Using marriage to bring sexy back

Rare is the day that my Facebook homepage doesn’t tell me about a link uploaded by another single Muslim to a story that details the newest facts and figures of sex. On the days when the links do show up, I have to fight the urge to respond to these posts, in all caps, that YOU SINGLE FOLKS SHOULD REALLY START DOING IT AND ENJOYING IT SO THAT YOU CAN STOP INTELLECTUALIZING IT. With all the talk of sex that single twenty and thirty-something Muslims engage in, I wonder why they aren’t doing more of it.
While these guys and gals ask each other why women want it or don’t want it, why men crave it or willingly abstain, I ask myself why these kids don’t just get married so that they can get it on.

In my opinion, sex is not an act that should be intellectualized – sex is an act of spiritual and emotional expression. And, as I’m sure others who have had sex will agree, the less that you intellectualize it the better. Sex is about being completely vulnerable and surrendering your ego and intellect. Too much cerebral activity during the act or about the act is often a surefire buzz kill.

Now, I’m not saying that all this talk of sex is unnatural. Sex is on all of our minds and has been at least since we started puberty. It’s nothing to be ashamed of – we are biologically driven to procreate and blessed that God has gifted us with such a pleasurable way to make babies. But where we as a community tend to fail with sex (because clearly we have the thinking and talking about it part down) is in the execution.

In Islam, sex comes after marriage, not before, and, at least on its surface, such a stringent methodology does seem to take the sexy out of sex, especially when contrasted with the media’s depiction of the act as a lustful, utterly erotic experience that can (and should?) be spontaneous and the result of a perfectly reasonable lapse of judgment. In August 2008, the Parents Television Council released a study finding that Network TV rarely depicted marital sex positively, opting to portray sex outside of marriage in a more favorable, exciting light. Take into account that for Muslims, marriage, responsibility, and commitment come first and the good stuff (as seen on your local television station) comes second, and you’ve got a whole generation of sexually frustrated single Muslims who are struggling to control their very natural urges to copulate while being conditioned to believe that their kinky desires won’t be fulfilled once they get married.

Add to this the fact that many of us have a less-than-favorable view of marriage because of some combination of what we saw growing up and what our unhappily married friends have told us, and the growing lack of urgency to get married and have sex on part of single, eligible Muslims seems perfectly reasonable. Does this mean that these single Muslims are content with a sexless life and have learned to live without it? Probably not. If and when sexual urges become seemingly uncontainable, it is not uncommon for less than ideal outlets to be turned to. We’ve all heard the rumors of the live-in girlfriends, the abortions, the strip clubs and the prostitutes. Whether we want to admit it or not, there is definitely sex being had – in a society where there is so much sex available is this really a surprise to anyone? – but, unfortunately, because of the negative views of commitment, marriage and sex within marriage that permeate our society, it seems that all this intellectualization of sex has somehow cooled the fire of sexual desire that used to play a bigger role in single Muslims’ desire to seek sex within the sanctity of marriage .

Is rushing to marry just so that one can have sex the solution? Of course not. As the growing divorce rate in our community indicates, marriages are very fragile institutions in this country and young couples should do what they can to build a strong foundation before exchanging rings. But does the growing trend to reduce sex to an intellectual issue overlook the importance of having sex and getting married so that we can have sex? Absolutely. Sex with one’s spouse has the potential of taking you to levels of pleasure that are truly celestial – as our tradition tells us, the orgasm is the closest thing to heaven that we will experience here on earth.

Yes, there are sexually unsatisfied married men and women. But there are also men and women who fall deeper in love with their spouses every time that they have sex with them. And yes those one night stands of passion and heat that are explicitly portrayed in the movies and on TV look oh so tasty, but as most married folk know, there is nothing more passionate, heated, and sexy than growing closer and closer to your spouse through commitment and devotion to one another.

So my advice to all you sexually frustrated single Muslims out there is this: clearly you’ve got sex on your mind, so why not embrace your desire to have sex and more aggressively seek out the institution of marriage? Marriage not only protects your vulnerability during sex but can, when harnessed the right way, lead to more pleasurable sex than you ever thought imaginable. It is not natural to live without sex, and although there’s nothing wrong with intellectualizing it, don’t underestimate the necessity of sexual desire in leading us to our future spouses. Although marriage is a great deal of responsibility, marriage is also the key to the type of sex that will lead to incredibly deep levels of pleasure, love and fulfillment. After all, as Perry Como once sang, “love makes the world go ‘round.”

(Photo: Helen Taylor)
Onesa Prude is a married Muslim woman who thinks that more sex within marriage must be had by her community. This article was originally published at Wajahat Ali’s blog, Goatmilk.


  • living3d says:

    Some good point, others I can’ say I agree with fully (most notably I’ve never heard rumors about abortions, prostitution or strip clubs).

    But it seems like ignorant advice (especially given recent discussion here on the previous piece, though I realize this article was likely written before that one):

    “clearly you???ve got sex on your mind, so why not embrace your desire to have sex and more aggressively seek out the institution of marriage? “

    Because there are a lot of difficult obstacles!  And from everything I’ve heard and read, it’s those obstacles that are the problem, not the lack of desire of sex within marriage.  I think there are plenty of us that would love to be having “more sex within marriage” – it’s just actually getting married that’s the issue.

  • Onesa says:

    living3d: If you’ve embraced your desire to have sex and are dedicated to saving yourself until marriage then more power to you!  This article was intended to address a growing phenomenon among young Muslim professionals to either dismiss the urgency to get married despite their sexual urges or dismiss the need to wait until marriage to have sex. 
    I definitely appreciate your comments but disagree with your word choice.  “Ignorant” is a strong word to describe my plea to young Muslims who are denying their natural sexual urges in favor of avoiding what they the banalities of marriage.  From your comments I take it that you are actively looking to get married with some level of seriousness.  If this is the case then the advice I offered in this article probably isn’t for you (unless I’m mistaken and you have chosen to fight your natural urges to have sex in favor of avoiding marriage and commitment). 

    Saadia and living3d: You both raise some valid points about the challenges of getting married once you have chosen to actively pursue the institution.  I agree that more discussion must be had about the proper way to court each other.

  • Saadia says:


    I do agree the discussion has to be more about courtship because a lot of people try to get married when they are about done with college and it doesn’t always work out as they had intended. But most people are cognizant about marriage already. Women may feel that they are being harangued if the idea is stated too often.

    Also, they say men reach their sexual peak at 18, and yet the discussion usually doesn’t revolve around what they are doing (which is often trying to pursue professional and educational goals, like women).

    But I think what you are saying is that the execution of the act within a committed and responsible relationship isn’t controversial.

  • Saadia says:

    Also, in 2010 I think there should be a commitment and responsibility to create social change in a way that is also sensitive to the personal boundaries that any person would want for their own selves and their own relationships (following the Golden Rule?), in order for it to be more effective and healthy.

    Of course, that doesn’t happen all the time. But in Islam, while help with security is one issue, it is clear that even the Prophet didn’t come to sort of police anyone’s personal morality (That’s clearly stated in the Quran, but I’m not directing this to anyone.) While he still encouraged what is helpful and discouraged what is harmful to people, it was with the intention of promoting their well-being.

    Combining religion with sort of an active check on morality might not be a great idea unless its done in a certain way. But it should not be used intentionally for any political purposes.

  • asmauddin says:

    I think this piece is about acknowledging and embracing sex as a valid reason for the marriage search, and making it a prominent motivation (among others) in one’s proactive approach to getting married. Perhaps it can add needed inspiration to be active rather than passive in seeking out a spouse.

  • Saadia says:

    The fact that Muslims have sex, like all other humans and incidentally, most creatures of the earth, (cats, dogs, giraffes, birds, caterpillars) can be helpful to remember when thinking about how to frame a better reaction to controversial images that one may see in public.

    The fact that so many Muslims on Facebook are intellectualizing it, and that this article appeared, means that no more should anyone be shocked when I mention the fact of “sensuality” or even write “Sarah Jessica Parker.” 2010 should be that kind of year.

    However, because the idea behind this blog is women’s development, it would help to inject ideas like “chivalry”, “affection”, “mercy (rahma)”,“intimacy”, “boundaries” etc. back into the discussion.

    It may help to acknowledge some of the real problems that abound in the approach to marriage, and after it, with these same ideas in mind. This is the missing ingredient – the idea of marriage is prevalent enough.

  • Saadia says:

    But instead of expressing a long-held frustration, I will go back to the point of debate that I’m making: That is that what is instinctive doesn’t need to taught.

    Also, as with the example of 18 year old boys, just because something is instinctive doesn’t mean that you see teenagers or other people trying to get married.

    That said, perhaps my values about personal boundaries don’t reflect or represent everyone else’s. However, they do represent what I like and want, and they reflect diversity.

  • muqarnas says:

    one word: masturbation.  more muslims need to do it, at least as a temporary measure given the difficulty of finding spouses these days.  and yes, there are opinions that allow it.  and for those who want to jump on me with their astaghfirallahs, give me a break.  it’s safer and healthier for people to masturbate than to either live completely sexually repressed or be sexually active outside of marriage. We need to allow for more middle ground in these issues.  they are discussed in far too black-and-white a way.

  • Saadia says:

    I’d recommend sticking to the idea of relationships but without discussing issues in an objectified manner. Too often sexuality is used in times of conflict and women get caught in the crossfires.

    Topics like singlehood, marriage, divorce, and widowhood are extremely sensitive so when discussing women’s rights they ought to be approached with more care.

    A better idea might be if people told their own stories from what they want to tell. We don’t have a confessional system in Islam and while Catholics do, its often to their priest. So people can share what they want to.

    Sure we are in an election year, but it doesn’t make it “civil” to use sexuality in an overly aggressive manner.

    Also, while I understand the problem of becoming hyperpartisan, and can appreciate good character from either Republicans or Democrats, I am against the idea of using “hunger” the wrong way, where ever it comes from. The results will be rather dissapointing for all parties and there will be no rain.

  • Saadia says:

    But in any case, although I find that some of these articles could approach sensitive topics more delicately, I do think that its good to keep in mind that childbearing is easier when you are healthy and agile.

  • Saadia says:

    In fact, agility is the reason why I like sports that are more graceful like dancing and yoga – although I prefer a women’s only audience or one that is limited in scope so that I can deal with it the best way possible (particularly for non-public performances). In imperfect situations I think a person has to make tradeoff to deal with their health, even for their own future children, while protecting themselves.

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