Sexual intimacy between spouses is allowed and encouraged in Islam. It is indeed a great favour from Allah (swt) that He does not blame those who lawfully fulfill their desires. Rather, He permits it and even rewards it. Allah (swt) has said in the Quran:
“Successful indeed are the believers…those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts) except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then, they are free from blame; but whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.” (Al-Muminoon, 23:1-7)
There are a number of guidelines, however, that one should observe, when intimately approaching one’s spouse.
The two spouses should retreat to a private room. They should draw the curtains and close the doors to ensure that no one, not even a small child, will be able to watch them. Covering the Awrah in front of individuals other than the spouse is an important obligation.
The two spouses should beautify themselves for each other. Each of them should wear clothes and perfume that pleases the other partner. They should brush their teeth and ensure that no foul odour comes out of their mouths or bodies. They should also avoid clothes and other adornments that are either prohibited in Islam or are known to be specific to the disbelievers and/or the decadent. Ibn Abbas said: “I like to beautify myself for my wife as much as I like her to beautify herself for me.” (Quoted by Ibn Jareer at-Tabari in his Tafseer)
The two spouses should indulge in various acts of foreplay that may include light talk and intimate gestures such as kissing. The husband should not rush into intercourse until he feels that his wife is ready for it. He should be especially kind and gentle with her on the first few nights of their marriage.
It is permissible for both the spouses to undress completely – Hadeeths refraining the same are weak in grade. However, it is advisable to hide one’s intimacy under a shared cover for protection from anyone (a child, for instance), who might unexpectedly come within close range.
Remember Allah (swt)
The two spouses must mention Allah’s (swt) name and the following supplication:
“Bismillah; Allahumma jannib nash-Shaytaan; wa jannib ish-Shaytaana ma razaqtana.”
(“With the name of Allah; O Allah, keep Satan away from us and keep him away from what you grant us.”)
According to the Prophet (saw), once this Dua is recited, Satan will not be able to harm the child who is born as a result of that intercourse. (Bukhari and Muslim)
It is important for the spouses to recall the important goals of their intimacy and the reward that they expect for it from Allah (swt). They should, at the same time, beware of Satan’s plotting, who will whisper to them and entice them to introduce acts of disobedience into their intimacy.
During intimacy, both spouses may take any position that is enjoyable and comfortable for them. Allah (swt) says: “Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth (have sexual relations with your wives in any manner as long as it is in the vagina and not in the anus), when or how you will, and send (good deeds, or ask Allah to bestow upon you pious offspring) for your ownselves beforehand. And fear Allah, and know that you are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give good tidings to the believers (O Muhammad (saw)).” (Al-Baqarah, 2:223)
A Ghusl must be performed to attain purity after intimacy. Between successive intercourses, it is sufficient to wash one’s private parts and perform ablution only.
- Prohibited Acts of Intimacy
This is a major sin that must be avoided, as per the following Hadeeth: the Prophet (saw) said: “Verily, Allah forbids you from having intercourse with women in their rectums.” (Tabarani)
Intercourse During Menses
Spouses are forbidden from performing intercourse, if the wife is menstruating. Such intercourse is harmful for both the husband and the wife; moreover, it is a major sin. Spouses may, however, enjoy other forms of intimacy. Allah (swt) has instructed: “They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they have purified (from menses and have taken a bath). And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina)…” (Al-Baqarah, 2:222)
Exposing Intimate Secrets
It is prohibited for a man to expose his wife’s secrets, especially in matters of intimacy that, except for him, no person would normally know. This might include birthmarks, reaction to certain intimate acts and so on. Exposing such secrets might induce mistrust and fear in her heart.
The Prophet (saw) said: “Indeed, among the people who will have the most grievous position before Allah on the Day of Resurrection is a man who, after he intimately approaches his wife and she intimately approaches him, exposes her secret.” (Muslim and Abu Dawood)
At all times, spouses must maintain a realization of Allah’s (swt) closeness and watchfulness. This realization should guide and control one’s actions – even during moments of intimacy and pleasure. Furthermore, one should nurture a feeling of gratitude that Allah (swt) has facilitated the fulfilment of one’s desire in a lawful and pleasurable way. This actually turns the fulfilment of desire to a rewarded act of worship.
Adapted (with permission) from “Closer than a Garment: Marital Intimacy according to the Pure Sunnah” published by Al-Kitaab & as-Sunnah Publishing. Compiled for hiba by Umm Ibrahim.
Needed: Sabr (Patience)
Women are generally advised that it is not permissible for them to refuse marital relations. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “When a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, and he spends the night angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning comes.” (Bukhari)
The Messenger of Allah (saw) also said: “When a man calls his wife, let her respond, even if she is at the oven (baking bread).” (Tirmidhi)
However, husbands should consider the physical as well as emotional conditions of their wives prior to initiating marital relations. It is generally advisable to exercise patience, if one’s wife is exhausted or unwell. Also, according to islam-qa.com, some of the excuses given by the Shariah to women include menstruation, advanced stages of pregnancy and post-natal bleeding. Moreover, even if intercourse is physically impossible during such conditions, spouses can still be intimate.
Overcoming the Jitters
Maulana Mufti Nizam-uddin Shamazai has given some useful advice to the grooms to-be in his comprehensive book “Tuhfa-e-Dulha”. Following are some tips he has given with reference to the wedding night:
1) Make a list of your questions and concerns about marital relations. Consult a scholar and clear all confusions.
2) You may also consult one or two close friends, who have been married for some time; however, it is not advisable to ask many friends. These friends might come to you later and ask you questions like: “So? How did it go?” This will only get awkward for you.
3) Let go of the fear that your wife will judge you based on your marital relations during the wedding night; also do not assume that she will discuss anything with her friends, sisters or cousins. This is a life-long commitment, and its quality cannot be judged on the basis of one night only.
4) Last but not the least, pray, pray and pray to Allah (swt) to make matters easier for you and form an ever-lasting bond between you and your wife.
Translated and adapted from “Tuhfa-e-Dulha” by Maulana Mufti Nizam-uddin Shamazai published by Bait ul-Ilm Trust.