Archive for September, 2016

Masturbation (“ASTAMNA’A” in Arabic) from an Islamic perspective.

September 7, 2016

It’s a pandemic of our times. Easy accessibility to explicit, stimulating material is the main cause of indulging in this practice.

Muslim scholars have pondered upon this issue from various logical and practical angles. There are several reasons why a person, male or female, may resort to this mode of satisfaction. I used this sentence deliberately because God has put in place an auto-piloted system of satisfaction—through wet-dreams—without the burden of sin or a sense of guilt. One more thing which is worth remembering here is that; sin itself is not as grave as the contemplation thereof; for sin lasts a few minutes, whereas the contemplation thereof could last as long as the contemplator wants his fantasy to continue. It is the contemplation of the sin which leads to its execution, whereupon one is rendered blameworthy.

In Islam, there is a tested and trusted way to ward off lecherous thoughts. That is through piety, frequently worshipping and fasting. This way is often prescribed by the devout to the novice. One who cultivates his body through gluttony serves his lust because when a man’s belly is filled with food he desires foolishness and his lust waxes great and his lower soul rises to seek her pleasure. (Sahl  b. Abdallah Tustari).

Prophet (PBUH) and Qura’an both have instructed one to get married to stave off any sex-related offense or crime. God promised financial well-being to those who would get married, despite their poor financial standing, to avoid indulgence in a sex related sin. (Surah Munafiqun # 64, V-9) Now it remains simply a matter of one’s determination and taqwa (piety).

After presenting the remedial suggestion here is what most Muslim scholars resorted to, declaring masturbation forbidden. Surah Al Ma’arij # 70, V 27-30-31. Which reads: “Indeed the torment of their Lord is not something to be fearless from. And those who guard their private parts except, from their wives and slave girls, owned by their right hand, are not blameworthy. But the ones who seek sexual gratification beyond that are the transgressors” In verses # 32 & 33 it also says “and those who are careful about their trust and covenants & those who are upright in their testimonies” are not blameworthy. In Surah Al Mo’menoon # 23, V- 1 to 7, the message is repeated in the same vein. Based on these verses Malikite and Shafaite schools believe that masturbation is “Haram” for these verses talk about safeguarding the private parts; which includes all sorts of  out of wedlock sexual activities.

What Scholars deduced here, is the applicability of general meanings of the verses to the particularity of masturbation; in the sense of abusing the private parts (self-indulgence for the sake of sexual pleasure).; It tantamount to a breach of trust, which God placed in man by endowing him with these parts for good purposes.

Onjudgment day, when sinners would be denying their sins, God will make them shut up and make their body parts testify against them. These parts would thus be confirming the breach of trust committed by the sinners. (Surah Yasin 36, v-65)(Surah Al Noor 24, V-24)

        A worth reading dialogue regarding the parts testifying

“I was amazed at how a servant will dispute with his Lord on the Day of Resurrection. He will say, “My Lord, did You not promise me that you would not treat me unjustly” Allah will say, “Yes.” The man will say, “I will not accept any witness against me except, from myself.” Allah will say, “Is it not sufficient that I and the angels, the noble scribes, are witnesses” These words will be repeated several times, then a seal will be placed over his mouth and his organs (or limbs) will speak about what he used to do. Then he will say, “Away with you! It was only for your sake that I was arguing!”)” It was recorded by him and Ibn Abi Hatim. It was also recorded by Muslim and An-Nasa’i. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Burdah said that Abu Musa said, “The disbeliever or the hypocrite will be called to account and his Lord will show him his deeds, but he will deny them and say, `O Lord, by Your glory, this angel has written about me something that I did not do.’ The angel will say to him, `Did you not do such and such on such and such a day in such and such a place’ He will say, `No, by Your glory O Lord, I did not do it.’ When he does that, a seal will be placed over his mouth.” Al-Ash`ari, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I think that the first part of his body to speak will be his right thigh.”

However, the second group of Humbalite scholars; such as Mujahid, Ibn Abbas, Ibn Hazam, etc. interpret these verses specific to sexual intercourse and excluding masturbation.  Hence they class masturbation as “Makrooh” reprehensible/discouraged but not “Haram”. In support, they quote surah Al Isra’a #17, V, 32, which specifically outlaws out of wedlock sexual intercourse. Ibn Hazim here, also quotes a hadith where, touching one’s private part and emitting one’s fluid (semen) is permitted. Husband and wife are also not forbidden to touch each other’s parts. In nut-shell, there is no specific verse or hadith making masturbation “Haram/Prohibited” Ibn Hazim however, takes an exception here saying that, it is not a deed of nobility. Nevertheless, Hambalites agree that though masturbation is “Makrooh” (reprehensible/discouraged) but can be resorted to, to stave off a sinful activity like fornication, adultery, etc.

Here is an interesting anecdote, specific to masturbation. A young man asked Ibn Abbas, a religious figure of a high station. “I am an unmarried young man and at times I fear hardship upon me, therefore, I masturbate” Ibn Abbas turned his face from him and said “Alas! It would be better to even marry a slave girl, and yet it is better than adultery” It suggests three options. (1) Marrying a slave girl and bringing a child into slavery, (2)masturbating,  (3) and the worst, committing adultery, so the masturbating ranks the least evil of the three options; when resorted to prevent the worst; which is adultery, yet it does not render it permissible. (From Ahya Ulum-Ad-Din—-Revival of religious sciences).

The third group of scholars; which mostly comprise of the taba’een and taba’-taba’eem such as Jafar bin Zain, ( a student of Ibn Abbas), Amar bin Dinar and Imam Shokhani out-rightly reject the notion of Masturbation being sinful or Makrooh  and assert it “Mubah” permissible and optional. for there is no categorical prohibition available in Islamic corpus juris.

To summarize, this is how the act of masturbation is interpreted by various scholars and Imams in Islamic “Fiqh (Jurisprudence).

Malikites, Shafaiites and Zaidites-forbid it completely. (In the light of Surah # 23, V-1 to 7) This opinion is shared by most of the “jurists” scholars.

Hanafites-–Forbid in cases like sexual gratification—but—-declare it obligatory when fornication is feared (ijtihad based conclusion). Hambalites concur with Hanafites.

Ata (R.A) declared it (makrooh) reprehensible.

Bardawi  (R.A) declared it becoming “Fard” obligatory where there is a potential danger of committing an act of fornication or adultery, etc.

The notion that the hand of the masturbator, will emerge pregnant in the hereafter, and Sayyidna Sa’id Ibn Jubair (R.A)’s narration that a nation; who used to fondle their private parts, was destroyed and also a Hadith saying that “Cursed is he who married his hand” are the weak uncorroborated and lacking chain of narrators ahadith.

(I seek God Almighty’s refuge, should there be any inadvertent misinterpretation or misrepresentation in this treatise).

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