From time immemorial a woman’s virginity has been her prized possession. Throughout history one will read about cultures across the world placing a high value on a a woman’s virginity. But times are changing and for an increasing number of young men and women, sex is no longer the kind of taboo that it earlier used to be. And much to our older generation’s charging, pre-marital sex is a definite reality of our times.
In fact, these days, couples who are in arelationship have no qualms about getting sexually intimate with each other even though there may be no guarantee that the relationship will culminate into marriage. However, when it does come to the question of marriage, especially in the case of arranged marriages, a woman with a sexually active history still raises eyebrows and sets tongues wagging. What then is the big deal about virginity and how does this kind of a mentality hamper the lives of numerous women?
According to Dr Mahindra Vatsa, gynaecologist and sex counsellor, this kind of mentality is largely because our traditional values are still strongly embedded in us. “One of the most common questions I get, till date, is ‘How do I know that my bride or girlfriend is a virgin?’ The only answer that I have to such questions is that there is no way to know,” says Dr Watsa. According to him, it’s just the man’s and his family’s inflated ego that results in such unrealistic demands. How then, does our traditional culture not hamper couples from engaging in pre-marital sex? “Once a couple is engaged, it’s like a license for marriage so they feel they can do anything,” he opines.
“It’s actually not such a big deal. However, I still get men who complain to me saying that the wife did not bleed on the first night and hence, they suspect that she’s not a virgin. The truth is that the presence of the hymen which ruptures (resulting in the bleeding) is not a sure shot sign of virginity. Some women are born without it, there there are those for whom it is so elastic that it never ruptures while for some it is so fragile that a slightly intense activity may have ruptured it without them even realising it. It is just not possible to access whether a girl is a virgin or not by just examining her except if she’s been through a pregnancy or if she admits to having sexual intercourse,” says sexologist Dr Rajan Bhonsle.
He goes on to add that in a relationship, if a couple is to make it work successfully, it is more important for the couple to worry about virtues like trust and honesty. “If a woman admits to a sexually active past, it shouldn’t be held against her. The very fact that she’s even admitting it, even though she could have very well hidden it, means that she is honest and that’s all that should matter,” he says.
For some men, however, especially those raised in very orthodox families or old-fashioned joint families, it’s the family members who tend to influence their decision. “In many of these families, something like falling in love or sex before marriage equates to the girl being bold. Their reasons, hence, for rejecting such girls is that post-marriage, too, the girl will continue with the same behaviour,” Dr Bhonsle explains.
Commenting on the issue, actress Sophie Choudry opines, “Most people in Mumbai and other metropolitan cities do not expect their partners to be virgins anymore because India has gone through a dramatic change in the past 10 years. India is no longer the closed society it was. The modern young Indian woman is working, independent and makes her own choices in life. It’s a change the Indian man has had to adapt to. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore that there is tremendous pressure on girls from smaller cities and more conservative families and virginity does still play a major factor when it comes to their marriage.”
An intact hymen is not a sure sign of virginity.
A woman’s hymen can be ruptured by non-sexual activities like intense sports, dancing, sitting astride on two wheelers, etc.
It is not necessary for a virgin to bleed the first time she has sex. In fact, is one goes by the statistics, only 42 per cent of women do so.
With the current advances in medical technology, a plastic surgeon can quite easily reconstruct a layer of tissue to resemble the hymen (the procedure is called Hymenoplasty).
Remember, virginity and chastity are not the only measures to base a happy marriage on, honesty and trust are far more important traits that both partners should possess.
Firstly, he should sit before a Shaykh who has insight into these faults and hidden weaknesses, and put him in authority over his soul, and follow the instructions he gives in connection with his struggle therewith.
Secondly, he may seek out a true, perceptive and religious friend, and appoint him to be the overseer of his soul, so that he notes his circumstances and deeds, and brings to his attention the inner and external faults, acts and traits which he finds dislikeable in him. This was the practice of the wise men and the great leaders of the Faith.
‘Umar (may God be pleased with him) used to say, ‘May God grant His mercy to a man who shows me my faults’. And he used to ask Salman about his faults when they met, saying, ”What things have you heard about me that you find dislikeable?’ Salman pleaded to be excused answering this but when he insisted, replied, ‘I have heard that you once ate two kinds of food at one meal, and that you have two sets of clothing, one to wear at night and the other for the day.’ ‘Have you heard anything else?’ he enquired, and he said that he had not. ‘These two things,’he said, ‘I now renounce’.
It was ever the desire of religious people to discover their faults through being told of them by others; however, things have come to such a pass with us that the most hateful of all people are those who counsel us and draw our attention to our defects.
The third way is to learn of the faults of one’s soul by listening to the statements of one’s enemies, for a hostile eye brings out defects: it may happen that a man gains more from an enemy and a foe who reminds him of his faults than from a dissimulating friend who praises and speaks highly of him, and hides from him his faults. Although human nature is inclined to disbelieve an enemy and to interpret his statements as the fruit of envy, still, the man of insight, whose faults must necessarily be noised abroad in the statements of his foes will not fail to derive some benefit.
The fourth way is to mingle with people, and to attribute to oneself every blameworthy thing which one sees in them. For ‘the believers are mirrors one to another’, and recognize their own faults in the faults of others, knowing that temperaments are similar in the following of desire, and that every attribute in a man must be shared by his associate to some degree; thus one will come to scrutinise one’s own soul and cleanse it of everything one finds blameworthy in others. This constitutes the highest degree of self-discipline. ‘Were all people only to renounce the things they dislike in others they would not need anyone to discipline them. Jesus (upon whom be peace) was once asked, ‘Who taught you?’ ‘I was taught by no-one,’ he replied. ‘I perceived the ignorance ofthe ignorant man, and avoided it’.
[An excerpt from “Disciplining the Soul” by al-Imam al-Ghazzali]
We conclude from the above that seeing the faults of others could bring about either one of two consequences: positive or negative.
Positive is when we reflect what we see from the faults of others on our state, and then from there, begin rectifying our state. Positive is also when we ask Allah to bless us with the exceptional wisdom in offering sincere advice (make da’wah) to those with faults hoping that in return a friend would do the same when they see our faults.
Negative, as we would generally have already experienced, is when arrogance creeps in on oneself, refusing to reflect and ‘attribute to oneself every blameworthy thing which one sees in others’.
اللهم استر عوراتنا وآمن روعاتنا
We ask Allah to help us rectify our state and purify our soul…
The Prophet ‘alayhissalatu wassalam was asked, “What will save me from the wrath of God?” He said, “Do not express your anger.”
He, ‘alayhissalatu wassalam, has also said: “If one of you gets angry, he should be quiet.”
“The strong man is not the one who can throw another down. The strong man is the one who can keep hold of himself when he is angry.”
Anger, if it is truly and sincerely for Allah’s sake, will only inspire us to noble deeds and to personal sacrifice, and never to base, unjust, or ignoble actions.
Anger is a very powerful emotion. It rages through a person, creating a desire for revenge and for striking out at the object of anger.
Anger is an emotion that inspires action, if left unchecked and uncontrolled, it is the emotion that can lead a person to the evilest of deeds and to the worst consequences.
Anger is a destabilizing thought. It is the most dividing emotion between friends; it takes away judgment, leads to depression, madness and wrong actions that we would repent later on when we are not angry.
Anger that inspires a person to avenge his own personal feelings is indeed blameworthy.
Among the chief causes of anger are pride and arrogance, since a prideful person is most easily offended and the most painfully stung by criticism.
Another cause of anger is being argumentative. The more a person disputes with others, the less likely he is to accept the truth. His views become increasingly polarized and emotionally charged.
Anger snatches away the wisdom of man and thus he becomes a brute beast devoid of any sense.
Anger weakens a person’s Iman.
One preventive medicine is to avoid being too sensitive to pressure and become “deaf, dumb and mute”.
Check the circumstance, check your words, check yourself. Because sometimes, you may find that the other person violated one rule and find yourself violating ten.
اللهم بصر لنا عيوبنا
O Lord, show us our own flaws!
May Allah forgive . .