Sexual intercourse and the sexual relationship with a legal spouse are governed by nature, and at the same time is a sunnah of the Prophets and the Ahlul Bayt (as). It has even been referred to as the most pleasurable thing in life. A group of companions and Shī°as of Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) narrate that the Imām asked us: “What is the most pleasurable thing?” We said: “There are many pleasurable things.” Imām said: “The most pleasurable thing is making love with (your) spouses.”
It is also narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “Whether in this world or in the hereafter, one has not, and will not, perceived a pleasure more pleasurable than sexual relations with women, and certainly this is the commentary of the words of Allāh (SwT) in the Qur`an, in Surat Āli-’ Imrān, verse 14 where He states: “To mankind has been made to seem decorous the love of (worldly) desires, including women and children.” He then said: “Indeed, the people of heaven do not take delight in the pleasures of heaven more than Nikah ; neither food nor drink has that much pleasure for them.”
As with every other aspect of our lives, Islam provides us with all the necessary information for the sexual lives of man and woman. The reason for this is simple; Islam recognizes the innate nature of man, and has ordained sexual relations for pleasure, and not just procreation. Sexual desires cannot, and should not be repressed, but rather regulated for one’s well-being in this world and the hereafter. If these rules are paid attention to and carried out with the intention of the pleasure and closeness of Allāh (SwT) and staying away from the evil of Satan, it is counted among the greatest of virtues.
Importance of Sexual Relations ;
There are many traditions relaying the importance of sexual relations. It has the station of worship and ŝadaqah, and has been called the sunnah of the Prophet (S).
Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) narrates that the Prophet (S) addressed one of his companions on the day of Friday and asked: “Are you fasting today?” (The companion) replied, “No.” The Prophet (S) asked: “Have you given anything as ŝadaqah today?” (The companion) replied, “No.” The Prophet (S) told him: “Go to your wife and that is your very ŝadaqah to her.”
In another tradition, Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) narrates that the Prophet (S) said to someone: “Are you fasting today?” He said, “No.” The Prophet (S) asked: “Have you gone to visit a sick person?” He replied, “No.” The Prophet (S) asked: “Have you been to escort a deceased person?” He replied, “No.” The Prophet (S) asked: “Have you given food to a poor person?” Again he gave a negative response. The Prophet (S) told him: “Go to your wife and going to your wife is ŝadaqah (Go to you to her so that you get all the reward for all these acts).”
Muĥammad bin Khalad narrates from Imām al-Riďā (as): “Three things are from the sunnah of the noble Prophets and the messengers of Allāh, and these are application of perfume, cutting of the hair and engaging in a lot of conjugal relations.”
Staying away from sexual relations with one’s wife is a result of Satan’s whisperings, and has many negative consequences such as arguments and rancour between husband and wife.
Importance of Satisfying your Wife;
Satisfying one’s wife is an important issue in Islam, as demonstrated by the traditions below; indeed, lack of satisfaction over a long period of time can lead to frigidity and dislike towards the husband.
It is narrated from Imām °Alī (as): “When any of you wants to sleep with his wife, he must not rush her for indeed women have needs (too).”
It is important for the husband to be aware that a woman’s sexual desire takes longer to express itself, but once it is elicited, is very strong, whereas a man is quickly aroused and also can quickly be satisfied.
Lastly, it is interesting to note that the importance placed by Islam on the satisfaction of both man and woman, is a clear indicator of the justice and fairness of Allāh (SwT). Indeed, it is repeatedly stated in the Noble Qur`an that man and woman were created from a single soul , and this is just one example of this.
1. Brush your teeth and chew pleasant-smelling things in order to remove any smells in the mouth. Likewise, try not to eat unpleasant smelling foods prior to intercourse either, such as onions and garlic.
2. Ensure you smell pleasant – the freshest smell is the one after a shower or a quick wash, and the worst smell is that of sweat! Women in particular are sensitive to smell.
Use of perfumes, oils and the like are recommended, although it is important to note that it is better to use natural substances that have been recommended in Islam as they lack chemical ingredients that may cause damage to the body.
In particular, kohl has been recommended for women.
It is narrated from Imām al-Bāqir (as): “To put collyrium (kohl) round the eyes gives the mouth a good smell, and makes the eye lashes strong and increases the power of sexual intercourse.”
It is also narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “To put collyrium (kohl) in the evenings is beneficial to the eyes and during the day it is Sunnah.”
NOTE: Althought the traditions recommend the usage of kohl, they do not condone its usage in places where it can be seen by men and can be a source of attraction.
Importance of Foreplay
As highlighted earlier, satisfying one’s wife is very important and engaging in sexual intercourse quickly and hastily is not the correct way. There is an average difference of eight minutes between the time a man and a woman reach climax; a man usually takes two minutes to reach climax and a woman takes ten minutes to reach climax. Therefore, in order to fully satisfy his wife, a man should caress her and engage in foreplay so that both partners reach climax at the same time.
Islam greatly stresses the importance of foreplay, as indicated by the traditions below.
It is narrated from the Prophet (S): “Do not engage in sexual intercourse with your wife like hens; rather, firstly engage in foreplay with your wife and flirt with her and then make love to her.”
Method of Foreplay
There are very few restrictions to the methods used in foreplay; kissing, cuddling, etc. are all allowed. Below are some tradition pertaining to specific methods:
a. Caressing the breasts
It is narrated from Imām al-Riďā (as): “Do not engage in sexual intercourse unless you engage in foreplay, and play with her a lot and caress her breasts, and if you do this she will be overcome by passion (and excited to the full pitch) and her water will collect. This is so that the emission of the watery juices shoots off from the breasts and passion becomes evident from her face and her eyes and that she desires you in the same way you desire her.”
It was asked of Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “If someone undresses his wife (and makes her naked) and looks at her, is there a problem?” He replied: “There is no problem, is there any better pleasure than this that exists?” Again a question was asked: “Is there any problem if a husband plays with the private part of his wife?” The Imām replied: “There is no problem, provided that he doesn’t use anything other than his own body parts (i.e. nothing external).” Again it was asked: “Is there a problem performing sexual intercourse in water?” Imām replied: “There is no problem.”
NOTE: The above tradition highlights the restriction of use of foreign objects
1. It is mustaĥab that Ghusl al-Janābat should be performed soon after sexual intercourse, and the sooner it is performed the better. Also, if one would like to have sexual intercourse more than once in one night, it is better that after every time, they perform Ghusl. However, if this is not feasible, it is recommended that one should do Wuďū before every act.
2. Immediately after completing the act of intercourse, the husband should perform the Ghusl and at that very moment consume a portion of bee wax (reputed to heal all sorts of wounds especially fractures) mixed with honey and water or mixed with pure honey, as this will replace and compensate for the lost fluids.
3. If a man’s virility strength quickly ceases after intercourse, he should keep himself warm and sleep.
4. The husband and wife should both use separate towels to clean themselves. It is narrated from the Prophet (S) that if only one towel is used, this leads to enmity and separation between the two.
Makrūh [Discouraged] acts
1. Anal intercourse;
Anal intercourse is permissible with the consent of the wife; however, it is a strongly disliked act.
Zaid ibne Shabith narrates that a person asked Imām °Alī (as): “Can you get close to a woman from her behind?” Imām °Alī (as) replied: “Be down with you! Allāh lowers you by this means (of entering a lady). Have you not heard the words of your Lord that is narrated from Lut who said to his community: “What! Do you commit an outrage none in the world ever committed before you?’ ” and
There are some who justify this act with the following verse of the Qur`an:
“Your women are a tillage for you, so come to your tillage whenever you like.”
However, Imām as-Ŝādiq (as), in his tafsir of the above verse of the Noble Qur`an narrates that: “The intention of this verse is that sexual intercourse should be performed from the front, for the reason that the wife in this verse has been compared to tillage (a cultivated land) that gives produce (from the top of the land), which is (just like) the front of the wife because this is from where (children) come into existence and into this world.”
2. Having Qur`an or the Dhikr of Allāh (SwT) on you;
It is narrated from °Alī, the son of Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): I asked my brother Imām Kādhim (as): “Can a man have sexual intercourse and go to the bathroom when he has with him a ring on his hand with the dhikr of Allāh (SwT) or a verse of the Qur`an written on it?” Imām replied: “No (it is Makrūh).”
3. Making love standing;
It is narrated from the Prophet (S): “The husband and wife must not engage in intercourse like two donkeys clinging together, because if it is like this then the Angels of mercy will go far from them and the mercy of Allāh will be taken away from them.”
4. Making love bare (without a covering)!
It is narrated that Muĥammad bin al-Ais asked Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “Is it permissible to go near my wife naked (i.e. make love naked)?” Imām replied: “No, don’t do such a thing…”
5. Engaging in sexual intercourse under the sky;
It is narrated from the Prophet (S): “Allāh dislikes 24 qualities for you, Oh men, and has prohibited you from them; one of these qualities is sexual intercourse under the sky.”
6. Engaging in sexual intercourse when others are present (and can hear and/or see) in the house;
It is narrated from Imām al-Bāqir (as): “It is Makrūh that a man engages in sexual intercourse with his wife if, as well as them, there is someone else in the house.”
It is narrated from the Prophet (S): “Obtain three qualities from crows: sexual intercourse secretly, going after sustenance at the beginning of the morning and intelligence and alertness against probable dangers.”
1. When there is fear of ĥarām [forbidden]
If one has a fear that he might succumb to his sexual desires and the whisperings of Satan and indulge in ĥarām acts, it is obligatory that they protect themselves from this. If one is single, they must get married and thus stay away from any potentially forbidden acts.
It is narrated from Ayatullāh Khomeini (ra): “It is obligatory that one who, because of not having a wife will fall into ĥarām, get married.”
2. Once every four months
One must have sexual intercourse with his youthful wife at least once in 4 months. This is one of the conjugal rights of the wife and the obligation stays in force unless it either is harmful to him, involves unusually more effort, the wife waives her right or such a prior stipulation was made at the time of nikah by the husband. It makes no difference whether the husband is away on a journey or present.
Safwān bin Yahyā asked Imām al-Riďā (as): “A man has a young wife and hasn’t come close to her for months, even a year. It is not because he wants to trouble her (by staying away), but rather a calamity has befallen them. Is this counted as a sin?” Imām replied: “If he leaves her for four months, it is counted as a sin.”
Mustaĥab (Recommended) times
Sexual intercourse, if engaged in a permissible manner, is always mustaĥab. However, there are certain times when it is more recommended:
1. When a women desires it from her husband.
2. When one is attracted to another woman.
It is narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “Any person that sees a woman and is attracted to her must go to his wife and engage in sexual intercourse with her, because that which the other woman has, the wife also has, and one must not give Satan a way into one’s heart. And if one does not have a wife, he must pray a two Rak°at Ŝalāt, praise Allāh a lot, recite Ŝalawāt on the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt, and request Allāh to grant him a believing and religious wife and that He makes him needless from the forbidden.”
Harām (Forbidden) times
1. During menstruation (ĥaydh) :
Allāh (SwT) states in Surat Baqarah, Verse 222:
ﻭَﻳَﺴْﺄَﻟُﻮﻧَﻚَ ﻋَﻦِ ﺍﻟْﻤَﺤِﻴﺾِ ﻗُﻞْ ﻫُﻮَ ﺃَﺫﻯً ﻓَﺎﻋْﺘَﺰِﻟُﻮﺍ ﺍﻟﻨِّﺴَﺂﺀَ ﻓِﻲ ﺍﻟْﻤَﺤِﻴﺾِ ﻭَﻻَ ﺗَﻘْﺮَﺑُﻮﻫُﻦَّ ﺣَﺘَّﻰ ﻳَﻄْﻬُﺮْﻥَ
“They ask you concerning (intercourse during) menses. Say, “It is hurtful.” So keep away from wives during the menses, and do not approach them till they are clean.”
If a person who is engaged in sexual intercourse with his wife discovers that her period has begun, then he should immediately withdraw from her.
During the period of ĥaydh, other acts besides sexual intercourse can be performed, as indicated by tradition below:
Mu°āwiyah bin °Umar narrates that he asked Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “What is permissible for a man when a woman is in the state of ĥaydh?” The Imām replied: “Other than the private parts (i.e. the rest of the body except for her private parts).”
Imrān bin Qanzalī narrates that he asked Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “How can a man benefit from a lady that is in the state of ĥaydh?” The Imām replied:”The two thighs (of the lady).”
However, although the rest of the body of the woman (apart from the private parts) are permitted for the husband, the area from the navel to the knees is Makrūh (not recommended) ; therefore, it is more advisable that the husband avoid these parts as well.
It is important to note that it is not recommended to engage in sexual intercourse after the end of ĥaydh and before the Ghusl of ĥaydh. However, if it is necessary, a woman should wash herself first. Allāh (SwT) mentions this in the continuation of the above verse:
ﻓَﺈِﺫَﺍ ﺗَﻄَﻬَّﺮْﻥَ ﻓَﺄْﺗُﻮﻫُﻦَّ ﻣِﻦْ ﺣَﻴْﺚُ ﺃَﻣَﺮَﻛُﻢُ ﺍﻟﻠٌّﻪُ
“And when they become clean, go into them as Allāh has commanded you.”
2. During Nifās.
3. During fasting in the month of Ramaďān.
4. During the state of Iĥrām and before reciting Ŝalāt of Ťawaf al-Nisā.
5. When it may cause serious harm to either husband or wife. Sexual intercourse is permissible if it does not cause serious harm.
Makrūh (Undesirable) times