How may we teach sex education to our youth?

I do not limit the issue to any particular range; we may need books to explain a particular idea, as we must also tell the people of the injunctions of the Shariah on the issues of sex so that they may know their responsibilities in the area according to the Shariah.

I began an attempt to answer question directed to me, and I spoke candidly on some sex issues which affect the community. Sex education is like any other subject; we have to teach it but with a functional approach, regardless of whether it is through books or school programs, conversations at home, or general debate.

Sex is something that affects the body of a person and how he deals with his impulses. It is normal that one should know all this. What we view as socially forbidden may be a result of traditional baggage. Therefore, confronting custom means that we must substitute it by wisdom to avoid creating more negative aspects than those we are trying to rid ourselves of.


What are the parameters of this education? Is there a specific age at which we can begin instruction?

Islam has opened the door to sex education for all Muslims with respect to the sexual relations which the Quran discusses somewhat candidly. Indeed, on the subject of marriage, the Quranic terminology employs linguistic forms which suggest more sexual than contractual connotations, as in its use of the term "nikah".

Indeed, if we want to study the noble Sunna, we find that there are hadiths on sexual issues which pertain to relations, legal rulings, and ancillary topics. In more than one hadith, sexual organs are so candidly and naturally covered that one can only infer that the milieu of the (prophetic) message saw nothing immoral in the topic.

We may find some hadiths which deal with the conversation between the Prophet(p.) and someone who came to confess to having committed adultery (zina). We see that the last question directed to the perpetrator concerning the sex act used a term which people today may shy away from expressing.

In this manner, we find related hadith issues pertaining to women in menstruation, pre-menstruation, the post-partum period, as well as matters pertaining to the state of man after sexual relationship (janabah)etc.

When we study the books of the jurists and the chapters that relate to sex, we see that there are clear, candid discussions on the specifics of sex, regardless of whether they pertain to sexual organs, the sex act, or some related issue.

We also find that the earlier scholars discussed sex in their books through rare stories, witticisms, and jokes transmitted in a manner that may be considered immoral by the present society. We find that some old books written by pious, ascetic, pure scholars consist of chapters that describe methods which are not conventional and familiar in the sex act. Their justification was that they felt books such as theses might make the spouses learn sexual conduct, whereby they would comply their own natural desires as well as those of their spouses, and would therefore need not satisfy those desires outside of the marital life.

This confirms that Islam adopts sex education by virtue of its relationship to the Shariah rulings _ the commendable, the obligatory, or the forbidden -which relate to this aspect of the life of the human being. When we study this issue, however, we focus on it in the light of the principle that this discussion is not within the sphere of the forbidden but that of the lawful.

The evolution of cultural and social mores may have helped cultivate negative attitudes towards sex education or some specific aspect of it. This is especially true if the circumstances surrounding these mores, in the reflection of the youth or children, lead to negative results: it will cause subconscious reactions in the child or youth, leading him to stray from Islamic guidelines.

From this perspective, the subject has to be studied in much detail and caution before its thematic associations could be known relating to the personality of the human being seeking such instruction or the factors that influence this life. What I would like to stress is that sex education did not begin with contemporary developments. Islam did so earlier on every issue so far discussed


On the issues of instructing the coming generation in this regard, steps must be drawn up for this in terms of the methods, issues, and milieus, so that the emphasis remains on the education technique, with no element from the old concepts. This means give emphasis to the child or youth that his sex organ is not something odd, but that it is quite natural; it does not imply strangeness, deficiency or any such thing. Rather, there are Shariah laws which call for the covering of this organ, and for using it within a specific scope of activity, as directed by God- who has spoken about other organs in relation to forbidden matters, such as not eating or that, not looking… etc.

Nevertheless, the issue calls first for an appropriate setting, and it is imperative that we structure this setting, because many social mores rate sex education as a work or subject that is immoral. If we can undertake this, we will be able to instruct the coming generation in sex education through a functional, objective approach, going all the way to subjects like childbirth, where the fetus comes from…etc. We must be straightforward, but with an approach structured on gradually divulged details in this area.

The nature of these things may incite some children to experiment, just as we observe that some of them who watch films of television are quick to put them into practice, and may be hurt as a result. There are also those who read books on sex, or watch erotic films, who may attempt to carry out what they see, living the experience in a twisted form, at a moment when the person's inner impulses combined with the outer surroundings are so influenced that they push him to experiment with whatever he learns. At the same time, however, I stress that the present mode of instruction affecting every house, through television, newspapers, disseminate sexual information in a way that allows youths and children to know much more about sex than their parents.

Sex education may be all the more urgently needed nowadays because it is given to teenagers by way of films and cheap books, with no controls or limits. It may, therefore, be necessary for the specialists to rescue the present generation from all the distorted information on sex.


Which is better, teaching sex education in the family or at school?

We are not able to delineate the issue so clearly that we can classify it to within a particular scope, for children may need one type of teaching within the home, when they ask about childbirth, become conscious of their private parts, find siblings who are anatomically different. In this case, father and mothers may certainly teach the children in a well-balanced manner, giving the child correct but comprehensible answers.

We also need the school, for the systematic education of schools is necessary, especially since some school subjects relate to health, the study of animals and their reproduction, etc. The children are taught subjects they need to know, and through these they receive detailed explanations on subjects relating to the body.


A problem which we face is that, as a result of western culture, the general social environment has become quite sex conscious. The issue of sex has become one of absolute right. If Eastern cultures did not possess some discipline or restraint, this perverse cultural conditioning could transform the Eastern outlook from an Islamic reality into something more akin to what people are in the West.

When, therefore, you initiate sex education without strict prudence in this atmosphere, you could easily pervert sex education. What I say is not dependent on the type of prudence known in present-day society, but rather that of ensuring a strong foundation when providing sex education, so that it may not lead to corruption in practice.


The concept of deficiency is the same as its lexical meaning: a flaw in the character, body, or conduct, which may cause a moral or ethical deviation. Fornication by a youth is considered by the family to be a deficiency; the public exposure of one's private parts is considered a deficiency- in view of the Sharaiah prohibition of both actions. This prohibition makes them deficient with respect of religion and flawed with respect of social norms.

Islam, however, does not see that a person should suffer the faults of others, and I do not participate in the deficiency of one of my deviant relatives, even if he is closely related. This is because Islam avers that: "No bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another"(al-Anam/6:164).

Consequently, targeting the entire family for the sexual transgression of a woman is indeed a jahili concept, not an Islamic one, Islam charges the woman or the man who has fornicated, and determines that their moral depravity is something specific to them, not to the members of their two families or any person who may be socially connected to them.

There are those who say that sexual deviation or perversity does not stem from any error in sex education or lack thereof, but rather results from the sexual repression prevalent in our society.

I do not say that sax education is the cause of deviancy whenever it is connected to such practice. I say that it may open the avenues to deviation, by people who have no previous experience in this area.


What is the method for explaining these issues to our sons and daughters? To what length should we go when discussing these issue with them?

There issues are exactly like the other educational issues which need to be explained to children. There may not be need nor a conductive atmosphere to offer a detailed analysis to a child; we may explain childbirth exactly as we do planting or the incubation of an egg.

With respect to the foregoing questions, I have indicated that society strongly rejects these methods, even though they may be evident. It is absolutely necessary that we educate society in this respect, and introduce the matter as a general societal perspective, providing fathers and mothers with the proper methods of sex education which they may give their inquisitive children.

What about a special program for sex education in schools?

I support that, but it is normal that every subject should be examined for its positive and negative influences on the students to whom it is taught, and what these can lead to in society at large.


What is the ruling on watching sex films and other pornographic media ?

The Shariah and the ethical principle prohibit looking a the private parts of another person. This fundamentally applies equally to looking at private parts in pictures or films. The reason is that the negative aspects of the latter are almosts this as the main criterion in the legal rulings (Fatawa); instead specific circumstances dictate the ruling.

For there is a condition which afflicts some people to the point where looking at such films may save the marriage. As in the case of frigidity, impotence, or similar dysfunction in either spouse, and looking a such films may offer a cure. Viewing these films and pictures beyond these circumstances, however, may lead to spiritual dissolution, to the point where the viewer becomes obsessed with the ideas of the film and acting them out necessitating a prohibition-despite the situation which warrant a certain amount of license, as in the first scenario.