A Way Beyond the Rainbow

#38 - On Marital Intimacy and Sex (Part I)

November 16, 2020 Dr. Rana Khaled and Waheed Jensen Season 3 Episode 12
A Way Beyond the Rainbow
#38 - On Marital Intimacy and Sex (Part I)
Episode Introduction
General Introduction to Intimacy and Sex
On Intentions
Challenges Facing Spouses in Intimacy and Sex
"How do I know if I can be sexually intimate with my spouse and satisfy him/her?"
On the Wedding Night: Is Sex a Must?
"How do I deal with performance anxiety during the first night?"
Etiquettes and Preparations for Sexual Relations
On Foreplay
On Actual Play
On After Play
On Orgasm and Sexual Satisfaction
"What if a woman can not keep up with her husband's sexual desires?"
Ending Remarks
A Way Beyond the Rainbow
#38 - On Marital Intimacy and Sex (Part I)
Nov 16, 2020 Season 3 Episode 12
Dr. Rana Khaled and Waheed Jensen

*General trigger warning: Episode involves discussion of intimacy and sexual relations with graphic details. This episode is flagged for explicit content.*

This is part I of a 2-episode series on marital intimacy and sexual relations, answering frequently asked questions on these topics, with a focus on men and women experiencing same-sex attractions. Joining me in both episodes is sex therapist Dr. Rana Khaled, MD/PhD.

In this episode, we discuss challenges to intimacy and sexual relations in general, as well as those involving men and women dealing with same-sex attractions. We explore sexual relations beginning with points of etiquette and preparations, as well as foreplay, intercourse, and after play. Special emphasis is given to proper communication and building emotional intimacy as well.

How is being intimate with one's spouse an act of worship? What are some of the challenges faced by married couples in the domain of intimacy and sex? How can one deal with performance anxieties, particularly on the wedding night? How does one prepare for sex, physically and psychologically, and what do foreplay, intercourse, and after play include? How do we make sure each partner achieves sexual satisfaction? These and other questions are explored in this episode.

Recommended books on marital relations, intimacy and sex:
- The Guide to Getting It On
Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters--And How to Get It
Islamic Guide to Sexual Relations
Like a Garment: Intimacy in Islam
تحرير المرأة في عصر الرسالة - الجزء السادس

Dr. Rana Khaled's Twitter handle: @drranakhaled

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

*General trigger warning: Episode involves discussion of intimacy and sexual relations with graphic details. This episode is flagged for explicit content.*

This is part I of a 2-episode series on marital intimacy and sexual relations, answering frequently asked questions on these topics, with a focus on men and women experiencing same-sex attractions. Joining me in both episodes is sex therapist Dr. Rana Khaled, MD/PhD.

In this episode, we discuss challenges to intimacy and sexual relations in general, as well as those involving men and women dealing with same-sex attractions. We explore sexual relations beginning with points of etiquette and preparations, as well as foreplay, intercourse, and after play. Special emphasis is given to proper communication and building emotional intimacy as well.

How is being intimate with one's spouse an act of worship? What are some of the challenges faced by married couples in the domain of intimacy and sex? How can one deal with performance anxieties, particularly on the wedding night? How does one prepare for sex, physically and psychologically, and what do foreplay, intercourse, and after play include? How do we make sure each partner achieves sexual satisfaction? These and other questions are explored in this episode.

Recommended books on marital relations, intimacy and sex:
- The Guide to Getting It On
Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters--And How to Get It
Islamic Guide to Sexual Relations
Like a Garment: Intimacy in Islam
تحرير المرأة في عصر الرسالة - الجزء السادس

Dr. Rana Khaled's Twitter handle: @drranakhaled

Waheed  00:38
Assalamu alaikom wa rahmatullahi ta’ala wa barakatuh, and welcome to a brand-new episode of “A Way Beyond the Rainbow”, this podcast series dedicated to Muslims experiencing same-sex attractions who want to live a life true to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and Islam. I'm your host, Waheed Jensen, thank you so much for joining me in a brand new episode. As you guys remember, in the past two episodes, we spoke about marriage and celibacy, and we answered the most commonly asked questions in this regard. We talked about marriage, in general, and we also talked about the intricacies that are related to men and women who experience same-sex attractions who are considering marriage or going into marriage, what to watch out for, what to take into account and how to navigate that territory. In this episode and the next episode, inshaAllah, we're going to be talking about sex and intimacy, and we will also be answering so many commonly asked questions, and we will be addressing this huge topic from multiple angles, inshaAllah. Just a quick note before we start, and it goes without saying, obviously, these two episodes have been flagged for explicit content due to the nature of the discussions that are included.

So, let's start with a general introduction on sex and spousal intimacy. As we know, Islam does not neglect one of the most private moments in an individual's life, and that is the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. Detailed and explicit rulings regarding sexual behavior can be found in the Qur’an, the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and the works of classical scholars. It is common to find scholars dedicating whole chapters to this delicate yet important subject. The major reference works in all the major schools of Islamic law, or madhabs, discuss many aspects of sexual relations and what married couples may and may not do. Countless classical works deal with this topic in some detail, including works by Imam al-Ghazali for example, Ibn al-Qaiyyim al-Jawziyyah, Ibn al-Jawzi, Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani, as-Suyuti, and many others. 

A healthy sexual relationship is absolutely vital in marriage. One of the root causes of marital discord is sexual dissatisfaction, as many of us know, with problems in the bedroom often leading to unhappiness, frustration, and at times even divorce. Among the objectives of marriage is to satisfy one's sexual needs and the needs of one's partner in a lawful manner. And if either spouse is unfulfilled, the temptation to look elsewhere can become overwhelming. It is, therefore, of key importance for us to understand the teachings of Islam regarding sexual behavior. 

Some may consider any discussion about sex to be offensive and a breach of religious propriety (adab) as well as modesty (haya’). But the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) himself explained the subject in considerable detail. Many ahadeeth described how he, peace be upon him, taught men and women matters relating to sex, many of which we will explore together in these two episodes, inshaAllah. There are numerous other examples which illustrate the frankness with which the Prophet (PBUH) discussed these matters. The companions, may Allah be pleased with them, also did not shy away from asking the Messenger, peace be upon him, questions of a sexual nature. Remarkably, even women also felt able to ask the Messenger questions of sexual nature without any reluctance or being ashamed of such inquiry. Rather, he, peace be upon him, did not shy away from answering them, even though he was shy by nature. It is clear, then, that there is nothing wrong in discussing this subject for instructional purposes, as long as it is done with decency and for a legitimate purpose. In fact, it is a mistake to shy away from the teachings of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and the Messenger (PBUH), even those regarding sexual matters. Modesty is without a doubt a fundamental element of our religion. As we read in a well-known hadeeth, “لكلِ دينٍ خُلُق وخلقُ الإسلام الحياء”, meaning, “Every religion has a [specific] character trait [by which it is known], and the character trait of Islam is modesty.” However, when it comes to religious matters, a misplaced sense of haya’ should not prevent one from learning. It is in this vein that Messenger (PBUH) also told us “لا حياءَ في الدين” (essentially, “There is no haya’ when it comes to [asking about] matters of religion”). As we know, in the modern world, questions of sexuality are openly discussed, often indecently, right? Why then should we feel ashamed of learning the pure and decent teachings of Islam on the subject? Allah says, "Surely, Allah is not shy of [expounding] the truth" -- إن اللهَ لا يستحيي من الحق (33:53) -- “yastaḥyī ” being derived from the same word, haya’.

So, we have to learn these matters and to be able to talk about them in an appropriate context. We all know and feel the effects of the modern world's fixation on sexuality and the pervasiveness of sexual imagery that is affecting Muslims, with growing numbers becoming addicted to pornography and other unlawful means of sexual gratification. The worst place to learn about sex is from porn. But, unfortunately, many people consult these websites to learn about the topic, and ultimately end up getting the wrong idea about sex and sexuality. 

In addition, there are many nuances related to men and women who experience same-sex attractions that are rarely, if ever, touched upon in literature and in relevant discussions. We need to learn about sex from proper resources, and we also need to talk about the challenges that we might face as men and women experiencing same-sex attractions who choose eventually to get married. Obviously, we're talking here about a proper Islamic marriage between a man and a woman and not a so-called same-sex marriage. Just saying, okay? 

So, all of this has led me to dive into some relevant books and speak with professionals on the matter. In these two episodes, we will, inshaAllah, talk about some of the challenges faced by married couples, in general, as well as those faced by men and women with SSA in marriage, how to discuss one's expectations, fears, hopes with one's potential spouse, even before marriage, meaning during the engagement period, for example. We will also talk about the first night of marriage, such as how to manage anxieties and address common misconceptions surrounding that. We will also talk about how we can address sexual issues for both men and women that may arise in the first stages of marriage, or issues that may arise later on. We will talk about points of etiquette and preparation tips for sex for both men and women. We'll talk about foreplay, actual play, “the main course”. We will talk about orgasm for both the male and the female, as well as after play, how to maintain an adequate sex life that meets the sexual and emotional needs for both partners, focusing on touch and sensation particularly for the female. We will also touch upon porn and masturbation addictions and how they destroy marriages, and steps to overcome them for a man or a woman with SSA who does not feel sexually fulfilled in his/her marriage. And we will also touch upon how to restore a long-lost sex life in one's marriage. 

The way that I have structured these two episodes is as follows: I have included sections from books that I read and synthesized, particularly when we talk about intentions, preparations for sex, sexual etiquette, foreplay and after play. However, the major parts of these two episodes consist of an interview with a Muslim sex therapist who has kindly joined me to share with us her knowledge, expertise and recommendations on several matters, many of which pertain to men and women experiencing same-sex attractions in particular. My guest is Dr. Rana Khaled, she is a medical doctor, she has a PhD in clinical sexology, and she is a fellow of the European Committee of Sexual Medicine. She currently works as a sex therapist, providing treatment for many sexual concerns and problems and dysfunctions for individuals as well as couples. Her goal is to enhance her patient’s quality of life and sexual satisfaction. Dr. Rana Khaled speaks Arabic, French as well as English, and I will add links in the episode description to her contact information so you can reach out to her should you have any questions relevant to her field. I have also included many popular references in the episode description that talk about sex and intimacy in marriage, mostly from an Islamic point of view, so make sure to check these out if you are interested. So, let's get started, inshaAllah.

Let's talk a little bit about intentions. So, we know that niyyah, or intention, is a fundamental element that elevates mundane acts into acts of great virtue, allowing us to receive immense rewards as a result. The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Actions are but by intentions, and one shall only have that which he intends ..." Sexual relations with the one spouse are not excluded from this principle, in that they should be performed with transformative intentions and objectives in mind. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, "So now have relations with them [your wives] and seek what Allah has ordained for you" (2:187).

It is evident from these texts that procreation and seeking of pious offspring are valid objectives for having sexual relations with one's spouse. The Messenger (PBUH) encouraged his followers to marry in order to seek what Allah provides, through the beautiful union of a man and a woman. It was narrated that 'Abdullah said: "The Messenger of Allah said to us: 'O young men, whoever among you can afford it, let him get married, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and guarding chastity, and whoever cannot, then he should fast, for it will be a restraint (wija') for him.'" One of the basic objectives of sexual relations with one spouse is therefore chastity, and to satisfy one’s sexual needs lawfully, so that one can refrain from unlawful acts like fornication, sodomy, pornography, and others. 

Of course, for men and women experiencing same-sex attractions, there are added challenges in that area that we have discussed in the previous episodes of marriage, and some we will, inshaAllah, revisit in these episodes. The act of sex between a husband and a wife is a great gift that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given to mankind. There is nothing wrong in intending enjoyment and sexual gratification when engaging in sexual relations with one's spouse. Sex is not a dirty act, and lawfully enjoying this act does not conflict with modesty or good character in any way. Sex may be perceived by some as “unclean” or something that should only be practiced as a need, like the need to relieve oneself, for example. People holding this misconception perform sex reluctantly and consider any enjoyment derived from it as disrespectful or immoral. Lawful sex is an act of worship and should be enjoyed as much as possible between spouses, according to what works for them, obviously. Again, for men and women with SSA, there may be previous traumas, preconceived notions, feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, performance anxieties, and other matters that get in the way. As you guys remember, we have touched upon these matters in previous episodes, and again, we will revisit them in these episodes, inshaAllah.

Now, how is lawful sex an act of worship? It depends on the intentions. As we know the correct intentions elevate sex from an act of physical pleasure to an act of immense reward and a form of charity, or sadaqah. Some of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said to him: “Messenger of Allah, the rich have taken away (all the) reward. They observe prayer as we do, they keep the fast as we keep it, and they give sadaqa out of their surplus riches.” Upon this, he (PBUH) said: “Has Allah not prescribed for you (a course) by following which you can (also) give sadaqa? In every declaration of the glorification of Allah (i.e., saying Subhan Allah) is a sadaqa, and in every takbir (i.e., saying Allahu Akbar) is a sadaqa, and in every extolling of His praise (saying al-Hamdu Lillah) is a sadaqa, and in every declaration that He is One (La ilaha illa Llah) is a sadaqa, and the enjoining of good is a sadaqa, and the forbidding of evil is a sadaqa, and in a man’s sexual Intercourse (with his wife) there is a sadaqa.” They (the Companions) said: “Messenger of Allah, is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual passion among us?” He said: “Tell me, if he were to devote it to something forbidden, would it not be a sin on his part? Similarly, if he were to devote it to something lawful, he should have a reward.”

Imam an-Nawawi comments on this hadeeth saying, "In this hadith, there is an indication that through correct intentions, the merely permissible becomes an act of worship. As such, intercourse becomes an act of worship if one intends by it to fulfil the right of one’s wife and to treat her honorably as Allah Most High has commanded, or to seek pious offspring, to keep oneself or one’s spouse chaste, or to protect both spouses from looking at the unlawful, thinking about it and desiring it, or other praiseworthy goals." It is clear from this that even at the peak of passion, one does not forget one's Lord, and such a physical act can be transformed into an act of worship, charity and immense rewards.

Our Deen protects the sexual rights of both, the husband and the wife, and satisfying the sexual appetite of one spouse is a legitimate objective of sexual relations, and even of marriage itself. The right to sexual fulfillment belongs to both husband and wife, and it is a mistake to assume that only the husband has this privilege. The wife has as much right to expect her sexual needs to be fulfilled as the husband. As such, sexual relations are a right of both spouses. The husband is religiously obligated to fulfill the sexual needs of his wife. It is a sin on his part to deprive his wife of this right without a valid excuse or permission, and the same goes for the wife. Rights should always be understood in light of the following Prophetic guidance: "The most perfect of believers are those most perfect of character, and the best of you are the best of you to your spouses."

Waheed  16:14
And joining me now is Dr. Rana Khaled, assalaamu alaikom, Dr. Rana.  

Dr. Rana  16:19
Wa alaikom assalam wa rahmatullah. 

Waheed  16:20
How are you doing today? 

Dr. Rana  16:22
Fine, alhamdulilah, everything is good. 

Waheed  16:26
Alhamdulilah. Thank you so much again for joining me in this episode and the next episode. For a lot of the listeners, including myself, this is a hot topic, it is a topic that a lot of us have been waiting for, and I'm really excited to be sharing the content with the listeners, inshaAllah. So, you know, as a sexologist, as a therapist, yourself, Dr. Rana, what are the types of challenges that are faced by married couples, in general, whether they experience same-sex attractions or not?

Dr. Rana  17:00
Bismillah. Every marriage is a union of two individuals who bring to it their own opinions, personality quirks, values and belief system. So, it is no wonder that even in very happy marriages, spouses must cope with a profusion of marital issues. Some conflicts are just minor irritants, but others can seem overwhelming, complex and intense. And, you know, most of the couple's challenges usually involve relational matters such as emotional disengagement and waning commitment, power struggles, problem solving and communication difficulties, jealousy, extramarital involvement, value-role conflict, abuse and violence. And, last but not least, sexual dissatisfaction. So, each couple may feel their situation is unique. I’d like here to (mention), the way Gottman found that all marital conflicts, ranging from mundane annoyances to all-out war, really fall into one of the two categories: either they can be resolved, or they are perpetual – and perpetual here means, they will be part of our life forever, in some form or another. And this could also apply to our sexual problem. So, once you are able to identify and define your values disagreement, you will be able to customize your coping strategies depending on which of these two types of conflict you are having.

Waheed  18:50
Okay, that's very interesting. So, this is when it comes to like married couples in general. But when we talk about people experiencing same-sex attractions, a lot of us often assume that any problems that they have in marriage or that they will have in marriage is automatically due to their SSA, and this is a common misconception that we have found, because, you know, many men have, for example, erectile dysfunction issues, right? Many “heterosexual” couples have bedroom issues, intimacy issues, communication issues, and so on. And all of this takes a lot of work, even for people who do not have SSA, correct?

Dr. Rana  19:34
Correct. But just to answer here, we have to first talk about what sexuality is, and how we can define it. Sexuality for us as sex therapists represents a key domain in the human being’s life and is considered in the majority of partnerships the most important, or, at least, a very important bonding factor. So, sexual problems and difficulties are experienced by people worldwide and by all cultures and groups. So, sexuality is best understood as a multi-causal, multi-dimensional phenomenon with psychological factors - psychological factors here I mean, for example, personality, sexual experiences including abuse, body image, sexual education and sexual development; biological factors, also, which include medical and psychiatric diseases, like depression, neurological disease, hormonal change, menopausal status, pharmacological treatment like anti-depressant, substance abuse, medical therapy; and we have the other important factor which is contextual factors - contextual here I mean social and cultural, which include ethnic and religious norms, economical, households factor, contraception issues, relationship with partner, life stages stressors, family issues and partner health and sexual health usually. And sexual orientation can be under the psychological and contextual component. Erectile dysfunction, together with premature ejaculation, low sexual desire are also common male sexual disorders. Even the rate of occurrence, the significance of the problems and the distress experienced can vary greatly between couples. And sexual problems can have negative, or even, in some cases, devastating effects on self-esteem, quality of life and the man's partner relationship. Again, let's summarize, sexual difficulties are either transient, short term sexual problems which a very common, or more persistent problems which are less frequent. And it's important to emphasize that distress is required for a clinical diagnosis of any sexual disorder.

Waheed  22:22
Okay. Thank you for elaborating on this, and I love how you just gave us all the different factors, whether psychological, biological, and the contextual factors. So, sexual orientation, as you said, falls under the both the psychological and the contextual components. 

Dr. Rana  22:38
Yeah, it depends on how you look at it. 

Waheed  22:41
Okay. All right. So, following up on this discussion, basically, you know, as a sexologist and therapist, you've worked with lots of couples and lots of individuals who deal with sexual disorders. If I were to ask you, which of these issues are likely to be more frequent or more challenging for someone who experiences SSA? And here we're talking about either a male or a female who has SSA. Which do you find that these issues to be more frequent, and how can they deal with those issues, in general?

Dr. Rana  23:16
People with same-sex attraction are all susceptible to the same sexual problems as the rest of the population. It is important to mention the consensus of what's considered as healthy/normal or dysfunctional is changing and varies according to different paradigms that are themselves derived from the perceived normal reference, the subjective nature of the sexual experience and different perspectives on sexuality and its conceptualization. All of these may vary within different cultures and over changing time periods. So, relationship dimensions, psychological adaptation, cognitive factors and biological determinants have all related to sexual desire. And people with same-sex attraction, instead of seeing their sexual desires or attractions as a result of many precipitating factors and trying to resolve this problem and seek help for this, without standing to even act upon it, they tend to stick themselves away in the deepest recesses of their minds, because they view themselves as nothing more than a source of potential shame and embarrassment. And this on its own can cause a lot of distress and confusion for them.

So, social scientists have long known that sexual fantasies go hand-in-hand with feelings of guilt and anxiety. The more shame, embarrassment and anxiety people feel about their sexual desires, the more likely they are to avoid talking about sex at all, and to experience sexual performance difficulties, finding it challenging to become or stay aroused in order to reach orgasm. And here we deal with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. So, poor communication coupled with sexual performance issues can, in turn, snowball major relationship problems and, in severe cases, even precipitate a breakup or divorce.

Waheed  25:41
So, from what I understand from your answer is that you have found a lot of shame and guilt, and you have also found some sexual performance issues as well as communication problems among couples. And these are the issues that we will be talking about, inshaAllah, and we will be talking about how to deal with those issues. If I were to ask you, have you dealt with any relationships where one of the spouses had SSA, be that a male or a female, and what were the recommendations that you gave them when it came to their sexual life?

Dr. Rana  26:21
I saw a lot of couples where one of the spouses was struggling with same-sex attraction. Problems varied ranging from satisfaction issues to unconsummated marriage, and, in between, we can talk about orgasmic problems, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and low sexual desire being the most commonly reported. So, here comes the importance of tailoring the therapy for each couple, because every couple, as I said before, is unique. 

Waheed  27:01
Okay, so now that we have talked about some general issues, let's go into the details. So, let us now talk about some of the important matters to know before marriage. As we know, as Muslims, we know that there is no sex before marriage. So, one common question is, is there any way for a man to know whether he will be able to have adequate relations with his wife or not? And the same goes for a woman, how can a woman know if she can satisfy herself and her husband? And if not, then does this kind of raise questions about a person getting married while not knowing if he/she can fulfill the spouse's basic rights, if this makes sense?

Dr. Rana  27:50
Look, sex is a part of life and should be the most natural thing in the world. We are sexual human beings. Like eating and breathing, sex is a source of energy that can revitalize us and contribute to that wonderful sense of well-being that we all seek. So, it is a physiological need, and it's a physiological response, with bio-psychosocial component, as I said before and explained. So, good physical health and healthy behavioral habits are vital for sexual health. Good psychological health is an important component, so relaxation is the foundation of pleasure, function, eroticism and satisfaction. So, relax! And we have to have a realistic, age-appropriate, accurate and reasonable sexual knowledge and expectations. Those are essential for sexual satisfaction also. 

Waheed  28:56
And, honestly, I just want to just say something here. I mean, you are the first woman, mashaAllah, who is a Muslim woman that I speak to who talks about sex in this very bright and positive way, mashaAllah! So, thank you for actually doing this! I really appreciate this, because there's always shame in our communities. It’s all cultural, it has nothing to do with Islam, obviously. But it's all cultural. There's a lot of shame, there's a lot of misconceptions about this. So, it's really a breath of fresh air that you're saying all of this. Jazaki Allah khairan, thank you!

Dr. Rana  29:32
Thank you. You know, this is science, what we are saying now, it's just science, and it's good to integrate the science into our life. And our Prophet (PBUH) he didn't hesitate to mention sexual issues in front of all people and followers. But we have to know how to say it, and we are talking about things that are scientifically based, and everybody needs it.

Waheed  30:06
Of course, of course, thank you for saying that. 

Dr. Rana  30:09
We have an extraordinary individual variability in human sexuality. So, no two people are the same. And when one looks at the distribution of sexual characteristics, there are no obvious cut offs that justify the concept of what's normal versus what's abnormal. We don't have to expect to perform well from the first few times, okay? And it's very, very important to know that. We don't have to expect to perform well from the first few times. We don't have to focus on genital function and dysfunction, or successful and unsuccessful performance. We just have to relax and let ourselves go. 

Waheed  30:56
Okay, great! Again, we're still at the point before marriage. So for, you know, men and women who are single who experience same-sex attractions and before they get married, what do you recommend, as a therapist, as a sexologist, for those individuals, if they are interested in marriage? 

Dr. Rana  31:17
Okay. If they are doubting their ability to perform heterosexually, I ask them to seek professional help for this issue, and don't say, “Let me experience myself first and see how things would go,” if they are doubting. However, if they see themselves that they are okay, and they can get aroused to their spouse, then no problem, they can go ahead. But if they are struggling with some issues, let's seek out help before marriage.

Waheed  31:58
Okay. Very valuable advice, obviously. Yes, hundred percent. Okay. So again, when we said that, for Muslims, you know, as Muslims, we cannot have sex until after we're married, right? How often do you hear about sex that is not working out on the wedding night? And, you know, to specify the wedding night in particular, because there's a lot of pressure that applies to that particular night. How often do you hear about sex not working in that particular night? You know, whether it's SSA or OSA couples, and what do you recommend in such particular cases?

Dr. Rana  32:34
It's a quite common problem. And sometimes, not only the intercourse cannot be consummated at the first try, but it could also be delayed for years or even would never happen. Unconsummated marriage is one of the main sexual problems we deal with in Arab countries, and cultural factors are effective in intensifying this disorder. So, the differences in the prevalence between different societies is not unexpected. This disorder is more likely in traditional communities than in the modern ones. But even other than Muslim communities, we have the Orthodox community, they are suffering from this also. But different studies have reported its prevalence from 7 to 63.9%. So, you can see the difference in different societies. So, it's society based. Unconsummated marriage mainly is due to vaginismus in the woman - and here, vaginismus means involuntary contraction of pelvic muscles, so the female cannot be penetrated, even if she wants to. In males, it’s due to premature ejaculation, he ejaculates before he wants, usually we define it as less than one minute. In addition, we have the performance anxiety which leads to erectile dysfunction. So, the pursuit of “great sex” is a source of extensive personal dissatisfaction and relationship distress, because it amplifies fears and inadequacy and predisposes us to lifelong disappointment.

Waheed  34:33
Of course. 

Dr. Rana  34:35
We have to accept that the quality of sex varies from day to day and can fluctuate from very good to mediocre, or even problematic and even dysfunctional sometimes.

Waheed  34:49
Okay, so in these cases, what do you recommend?

Dr. Rana  34:56
Okay, you know, we need to replace the obsession of sexual performance with a determinant of sexual quality and satisfaction. We have to focus on sharing pleasure and enjoying sex function as something that’s variable and flexible. And just to note that the best sex doesn't come with the first sexual experiences, okay? It's very important to know this. The more positive first time sexual experiences, like intimacy, respect, frequent kissing, cuddling, frequent partner touching and caressing, all these are associated with a greater feeling of sexual satisfaction and esteem, and less sexual depression. So, intimacy has to be the ultimate focus, with pleasure as important as function, okay, and mutual emotional acceptance in the environment.

Waheed  35:52
And that is very beautiful. So, as much as we focus on functioning and how I want to perform, we also need to focus on the pleasure and the entire act as a full package, which includes mutual emotional acceptance. The things that you mentioned, like intimacy and cuddling, and all of these touch needs are as important, right?

Dr. Rana  36:17
Or more important than functioning, I can see it, and I can say that those things are more important than functioning, because this keeps the two related.

Waheed  36:30
And, so, going back to the question of it not working out on the wedding night, it is frequent, it's very common, and it takes time to develop. Things should develop organically with patience and with mutual understanding and love, right?

Dr. Rana  36:48
Exactly, exactly. So, we don't have to focus on performing, okay? We just have to focus on our pleasure and communication - when I say communication, not only verbal, I mean also that touch is a kind of communication, kissing, caring, those things are all a type of communication. 

Waheed  37:13
Okay. All right. And it has to be mutual, and both of them understand what's happening, and they agree on that. Yes, definitely. 

Dr. Rana  37:20
Exactly. Yes. 

Waheed  37:21
Beautiful. All right. A very common question, but I'm sure that you've heard it a million times, and this is focusing on the perspective of a man or a woman who experiences same-sex attractions: How do I deal with anxiety during the first night? And here we're talking about performance anxiety, “I’m having sex for the first time, how do I deal with that? There's a lot of pressure. How do I deal with that?”

Dr. Rana  37:50
Let’s explain, at the beginning, that arousal, pleasure, enjoyment and relaxation are all emotions. Emotions are a physiologically-based natural functions that, by definition, are not under direct voluntary control. When I say something is physiological, that means that it is not under direct voluntary control. So, trying to make them happen, or trying to prevent them from happening even, is the single most common psychological cause of sexual dysfunction. The way sex actually works is just so simple. It's all about zeroing in on sensations for yourself in the moment, and without expectation of any particular response. Don't expect any particular response. If you focus on sensations for yourself, sex will happen naturally. So, again, relax! So, focusing on touching, kissing, cuddling and hugging for your own interest will reduce performance anxiety. And, as I said, this performance anxiety is often caused by the expectation to respond sexually, to achieve certain goals in a certain manner. We cannot focus simultaneously on two things; for example, we cannot focus at the same time on tactile sensation and anxiety-producing thoughts. We have to focus on either one. If we are focusing on anxiety-producing thoughts, we cannot feel this tactile sensation.

Waheed  39:33
And by tactile sensation you mean touch, right? 

Dr. Rana  39:37
Touching, yes, caressing, kissing, all of these. So, what we have to do here, my advice is to focus on the touching, kissing, hugging and cuddling for your own interest. All of these can reduce performance anxiety, and when we say performance anxiety, that means something happened because of an expectation to respond sexually in a certain manner and to achieve certain goals. 

Waheed  40:11
Okay, all right. So, your advice would be, to anyone who's struggling with high levels of anxiety during that night, is to focus on the tactile sensations, to enjoy the kissing, the cuddling, the touch, and to relax and to breathe in the process, and to take it slow, and to not focus on the end goal, but to actually enjoy the process in the meantime, right? 

Dr. Rana  40:36
Yes, we don't have to focus on intercourse as a goal. Intercourse can come later, don't worry. As I said before, it's just a physiological response. So, we have to focus on our emotional needs, on our feelings and our tactile sensations. All these are important. Focusing on these can reduce our anxiety levels. 

Waheed  41:08
Okay. That's great advice. 

Dr. Rana  41:11
Yeah. We don't need to just put ourselves on the spot. Again and again, I say, just let things go by themselves, and things happen naturally. 

Waheed  41:22
That's great advice. So, if I were to ask you a question now, which popped up as you were describing all of this. Some of the brothers and even the sisters that I've spoken to, they always say, “Okay, you always tell us, ‘let's keep the communication open’, but I don't want to disappoint my spouse, particularly on that first night, when there is pressure on both of us.” There is pressure on the man and the woman.

Dr. Rana  41:46
We have to discuss sexual issues before the wedding night, and our expectations, our needs, our desires, usually. And the wedding night is a good opportunity for us to communicate in a different way. Now we are together, and we can enjoy each other. We can enjoy our bodies without having the stress to perform. 

Waheed  42:21
So, as I understand from you, it's very important to communicate during the engagement period before the actual marriage on all expectations, and to lay it all on the table, right? 

Dr. Rana  42:31
Exactly. We have to mention all expectations, all preferences, what we prefer, if we can say it, but what’s more important for me, is to mention our red flags. 

Waheed  42:47
What do you mean by red flags? 

Dr. Rana  42:49
Red flags are things that the other is not allowed to do. For example, some people don't like to be touched in a certain manner, or some people don't like some behaviors, sexual or non-sexual. The relation between what's sexual and what's relational is very tight. So, sometimes, they can reflect each other. So, for example, so if he did some sort of behavior that she cannot accept, it can reflect on their sexual performance or sexual life, and vice versa. 

Waheed  43:40
And their daily life, of course, it will affect their relationship. 

Dr. Rana  43:45
Yeah, exactly. Everybody has red flags, and they have to set their red flags and talk. 

Waheed  43:55
So, it's very important to keep the communication open, and to actually do it beforehand, like way before the marriage, to talk about it frequently, to talk about it on multiple occasions, to lay it all out and be clear about the expectations from both, the man and the woman. But what general advice would you also give in case someone is in that position, and there's a lot of stress or a lot of anxiety, what would you recommend in terms of general advice, in that particular moment? How would the couple communicate? What would the man say, what would the woman say, for example, what would you suggest?

Dr. Rana  44:32
In general, for the woman to express her feelings, to express her fears to him (fiancé/husband). Even for the man, he can express also. Sex and performing sexually is not a signature of manhood, it doesn't have to be like this, okay? We are all human, we are born as sexual human beings, and these things are physiological. Without communicating, sometimes we can make a stone wall between us (and our spouses/fiancé). What can destroy this stone wall is communication. We have to communicate everything. You have to communicate your fears, your feelings, even what turns you on, for example, what's your excitement, etc.

Waheed  45:33
So, we talk about not just the things that we're afraid of or the things that we're anxious about, but we also talk about the things that we like and the things that we're excited about. So, it goes both ways. 

Dr. Rana  45:43
Exactly. Yes, this is to bridge the differences between us. 

Waheed  45:44
Exactly, of course. And now that you have mentioned this, honestly, I want to address this also, because we have a Muslim audience, we're talking to mainly Muslims. And, unfortunately, whether it's Arab communities or non-Arab, but Muslims all over the world, there's this notion that, because it's very traditionalistic and it is very cultural, there's a lot of cultural baggage, there's a lot of pressure on the man that, “You need to perform, you need to do this. There is shame if you cannot do that, there is shame if you communicate your feelings, if you express any sort of weakness, or if you cannot do this or that, or if you talk about the things that you're bothered by, then you're not a man, or you're seen as less than by your wife.” This is not correct, right?

Dr. Rana  46:33
This is not good. Exactly. This is not correct. The Messenger, may peace be upon him, said “The most wicked among the people in the eye of Allah on the Day of Judgment is the man who goes to his wife and she comes to him, and then he divulges her secret.” And here is the importance of secrecy and privacy of what's happening between men and women, between the two spouses. So, the family and extended family don't have to know what's going on between both of them (spouses).

Waheed  47:13
They should not know at all, right? 

Dr. Rana  47:17
Exactly, they should not know if intercourse happened or if they didn't work, or something like this. This is their private life. So, they don't have to tell anybody, they just have to do what they feel they can do. They don't have to stress themselves to perform, they have to just relax. They don't have to make intercourse the goal, as I said. They have to try to enjoy each other, and that's it. And maybe sometime later, one month later, two months later, intercourse can come when they get used to each other, when they can understand each other, when one doesn’t get shy in front of the other, and then things will proceed.

Waheed  48:11
And, as you said, it's very important to communicate. I talk about the things that I like, I talk about the things that make me anxious, I talk about the things that I'm afraid of, and talk about them bluntly, to be vulnerable. And, again, we're not talking about meeting someone and then marrying them the next day. The engagement period is long, we get to know each other, and then the vulnerability and opening up comes after a long time. And then, as you said, you know, we discuss the sexual aspects way before marriage. So, this kind of leads up to everything that happens on that night and afterwards.

Waheed  48:53
In this section of the episode, we're going to be talking, inshaAllah, about preparation for sexual relations, in terms of etiquettes, and how to prepare ourselves, and then we're going to be talking about foreplay, actual play, and then the after play. So, to maintain a healthy sexual relationship, it is very important to prepare psychologically as well as physically for sexual relations. Preparing for sex is as important as sex itself. Both spouses should take care to prepare themselves for sex, to enjoy their union to the fullest extent. There are many etiquettes and preparations that apply to both, the husband and the wife, to take into account. One of the most important things that we need to take into account is cleanliness and personal hygiene. So, both, purity, which is taharah/طهارة in Arabic, and cleanliness, which is nadhafah/نظافة and personal hygiene, all of these have been given great importance in Islam, as we know. And we as Muslims need to remain pure and clean at all times, and even more so when it comes to marriage. 

And there are lots of ahadeeth in the Sunnah that talk about the importance of maintaining one's personal hygiene, and one of those ahadeeth is narrated by Sayyidah A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) on behalf of the Messenger (PBUH). And the hadith goes as, “Ten matters are from upright, natural disposition (the fitrah): Trimming the mustache, letting the beard grow, using the tooth stick, rinsing the nose, cutting the nails, washing the joints, plucking the hair under the armpits, shaving the pubic hair, and cleaning one's private parts with water (istinja’/استنجاء).” And one of the narrators of the hadith said, “I have forgotten the tenth, but it may have been rinsing the mouth.”

It's very important to make sure that we remove any bad odors from the mouth. We brush our teeth thoroughly, we rinse our mouth, we use mouthwash. Now, for the men in particular, you know, and I'm talking to the guys here, you know, don't expect to go into a sexual relation and you have a bush down there, okay? It's very important for men to remove their pubic hair as well as their armpit hair regularly. You know, if there's any untrimmed hair in the pubic area as well as the armpits, obviously, this brings about bad body odors, as well as dirt and sweat may gather there. In the hadith that I just recited, removing the armpit hair as well as shaving the pubic hair are both included in those ten matters of the fitrah. And, usually, depending on different fiqh schools, it's recommended to remove the pubic and armpit hair weekly, ideally on a Friday. It's not disliked to delay this to two weeks. However, it is blameworthy beyond that and sinful beyond 40 days, and this is according to the Hanafi fiqh, for example. And, in a similar fashion, you know the husband should clip his nails and not let them grow too long, given that dirt can easily gather under those nails. And obviously clipping the nails is also one of the matters of the fitrah, so leaving the nails uncut beyond two weeks is blameworthy, and it’s sinful beyond 40 days, again, according to Hanafi fiqh, for example. In Sahih Muslim, it's narrated by Anas ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, who said, “A time limit was prescribed for us by the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) for shortening the mustache, clipping the nails, plucking armpit hair, and shaving the pubic hair, that it should not be left for more than 40 nights." 

It's very important to know that, for a healthy sexual relationship, anything that causes distaste or is offensive should be completely avoided, right? The man and the woman should ensure that they don't have a bad breath, for example, or any other body odors, because this can be a major “turnoff”, right? The man and the woman should make sure that they avoid any dirt or filth or bad odor of the mouth and the body, they should bathe and change their clothes regularly. The teeth and the mouth should be brushed as frequently as necessary in order to avoid harming the spouse when they kiss each other, for example. Now of course, if there's a genuine medical problem with body odor, one should consult for proper medical treatment.  

Another aspect is adornment and beautification. And, obviously, a lot of people consider that this only applies to the wife, where she beautifies herself for her husband. But also, this applies to the man. Both, husband and wife, need to be presentable for each other. We, as human beings, are very visual creatures, we enjoy seeing and experiencing things that are beautiful. So, it follows that both spouses prepare for each other in a way that is beautiful and presentable. Not only is it permissible, for example, for the woman to use various means of beautification for her husband, but she's actually rewarded for doing so in our Islamic tradition. When we think about it, part of being a pious and practicing Muslim is to live a life of chastity, and anything that is a means to living a life of chastity is encouraged, provided, obviously, that it's not prohibited by Islamic law. And, so, part of beautification involves using beautiful fragrances. It's part of actually our natural disposition, or our fitrah, to take pleasure in beautiful and delicate scents. That's why applying perfume, for example, was the practice of all of the prophets. In a hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Four things are from the ways of the prophets: modesty, applying perfume, using a tooth stick (siwak), and marriage.” 

And, obviously, there are tons of ahadeeth that talk about the importance of cleanliness and beautifying oneself, especially when it comes to husband and wife relationships. One important point to keep in mind is, part of our adornment, part of one's adornment for his/her spouse is to also keep fit, to be in shape and to be healthy. One has to look after his/her body figure and to maintain its beauty as much as possible, right? One aspect with regards to that is for the husband to be attracted to his wife's body, for example, and vice versa, but also for the wife and the husband to be healthy at the same time. Unfortunately, a lot of men, when they get married, before marriage and during the engagement period, they work out, they stay healthy, but after marriage, they put on weight, they have a large belly, and they couldn't care less anymore. And that's obviously a huge disappointment, and it's very discouraging, and one should try as much as possible to avoid that. It's not fair for a man to expect his wife to be in top shape and to not be overweight, when he himself couldn't care less about his weight, right? It goes both ways. So, this is one more thing to keep in mind. 

So, in addition to taking care of personal hygiene and adorning oneself, a lot of people, even before engaging in sexual relations, they would shower, put on perfume, put on a nice dress. This applies to both, the husband and the wife, in order to prepare for sexual intercourse. And after that, in order to set the mood and the atmosphere of romance, it would usually start with some sort of flirtation or talking and behaving amorously, in order to arouse each other's sexual interest, and it is important to kind of avoid anything that may be distasteful or would be a turnoff to one’s spouse. And, gradually, the scene would be set for a passionate and enjoyable session, for both, the husband and the wife, inshaAllah.

Now, once all of that is done, so once there has been physical and psychological preparation, and the mood has been set for the relations to begin, usually foreplay starts. So, it is recommended, and it's actually part of the Sunnah to engage in foreplay before the actual play. And foreplay means all sexual activity that precedes actual penetration. Verbal expressions of love and desire that the couple exchange between each other are included in this, and, obviously, this depends on the couple, what they enjoy. And so, part of foreplay involves that both spouses take the means to arouse one another, as this would result in a more pleasurable union. And, although foreplay is very important for both spouses, it is especially important for the husband to sexually arouse his wife before having sex. One of the reasons for this is that women generally take longer to become fully sexually aroused, so if, for example, a husband has sex with his wife when she is unprepared, he may fulfill his need but not hers. And, obviously, this would result in a lot of frustrations and a lot of disappointments. One advice is for the man to take time to arouse the woman, and when the man sees that the woman is ready, she's prepared, she's desiring, then the act would come after that, right? It's very selfish if the man is going to fulfill his own sexual need and leave his wife's needs unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and leave her completely unhappy. And, obviously, men, we are better than this! It has to be balanced and it goes both ways, and it's mutual. And, actually, a lot of the scholars have said that foreplay and passionate kissing before sex is an emphatic Sunnah, it's a Sunnah Mu’akadah, and it is disliked, or makruh, to do otherwise. So, this goes to show that it is very, very important. Obviously, foreplay can take many forms, and it is best left to the couple to discover what stimulates them, since each couple is different. So, this can involve kissing, for example, and passionate kissing or French kissing is included. One may also kiss other parts of the body of the spouse, including kissing the private parts of the man or the woman. 

And this leads us to the question of oral sex, particularly that which goes beyond kissing the private parts in passing to include sustained licking or sucking of them. It is important to note that attitudes towards oral sex differ widely from culture to culture. Let’s look at the matter from a cultural and historic perspective: In many cultures—and this has traditionally been the case in the Middle East and likely other Muslim cultures as well—this act has been looked down upon as unbecoming, unclean, and undignified. Even in the West, up until the Sexual Revolution of the late 1960s, oral sex was considered an eccentric and taboo activity. Today, oral sex is alluded to constantly in Western movies and television programs, where it is featured as a normal element of the everyday person’s sexual experience.

Muslim scholars, both classically and today, have approached the topic of oral sex from two angles. Some scholars have fronted the more abstract (or معنوي) considerations I just mentioned, working from the assumption that oral sex is undignified, have held it to be either haram or makruh on this basis. Scholars addressing this consideration point out that a Muslim is obligated to conduct him- or herself in an honorable and dignified manner at all times and that, in particular, it is not appropriate to use the same mouth with which one recites the Qur’an and makes du’a to perform oral sex on another person’s genitalia. 

On the other hand, there is the default principle that all sexual acts between a husband and wife are permitted except what has been expressly forbidden, namely, anal intercourse, as well as vaginal intercourse during menstruation and post-natal bleeding. While this does not exclude oral sex in principle, one must still take into account the relevant fiqh rulings that relate to bodily fluids, impurities, and the default impermissibility of deliberately taking into the mouth and/or ingesting what the Shari‘a regards as filth. All schools of fiqh agree that it is impermissible to ingest—that is to actually swallow—sexual fluids, be this semen, male pre-ejaculatory fluid (madhy), or female vaginal fluids, as well as urine or any other discharges that come from the private parts. By default, it is also impermissible to take these fluids into the mouth (even without swallowing), though some scholars hold that it is excused if this happens as a byproduct of a couple’s sexual play that might include oral sex (though outright swallowing should be avoided in all cases). For those scholars who hold that sexual fluids must not come into the mouth at all, the general ruling on oral sex would be that it is forbidden if it is definite or very likely for such fluids to enter the mouth, makruh if it is possible but not likely, and permissible if precautions are taken to ensure that no sexual fluids are taken into the mouth (though, for many, still less than the preferred course of action, what is called “khilāf al-awlā”/خلاف الأولى).

In the end, though oral sex has not been expressly forbidden by an explicit text in the manner that anal sex and menstrual intercourse have been, there are nonetheless various factors that a couple must take into account when deciding whether or not to include various forms of oral sex in their sexual activity, and these are related to the abstract/maʿnawī evaluation of the appropriateness of the act and to the material fiqh considerations regarding the ingestion of impurities. Given the diversity of Muslim cultures and the fact that people are likely to have strong feelings one way or another about something like oral sex, I would like to come back to the cultural point to stress how important it is for both partners—even if they follow the more permissive fiqh opinions on the matter—to be fully and authentically on board with this kind of thing. Sometimes, men either demand or expect oral sex from their wives, and wives feel pressured or obliged to comply, even if they are personally disgusted by the act. It's a highly personal matter, and it is perfectly normal not to want to engage in that. In the end, every individual must turn first to his or her inner conscience regarding the matter, while taking into account the relevant fiqh parameters, then make sure that they and their spouse are fully open, honest with each other, and respectful towards each other’s feelings and boundaries surrounding this sensitive matter. Communication is very important. Making sure both are on board with this, and that there’s a sense of mutuality, i.e. don’t expect oral sex from your partner if you’re not willing to give it, so to speak.

And actually, there's a hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) which goes as follows: “When a man glances at his wife and she glances at him with love and affection, Allah Most High looks at them with mercy. When he holds her hand with love and affection, their sins fall from the gaps between their fingers.” It just goes to show how this relationship, in general, between the husband and wife, is very sacred. And as part of foreplay, both spouses would gently massage or caress and stroke each other's bodies, because this is an effective way of arousing sexual desires. One may stroke and sensually massage all areas of the body, including the hands, shoulders, back, stomach, thighs, legs, and feet. And some people might use lubricants, such as oils, or whatever else. And there's something worth mentioning here, which is exploring each other's “erogenous zones”, and by “erogenous zones” we mean areas where sexual sensitivity in the body is heightened. And, usually, the location of these areas varies with different individuals, and it can include any part of the body. So, the penis of the man and the clitoris of the woman are both sensitive, erogenous zones. Just an FYI, in case someone doesn't know, the clitoris in the female is the erectile tissue, which is present at the junction of the labia minora, it's at the junction above the urethral opening. And one can think of it, just like the man has the penis, which is the erectile tissue, and at the tip of the penis, there is the glans penis, the same applies to the female, so, the clitoris, the visible portion of it is also called the glans, it is equivalent to the erectile tissue in the female. 

Now, other areas of heightened sensitivity other than the penis and the clitoris, there are the ears, for example, the neck, the breasts, the nipples, inside of the thighs, behind the knees, the buttocks, the soles of the feet, toes, and, obviously, the male and the female genital areas. So, for example, couples might enjoy gently massaging or stroking these areas in order to evoke sexual arousal of the other spouse, keeping in mind that actually giving pleasure to one’s spouse is an act of virtue for which one is going to be rewarded, inshaAllah. And also touching or stroking or fondling the genitals of one’s spouse is an act of foreplay, it is encouraged. The wife may stroke the husband's penis; the husband may fondle the vagina. It's an effective means of actually preparing the spouse for sexual intercourse. So, again, the clitoris is which is a small and sensitive part of the female genitalia, which is the erectile tissue at the front of the vagina, can be stimulated, which results in a more profound sexual response as we will talk later, inshaAllah. And it follows that the wife can use her hands to masturbate the husband, and the man can use his hands and fingers to make his wife reach orgasm, and it's actually encouraged for the husband to practice this on the wife, because women take longer to reach an orgasm, and we will talk about this more as we go along. 

So, in addition to all of this, part of foreplay is also to have full length, body-to-body contact, which means to hold the body of one’s spouse full length against oneself. So, this can include hugging, caressing, cuddling, rolling around, taking the spouse into one's arm, rubbing one's body against one’s spouse, or laying completely on top of one another. This is encouraged with or without clothes. And so, it just goes to show that there's a principle that the union of marriage allows each spouse to derive pleasure from the other. So, it's permitted for either spouse to rub their private parts, for example, against the body of the other to reach an orgasm. And, you know, the means of stimulation is the other person and not self-stimulation, in this case, because, again, this falls under masturbation which may be unlawful according to different schools of fiqh.

Now that we have spoken about the preparation to sexual relations, as well as foreplay, we get to the part which is the actual play, or the “main course”. So, once the couple of has spent sufficient time in foreplay and feel that they are ready, now comes the time to engage in actual sex, which involves penetration. And, obviously, there are some rules and etiquettes that need to be understood in this regard. So, it goes without saying that it's very important that the spouses are alone when engaging in sexual relations. Obviously, this doesn't only include actual intercourse, but also during foreplay, to ensure that they are away from other people, including small children. It's important to lock doors, not just close them, make sure that no one is able to enter upon the couple, even by mistake. Windows should be shut, with the curtains drawn properly, so that even neighbors are unable to see, even if inadvertently. This is all part of modesty, it's all part of haya’, it's all part of privacy. This is private between the husband and the wife. And, obviously, in Islam, there is no place for exhibitionism or voyeurism. Some people derive pleasure from displaying their bodies or their sexual acts in front of others. Obviously, this is impermissible. And part of privacy also involves other people not hearing the act, so just making sure that this doesn't happen when other people are in the next room, or if it's inevitable, and other people might be in the next room, to make sure that they don't hear the entire thing. So, this is just an FYI. So, it's part of the etiquettes of sexual relations that the couple abstain from talking excessively and making loud noises, especially when other people, such as parents, may actually be in the next room. 

And there are two supplications that are actually mentioned. So, one supplication that the Prophet (PBUH) used to say, which is before commencing with the sexual act, he used to supplicate to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and ask Him to keep Satan away from him and his spouse and their potential offspring. The du’aa he used to say was, “بِسْمِ اللَّهِ اللَّهُمَّ جَنِّبْنَا الشَّيْطَانَ وَجَنِّبِ الشَّيْطَانَ مَا رَزَقْتَنَا”, which means, “Oh Allah, protect us from Satan and protect what you grant us (the coming offspring) from Satan.” And it is said that, if it is destined that the husband and wife would have a child from that intercourse, then Satan will never be able to harm it. And this is according to a Sahih Hadith in al-Bukhari and Muslim. 

Now, as far as selecting a suitable position for sex, there's general permission to choose whatever position the wife and husband mutually agree upon, provided, obviously, it is vaginal sex and not anal sex, because anal sex is completely prohibited and forbidden. A couple may find a particular method of having sex to be more comfortable and pleasurable, while another couple may feel at ease with a different position altogether. Obviously, this is left for the couple to decide whatever suits them, taking into account their physical comfort, their satisfaction and their enjoyment. There are no restrictions. Obviously, again, what is prohibited is anal sex, and vaginal sex during menstruation or postnatal bleeding. 

One thing to also keep in mind is, when a husband and wife are engaging in sexual relations, fantasizing about another person in a sexual way during sexual relations is actually haram and sinful. It is considered to be a form of fornication of the heart and the mind to deliberately fantasize about someone else while having sexual relations with one’s spouse. And this, obviously, applies to both, the man and the woman. Now, when it comes to orgasm and reaching the sexual climax, one of the rights of marriage is that each spouse's sexual needs are fulfilled through the other. So, it is very important that the man fulfills his wife sexually when it comes to her needs, and to only fulfill himself after she has achieved fulfillment, again, given that women take longer to achieve an orgasm, it's very important for men to take this into account, to try as much as possible to hold himself back from ejaculating until his wife is fully satisfied and has achieved her own sexual fulfillment. And, in the case the man achieves climax before the woman, the recommendation is not to withdraw until the woman has had her own orgasm and has achieved sexual climax. Again, we will talk about this as we move along. And, actually, it's in a hadith by the Prophet (PBUH), he said, “When a man has sex with his wife, he should strive to satisfy her. Then, when he fulfills his need, he should not hurry in withdrawing until she fulfills her need.” 

We will talk about premature ejaculation more with Dr. Rana. But, obviously, a problem that's faced by a lot of men is premature ejaculation, which is when they climax too early. So, some men ejaculate as soon as they enter their wives, or some even ejaculate before that, which is during foreplay. And, obviously, this poses a lot of problems for both spouses, because they would want to prolong the session of intimacy before achieving climax. So, there are lots of recommendations that we will talk about when it comes to premature ejaculation, but some of the pieces of advice include: avoiding the penis being stroked or caressed during foreplay, because the less contact that's made with the penis and the wife's body, the easier it will be for the man to control himself. Some men would find it a good idea to kind of divert their attention to something else when having sex, so that the man is able to control himself, especially at the beginning. And another piece of advice is to avoid excessive movement during the actual act of sex, because, sometimes, excessive movement will result in early ejaculation for the man. And, again, you know, there are lots of other recommendations that we will touch upon later in the episode, but I thought that I would mention this at this point. 

The other thing that I wanted to mention is another du’aa that the Prophet (PBUH) used to recite, which is a du’aa that is recited in the heart at the time of ejaculation, and the du’aa goes as follows, “اللَّهُمَّ لَا تَجْعَلْ لِلشَّيْطَانِ فِيمَا رَزَقَتنا نَصِيبًا”, which means, “Oh Allah, do not grant Satan a share in what children you bless us with.” So, keeping all of this in mind, a lot of scholars have mentioned that, you know, we can see that from these supplications, whether it's before commencing intercourse, as well as the supplication at the time of ejaculation, it just shows how exactly at the time when a man or a woman is involved in their carnal desires and engaged in that particular act, even during those moments, one is taught and encouraged to keep one's relation with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in one's mind, and to not hesitate in making supplications to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And, as such, what is sensual becomes an act of worship, as we have mentioned at the beginning of the episode. 

Now, after intercourse has finished, sexual relations do not end at that point, it goes beyond that. So, the time after having sex is known as “after play”, which is as important as foreplay as well as sex itself. And there are important rulings and etiquettes that need to be kept in mind, as far as after play is concerned. So, after achieving sexual climax, both spouses should remain in their positions for a while before separating from one another. And, actually, Islam teaches couples to be considerate and compassionate to one another at all times and not only while having sex, right? Then, after a while, after having sex, both spouses should clean their genital areas with clean pieces of cloth or tissue. And actually, it was narrated that Sayyidah A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “An astute woman should keep a piece of cloth with her. After her husband has sex with her, she should give it to him so that he may wipe himself and she may wipe herself with it.”

If sexual fluids have come into contact with one's clothes or body parts, these must be purified with water before praying, otherwise one’s prayer will be invalid. And, obviously, this includes the bedding; if sexual fluids have come into contact with it, it should be changed. As far as the madhi and the mani, so the madhi again is the pre-ejaculatory fluid and the mani is the semen. So, the pre-ejaculatory fluid, or the madhi, which is a thin clear fluid that exits without force from a man or a woman when sexually aroused, but it is not accompanied by an ejaculation. It is usually released without one being aware of it, and it is more prevalent in women than men. It is impure according to all the classical scholars, and it only necessitates a ritual ablution, which is wudhu’. It has to be washed if one's body or clothing is affected by it. One doesn't have to shower or make ghusl because of it. Now, as far as semen, or mani, is concerned, in the man it is a thick white fluid that gushes out with force from the penis causing it to slacken and reduce in size, while in women, the ejaculatory fluid is thin and yellow. According to classical scholars, there is a difference of opinion in regards to whether semen is impure or not. For example, the Hanafi and the Maliki schools consider it impure and require it to be cleansed from one's body and clothes, while the Shafi’i school for example, and also the Hanbali school, according to the more authentic position related to Imam Ahmed, consider semen to be pure. However, all the schools agree that the emission of semen for both the man and the woman necessitates a ritual bath, meaning ghusl. And, obviously, it's recommended, particularly from medical point of view to urinate after having sex, which allows the remaining drops of semen to come out of one’s system. 

Again, according to all four Sunni schools of Islamic law, the emission of semen, mani, with sexual desire from a man, and ejaculatory fluid upon orgasm from a woman, necessitates a ritual bath, or ghusl. So, again, after having sex, one is in a state of a major ritual impurity, which is janabah. And as such, the man or the woman is termed junub, that's the state. So, a junub is prevented from praying, reciting or touching the Quran, entering a mosque and other forms of worship, until one purifies him/herself. The details of this vary between different schools of fiqh, so one needs to consult the books and the scholars to know the intricacies and the details when it comes to this, and this is beyond the scope of these episodes.

And we remember in Surat al-Baqarah, verse 187, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said, “It is made lawful for you in the nights of fasts to have sex with your women. They are your garments, and you are their garments” (2:187). So, Allah has made the husband and wife garments for one another. So, garments are long, they're complete, they're free of holes and tears, and they cover one's nakedness. So, as such, Allah is comparing a husband and a wife to garments, because spouses are garments for one another, they conceal each other's secrets, right? And they're very close to one another. Otherwise, they will not be fulfilling their duties. So, marital relationships are based on trust and secrecy. And, as such, each spouse is duty bound to conceal matters that are revealed to them by their spouse under their trust. And so, concealing secrets is more important when it comes to intimate issues. It is haram for the husband and wife to reveal their sexual secrets to other people, and this has been condemned by the Prophet (PBUH). As Dr. Rana mentioned earlier, in a Hadith Sahih, by the Prophet (PBUH), he said “The most evil of people in the sight of Allah on the Day of Judgment is the man who has sex with his wife, and she has sex with him, then he reveals her secret.” And, obviously, this includes women too. So, it's unlawful to discuss with others what takes place in the bedroom. Sexual matters are private, and they must remain that way. There's a tendency in some people to talk about graphic details about their sexual encounters to their friends, some men boast about their performance in bed and talk about what their wives do with them, sometimes women enjoy boasting about their sexual relationships with their husbands. We should remember this hadith whenever we get these urges to not divulge any secrets that happened in the bedroom. These are private, these are intimate and these remain between the spouses themselves, full stop. However, if there is a genuine need to talk about marital affairs, such as, for example, when the husband or wife is seeking religious guidance or counseling, or in the case one of the spouses is a victim of injustice, and is trying to complain to those in authority, then in that case, the prohibition is suspended. And it's very important, even in those particular cases, to realize that it's not necessary to mention graphic details when they're not necessary as well. 

So, to summarize the different rulings and etiquettes of sexual relations: having the correct intentions and objectives in mind when engaging in sexual relations; to engage in sex in a state of relaxation and comfort; to prepare for sex psychologically and physically; to ensure that one is clean and to practice personal hygiene; to adorn oneself and to look clean and beautiful to one’s spouse; to exhibit affection and love to one’s spouse, and to precede the act with kind words, as well as foreplay; to recite various supplications before starting sex, as well as during climax; for the husband to wait for the wife to achieve sexual climax; and then, during after play, to be affectionate and considerate towards one’s spouse; cleanliness after sexual relations; and having a ritual bath, or performing a ritual ablution, or at least, washing one's private parts before sleeping, eating, or re-engaging in sexual relations. What is prohibited is when one of the spouses refuses to engage in sex without a valid reason, whether that is the husband or the wife. What is also prohibited is sex during menstruation and postnatal bleeding, as well as anal sex. And, finally, revealing any secrets of sexual relations to others is also prohibited.

Waheed  1:24:29
Now, returning to our interview with Dr. Rana, one of the major important themes that we would like to talk about is the sexual satisfaction, particularly towards a woman. We know that, when a man has intercourse, the issue of achieving orgasm, in most cases, is not a problem, because the sexual satisfaction of the man is kind of guaranteed. But when it comes to the woman, because of the different physiology, then certain points must be mentioned. So, Muslim scholars throughout the ages have talked about the importance of allowing one's wife to reach orgasm, since the early days of Islam, this has been discussed. For example, Imam al-Ghazali has made a famous comment about this in his book, Ihya Ulum ad-Din (The Revival of Islamic Sciences), and he said when he was talking about this idea that, if a man satisfies his need and reaches orgasm, that he should kind of slow down on his wife until she also satisfies her desire and reaches orgasm, because a woman's orgasm may be delayed. So, if he arouses her lust and then he pulls away after he reaches the orgasm, while she hadn't achieved her orgasm, then that would be very harmful for her. So, now the question would be, we're talking to an audience of men and women who have same-sex attractions, and let's say, there is a marriage. How do we make sure that the partner, in this case a woman, achieves her orgasm?

Dr. Rana  1:26:01
OK. Let's say that men are designed in a way that it doesn't take much to get aroused. It's a rather uncomplicated process, technically speaking, but biologically, it's very complicated. But they tend to “come” (ejaculate) only once before requiring a refractory period. And when we say “refractory period”, that means the time needed to reach another orgasm. This refractory period is age-dependent: the older you are, the more time you need to get another orgasm. So, the simple fact is that the male orgasm comes easily. We can call it “ejaculatory inevitability”, but when it comes to the woman’s orgasm, nothing is inevitable. So, women are not like men. A woman is so unique in her sexuality, possessing both a clitoris - an organ designed solely for the production of pleasure - as well as the ability to experience multiple orgasms during a single session of sexual activity. So, for a woman excitement comes slower and later, she can take too long to reach her orgasm. A man might believe he can bring her to his level of excitement by a stimulation that's more intense and direct. This is never the case, okay? Being excited demands not only more time, but also a slower and calmer rhythm with a complete devoted attention. But you can ask, how long is too long for the female, when I say that orgasm can take too long? You know, some studies, like those done by Kinsey and Master and Johnson, pioneers of sex therapy, have concluded that, among women whose partners spent 21 minutes or longer on foreplay, only 7.7% failed to reach orgasm consistently. And when we talk about this small percentage, we have to remember that our sexuality depends on bio-psychosocial factors. Sometimes, those numbers can depend on psychiatric problems, some medication or some cultural components, and many things, okay? So, it's important for us to note that the superiority of the clitoris to the vagina in stimulating the process of female sexual response is only 30%. And it's important to know, for the female and for the male, only 30% of females can reach vaginal orgasm, while the majority can reach orgasm through clitoral stimulation. We need to understand the role of the clitoris in the process so that sex becomes easier, simpler, and more rewarding.

Waheed  1:29:20
Okay, so from what I understand from you is: 1. to have longer foreplay, because this increases the chance of a woman achieving orgasm, and then the second point is to have more clitoral stimulation. Correct? 

Dr. Rana  1:29:34
Yes, yes, exactly. Just to mention here that we don't have to start with the clitoral stimulation. We have to start from all over our body. We have to start from the head, neck, shoulders, back, sometimes the feet, then we can move to the clitoral stimulation. So, we do not have to just focus on the clitoral stimulation. We can make clitoral stimulation as – you know, if we want to say “Let's make the touching be the foreplay, let's make the clitoral stimulation be the core play.” 

Waheed  1:30:10
I see. So, it is the last thing that comes. So, foreplay with the different erogenous zones without the clitoris, and then the clitoris comes towards the end. And, by that time, there is a higher chance of achieving an orgasm for the female. 

Dr. Rana  1:30:21
Exactly, exactly. So, we have here an opportunity to create bilateral satisfaction for the male and for the female, by doing enough. Enough foreplay and enough body touching and stimulation. So, just think when we put it that way, in the context of sexual peace and equality, is 20 minutes of focused attention applied by the man really too much to ask, especially if it can come to save your sexual life?  

Waheed  1:30:55
Of course not. Yes, it's definitely important. 

Dr. Rana  1:30:59
Yeah. Here, it's important to say, let her “come” first, and then the man can achieve what he wants to achieve. We know our biology, and we know that once the man finishes what he wants and he reaches orgasm, sometimes he can feel tired and he can feel that he cannot give more time and he cannot be more patient. Sometimes, this can lead to devastating feelings in the female. Because, when she feels that he has finished and she didn't, she may feel lonely or sometimes sad. So, it's important to let her “come” first, and then the man can “come” easily.

Waheed  1:31:54
I see. And, you know, I've read from a lot of sexology books, it's always mentioned that it's best for both spouses to try and achieve the sexual climax together, as that would be the most satisfying, but, obviously, this is not always the case. 

Dr. Rana  1:32:09
It’s not. As I said, if they want to reach it, only 30% of females can reach vaginal orgasm. And it depends on their anatomy, and sometimes it depends on some sex positions. This is what we miss from sexual education. Many females in my clinic say, “I have never reached orgasm.” I ask, “Did you try clitoral orgasm?” They say “No.” They are focusing on feeling the vaginal one. You can reach it (orgasm) simultaneously when you do that during intercourse, but this is not the case for all couples. For some couples, it doesn't work for them to reach vaginal orgasm. 

Waheed  1:33:07
And just to clarify, when we talk about the difference between clitoral and vaginal orgasm or stimulation, so the vaginal stimulation means through penetration, obviously, whereas clitoral stimulation is through manual stimulation of the clitoral region, correct?  

Dr. Rana  1:33:22
Yes, exactly.  

Waheed  1:33:24
Okay. And in the case, as we mentioned, the take home message is that the husband should wait and allow his wife to have her orgasm before he ejaculates, and he should try his best not to ejaculate before she achieves an orgasm, and in the case that he ejaculates, let's say, before her - let's say he is not able to control himself, or something happened, or whatever reason - then there is always this advice to not withdraw until she achieves her sexual satisfaction, correct? 

Dr. Rana  1:33:56
Yes, sexual satisfaction and not always orgasm. 

Waheed  1:34:02
Which brings me to the next question, is orgasm necessary for the woman every time? 

Dr. Rana  1:34:07
We can say that orgasm is important, but not necessary every time. What is more important for the female is sexual satisfaction, or sexual pleasure, a powerful sense of being desired, a sense of emotional intimacy, both of which are very rewarding for her. So, orgasm is important, but we don't have to wait for the orgasm every time. If it happens, it happens. Because also, again, I can say that sometimes, for some women, orgasm is not the same for her every time. It depends on the type of the stimulation, it depends on the mood, it depends sometimes on the menstrual cycle of the female. It depends on many factors. But the more important thing is to focus on the satisfaction, the pleasure and feeling desired, and feeling happy at the end. 

Waheed  1:35:04
So, one of the questions that comes to mind right now is, let's say a man has premature ejaculation, and we ruled out, medically speaking, any medical conditions or any intake of medications, or any other factors that can contribute to premature ejaculation, and we know 100% that this is due to a psychogenic cause. So, it's psychological or stress-related anxiety, whatever that may be. Now, how can this person allow his wife to achieve orgasm without him achieving orgasm first? What would be your recommendation in this case?

Dr. Rana  1:35:37
Okay. First of all, let me say something important, we have treatment for psychogenic premature ejaculation. So, men who are suffering with this and are distressed by this, maybe they are not themselves distressed but their wives are. Let them seek medical help. With some medication and some sex therapy techniques combined, we can help improve their premature ejaculation status. But if not, if they didn't seek help, if you finish, she has the right to feel this pleasure. So, he has to give her time. Okay, let him finish, but just don't rush her. I said before that she needs at least 21 minutes to reach this kind of pleasure and satisfaction (including foreplay). But when we say premature ejaculation, we mean that he ejaculates within the first minute of penetration (or stimulation). So, one minute versus 21 minutes, the gap is so big. So he has to know that she needs more stimulation, and he has to feel empathy for her and give her what she wants until she gets satisfied. And when we say satisfied, it doesn't mean that she reaches orgasm, but rather that she’s really satisfied and she feels this satisfaction.

Waheed  1:37:20
So, in this case, you would recommend, of course, as we said before, longer foreplay, and then more clitoral stimulation manually by the husband, for example? 

Dr. Rana  1:37:30
Yes. He has to wait and to let her reach her own satisfaction. 

Waheed  1:37:38
To not withdraw, you mean to make sure that she achieves satisfaction. 

Dr. Rana  1:37:41
To not withdraw. Exactly, yes. 

Waheed  1:37:52
If we were to talk about this from a female perspective, we know that women have emotional needs that men need to be aware of and they need to take care of, especially men with SSA who wants to get married. We know that men typically have high sexual needs, and women have high emotional needs. Now, what would be an advice that you would give to a woman who has SSA who needs to be able to meet her husband sexual needs? We know that the recommendation is to also allow for the man to meet the emotional needs of the wife. But let's say the woman is not interested in having intercourse as much, how would you recommend it that she meets her husband's sexual needs that may be high or maybe very insistent. It could be a challenge, especially if she's not very sexually attracted to her husband or she doesn't crave that level of intimacy. What is the advice that you would give a woman in this position?

Dr. Rana  1:38:55
Partners are different in everything, also in their sexual needs. Frequency, intensity, ways of caressing, desire for intimacy, emotional expression, tenderness and love, okay? So, there is no such thing as a sexual union. And this is very important to know before getting married, because we have to decrease our expectation and limit our expectation. Females, in general, and especially those who are struggling with SSA, reported greater needs for romantic attraction and connection. We have to respect the differences between the two genders, but, at the same time, we have to communicate what we really want. We need to confront the differences. Differences-phobia leads to hostility when a partner is unable to meet his/her needs. I always suggest to use clear communication by using the “I” messages, for example, “I feel undesired” instead of saying, “You are not desiring me.” This makes a big difference for the listener, to express our own feelings and ask for our needs. In many cases, unclear communication can lead to incorrect interpretation. So, step away from mind reading also, and don't wait for the spouse to discover unspoken expectations, needs, wishes or even fears. Clearly express your respective needs. There are techniques I teach for couples at the clinic, and one is very useful, I would like to explain it a little bit. I call it “OFNR”. “O” means observation, I describe the situation without blaming, without making any defense. Just a description of what happened. “F” stands for feelings or our emotions. The “N” stands for needs, or sometime instead of “N”, I replace it with “A”, for ask. Ask for the need. And “R” is request. 

Waheed  1:41:34
Okay. In this case, in this question, the man has high sexual needs, but she doesn't have those sexual needs. She cannot initiate, or she cannot have sex with him all the time, she doesn't really have that level of desire in this case. 

Dr. Rana  1:41:49
OK. She can describe the situation. She can say, “You are asking for sex too often, or you are asking for sex let's say three times per week,” if she finds it to be too high a frequency. Here, she's just describing the situation, she's not blaming, she's not making any defense. She is just describing. “You are asking for sexual intercourse three times a week.” The F here, she has to express her feelings, she can say, “I feel tired, or I don't feel any desire. I feel that's too much for me.” “I feel disappointed, because I cannot give you what you want every time.” Like this. N here, she must ask for her needs. “Please, if you can, can we manage things so that we only have sex once a week?” Or “If you can ask me for this in advance, so I can prepare myself,” because she may not be prepared, and because he asks her abruptly, sex is not in her plan. So, she has to ask directly for her needs. R for requests, here she can say “Okay, next time tell me before.” Sometimes we can just skip the request, and we can say that, instead of the request, list of benefits. “If you do this, it will be good for me to understand you and to prepare myself for you.” Or “If we decrease the frequency of sex per week, I will be more restful and I will be more energetic, for example, for the next sexual encounter.” Something like this. So she doesn't have to blame, she doesn't have to build any stone walls. She has to ask for her needs directly by using the “I” messages. “I feel…” as simple as it is. 

Waheed  1:44:27
So, in other words, this methodology that you described “OFNR”/”OFAR”, this can apply to any situation, not just to this particular situation. 

Dr. Rana  1:44:38
Yes, exactly. We give it for many situations. Somebody could even use it with their kids. And it's a well-known technique. Sometimes, it's different from the letters, sometimes it's called “DEAL”. That means Description, Emotion, Ask and List of benefits and sometimes we replace “L” with “C” for consequences. For example, “if you don't do this, this will happen.” Sometimes I use it with some females who discovered their spouse is masturbating a lot and watching porn, and she's hesitating if she can tell him and disclose what she found out. So, sometimes we ask her to use this method. Let's say, for example, she discovered him watching porn, and he's not approaching her. She can say, “I discovered by chance that there is some porn on your phone.” There's no blaming. She's describing only what happened. “I felt sad/I felt depressed/I felt disappointed about this. I want an explanation for this.” Here we can list the consequences, instead of the request. “Otherwise, for example, you will lose me/I need to know/I need to find an explanation for this, because our marital life is important to me, and I'd like to know what's in your mind and what's your plan.” This is a direct way of talking and doesn't hurt anybody, I think. We find a very successful response from the spouse using this method. 

Waheed  1:47:16
And with this, we have come to the end of today's episode, I hope that you found it beneficial, inshaAllah. We will continue our discussion on marital intimacy and sex in a couple of days’ time, inshaAllah, with the second half of the discussion. Until then, stay safe and healthy, and we look forward to talking to you very soon. This has been Waheed Jensen in “A Way Beyond the Rainbow”, assalamu alaikom wa rahmatullahi ta’ala wa barakatuh.

Episode Introduction
General Introduction to Intimacy and Sex
On Intentions
Challenges Facing Spouses in Intimacy and Sex
"How do I know if I can be sexually intimate with my spouse and satisfy him/her?"
On the Wedding Night: Is Sex a Must?
"How do I deal with performance anxiety during the first night?"
Etiquettes and Preparations for Sexual Relations
On Foreplay
On Actual Play
On After Play
On Orgasm and Sexual Satisfaction
"What if a woman can not keep up with her husband's sexual desires?"
Ending Remarks