0802-Sexual Behavior: Normal, Dysfunctional, and Deviant

Paper presented at a seminar on Contemporary Fiqh organized by Sultan Haji Omar Saifuddien Institute of Islamic Studies (IPSOAS) Universiti Brunei on 20th February 2008 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule MB ChB (MUK), MPH (Harvard), DrPH (Harvard) Professor of Epidemiology and Islamic Medicine at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Visiting Professor of Epidemiology at Universiti Malaya, and Visiting Professor of Islamic Medicine at Universiti Islam Antarabangsa, Malaysia. WEB: http://omarkasule.tripod.com. EM: omarkasule@yahoo.com.


This paper is for an academic discussion and does not claim to issue religious edicts or fatwas that should be sought only from the relevant religious authorities. It describes normal human sexuality from the Islamic perspective in order to provide a context for understanding abnormal sexual behaviors and practices. It distinguishes purely disease conditions (sexual dysfunction and gender identity disorder) from illegal and sinful sexual deviations (abnormal coital behaviors, sexual paraphilias, and criminal sexual aggression).


Sexual dysfunctions are treatable disease conditions of physical or psychological causation and include: low or no sexual desire, lack of sexual arousal, failure to reach orgasm, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, painful coitus, vaginismus, sex addiction and nymphomania, and sexual fantasies. Failure to treat these conditions could lead to sexual deviations of grave consequences. Gender identity disorder or transexualism has a biological or psychological basis and can be treated surgically, medically, or by psychotherapy.


Abnormal sexual behaviors are deviations from natural sexual expression and include: homosexuality, al liwaat & al sihaaq, masturbation, al isimnaan, and oral sex. Paraphilias are non-conventional ways of sexual arousal and include: fetishism, transvestism, istikhnaath & istirjaal, masochism (erotic arousal from pain and suffering), sadism (erotic arousal from inflicting pain and suffering), exhibitionism (showing genitalia to strangers), voyeurism (looking at naked people or those engaged in sexual acts), and frotteurism (rubbing against strangers in crowded places). Criminal sexual aggression includes: pedophilia, sexual harassment and assault, rape, and zoophilia (erotic arousal from animals).


The main focus of the paper is to describe sexual dysfunction and abnormal sexual behaviors and their treatment from the medical and Islamic Law perspectives. Regarding the legal position on these behaviors, the paper follows the legal principle that in sexual matters everything is forbidden unless specifically allowed by the Law, al asl fi al abdha’e al hurmat. Thus all the abnormalities described are forbidden because the only allowable sexual expression is vaginal coitus within the marital bond.


Deviations from normal sexual expression have physical, psychological, and social causes. These causes do not justify the deviant behavior under Islamic Law. This is because Allah created humans with innate animal passions and tendency to do evil. At the same time Allah created innate goodness in humans with a tendency to virtue. He gave humans an intellect superior to that of animals to enable them choose the virtue and reject the evil. The superiority of the human over animals is the ability to overcome any inner evil tendencies. In His mercy Allah sent messengers with wahy to further guide  humans towards virtue.


The most effective approach in prevention of sexual abnormalities is by tarbiyat starting in early childhood. This is supplemented by a clean and moral social environment. Education should be targeted at counteracting the negative sexual messages that abound in modern society and which are spread by the mass media and the internet. It is also important to make access to halal sexual enjoyment easy by encouraging the youths not to delay marriage unduly and to stay married. Also the divorced should be helped to remarry. Communities with an obvious gender imbalance should consider encouraging the Islamic alternative of polygyny[1].



Normal sexual function is necessary to fulfill the third purpose of the Law which is preservation of progeny, hifdh al nasl. This paper distinguishes disease conditions needing treatment (sexual dysfunction and gender identity disorder) from sexual deviations (abnormal coital behaviors, sexual paraphilias, and criminal sexual aggression). The latter latter are a mixture of disease and sinning for which deterrent punishments are employed besides medical treatment.


All analyzes in the paper are based on the Qur’an or hadith text where available. Where no textual evidence was available, legal reasoning was based on the general purposes of the Law, maqasid al shari’at, and the axioms of the Law, qawa’id al shari’at. The purposes of the Law were from al Muwafaqaat fi Usuul al Shari’at by Abu Ishaq al Shatibi al Andalusi al Maliki published by Dar al Kitaab al ‘Aalamiyyat. Beirut. No date.. Axioms or principles of the Law were from the Majallat al Ahkaam al Adliyyat published by Dar Ibn Hazm in Beirut 2004 M and Al Qawa’id al Fiqhiyyat by Ali Ahmad al Nadawi published in Damascus 1414H. The main source of rulings was the Shafite legal manual ‘Umdat al Saalik’ by Ahmad Ibn Naqib al Masri (d. 1368 H) whose English translation with additions by Nuh Ha Mim Keller under the title Reliance of the Traveler was published by Amana Publications Beltsville MD 1997. Where relevant, opinions were derived from the following sources: Ahkaam al Nisa by Abd al Rahman bin Ali bin al al Jawzi al Hanbali (d. 597H) published by al Maktabat al Asriyyat Beirut 2005 M, Bidayat al Mujtahid wa Nihayat al Muqtasid by Abu al Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd (d. 1198H) published in English translation by Garnet Publishers Reading UK 1994, al Hidayat by Shaikh al Islam Burhan al Ddiin Abu al Hasan Ali bin Abu Bakar al Farghani (d. 593H) published as an offset print of a handwritten manuscript in Deoband India in 1401 H. Medical facts were obtained from the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry edited by Banjamin Sadock and Virginia Sadock 7th edition Lippincourt Williams and Wilkins New York 2000.


The decision on considering various sexual behaviors as abnormal and hence prohibited is based on two bases. The first one was the interpretation of the verse 23:5-7 by Imaam al Shafie when answering a question on masturbation. He said that the verse clearly restricts sexual relations to the private parts with the wife and that everything else was transgression[2]. The second basis is the legal principle that in sexual matters, the original position is haram, al asl fi al abdhai al hurmat. Every sexual act is considered haram unless there is textual evidence proving it is halal. Thus in these matters permission is the exception and requires textual evidence. This is a reversal of the principle that operates in the rest of the Law that the original position for all human acts is permission, al asl fi al umuur al ibahat, and prohibition, al hurumat is the exception. In non-sexual matters textual evidence is required to prove prohibition but is not required to prove permission.


The various sexual abnormalities and deviations if unchecked can lead to violation of all purposes of Law. The purpose of life and good health, hifdh al nafs, is violated by sexual assault and rape. The purpose of preserving progeny can be violated by homosexuality. The purpose of preserving the intellect, hifdh al ‘aql, is violated by addictive paraphilias over which the victim has no control. Abnormal sexual behavior and practice are best prevented by effective family-based tarbiyat in childhood and creating a clean social environment.


We also need to investigate the impact of abnormal sexual disorders on activities of daily living. Sexual disorders usually have no direct impact in ‘ibadat and ‘aadaat except when they become addictive and lead to social dysfunction. They however have an impact on mu’amalaat. They are intimately related with marriage and divorce. The following are situations for which legal positions need to be worked out: talaq/khuluu on the basis of lack of libido, divorce on the basis of sexual disorder such as sadism or masochism, divorce on the basis of transsexual behavior, divorce on the basis of male impotence or female vaginismus/frigidity, and the validity of a marriage contract in cases of known and established lack of libido. Other issues may arise for those with excessive uncontrollable sexual drives. Fasting may help control sexual desire. Obligatory medical or surgical treatment may be considered in public interest. In cases of judicial proceedings, qadha, some forms of sexual disorders may harm social respectability, muru’at, and therefore the competence to be a witness however each case should be considered on its own merits. Sexual disorders usually have no direct impact in buyuu’u.



1.1 Overview

This section will discuss normal human sexuality to lay the background for analysis of abnormal sexual behaviors. Allah created sexual appetite, shahwat, in humans[3]. It is as normal as is the desire for food or shelter. It is powerful and can overwhelm a weak human. It can be satisfied legally through vaginal coitus between married partners. Marriage is the only institution that allows full expression of human sexuality in a responsible way. The sexual relation in marriage is private and should not be disclosed to any outside parties[4]. Other forms of sexual satisfaction are considered unnatural and are forbidden. Islam forbids complete rejection and suppression of the sexual instinct[5]. The prophet forbade his companions from castrating themselves so that they may be devoted to worship all the time. Monasticism as practiced in some Christian sects and other religions is a human invention[6] that goes against basic human nature.


1.2 Regulation of human sexuality

The prophet warned about 2 hollow organs that will lead most people to hell: the mouth, fam, and the genitals, farj[7]. Both are involved in sexual corruption; the former negotiates while the latter commits the crime. The law about sexual relations aims at decreasing sexual stimulation or removing antecedents of sexual misbehavior and comes under the rubric of prevention of approaching adultery, qurb al zina[8].  Under normal circumstances, it is the family and the community that regulate sexual behavior. The state intervenes when sexual promiscuity becomes public and deterrent measures become necessary to control it. For the youths who are not able to marry, fasting is recommended as a means of controlling the sexual urge for a short time[9]. A person who is sexually provoked should make a dua and move away from the provoking situation; distance and time dry up passions. Shyness, haya, helps control sexual passions. Haya, the morality of Islam[10], is an inner spiritual protective device that makes a person shun sin and what may lead to it. It is considered part of faith, iman[11]. It is always for the good and can never be negative[12]. The Qur'an describes in detail the haya of the daughters of Shuaib in their meeting with Musa (PBUH) that should serve as a model for others[13]. 


The family and society must erect psychological barriers that make the commission of sexual transgression difficult. Severe punishment is reserved in the hereafter for a person who allows sexual misconduct in his or her family, duyuuth[14], because this is considered a major sin[15]. The measures that protect the genitals from the ultimate crime are referred to as hifdh al faruuj[16] and ihswaan al furuj[17]. Men who protect their genitals are called al muhswinin and women are called al muhswinat[18]. Ghiirat is commendable[19] and is necessary for proper functioning of society. It is a drive in the spouse and other members of the family to protect the chastity of both males and females, however too much of it could be destructive.


1.3 Sexual attraction and sexual provocation

Allah has created in each gender features that attract the other gender. These include the physical beauty of the body (shape, size, movements, texture, color), the voice (pitch and depth), scalp, and body hair (length, distribution, texture). Physical beauty is appreciated by Islam and is considered one of the 4 reasons for choosing a spouse[20]. Shaitan exploits the sexual attraction between the genders to inflame passions that lead to sexual transgression. Each person always has shaitan with him or her[21] all the time..


Human sexual attraction is enhanced by clothes, perfume, and cosmetics. The Law has provisions for preventing sexual provocation for both men and women. The Law enjoins covering nakedness, satr al awrat[22], and prescribes how it should be done. The laws of hijab contain special provisions for women as was described in the verses on hijab[23]. Seclusion, khalwat, defined as a man being with a marriageable woman who is not his wife in a place where others cannot see them, is forbidden[24]. Unnecessary mixing of the genders, ikhtilaat, is prohibited. Public sexually-provocative ornamentation, tabarruj, is prohibited [25] [26] [27]


1.4 Coitus

Coitus serves 2 purposes: reproduction and enjoyment. It is the most intimate and intense physical expression of human sexuality. All other expressions of sexuality precede or prepare for it. According to Imaam Ibn al Qayyim, coitus is a source of physical pleasure. Sexual enjoyment in marriage, al istimta'u fi al zawaj, is normal and is encouraged[28].  Coitus also has a deliberate reproductive function that is considered one of the Purposes of the Law, maqasid al shari’at. It enables increase of progeny which is one of the primary purposes of marriage[29]. Children are a bounty from Allah, ni’imat al dhuriyyat[30]. Coitus done legally has the additional purpose of preventing illegal intercourse that leads to social, health, psychological, and economic problems. Coitus also has other benefits because its deprivation for prolonged periods of time leads to psychological and emotional distress.


The Law has explained in detail the etiquette of coitus, adab al jimaa’e[31].  A supplication, dua, is said before coitus[32]. Foreplay is encouraged[33] and has a beneficial physiological and psychological function in getting ready for coitus. The vagina is anatomically and physiologically the only appropriate place for coitus. Anal intercourse is unnatural and is forbidden[34]. There is no restriction on the manner or postures of coitus provided it is vaginal and is natural[35] [36]. Coitus interruptus, ‘azl, is allowed with some restrictions[37] [38], for example it cannot be done without the permission of the wife[39]. By analogy, qiyaas, other methods of contraception are permitted if they do not involve destruction of life or opening the door to various forms of immorality. Coitus in advanced pregnancy is discouraged[40]. Coitus with breast feeding mothers, ghayla, is allowed[41].


Coitus is an act of love and not mere physical satisfaction. It should be approached with that end in mind. It is preferable that there is desire in both parties. Preparation for coitus includes reciting the basmalat[42]. Wudhu is recommended after coitus[43] and between 2 coituss[44]. Bath, ghusl, is required after coitus. The mere contact of the male and female genitalia makes bathing obligatory[45]. Orgasm whether during coitus or in a dream, ihtilaam, necessitates bathing. Bathing is necessary even if the sexual orgasm is experienced in a dream[46]. Seeing wetness necessitates bathing even if no sexual dream is remembered[47].


There are a few conditions in which coitus is prohibited for health or religious reasons. Coitus with menstruating women is forbidden[48]. The same applies to women in the period of post-natal or post-abortion bleeding, nifaas. Such coitus could lead to infections of the reproductive tract. Coitus is forbidden after cessation of the menstrual flow but before ghusl[49]. Coitus is prohibited during the day for fasting persons but is allowed at night[50]. It is prohibited at all times during the period of ihram in pilgrimage, hajj[51].  Coitus is forbidden in the mosque[52]. A divorced woman is required by Law to stay in her former husband's home for 3 months. He is prohibited from having sexual relations with her during this time and if he does the divorce automatically lapses.


Frequency of coitus: Like all other human activities there should be a balance between too little and too much coitus. Too much indulgence could be harmful in both the physical and psychological dimensions. Too little could be similarly harmful. The Law does not stipulate any particular frequency. Each couple should find out for themselves what frequency is sufficient to satisfy and protect, ihswaan, them from sexual corruption. Some jurists have argued that once every 4 days is ideal based on the reasoning that a man with 4 wives can rotate among them in 4 days. Omar ibn al Khattab that no soldier would be kept away from his wife for longer than 6 months, which perhaps sets the upper limit of sexual deprivation.



2.1 Overview:

Definition: Sexual dysfunction is defined as failure to be sexually aroused or to achieve sexual satisfaction. Sexual dysfunctions are treatable disease conditions of physical, psychological, or social causation. Psychological causes are the most common. These disorders include: low or no sexual desire, lack of sexual arousal, sexual aversion, failure to reach orgasm, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, painful coitus, vaginismus, hyper-sexuality, nymphomania, and sexual fantasies.


Causes of sexual dysfunction: With the exception of premature ejaculation, sexual dysfunction is usually associated with psychological disease such as depression, anxiety, stress, personality disorder, and schizophrenia[53]. The psychological basis of sexual dysfunctions could be negative psychological experiences and attitudes accumulated from childhood. They could be associated with problems in the marriage. Fear of sexual failure could increase the problem. They are also a result of modern media that distort human sexuality and create ignorance and myths that end up confusing people and generating anxiety and stress that eventually impair sexual performance. There are medical causes for sexual dysfunction such as post surgery, certain medications, drug and alcohol abuse, diseases such as Parkinson disease, and endocrine disorders.


Treatment of sexual dysfunction: Most sexual dysfunctions have both physical and psychological components and treatment must address both components. Pharmacotherapy involves use of specific drugs. Hormones can be used when the problem is due to hormonal imbalance. Surgical treatment is used for erectile dysfunction.


2.2 Sexual dysfunction of a behavioral nature

Low or no sexual desire: Low or no sexual desire must be distinguished from inability to perform the sexual act. In this condition, the person does not think about sex and does not initiate sexual activity. Psychological mal adaptation, stress, depression, worries, and monotony can cause loss of desire in sex. A study has shown low testosterone levels in men with low sexual desire[54]. It is offensive to marry in the absence of sexual desire[55] because that will inflict suffering on the spouse. There are medical remedies to lack of sexual drive.


Sexual aversion is a persistent avoidance of coitus with a spouse. It may be due to traumatic childhood sexual experiences such as rape, previous painful coitus, or problems in the marriage. Both the wife and the husband are entitled to sexual rights. The Law allows the woman a grace period of up to 3 days if the husband asks for sex[56]. The husband is obliged to provide sexual satisfaction to his wife as frequently as she desires to maintain her chastity[57]. Imaam al Ghazzali was of the opinion that the husband should be available to the wife at least once every 4 days[58].


Sex addiction /compulsive sexual behavior is addictive excessive sexual arousal requiring more than normal frequency of sexual arousal and /or coitus. It is a state of loss of control over the sex impulse. It is associated with other mental disorders. It is treated by psychotherapy. If related to hormonal imbalances, medical or surgical treatment may be necessary. If not treated, sex addiction can lead to sexual crimes. Nymphomania is a term used to refer to excessive pathological desire for coitus in a woman.


2.3 Sexual dysfunction of a physical nature

Lack of sexual arousal in females is failure of the expected physiological responses such as vaginal lubrication necessary for the sexual act. It is due to physical factors such as pain or psychological factors such as anxiety. The equivalent in males is erectile dysfunction.


Erectile dysfunction: Erectile dysfunction (impotence) is failure of the male partner to achieve or maintain penile erection for a reasonable length of time. It may be due to physical / organic causes (diabetes, atherosclerosis, spinal cord injury, and medication) in older men or psychological causes (stress, exhaustion, worry, and anxiety) in younger men. Men live in fear of impotence because of its association with loss of male virility. Impotence is a vicious cycle because one failure is inevitably followed by subsequent failures because of extreme anxiety and fear of failing again. Treatment of impotence should focus on removing the causes. Viagra is a newly discovered drug that is showing promise in treating erectile dysfunction. The Law allows annulment of marriage if impotence preventing consummation of the marriage persists after a grace period of 1 year during which treatment is sought[59]. Some diseases of the blood (such as leukemia and sickle cell anemia) and metastatic carcinoma can cause blockage of blood vessels leading to prolonged and painful erection, priapism, unrelated to sexual stimulation. The condition is treatable medically or surgically.


Failure to reach orgasm in women is a common condition in which a patient fails to reach orgasm despite adequate vaginal stimulation. Its causes are more psychological than physical. It can be treated by psychotherapy to remove psychological inhibitions. It must however be emphasized that sexual pleasure is possible without reaching orgasm.


Ejaculation problems: Ejaculation problems are of two types. In ejaculatory failure, the man reaches orgasm but fails to ejaculate or has a retarded and weak ejaculation. It is most often psychogenic but may be associated with certain diseases such as Parkinson disease or with use if certain medication such as anti-hypertensive drugs. Ejaculation is considered pre-mature if orgasm occurs before or immediately after start of coitus and ejaculation occurs immediately such that the female partner does not achieve satisfaction. Premature ejaculation is common in young men and is caused by anxiety, tension due to long sexual deprivation, and marital problems. There are medical approaches to preventing premature ejaculation and couples experiencing this problem should not hesitate to approach professionals.


Painful coitus: Painful coitus, dyspareunia, is usually a female problem but could also affect men. In females it is due to infections, vaginismus, dryness of the vagina, or abnormal growths in the vagina. In men it is rare but may occur associated with certain organic diseases. In some cases it is due to psychological factors.


Vaginismus: Vaginismus is an involuntary painful contraction of muscles around the vagina making intercourse impossible or very painful. It is of psychological origin (stress, anxiety, and adverse previous sexual experience such as rape). It is treated psychologically. Pain due to physical causes is not normally diagnosed as vaginismus. Vaginismus if severe and untreatable could be a cause for revocation of marriage because it will prevent coitus altogether. This conclusion is reached as analogous to the revocation of marriage due to qarn and ratq (anatomical defects in which the vagina is blocked or the sides of the vulva are fused together[60].


2.4 Sexual disorders of the elderly

Some of the elderly experience some of the disorders discussed above. Some others pass through old age having satisfying sexual lives. Their sexual function is reduced due to anatomical changes or autonomic dysfunction. Reduction of sexual function may not be accompanied by reduction of sexual desire. In old age males may suffer from impotence due to erectile difficulties. Vaginitis in females due to deficient estrogens making coitus painful. Use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can restore female sexual function especially by reducing the dryness of the vagina that makes coitus painful. Use of Viagra can help elderly men cope with erectile disorders.


2.5 General medical approach to sexual dysfunction

Research has linked hormones to sexual dysfunction. Testosterone is related to libido in both men and women. Its secretion decreases with age. The sensitivity of androgen receptors to testosterone decreases with age so administration of testosterone to patients with sexual dysfunction is useless[61]. Plasma oxytocin levels increase during orgasm so it may have a role.


Ignorance of sexual techniques may lead to sexual difficulties. Poor communication may accentuate sexual problems. There is a need for sexual education from the Islamic perspective instead of sexual stimulation that goes as education.


Physical problems are easy to resolve by surgery or medication. Psychological and social problems are more difficult to deal with. They are associated with cultural factors, myths, beliefs, and ignorance.


The primary approach to sexual dysfunction is medical treatment. If there is no resolution after a year of therapy marital dissolution may be considered to prevent sexual deviations that could arise from sexual deprivation.


Marriage is annulled when coitus is physically impossible and there is no hope for a medical or surgical solution. This may be due to anatomical or physiological anomalies in both the male and the female. With recent developments in surgery some of these may be correctable.


Psychogenic factors may cause vaginismus or frigidity in female and impotence in males. Appropriate treatment may be undertaken to prevent marital annulment. In cases of male impotence a grace period of 1 year is allowed while treatment is being sought. After that the marriage has to be annulled because it can no longer fulfill the fundamental purpose of protecting chastity of both partners. The marriage is considered consummated when successful coitus is achieved at least once. Coital failure after that does not lead to automatic annulment of marriage. The marriage payment, mahr, is not due in marriages annulled before sexual consummation[62]. 



3.1 Terminology about gender identity

Sexual identity refers to the biological gender as assessed using genital anatomy, chromosomal analysis, hormonal composition etc. Gender identity is the person’s own feelings about what gender he/she belongs to. Gender identity may not be the same as sexual identity. Gender identity reflects socialization patterns. A child brought up as man will likely have a made gender identity and that brought up as a girl will have a female gender identity. Sexual orientation refers to preferences of sexual expression which may be homosexual or heterosexual.


3.2 Definition of the gender identity disorder

Gender identity disorder is a persistent preference to be of the opposite gender. Problems of gender identity could lead to trans-sexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality. Transsexuals feel that they are of a gender different from their biological gender. There are several theories of causation: biological (genetic, hormonal, brain development), psychological, and social.


3.3 Indeterminate gender, alkhuntha

Indeterminate gender is an anatomical anomaly in which a person has both male and female sexual organs. It is different from the gender identity disorder in which a person with a clear biological gender wishes to be and behaves like another gender. Ancient jurists made a lot of effort using the medical knowledge available then to assign a gender according to which characteristics predominated[63]. The main motivation was to resolve issues relating to the gender of child upbringing and to determine inheritance. They recognized that in some cases no gender could predominate and that case was classified as khuntha mushkil. Legal guidelines were developed for ‘ibadat and social life of such persons.


3.4 Management of the gender identity disorder

The Law is very strict in enforcing separate gender identity for men and women. It is unlawful for one gender to dress or behave like the other one[64]. The Prophet cursed men who dress and behave like women, mukhannathuun, and women who dress and behave like men, mutarajilaat[65]. Gender identity disorder is treated by psychotherapy or by surgery. The aim is matching felt gender identity to biological gender. Hormonal therapy can be used.



4.1 Abnormal coital behavior

Overview: Abnormal coital behaviors are deviations from natural sexual expression and include: homosexuality, al liwaat (erotic desire from a person of the same gender encompassing lesbianism, al sihaaq), masturbation, al isimnaan (erotic arousal by non-coital physical genital manipulation), and oral sex.


Homosexuality is erotic desire from a person of the same gender. The term homosexuality is generally used to refer to sexual activity between men, liwaat. The term lesbianism is used to refer to sexual activity between women. Some individuals are bisexual being both homosexual and heterosexual. Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder until 1973. It has gradually become accepted in European and American society as one of the ways of sexual orientation and expression with specific laws being promulgated to assure homosexual civil rights. The position of Islamic Law is very different. Sex activity between men, liwaat, and between women, sihaaq, are major sins and are forbidden[66]. Any form of coitus with a partner of the same gender is forbidden[67] and is cursed[68]. Anal intercourse, jima’u al dubr, is forbidden and is severely condemned and is forbidden by the Qur’an[69]. A lesbian relation is considered zina[70]. The Law prescribes the death penalty for anal intercourse, the act of the people of Luut[71]. Both the active and the passive partners in the crime are killed[72].


Masturbation, al isimnaan is erotic arousal by non-coital physical genital manipulation. Masturbation is sexual self-stimulation that can be practiced by both males and females. It is generally considered offensive, makruh.


Oral sex is considered unnatural, offensive and unhygienic and should be avoided.



Overview: Paraphilia are non-conventional ways of sexual arousal and include: fetishism, transvestism, istikhnaath & istirjaal, masochism, sadism, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and frotteurism. Some authors include pedophilia (sexual arousal from children) and zoophilia (sexual arousal from animals) among paraphilia. This paper has categorized these two as serious sexual crimes for which Islamic Law prescribes severe punishment. Paraphelia can become addictive or compulsive and may lead to neglect of normal vaginal coitus as a source of sexual satisfaction with serious consequences for married life and reproduction. They are also usually associated with other paraphilia, with abnormal coital behavior, and with mental disorders and drug abuse. People who practice paraphilia are likely to commit serious sexual crimes[73]. Thus paraphilia may be the first step to more serious sexual deviation. Sexual arousal due to various paraphilias are offensive, makruh, or prohibited, haram, and can be prevented by good early upbringing and social sexual hygiene. Paraphilia are treated in various ways. Medication can be used to reduce the sex drive. Co-morbid mental disorders are treated. Cognitive therapy is used to make the patient understand the his situation and be empowered to get out of it.


Fetishism is sexual arousal from a non-living object that may be a cloth or a shoe. It may  occur associated with other paraphilias such as sado-masochism.


Transvestism, istikhnaath & istirjaal is a disorder in which cross gender dressing and behavior bring erotic arousal. The patient imagines himself to be of the other gender.


Masochism is erotic pleasure by suffering pain or torture. The victims can sometimes sustain a lot of pain and injury in seeking pleasure. They may be whipped or chained or humiliated in many ways. All this is done with their free consent.


Sadism is erotic pleasure from inflicting pain and suffering on others or humiliating them. Masochism and sadism tend to be carried out together by the same people and are then categorized as sado-masochism.


Exhibitionism is showing genitalia to unsuspecting strangers to get erotic pleasure. The person shows the genitalia and then runs away not wishing to be recognized by the victims of his action.


Voyeurism is erotic pleasure from clandestine watching naked people or those engaged in sexual activity. Exposing the sexual act to third parties is a major sin[74]


Frotteurism is erotic pleasure from rubbing genitals against strangers in crowded places such as busy streets or public buses. 



Overview: Criminal sexual aggression includes: pedophilia, sexual harassment and assault, rape, and sex with animals. These crimes are on the increase in modern society. It seems that the deterrents are not strong enough. Islamic Law on the other hand can deal with these crimes more effectively. It has preventive measures and severe deterrent punishments.


Pedophilia: Pedophilia is a serious crime that involves deriving sexual arousal from children and abusing children sexually. It is increasing in all countries and controls against it are weak. The internet has provided an opportunity for sexual predators to get into contact with children without the knowledge of their parents. Poor and needy children in developing countries are exploited by the pedophiles who come as tourists.


Sexual harassment and assault, al taharush al jinsi: Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual attention that may be verbal (jokes) or physical (like patting) and may end with sexual assault or rape. Most sexual harassment is by men who use their positions of power to victimize women working under them.


Rape, ightisaab: Rape is defined broadly as a sexual act without the consent. It may be vaginal coitus or other acts usually specified for each jurisdiction. In acquaintance rape, the victim knows the perpetrator. Some forms of rape, such as date rape, occur because the Islamic Laws about seclusion, khalwat, are not observed. Some European laws recognize rape by the husband but this is not acceptable in Islamic Law. Islamic Law requires kindness and consideration for the feelings of the wife regarding sexual contact but will not go to the extent of recognizing marital rape. Any sexual activity with a child below the age of maturity, ghair baaligh, or a mental patient even if consensual is considered rape. The statistics about rape are under-reported because victims of rape are reluctant to report to the authorities because of the anger, shame, and guilt involved. Many of them are also reluctant to seek medical help. According to Imaam al Mawardi, the Law permits the victim of attempted rape to use any means of self-defense even if that results in the death of the aggressor[75]. Islamic law prescribes severe punishment for rape. The aggressor has to pay financial compensation in addition to criminal punishment[76]. If a woman is forced into illegal coitus she is not punished[77]. Medical intervention in cases of rape includes treating injuries (physical and psychological), collecting evidence for prosecution, and measures to prevent infectious disease.


Incest, ityaan al mahram: Incest is sexual action with an unmarriageable relative as defined by Islamic Law. It is a serious violation of the family institution. For proper functioning of the family unit, the Law allows interaction among relatives of opposite gender on the assumption that sexual provocation will not occur. Such a level of interaction is not allowed among unrelated people. Islamic Law prescribes severe punishment for incest that may even be death[78].


Sex with animals / bestiality, itiyaan al bahiimat: Sexual activity with animals is considered a serious crime. No distinction in the level of crime is made for different types of animals. The Law prescribes the death penalty for this crime[79].



5.1 Over view

In discussing causes of abnormal sexual behaviors we have to confront several dichotomies: nature vs. nurture, physical vs. psycho-social, disease vs. sin. There is no one cause of abnormal sexual behavior. Several factors interact in a multi-causal chain that leads to an undesirable behavior. Some abnormal sexual behaviors like homosexuality are sins likely due to interaction between innate biological and personality factors on one hand and the social environment especially that of childhood on the other hand.


The approach to preventing these disorders centers more around good tarbiyat of children so that they are empowered to overcome any biological or psychological tendencies to evil. In summary nurture can mitigate or nullify the effects of nature. Abhorrence of sin can overcome psychological disease. We also have to resist strongly the tendency in contemporary society to excuse some of these abnormal behaviors on the grounds that they are natural. Doing so would be a denial of the superiority of human creation. Allah endowed the human with an intellect and a will that can overcome any innate biological tendencies to evil.



5.2 Physical factors

Among biological factors researched as causes of homosexuality and paraphilia have been: hormones, genetics, and brain structure. Results from such research have been inconsistent and inconclusive[80]. Research on the biological basis of homosexuality has the negative side effect of making the practice acceptable since it is ‘natural’. From the Islamic point of view finding such biological or a psycho-pathological basis for homosexuality basis does not justify the abnormal behavior because the human was endowed with the ability to choose between right and wrong being guided in addition by revelation.


5.3 Psycho-social factors

Adverse sexual experiences in early life are a cause of sexual problems in adult life.  Children who were sexually abused end up as adults who gravitate to abnormal sexual behaviors and to have unsatisfactory sex lives[81].


Homosexuality is not a new condition in human history. Several cultures modern and ancient tolerated it while others abhorred it. These variations indicate that social and cultural factors are involved in homosexuality.


Social changes can encourage homosexual behavior. Attitudes have changed a lot about homosexuality. The Gay rights movement is also called the homosexual rights movement or the gay liberation movement is a civil rights movement that fights for equal rights for gay men, lesbians bisexuals, and transsexuals. It tries to eliminate laws against homosexuality and discrimination against homosexuals. Attitudes to homosexuality in European culture and law have changed considerably. It was condemned as immoral by the Church, treated as a crime by the law, and considered a mental disease by the medical profession. It is now tolerated by a wide cross section of the society and homosexuals no longer hide their sexual orientation. They even have the courage to fight for their civil rights because there are sections of the community that still discriminate against them.


Paraphilia are not new. They existed in the past but were hidden. We also can assume that they were practiced by few people. Their ‘apparent’ increase in the modern times is due to more liberal attitudes to sexual matters that allows people to talk freely about their sexual orientation. Their real increase is due to a more permissive and tolerant society.


The media play the biggest role because many who have these practices would not have known about them. The media play the role of seducing, training, and motivating the paraphilia.  There should exist in society a psychological revulsion to sexual corruption. Sexual misbehavior, fahishat, should not be broadcast openly[82]. Thus accusations of marital infidelity, al qadhaf, should not be made without proof and severe punishment is reserved for the accuser who cannot produce 4 witnesses[83]. Talking about sexual infidelity openly and lightly will eventually make the crime look ordinary and common and thus easier to commit.


Communities that are suffering from spiritual maladies seek exotic forms of sexual satisfaction and shun the natural ways. This includes coitus with animals or use of sexual objects and fetishes.



8.1 Historical background

We are living in age that is more open about human sexuality than previous epochs of human experience. Sexual matters and sexual problems are discussed openly in the mass media. People are more forthcoming to seek medical help for sexual disorders. The change in attitude can be attributed to three sexual revolutions that demystified sex and led to much sexual corruption[84]. The first sexual revolution started with the discovery of the pill in 1960 and led to an explosion of extra-marital sex and sexually transmitted disease world wide because it removed the fear of pregnancy and separated sexual enjoyment from reproductive responsibility. The second revolution was availability of legal abortion starting in the 1970s. It complemented the first revolution by assuring that if contraception failed there was another way out. The third revolution was in the 1990s when assisted reproduction techniques enabled parenthood without sexual union. This revolution is likely to end up with reproductive cloning. The impact of the three revolutions was to demystify sex and remove inhibitions that had limited its expression outside marriage. These revolutions also inspired other social changes. The family was devalued and divorces increased. The feminist movement emphasized the sexual rights of women. Homosexuals asserted their right to openly express their sexual orientation without discrimination. In the era of sexual permissiveness hitherto hidden abnormal sexual behaviors surfaced and with promotion by the mass media became acceptable. The media played a very vital role in breaking down psychological abhorrence of these practices that was known in conservative society.


8.2 Tarbiyat

Abnormal sexual behaviors and practices are learned in society and the learning can start very early in childhood. Societal tolerance allows practice. Once the behaviors are established they are very difficult to stop because they are addictive. Severe and deterrent punishments can be attempted but they cannot fully solve the problem. The only effective approach is prevention by proper tarbiyat starting from childhood and making sure that there are no social circumstances conducive to these abnormal behaviors.


Islamic Law can prevent these crimes completely through strengthening the family and other community institutions (such as the masjid), proper tarbiyat of children, and creating a social environment conducive to the practice of the good and abhorrence of the evil. Creating such an environment will require a serious look at information and entertainment media have a major impact on individual behavior and social attitudes. Stopping or even censoring the media in the internet age is impossible.


8.3 Specific Islamic teachings to prevent abnormal sexual behaviors

As mentioned above the best preventive approach is tarbiyat. The prophet talked about high rewards for good upbringing of boys, thawaab tarbiyat al awlaad[85], as well as girls, thawaab tarbiyat al banaat[86]. The Law ordained measures to prevent sexual stimulation such as separating boys from girls in sleeping places after the age of 7[87], discouraging public baths and bathing naked[88]. False accusations of sexual violation was prohibited[89] because it has the effect of lowering the psychological barriers and making commission of the forbidden easier. Sexual relations between women were prohibited sihaaq[90]. Also prohibited was 2 women being in one garment[91]


REFERENCES (Due to shortage of time, references have not yet been rechecked for accuracy)


[1] The term polygyny means having more than one wife at a point in time. The term polygamy is often misused as polygyny. Polygamy refers to more than one marriage the marriages could be contemporaneous as in polygyny or sequential. The concept of monogamy is alien to Islam it essentially means that a man can marry only once and will not remarry after divorce or death of the spouse.

[2] al Masri Reliance of the Traveler w37.1 p. 932

[3] Qur’an 3:14

[4] Muslim K17 H13

[5] Bukhari 7:1

[6][6] Qur’an 57:27

[7]  Ahmad 2:291

[8] Qur’an 17:32

[9] Bukhari 1:732

[10] Ibn Majah Kitaab al Zuhd  Baab No. 17

[11] Bukhari Kitaab al Iman Baab No. 3

[12] Muslim Kitaab al Iman Hadith No. 60,

[13] Qur’an 28:23-28

[14] Ahmad 2:69

[15] No 281 on al Haythami’s list of major sins, al kabair

[16] Qur’an 70:29-30

[17] Qur’an 21:91, 66:12

[18] Qur’an 4:24-25, 5:5, 24:4, 24:23

[19] Bukhari 7:133

[20] Bukhari 7:27

[21] Muslim Kitaab Sifaat al Munafiqiin Hadith No. 69

[22] Qur’an 24:31

[23]  Bukhari Kitaab al Nikah Baab No. 67

[24] Bukhari Kitaab al Nikah Baab No. 111

[25] Qur’an 24:31

[26] Tirmidhi Kitaab al Ridha’a Baab No. 13

[27] al Jawzi Ahkaam al Nisa p. 195

[28] Qur’an 4:24

[29] Ibn al Qayim al Tibb al Nabawi p. 256

[30] Qur’an 25:27, 42:49

[31] Al Jawzi Ahkaam al Nisa p 235

[32] Mukhtasar al Bukhari Hadith No. 1854

[33] Ibn al Qayim al Tibb al Nabawi p. 257

[34] Ibn al Qayim al Tibb al Nabawi p. 262

[35] Muslim Kitaab al Talaq Hadith No. 7

[36]  Muslim Hadith No. 3363

[37] Bukhari Kitaab al Nikah Baab No. 96

[38] Muslim Hadith No. 3371

[39] Ahmad 1:31

[40] Muslim Hadith No. 3389

[41] Muslim Kitaab al Talaq  Hadith No. 30

[42] Ahmad 2:359

[43] Muslim Hadith No. 597

[44] Ibn al Qayim Tibb Nabawi p.259

[45] Ibn Majah Kitaab al Taharat Baab No. 111

[46] Muslim Hadith No. 607

[47] Ahmad 6:256

[48] Qur’an 2:222

[49] Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyat 1:74

[50] Qur’an 2:187

[51] Qur’an 2:197

[52] Qur’an 2:187

[53] Sadock and Sadock Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry p 1585

[54] Sadock and Sadock Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry p. 1588

[55] al Masri Reliance of the Traveler m1.1 p. 509

[56] al Masri Reliance of the Traveler m5.1 p. 525

[57] al Masri Reliance of the Traveler m5.2 p 525

[58] al Masri Reliance of the Traveler m5.2 p 525

[59] al Masri Reliance of the Traveler m7.1 p. 531

[60] Ibn Rushd Kitaab al Nikaah Bidayat al Mujtahid Vol 2 page 59

[61] Sadock and Sadock Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry

[62] al Masri Reliance of the Traveler m7.1 p. 531

[63] al Farghani al Hidayat p. 701-706

[64] al Masri Reliance of the Traveler f17.4, f17.8, p. 199-201

[65] Bukhari and Abu Daud quoted by al Masri Reliance of the Traveler P28.1 p. 672

[66] Ahmad 1:304

[67] Ahmad 2:497

[68] Ibn Habbaan

[69] Qur’an 7:80-84

[70] Tabrani

[71] Abudaud Kitaab al Huduud  Baab No. 28

[72] Tirmidhi

[73] Sadock and Sadock p. 1636

[74] No 259 on al Haythami’s list of major sins, al kabair

[75] al Masri Reliance of the Traveler o7.3 p. 595

[76] Muwatta Kitaab al Aqdhiyat Hadith No. 14

[77] Bukhari Kitaab al Ikraah Baab No. 6

[78] Ibn Majah Kitaab al Talaq Baab 13

[79]  Abudaud Kitaab al Hudud Baab No. 28, 29

[80] Sadock and Sadock Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry p 16150

[81] Sadock and Sadock Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry  p 1583

[82] Qur’an 4:148, 24:19

[83] Qur’an 24:4

[84] Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. Leading in Medical Education And Practice As Social Engineering: The Oral Contraceptive Pill And The Sexual Revolution. Paper presented at the 8th Annual Conference of the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia held at Kota Baru on July 1-3 2006

[85] Jawzi Ahkaam al Nisa p. 239

[86] Jawzi Ahkaam al Nisa p. 239

[87] Jawzi Ahkaam al Nisa p 103

[88] Jawzi Ahkaam al Nisa p. 122

[89] Jawzi Ahkaam al Nisa p 182

[90] Jawzi Ahkaam al Nisa p. 193

[91] Jawzi Ahkaam al Nisa p. 194

ŠProfessor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. February, 2008