XXXX wrote: Hello. As a recently married Muslim, I was hoping someone could refer me to sources which can guide me as to what is permissible in Islam between a man and his wife. I once heard of an Islamic book called “Perfumed Garden”? Is there such a publication? Or could someone suggest other sources. In particular, I needed to know what the five schools of thought advised on oral sex or fellatio. Please email or post responses. Thank you.
May Allah bless you and your wife with his blessing and unite you in harmony and happiness.
The book you mentioned, “The Perfumed Garden”, was written in Tunisia in the 16th century A.D. by Cheikh ‘Omar bin Sidi en-Nefzawi. It is a sort of marriage manual written in a rather provocative and lewd style. Even the author himself acknowledges its lascivious nature by ending it with these words: “I have indeed committed a sin by writing this book. Forgive me O Thou to whom we call not in vain. O Allah, do not confound me for this on the Day of Judgment. And you, O Reader, I beg you to say ‘Amen’.” The book is an interesting historical and cultural oddity; it is not to be recommended as an educational manual for married couples.
The principles of conjugal love in Islam are few and uncomplicated.
1. Sexual relations are for the pleasure of both the husband and the wife and for the procreation of children. Sexual intercourse is not limited to vaginal penetration but includes other forms of sexual caressing, such as kissing and fondling of various kinds.
2. Nothing should be done that is offensive or harmful to either person. Each has a duty to be sexually available to the other, but neither has the right to disgust or injure the other.
3. With a few exceptions, the couple can engage in any activities that they like, in any manner and in any position. Allah rewards such activities as surely as he punishes sinful activities. The Qur’an says, “Women are your fields. Go then into your fields as you please.” (2:223)
4. It is forbidden to have vaginal intercourse while a woman is menstruating (Qur’an 2:222). According to the Sunnah of the Prophet (God’s grace and peace be upon him), a man and his menstruating wife can however give one another pleasure so long as the woman’s genitals are avoided.
5. There are ahadith that forbid anal intercourse and scholars generally agree that it is not permissible. However, in his tafsir (commentary) Tabaari (3d century A.H.) while forbidding sodomy, says that earlier authorities were divided on the question.
6. The Qur’an and the Sunnah are generally silent as to the various forms that sexual relations may take. Most authorities consider that it is up to the husband and wife in love and mutual respect to decide how to physically express their sexual desires.
7. What goes on in bedroom, is a private matter and should not be discussed or revealed to other persons unless there is some necessity, such as health or safety. Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet (pbuh) said this about people who reveal and discuss openly their sexual practices: “Do you know what those who do this are like? Those who do this are like a male and female devil who meet each other on the road and satisfy their desire while the people look on.”
Therefore, in Islam the husband and the wife choose their sexual activities according to the sure teaching of the Qur’an, in the light of the Sunnah as we are able to understand and appreciate it, in mutual respect for one another and knowing that the only witness to the expression of their desires will be Allah the Exalted, who will judge them according to their deeds and their heartfelt intentions.
The question of the lawfulness of oral-genital contact is difficult because there are many opinions. For some, it is forbidden. For others, tolerated. For some it is lawful. Some consider it to be lawful as long as the couple use such contacts as foreplay and conclude their love-making with vaginal intercourse.
I believe that this is a matter to be decided by the husband and wife together after seeking the guidance of Allah, who alone knows best.
Peace to all who seek God’s face.