner feels amorous, it is un-Islamic and bad manners to bluntly reject the other. Men, because of the very obvious physical nature of their arousal, often find it hard to understand a woman’s needs, which do not show themselves so conspicuously; they should bear in mind that the urge can be just as overwhelming and just as frustrating if not fulfilled.
REWARD FOR SEX. The Prophet (s) actually spoke of a man’s unselfish sexual fulfillment of his wife’s needs as a sadaqa:
`In every declaration of subhan Allah there is a sadaqa; in every takbir, in every al-hamdu li’Llah, in every la ilaha illa’Llah, in every enjoining of good there is sadaqa. Forbidding that which is evil is sadaqa. And in a man’s sexual intercourse with his wife there is sadaqa. ‘ (Muslim)
For more on this see pages 83-106 above.
SAFE PERIOD. Some people try to avoid pregnancy without using contraceptives by only making love during the so-called `safe-period’ – usually the middle days of the menstrual cycle. This is not a reliable method, and has a failure rate of up to 30%. See page 113 above.
SCENT. This is sunna, although the wife should obviously not use it carelessly outside the home! But some people find the excessive use of scent by a partner to be irritating, and this should be looked out for.
SENSE OF HUMOUR. A vital ingredient in a marriage. According to a hadith, `Allah’s Messenger was one of the most humorous of people.’ (Bazzar, Tabarani.) Remember, it is always kinder to laugh at yourself than at someone else. Also bear in mind that it is against the sunna to make people laugh by making something up.
SEX MANUALS. Vast numbers of these are now available in ordinary bookshops. Unfortunately, almost all the recent ones are illustrated, and contain assumptions and practices which are unacceptable in Islam. Anything published before about 1970 is likely to be useful, stressing many of the basic questions of hygiene and morality which Muslims share.
There are dozens of excellent sex manuals in Arabic. Some of these are extremely advanced, far more so, in fact, than most nonMuslim works available in the West. Many great ulema wrote such books, including Ibn Jama’a and Ibn Kamal. Imam al-Suyuti wrote no fewer than eight books on sexual technique! Sadly, these are not yet available in English.
SODOMY. See above under `Anal Intercourse’.
SORENESS. The `nappy rash’ type can be treated with baby’s zinc and castor oil cream, or Drapolene. See also `Thrush’.
SOUNDPROOFING. Children can find it very distressing to overhear sounds of their parents in bed. Adults, too, will not wish to be overheard by anyone. Try to arrange some kind of soundproofing for your room to ensure privacy – shut the windows, pull the curtains, and perhaps hang a curtain over the door.
SPORT. It is a sunna to remain fit, and several types of sport are specifically recommended. They should not, of course, turn into an obsession. If the husband has to play sport every Saturday or Sunday, the wife should learn to live with this and use the time for things she can do better while he is out of the way. Husbands – remember your wife’s good grace, and reward her!
Husbands need to remember that wives do not always want to watch sport on TV, and have a right to see some programmes of their choice too. Wives need to know that a real football fanatic cannot possibly be shifted from the `box’ when a particular match is on, and will resist all pressure or temptation. There is no point in a wife trying to prove to herself that he loves her by attempting to seduce him while he is trying to watch the World Cup; he will only get more and more irritated by her. She should not `bash her head against a brick wall’, but make the husband comfortable, see to his needs, and pick up his gratitude afterwards!
TEASING AND MENTAL CRUELTY. This is not permissible. Most women get very hurt by their husband’s hankering after beautiful women on TV, videos, or in magazines. Husbands should learn the Islamic virtues of tact and contentment, and realise that a wife is not a model or a film-star, and may have all sorts of physical defects – but she loves you very much, and it is bad-mannered and wrong to hurt her feelings or deliberately make her jealous. Remember that film-stars and models are forever young and willing to please, whereas real human women get older, have aches and pains, get tired, and may not be overcome with enthusiasm for you. Remember that you too are not getting any younger! And remember that you should not be looking at those other women anyway … (see Sura 24:30-31).
TEMPTATION. Just because a person gets married, they are not suddenly made blind, or incapable of feeling a sudden urge for someone outside the marriage. It is vital that one deals promptly with the urge, so that the marriage partner is not hurt, the marriage is not weakened, and the possibility of major sin is averted. See page 63 above.
A hadith tells us that the eye can commit zina. And as Imam alGhazali points out:
`the zina of the eye is one of the major faults, and soon leads on to a mortal and obscene sin, which is the zina of the flesh. The man who is unable to turn away his eyes will not be able to safeguard himself against unchastity.’ (Disciplining the Soul)
In the Holy Quran (24:30-1) we read:
`Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and preserve their chastity. That is purer for them. Assuredly, Allah is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and preserve their chastity …
And the Prophet (s) said:
`A gaze is a poisoned arrow from Satan. Whoever abstains from it in fear of Allah shall receive from Him an increase in faith, the sweetness of which he shall feel in his heart.’ (Ibn Hanbal)
The Prophet Yahya was once asked: `How does fornication begin?’ and he replied: `With looking and wishing.’
No one should ever be too confident about his or her ability to control the sex drive. AI-Fayyad ibn Najih said: `When a man’s penis becomes erect, two-thirds of his reason departs.’ It is for this reason that khalwa – being alone with a non-mahrarn member of the opposite sex – is not permitted. Often taqwa is the only force powerful enough to save human beings from the disaster of adultery – and it is easy to overestimate the degree of one’s own piety!
`A leading man of Basra once went into his garden. By chance his eye fell upon the beautiful wife of his gardener.
THRUSH. A fungal infection of the female sex organs. Canesten HC cream is available from chemists, and will solve the problem very quickly. The husband should also be treated, as it is possible that he has caught if as well, and may be showing flu-like symptoms.
TIMING. It is bad manners to leave your sexual activity until you have gone to bed exhausted. It is a kind of insult, and a marital timebomb. People’s sleep patterns are important: if a husband comes to bed at midnight, while the wife has dropped off just after the last prayer, midnight may feel early to him and she may be groggy if she is woken from a deep sleep. Tempers are bound to be frayed in the morning. People are usually either `owls’ (active at night) or `larks’ (active in the early morning). If your partner is the opposite to you, you must sort out an acceptable compromise routine. Be considerate, and compliment your spouse by setting aside proper and suitable times for lovemaking, especially during Ramadan. See page 94 above.
TOLERANCE (tasamuh). Remember that husband and wife, however compatible, will always be two different people. Live and let live – do not try to force somebody else to be what they are not; it never works, and only causes resentment. Accept people for what they are and love them `warts and all’. Be tolerant, forgiving, and understanding, as far as you are able.
`O you who believe! Some of your spouses and children can be your foes, so be careful with them. Yet if you pardon and forgive them, Allah will likewise be forgiving and merciful.’ (64:14)
`Seek reconciliation with those who avoid you, give to those who withhold from you, and forgive those who deal with you unjustly.’ (Hadith in Khara’iti)
`I was sent only to perfect the noble qualities of character.’ (Hadith in Malik, Muwatta’)
`You will not be able to suffice all people with your wealth; suffice them therefore with a cheerful face and goodness of character.’ (Hadith in Hakim, Mustadrak)
`Whichever man is patient with the bad character of his wife shall be given a reward like unto that which Job shall receive; and whichever woman is patient with the bad character of her husband shall be given a reward like that of Asiya the (believing) wife of Pharoah.’ (Al-Ghazali)
TREADING. A form of massage very common in the Subcontinent, where one partner lies face down and the other `walks’ up and down on them. It is very pleasurable and beneficial, but be careful – the skill has to be learnt. One can usually tread successfully on shoulders, the lower back, buttocks and thighs. Get someone to teach you, or, failing that, buy a massage book. The person doing the treading usually rests on a table, or has a pole (such as a broom handle) to balance with.
UNISEX. The Blessed Prophet had a great respect for natural distinctions. He did not like men who try to resemble women, and women who try to resemble men’. (Bukhari.) Be proud of your gender, and ask yourself whether you have the virtues specific to your sex, as exemplified in the lives of the great male and female Companions. There is nothing more pathetic than the sight of `soft’ modern males, who often infuriate their wives through their lack of decisiveness and leadership. Similarly, the decline of femininity has deprived many societies of the most indispensable reservoir of gentleness and beauty. Keep the poles magnetised if you want real attraction to continue between you!
WASHING. Allah has ordained that ghusl should be carried out (a) after sexual intercourse (meaning penetration of the penis beyond its head), or whenever an orgasm has occurred (in men and women); (b) after menstruation; (c) after post childbirth bleeding. (Suras 2:222; 4:43; 5:7.) This involves making a niyya, washing off impurities, cleaning the private parts, and then pouring pure water over the entire body and rubbing it at least once. As regards ladies’ hair, three handfuls thrown on the head are sufficient; it is not necessary for the plaits to be undone. Warm water can be used; it is preferred to offer two rak’as upon completion.
The recorded sunna is that if a man wishes. to have sex a second time before he has carried out his ghusl, he should wash his genitals first. If he had a wet dream, or urinated, he should likewise wash them before having intercourse. There are, however, some traditions from A’isha that suggest that the Prophet (s) sometimes slept in the state of janaba without having touched any water.
WEDDINGS. It is sunna to hold a feast (walima) for a wedding. This is part of the duty to make the marriage public. The Prophet (s) said: `Publicise this marriage; celebrate it in the mosques; sound the tambourines to mark it!’ (Tirmidhi.)
Al-Rubayyi bint Muawwidh narrated: `The Messenger of God (s) visited me the morning after my marriage was consummated. He sat on my bedding while some servant girls of ours began to play tambourine and sang eulogies of my ancestors who had died at the battle of Badr. Then one of them said: “And among us is a Prophet who knows what tomorrow brings.” But he said to her: “Stop that, but say what you were saying before”.’ (Bukhari) .
Amir ibn Sa’d said: `Going in and finding Qaraza ibn Ka’b and Abu Mas’ud al-Ansari at a wedding where girls were singing, I said: “Is this being done in the presence of you two who are companions of God’s Messenger, and were present at Badr?” They replied: “Sit down if you wish and listen along with us; or go away if you wish, for we have been given permission for amusement at a wedding.”‘ (Nasa’i)
The actual form of weddings depends a lot on cultural backgrounds, which nowadays are often very un-Islamic in insisting on extravagance and show. The good Muslim practice is always against ostentation or waste in any form, and true Muslim weddings are happy but simple affairs. It often happens that young people have to defer marriage because they cannot afford the parties, and sometimes people demand an enormous mahr for the bride. Both practices undermine society and are un-Islamic. It is obviously important for a bride to receive a generous mahr, as an insurance policy in case of divorce and to ensure her financial independence. But this is a concession to human frailty. Hadiths recorded by Abu Daud and Tirmidhi show that the Prophet (s) forbade the giving of excessive dowries.
WET DREAMS (ihtilam). These usually happen when people are sexually frustrated, and are a mechanism whereby the body seeks to discharge excess sexual energy or sperm. They can happen to either sex. Both A’isha and Umm Salama asked the Prophet (s) about this subject, and were told it was natural. Ghusl is of course required afterwards.
WHITE LIES. The Blessed Prophet was realistic. He allowed telling untruths in two circumstances: `falsehood spoken by a man to his wife in order to reconcile her, and falsehood spoken to set things right between people.’.