‘Love InshAllah’ Explores the Love Lives of Muslim Women

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Are you the kind that believes women are not virgins if they don’t have an intact hymen? We know sex is on the mind of everyone, but when it comes to sex education we are still surrounded by several myths.

There is much sex information available on the internet, but it’s always hard to judge the difference between fact and myth. To make life easy, we list down six ridiculous sex myths that you must have heard a million times, but have never been sure of.

1. Oral sex can get you pregnant
Probably this one is the lamest of them all, but a lot of teens still do believe in it. The fact is that women can’t get pregnant by having oral sex even through she swallows the sperms. The same applies to anal sex.

2. He pulls out before ejaculation, I am safe
Much to the dismay of many women, this is so not true. As soon as a man gets an erection he starts producing fluid which includes sperms which is enough for a woman to get pregnant. If you are not on a baby-making session and having unprotected sex, we advise you to take pills after sex.

3. It was my first time, I won’t get pregnant
Old-wives tales have it that a girl can’t get pregnant the first time she has sex. The fact is that a girl can get pregnant anyway whether or not it is her first time. To be on a safer side, always use a condom even if you are having sex for the first time.

4. He has big feet, I can tell his penis size
This is one of the oldest sex myths still doing rounds. It is absolutely baseless. The size of his feet has nothing to do with that of his private organs. Even a medium-tall man can have big penis, or otherwise.

5. Its safe to have sex during periods
If you don’t want unplanned babies, stop believing in this. The truth is that a woman can get pregnant anytime of the month if she has sex without contraception. But if you badly crave for unprotected sex during periods, follow the period cycle closely and understand it well. You may want to consult your gynecologist for the same. Remember, sperms can survive for several days after sex, so even if you have sex during periods, it may still stay in your body long enough to get you pregnant.

6. You are not a virgin, you don’t have your hymen intact
It is extremely silly to believe that an intact hymen is the only proof of virginity. Hymen can rupture anytime, and has nothing to do with sex. It can happen due to over-exercising, or pursuing activities like cycling, horse riding and swimming among others.

Men talk and think a lot about sex while womendesire it more often. We explore the reasons…

‘Men think, while women desire.’ Gone are the days when ‘demanding sex’ was considered exclusively a man’s forte. Today women demand sex greater than men. And they have no qualms about getting vocal about it. “I read these funny E-mail forwards that stress on men begging for sex and women denying it. It sounds so funny to me. It’s totally the opposite in my case. While men can have a good laugh over it believing that this notion exists, I literally have to seduce my husband to get him hooked on to the act,” quips production assistant Megha Mehra. And she is not alone. Many girls/women had a similar story.

We spoke to women from different backgrounds to figure out what is making them addicted to sex.

It’s physically pleasurable
Amongst all the other reasons to remain glued to sex, this is the most prominent one. Good sex satisfies your physical urge, which is very normal for anyone to experience. Psychologist Seema Naina opines, “Sex is the most basic need of any person. And I am increasingly getting cases where women are complaining that men are unable to satisfy their physical needs.”

Creates positive feelings about oneself
Ideally, great sex means you are enjoying the sexual act and participating equally. It makes you feel good about yourself, thus adding to your self esteem. Shares housewife Neelam Nehra, “When my husband comes back from a whole day at work and we have our sack session, it increases my self esteem. The very feeling that I am able to satisfy him is a great pleasure. And since I never want to go out of shape to look unappealing to my husband (and other men), it even acts as a motivation to work out and feel desirable.” Wondering why?

“Sex has healing powers. It generates positive emotions and makes one feel more confident. When a woman sees her man passionate in the act, admiring her body and moves, it infuses a lot of good feelings within her,” opines psychologist Sunaina Bajaj.

Brings them closer to their man
Physical intimacy releases hormone Oxytocin, which is also known as the love hormone. Agreesrelationship expert Vandana Mitra, “I have always maintained that couples should never take sex casually. It’s a very important ingredient for any relationship to sustain. It helps couples to nurture the relationship and strengthen the bond.” So whoever said having more sex with your partner means lesser cases of infidelity, made sense.

Content developer Prachi Sinha states, “I feel a major connect with my boyfriend after we make love. I just feel like being close to him. My faith in him and our relationship grows stronger.” Prachi’s boyfriend agrees, “When she told me about the 7 days a week sex, I initially could not stop laughing. I mean, this is not the only thing we have to do. But honestly it has got us closer. I just can’t take my eyes off her even when we are moving in a crowd.”

Negates unwanted emotions/ Stress-reliever
Sex is not just a physical sensation but it’s comforting and relaxing. Call centre executive Neetu Sharma shares her experience, “Whenever I have a bad day at work, sex really helps me unwind. It totally takes the stress out of my mind and makes me feel relaxed and rejuvenated.” Psychologist Reena Kapur explains why. “Sex involves a lot of deep breathing and touching and the hormones that are released during the act calm you down.”

Great form of exercise
Thirty minutes of sex burns more than 85 calories. We have read it almost everywhere that sex helps in burning calories. Confirms fitness consultant Stuti Batra, “While I do not suggest giving up work outs, doubling up the session makes you drop more weight.” While this is the most deadly mix, many girls are seriously taking to it. “It may sound a little funny, but while making love I prefer to play the dominant role. It helps me burn greater calories, leaving my guy in ecstasy,” says Payal Verma.

Invokes passion
“Sometimes I feel like a pervert, because I find myself always thinking about my boyfriend, and what we did the night before. It gives me a kick and makes me crave for our next sack session. He thinks I am crazy, but it really happens to me,” shares call centre executive Richa Sharma.

“It is completely normal to fantasise about sex. But I have heard it can freak a guy out- we men are still adapting to the concept of women demanding sex more than us. But we love that passion,” admits psychologist Prateek.

 

In the beginning, there was sex. And it was good. And there was more sex. And it too was good…

My wife and I began our relationship as any two relatively awesome people do. We were friends for a while, long distance. Then we met and got into a relationship, and had some awesome sex. Pretty much every day. We got married and this sex continued.

 

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As an aside, know this: 1. My wife loves me very much, and I, her. 2. I’ll try to be the least pornographic I can in writing this post. But that will be hard. Wait. There’s probably a pun in there…

HER EGGO WAS PREGGO Then, my wife got pregnant as the result of this awesome, great sex. I definitely had my “I don’t want to bruise the baby” thinking cap and underwear on, which probably contributed to sex falling off the to-do list of our lives. We were all about the baby and our sex lives were made even more unavailable by my booking lots of work as an actor that year. I worked my ass off.

We tried to be intimate and physical but it wasn’t the same. Simultaneously, I was feeling like the most masculine guy I’ve ever been. I impregnated a woman. I am man. Boom.

 

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Stop picturing us having sex, you!

And she was even more beautiful to me, so it was difficult keeping my hands to myself. Pregnant women don’t glow. They radiate, like stellar objects. There was definitely a trimester where things picked up, but things always felt really tentative and a bit disconnected. To be honest, I think we were both so excited about our future son, that our future and present sex took the hit, falling victim to our best laid plans. I really have to stop with the entendres.

AFTER THE FLOOD After Finn’s birth, I gave my wife and her lady parts the time they needed to recover from their natural delivery before diving back into things. You know, two days. Joking.

I knew it was probably smarter to let her come to me and ensure she felt better about her recovery. But that’s where it got funny. She didn’t. I could tell that the pregnancy/birth experience was one of those “this changes everything” deals. So, we carried on. She tried her best to breastfeed and stay awake, and I just kept eating. All the time.

I gained a total of 30-40 pounds from the beginning of her pregnancy to Finn’s first three months of life. I wasn’t looking my sportiest, manliest best, whatever. And this won’t sound good, writing it now, but I was transforming into a woman: soft and curvy.

WORK IT OUT So, as I stated in “Pregnancy Weight Is Ugly“, I worked my butt off again, but literally. I quit sugar, dieted, and worked out again. I tried to shove my physical life back into this new fathering life and it was hell. I would workout at home in front of Finn in his little swing contraption. I took him on hikes. I went to the gym sparingly and without any sleep. The worst part was: when you don’t sleep, your body doesn’t change as fast. Thus, it took double the work. Little known fact.

But I did it.

 

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I texted this image to my wife while prepping to audition for the new Superman movie that’s coming out. It worked like kryptonite.

I worked for hours and days on my body to get fit, mostly for myself and my career, but I’d be lying if I said those were the only reasons. I really wanted to do it so my wife would find me attractive enough to want to have constant, ridiculous, while-Finn-was-asleep-in-the-other-room monkey sex with me.

But I didn’t get that.

I mean we had sex, and it happened more often, I guess. But the change was even more evident. Maybe my awesome foreplay needed help… Walking around bottomless in our room used to do it, but it barely raised an eyebrow now. My patented phrase “Jump On It” didn’t seem to fire things up anymore, either. Doing naked jumping jacks? No dice. Maybe it was the fact that sex meant something else now, it meant a means to a painful end. Childbirth.

So, now I don’t know what to do. I love my wife. I just want her to rock my socks off a little more, ya know? I want her to know how cared for and passionately I feel about her. Can someone email her about this post and tell her I’m ready for her? Anytime. Any place. Thanks.

“I wasted years because I didn’t think I fit into their conception of Islam or God. And I don’t. But God is greater than all that. There are as many ways to Him as there are people on the planet.”(Ayesha Mattu, “The Opening,” p. 54)

For some writers, Love InshAllah is about reconciling their American Muslim identity with the complex socio-cultural mores surrounding romantic relationships. For others, however, the book is about strengthening their relationship to the Almighty.  What most readers will ultimately agree on is that all the stories contained in this collection are of hope.  Of possibilities, that despite their complex personal life stories, ethnic backgrounds and their respective Muslim denominations, love happens, and apparently, always under the watchful eye of God.

Edited by Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, who also contribute with “The Opening” and “Last Night on the Island” respectively, Love InshAllah is a compilation of stories by American Muslim women, writing on the challenges of finding love within Muslim communities across the United States. These are personal and often candid accounts of Muslim women (gay and straight) engaged in romantic relationships whilst simultaneously reconciling their faith with modern dating rituals and practices.  Themes covered in the stories include the role family and friends play in bringing couples together (or, for that matter, keeping them apart); coming-of-age anecdotes on dating and commiserations on “first times”; finding love the second (and third) time around; and finally discovering their significant other in the most unexpected of places, a common, reoccurring thread in all stories contained in the book.

Most stories have happy endings – they are personal accounts of how two people meet and, despite cultural and socio-economic odds and expectations, find themselves committed to each other. “Leap of Faith” exemplifies this, where a young couple agrees to marriage after having known each other for only a brief period.  Similarly, “Otherwise Engaged” by Huda Al-Marashi is a story of young, Iraqi couple and briefly references the Sayed/non-Sayed marriage taboo which serves to highlight the complexities of finding a spouse, one that meets clan and caste specifications within Muslim culture. “It Will Be Beautiful” is about a Hindko/Pushto-speaking accountant, Yasmine Khan, who finds solace with Yasser, a divorcé with a young daughter.

Some stories are accounts of women marrying outside their respective ethnicities.  In the case of Mattu’s “The Opening,” the story unfolds in a post 9-11 time-period.  “Love in the Time of Biohazards” by Melody Moezzi tests the resolve and patience of a young couple surviving the author’s sickness.  While all the stories in this book are exceptional and unique in their own way, the following quote from Moezzi’s chapter further echoes the “finding-love-through-God” element found in all the stories:

“I had seen God in everything there, the people I met, the lakes I swam in, the glaciers I slid down, the wildflowers I couldn’t pick, even the bears and moose that terrified me -and I had fallen in love with Him. . . [A]nd just as Northwestern Montana was in many ways the placethat brought me to God, Mathew was the person” (p. 15).

Not all the stories have triumphant rom-com endings – many are simply accounts of how their faith helped them grow as individuals in their respectively relationships.  “A Prayer Answered” follows the story of Tolu Adiba, a gay Muslimah who asks God for a “pious spouse”.  Her prayers are answered with Hafsa, a fellow niqabi, and while the relationship does not last, the author is grateful for their time together.  Suzanne Syeda Shah’s “Kala Love” is a brutally honest account of love and sex for an American Muslim of Bengali origin.  She also makes references to the emotional abuse suffered for being “dark skinned”, hence the reference to “kala” or “black” in the title.  Kala, unlike the word black, has far more a derogatory tone and if not spoken in the correct context can be considered offensive in parts of South Asia.  I was particularly saddened while reading this account, for there is reference to a rape, what the writer considers “her only experience with sex” (p.254).

Premarital sex features in some of the stories, and while this may offend some readers, the authors’ stories – and more importantly their journey in love – are still immensely relevant.  If there is one major underlying theme in all the stories, it is the relationship each woman has, sustained, or even gained with God, despite the personal challenge each faced in their tenuous relationships.

One of my favorites happens to be “Love in the Andes,” by Angela Collins Telles.  I lived in Buenos Aires and visited Bariloche, and while my South American experience was amazing, it always felt so far from home.  Other than a smattering of Muslims of Iranian origin, the Islamic community was small, which makes this story all the more magical.  It truly does feel like God’s work to have brought two people together, in a bar no less, in Argentina.

The editors acknowledge the controversy surrounding the subtitle “The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women” (further exploited by the cover, depicting a negligee, lying on a mussed duvet) which may be construed as feeding into an “Orientalist fantasy of Muslim women.”  They write that they had hoped to use this book to dispel American stereotypes of Muslim women in romantic relationships.  They have succeeded in their goal, and I imagine that non-American Muslim women too can identify with these stories.  Islam and its inherent role in culture influence Muslim communities around the world, whether in predominantly Muslim nations or countries with large Muslim populations.  With exposure to education and an increasing sense of empowerment, Muslim women everywhere are learning to strike a fine balance between expected social customs and personal choices when it comes to the complexities of love and relationships.  Their stories are powerful and relevant, and further demonstrate the full spectrum of experiences amongst Muslim women.

Why are arab/muslim men so inhibited in their sexual relations with their wives? I am an American woman married to a Tunisian. I, along with several of my husbands friends wives have the same issue with our sexual relationships. Our men are selfish lovers and frankly have no clue how to please a woman, nor do they try.
Is this cultural because they are taught sex is dirty. And why are they so fast to be done?
Men are more likely to orgasm when sex includes vaginal intercourseand women are more likely to orgasm when they engage in a variety of sex acts, a new study has revealed. 

Findings from the study of sexual and sexual-health behaviours conducted by Indiana Universityhas provided an updated and much needed snapshot of contemporary Americans’ sexual behaviours, including a description of more than 40 combinations of sexual acts that people perform during sexual events, patterns of condom use by adolescents and adults, and the percentage of Americans participating in same-sex encounters.

The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour (NSSHB) is one of the most comprehensive studies on these topics in almost two decades and documents the sexual experiences and condom-use behaviours of 5,865 adolescents and adults ages 14 to 94.

According to the study’s findings, one of four acts of vaginal intercourse are condom protected in the U.S. (one in three among singles).

“These data about sexual behaviours and condom use in contemporary America are critically needed by medical and public health professionals who are on the front lines addressing issues such as HIV, sexually transmissible infections and unintended pregnancy,” said Michael Reece of the Centre for Sexual Health Promotion.

Debby Herbenick, of the CSHP said Herbenick said: “Findings show that condoms are used twice as often with casual sexual partners as with relationship partners, a trend that is consistent for both men and women across age groups that span 50 years.”

The report has also suggested that adults using a condom for intercourse were just as likely to rate the sexual extent positively in terms of arousal, pleasure and orgasm than when having intercourse without one.

Many older adults continue to have active pleasurable sex lives, reporting a range of different behaviours and partner types, however adults over the age of 40 have the lowest rates of condom use. Although these individuals may not be as concerned about pregnancy, this suggests the need to enhance education efforts for older individuals regarding STI risks and prevention.

The findings were published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine .

QUESTION:

I have some questions about rights to sexual intimacy (all related questions): 

1) If a wife has to always fulfill her husband’s sexual desires even when she doesn’t want to, does this mean that he has to fulfill her desires when he doesn’t want to, as well? Can a wife “demand” sex as husbands can?

2) Is it sinful for a husband to refuse his wife? If refusing a husband can lead him to other sin, doesn’t refusing a wife lead HER to sin, as well?

3) What constitutes a “valid” reason for refusing intimacy? For example, even though husbands can enjoy their wives while they’re menstruating by putting a garment over their privates, does she have to engage in intimacy if she is having slight cramps, not even a “valid” sickness?

4) Shouldn’t the husband just respect that his wife is simply “not in the mood”? Wouldn’t he enjoy it more if she IS in the mood, or is he like an animal that needs his desires fulfilled ASAP?

Please help me as I have trouble coming to terms with this seemingly “unfair” concept, even when the couple is mutually respectful and communicative. If a sister could answer, that would be appreciated. May Allah reward you best.

ANSWER:

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah.
Praise be to Allah.
May Allah’s peace and blessings shower upon our beloved Messenger.
Dear Sister,
I pray this message finds you in good health and spirits.
You have raised some very important points:
1) If a wife has to always fulfill her husband’s sexual desires even when she doesn’t want to, does this mean that he has to fulfill her desires when he doesn’t want to, as well? Can a wife “demand” sex as husbands can?
Answer:
The husband is obligated to keep his wife chaste. While scholars have distinguished between a man’s right to “demand” sex and a woman’s right to “request” sex, it is nonetheless a man’s religous duty to keep his wife sexually satisfied. A woman may not have an explicit legal right to demand sex in the same fashion as a man; however, this distinction merely accounts for the inherent temperamental, physical, and emotional differences between the sexes. Ustadha Hedaya Hartford, in her excellent guide to Islamic marriage, states that both Hanafi and Shafi’i scholars hold that a man should make love to his wife at least every four nights. [Hedaya Hartford, Islamic Marriage: Starting Off On the Right Foot. Beirut and Damascus: Dar al-Fikr, 2000]
2) Is it sinful for a husband to refuse his wife? If refusing a husband can lead him to other sin, doesn”t refusing a wife lead HER to sin, as well?
Answer:
Yes, it is sinful for a man to consistently refuse his wife. Note the word “consistently.” It is a given that sometimes one spouse or the other won’t be in the mood. However, as Ustadha Hedaya says, sex should never be used as a weapon. There is great blessing in satisfying your spouse, even if you don’t feel like it. A woman who is not sexually satisfied in her marriage may be led to sin. This is a possibility for both spouses if they are not receiving their rights. Scholars emphasize that a man must keep his wife chaste. How can he do this if he refuses her?
3) What constitutes a “valid” reason for refusing intimacy? For example, even though husbands can enjoy their wives while they”re menstruating by putting a garment over their privates, does she have to engage in intimacy if she is having slight cramps, not even a “valid” sickness?
Answer:
Valid reasons include menstruation, postpartum bleeding, illness, exhaustion, and physical inability. Note that a woman cannot have sex while menstruating or experiencing postnatal bleeding. However, if she simply doesn’t feel up to it, then the best thing to do is to explain to her husband how she feels. Perhaps there are other ways she can explore to satisfy him. Furthermore, she should let him know that when she feels better, she looks forward to having intercourse. This will create a sense of anticipation and let him know that she loves him.
4) Shouldn’t the husband just respect that his wife is simply “not in the mood?”Wouldn’t he enjoy it more if she IS in the mood, or is he like an animal that needs his desires fulfilled ASAP?
Answer:
Yes, both spouses need to understand that sometimes one or the other won’t be in the mood. However, as I stated before, this should not become a habit. It is very easy to keep putting off your husband, but think of the long term. It may be good to sit down and count how often you put him off. It may be more than you think. Also worth exploring: why aren’t you in the mood? Is there s0mething he could do differently? How often do you two just sit and enjoy each other’s company? Talking, laughing, cuddling, and kissing are things couples should do on a regular basis, not just when they have sex. These little ways of showing love really do foster a strong relationship and prepare the couple for further intimacy.
Another suggestion is to look at your husband’s timing. Do you have children? Do you work or go to school? Perhaps your husband is approaching you after you’ve had a long day. There are things you can do to alleviate this and create a positive, loving environment where BOTH of you crave intimacy.May Allah bless you and your husband to find a solution that is mutually beneficial.
And Allah alone gives success.

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