Category Archives: Sex/ gender/ sexuality issues

Islam’s stance(s) on dating, courtship & relationships

 

 

Non-Muslim Westerners seem to have the impression that Islam’s position on relationships is the same as theirs. They find it astonishing that dating (as they define it) is usually seen as forbidden, and many/ most Muslim parents would be angry if they found out their children were dating. On top of that, contemporary* Western culture sees marriage as quaint & nice but oldy-worldy & ultimately unneccesary. Islam, however, is very clear that marriage should be the aim of relationships.

 

* Note I said contemporary. Only a few decades ago the West believed in marriage just as strongly as the Islamic world traditionally does. But I digress.

 

Muslims wishing to abide by the faith properly and living in the West are thus often in a dilemma. How do they get married to “good brothers”/ “good sisters” amidst a culture that demotes marriage’s value & promotes extramarital relationships? It too often brings confusion & frustration, and even a degree of alienation from parents because they find this issue unrealistically clear-cut: find someone good (however good is defined), marry them, make babies, done.

Oh, and no dating.

 

Oh! Finally beta (son) is getting married! About bloody time!

 

 

However, it seems most lay Muslims & scholars are misinformed about what Western-style dating actually is. As I used to, they think it means a man & woman meeting one-on-one in private, which is near enough certain to lead to premarital sex – which is unequivocally forbidden. In reality, however, it’s not significantly different to how men & women meet in Islamic matchmaking services. It’s all done in public, and the prospective couple are just talking to see how compatible they are. The only difference with Islamic matchmaking is that physical contact is not allowed until marriage. Western-style dating was exactly the same pre-WW2.

 

As such there are various ways Muslims can find a good spouse, some traditional, some in response to modern Western ways:

 

  • Forming networks with same-sex peers (friendships in simpler language) in youth & getting their assistance.
  • Arranged marriage: the parents find someone they think would be suitable for their son/ daughter & with their consent set up a chaperoned meeting between them & their families.

(Important notice: many Westerners have the misconception that arranged = forced. It’s true that forced marriages happen, but that is totally against Islam. The parents have the right to suggest & opine based on their wisdom & experience, as well as find out more about the prospective spouse’s character via other contacts, but it’s up to the person her/himself to make the final call based on the experience they’ve had directly with the prospective)

 

FORBIDDEN

  • Courtship: somewhat similar to Western-style dating except done in groups, and the couple are “officially” engaged. This is a brief transitional phase between meeting & marriage, and as I said before no physical contact is allowed. 
  • Matrimonial/ matchmaking events: honestly it’s damn near the same as speed-dating but on a bigger scale. It’s 1-on-1 but all in public with hosts present, and prospectives (at least females) have the option of bringing chaperones or not. 
  • Internet matchmaking services: there has been a huge surge in the number of such websites (Muslima, Zawaj, Single Muslim, Salaam Love, etc)
  • Forming opposite-sex friendships: girls & boys talk to each other as friends, which may spark a deep interest between a couple and lead to marriage. The initial friendship may be started at school, college, uni, work, or just out on the street. Probably not in masajid though; most mosques in London don’t allow women in (because they’re usually run by Pakistanis or Bengalis) and those that do have separate parts for women & men. Scholars don’t seem to mention this option at all, but it works in real life. 
  • Matchmaking imams: basically the same as arranged marriage but the imam takes the place of the parents. 
  • Dating, Western-style (as scholars usually understand it – all-on touching, flirting, snogging, just looking for a good time with no strings attached, even premarital sex): this is categorically forbidden. 
  • Fornication: having lovers/ mistresses/ ass on the side for the purpose of sex and nothing else, categorically forbidden. This also includes nikah mut’ah (temporary marriage), which is practised or at least espoused by Shi’a Muslims as far as I understand. 
  • Dating, done 1-on-1 but in public, with the understanding that marriage is the aim & physical contact is off-limits. This is pretty popular and despite scholars has yet to be proven forbidden. 

 

Sources:

 

http://islam.about.com/od/marriage/a/courtship.htm

http://www.ehow.com/about_4614220_dating-in-islam.html

http://www.zawaj.com/dating-in-islam-qa/

http://irfi.org/articles/articles_51_100/halal_dating.htm

 

Miley Cyrus’s twerking

This post will be relatively short, as I’d only heard of twerking about 2 days before Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance so I know very little about it. Admittedly I didn’t see the performance, only bits and pieces of it. However, judging from the pictures in the news and on the internet:

 

 

I spared myself a whole lot of visual torture. This picture sums it up perfectly for me:

 

Will Smith & his children Jaden & Willow in the audience. Check out those faces!

Some people who watched it found it disgusting (which it was) but not because it was so hypersexualised. They claimed Miley was trying to act ‘black’. Correction for those numbnuts who said that: she’s acting like a slut, a whigger girl, not ‘black’. ‘Blackness’ is a phenotype not a behavioural pattern, and she doesn’t share it.

 

And has anyone else noticed this trend female celebrities are going through? They start off their careers as “good” girls then “go bad”. Happened to Rihanna and Beyonce (when she was Sasha Fire), and probably others but as I don’t really pay attention to celebrities I can’t say which.

 

(Heads-up to Will Smith: if Willow starts with that cack you better set her straight right away!)

 

I would argue that its purpose is a perpetuation of the premature sexualisation of girls. As Miley has many young fans (much to my surprise!), she has the power to influence how they see themselves and relate to their own femaleness. This influence is inherently negative as it yet again portrays women as men’s playtoys, like the only way we can relate to women is through insensitive indiscriminate unromantic displays of simulated carnality which in real sexual intercourse would likely be very damaging to women’s bodies. Her boyfriend Liam Hemsworth (she has a boyfriend? I am educated!) was so turned off he’s considering ending the relationship.

 

Then there’s the fact that the man she was winin’ up on was Robin Thicke, Paula Patton’s husband. Disregard the sanctity of traditional relationships for the sake of a show, and the fact that he agreed to it shows he’s a slut too.

 

She’d better have put him on his last warning if she knows what’s good for her

As if that weren’t bad enough, the racism in Miley’s performance is pretty blatant. This picture:

 

 

once again reinforces the stereotype that ‘black’ women are big (therefore supposedly unattractive), and their “big ghetto asses” are the only part of their bodies worth noticing. She was actually slapping it on stage and practically sniffing it, that dirty tramp. Obviously it was that woman’s choice to let herself be used like that; she’s got no scruples and didn’t care about how it would reinforce the Jezebel stereotype. Having said that, though, the performance was Miley’s so she should take the blame.

 

So to summarise, Miley Cyrus has gone to pot – even further than she already was.

 

PS. Doesn’t she know how to keep her tongue inside her mouth? For God’s sake!!!

Does Islam recognise female prophets?

This is an intriguing concept, at least because how one answers tends to reveal a lot about what one thinks of women in general. It also shows one’s level of knowledge (or lack thereof).

 

Among Muslims nowadays it’s generally accepted that there were no female prophets, prophetesses. This position prevails among both laypersons & scholars, open-minded & closed-minded alike. There are various reasons given for this, among them being: 

  • Women inherently lack the necessary psychological endurance/ focus/ stamina necessary to carry a message to the people. They’re more emotional & therefore less logical, 
  • Muslim women in history had other roles to fulfil, ie. motherhood & wifehood. They weren’t prophets but they were mothers & wives of prophets (which is damn good status so shut up & stop moaning!!!), and their unique physiological functions of pregnancy, childbirth, menstruation, etc. make them less physically capable of doing prophetic duties, 
  • Men are corporeally stronger & therefore more suited for the labour-intensive functions of prophethood, eg. leading people, debating with dissidents, travelling to only-God-knows-where, even preparing & leading armies,  
  • Women in Islam are forbidden from certain duties that would’ve been incumbent on prophets, such as meeting people in public & in private, 
  • Most if not all human societies have historically been very antagonistic toward women, seeing them as “the weaker sex”/ sex objects/ just generally inferior to men. If Allah had allowed women to send HIS message to the people under such conditions most simply wouldn’t have taken them seriously, and maybe even sexually assaulted them to make them stop preaching, 
  • There’s no evidence from Islamic texts (Qur-ān & aḥādiyth) that there were female prophets. 

And that’s it. 

 

Except that it’s not. Most people, even most Muslims, don’t know that the existence of prophetesses in Islam has always been up for debate. There has never been a unanimous consensus, especially not among scholars. There are and have been scholars who opine that Islam does accept the existence of female prophets. Some of the points to show this include: 

  • The general spirit of Islam, as well as the Qur-ān, doesn’t exclude the possibility. Admittedly there are some aḥādiyth that do, but their authenticity is under scrutiny, and the Qur-ān does explicitly mention that some women (ie. Moses’s mother Yuhanz, Jesus’s mother Mary, Abraham’s wife Sarah, and others) received revelation from Allah and/ or communicated with angels, 
  • Maryam (Mary, daughter of Imran, mother of Jesus) is named among a list of prophets in the Qur-ān. When I find the verse I’ll add it here, 
  • In the aḥādiyth it’s mentioned that there have been 124,000 prophets (this is debatable too; some say 224,000 but Allah knows for sure). The Qur-ān only names 25 so it’s almost ridiculous to think that absolutely none of the rest were women. 

However, among those who support this position it’s argued as to exactly how many & which women were prophets. Some say just Mary, while others include Sarah, Yuhanz, Asiya (the Pharaoh’s wife) & Eve (yes, the 1st woman, Adam’s wife Eve). Others include more.

 

The entire question of who in history was and wasn’t an Islamic prophet (who aren’t mentioned in the Qur-ān), male or female, isn’t set in stone. The Qur-ān very clearly states that all nations & peoples had at least 1 prophet at some point in their history. Some even reckon other figures like Siddartha Gautama (Buddha), Krishna, Rama, Confucius and others may have been prophets. Although we can’t prove they were, at the same time we can’t prove they weren’t.

 

I have a few further points to add. These are my personal gripes & opinions: 

  • Regarding the point about women being prophets’ mothers & wives, these seem to be the first and foremost roles Muslim women are praised for and judged by. When it comes to Muslim men, though, everything about them is highly valued except for their roles as husbands & fathers. Isn’t that a double standard? Do women have to be mothers & wives to gain importance? Don’t they have intrinsic value & personalities apart from that? 
  • On the same point, how does being a mother & wife impede the ability to perform prophetic duties? Most if not all male prophets were husbands & fathers (including the last and newest example for us to follow, Muhammad) yet they still juggled that with prophethood. 
  • Yes women are emotional and men are logical. What does this prove? Men are emotional and women are logical too! It’s a very common misconception that emotion & reason/ logic are enemies*. Not only are they intimately interrelated, it can be argued that emotion is the root of logic & reason! And when it’s said women are more emotional, what emotions are being referred to – love, anger, excitement, grief, calmness, what? Can it be objectively proven that women experience any/ all of these to a greater degree than men? 

* as is the other underlying assumption: that feelings can’t be controlled therefore being more emotional means having less self-discipline.

  • Regarding the people’s reaction to a woman as a prophet, this doesn’t seem significantly different from male prophets. They typically were ridiculed, disbelieved, abused, hated, accused of being mad/ liars, etc. What would’ve made that risk acceptable for men and not for women? 
  • On the same point, if women weren’t taken seriously in history, shouldn’t their message win people over in some way or another the same way it did from men? Wouldn’t it disprove the myth of women as weaker & inferior? As for those who argue prophetesses didn’t exist, your reasoning perpetuates the myth BUT what makes it worse in your case is when you say Islam respects & honours women you simultaneously expect people to believe you! Yes the religion values women as men’s equals but you, supposed promoters of the faith, don’t! Huh? 
  • Why don’t contemporary scholars make this belief in prophetesses well-known? Back in history this opinion, while not mainstream, wasn’t taboo, hidden or denied as it is today. It used to be just accepted that some people believed it, and those who disagreed didn’t consider them apostates or blasphemers. The problem now is that many Muslims come from nations who’ve had highly misogynistic cultures in their pre-Islamic past (eg. south Asians – Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Indians; and Arabs & Middle Easterners in general), and not all of them gave that up wholesale. Worse, many of them are now in positions to influence whole swathes & nations of Muslims all over the world so their opinions get spread… and others sidelined, even extirpated. Non-belief in prophetesses is one such case. 
 

Human sexualities

 For those who don’t know, a sexuality is a state of sexual attraction. It can also be called sexual preference, sexual expression or sexual orientation. It is not the same thing as sex or gender. Sex refers to what one is biologically; male or female (plus a barely-known 3rd category called intersexual). Gender refers to roles that society, families and peers influence people to adopt (or reject), which starts happening at a very early age. Sexuality, on the other hand, refers to one’s likes/ sexual urges.

Most people in the West have been raised in a paradigm that says one’s sexuality (whatever it is) is genetically determined and therefore immutable. Despite the search for the “gay gene” or any genes that are related to sexuality, none have been found. See NARTH for further reading.

Dean Hamer, American geneticist who tried (and failed) to find

a definitive biological origin for sexuality.

Though he admitted his failure, nowadays the gay lobby claims he succeeded!

Anyway, here they are:

heterosexual: also known as straight, hetero or het. Its prefix hetero- is from Greek heteros and means other/ another. This is when one has sexual attractions for someone of the opposite sex (ie. female liking male, male liking female). This is and always has been the norm for humans; we wouldn’t have made it to 6.8billion without it!

 

homosexual: also called homo, gay* or bent. Its prefix homo- also comes from Greek, homos, and means same. This is when one has sexual attractions for someone of the same sex (ie. female liking female, male liking male). However, in common usage it tends to allude just to the male variety.

* Note: until the 1940s gay meant happy, merry, joyful. This meaning hasn’t completely died out.

 

lesbian: specifically female homosexuality. As far as I know there’s no male-only equivalent.

 

bisexual: also called bi, ambisexual and ambisextrous. This prefix is from Latin – bini which means double or twice, while ambi- (Latin) means both. This refers to when one has sexual attractions for both sexes, and is often seen as a kind of crossroad/ state of confusion between gay & straight.

 

transsexual: more of a sexual/gender identity than a sexuality. Also called tranny, transie, transgender, MTF (male-to-female), FTM (female-to-male), transman (FTM) and transwoman (MTF). The prefix trans is Latin and means across, beyond or through. This means someone who either has been surgically altered to have the features of the opposite sex or wants to be, often because of a belief of having been “born in the wrong body”.

Note that surgery only affects physical appearance, it can’t affect one’s sex (because sex is genetically fixed) and doesn’t necessarily affect sexuality. MTFs can like either women or men (or both), as can FTMs.

 

(Note: intersexual is not synonymous with transsexual. An intersexual is someone whose natural phenotype [physical features] can’t be pinpointed as specifically male or female. This can be because of intrauterine [in the womb] hormonal imbalances or unusual chromosome combinations that cause genetic females to exhibit male gentials – or vice versa. This is to do with biology and therefore doesn’t affect sexual attraction. Also be aware that intersexuals are not the same thing as hermaphrodites, though they used to be. Hermaphrodites are organisms [most likely not humans] whose genitals work just like those of males and females. This is completely normal in many invertebrates)

 

pansexual: means someone whose sexual attractions aren’t limited to any biological sex or gender identity (ie. includes intersexuals, transsexuals and everyone else). This means they’re more inclusive than even bisexuals. The prefix pan- is Greek and means all or every (as does the Latin omnis). Synonyms include gender-blind and omnisexual.

 

LGBT: an acronym for lesbian, gay, bi and transsexuals. It’s effectively a catch-all term to mean pretty much anyone who’s not straight.

 

Here are some sexualities that are usually ignored or not known about:

 

asexual: someone who has no sexual desires. This is not the same as being celibate or virgin. Celibacy is when someone chooses to abstain from sex for whatever reason, but this doesn’t mean they stop feeling sexual desires. A virgin is someone who’s never had sex (yet).

 

demisexual: a person who only gains sexual attraction to someone they have strong emotional attachments with. Part of the grey-A, which describes a range of states between sexual & asexual. Sounds like the perfect romantic, but in practice it doesn’t quite work like that because sexuals often inititially see them as ‘just friends’ and thus may not see them as potential partners.

 

antisexual: a person who believes sexual activity or sexuality is wrong. This is pretty much the same as celibacy. Such people may still have sexual impulses but just ignore them. Funnily enough, it is possible for antisexuals to form romantic relationships – they just don’t include sex.

 

Alfred Kinsey himself.

Look how he’s eyeing up that woman!

Remember in About me when I called myself Kinsey 0 heterosexual? This refers to the Kinsey scale (aka. heterosexual-homosexual rating scale), a method of assessing one’s sexuality named after Alfred Charles Kinsey. This scale goes from 0 to 6 (plus an 8th category called X):

 

0 = completely straight

1 = predominantly straight

2 = somewhat more straight than gay

3 = slap-bang in the middle, ideal bisexual

4 = somewhat more gay than straight

5 = predominantly gay

6 = completely gay

X = asexual

 

As you’ve seen, there are many more sexual preferences and identities than are accounted for on this scale. Mind you, this is only 1 of over 200 sexuality rating scales. See Wikipedia for more info.

 

So there you have it, sexualities. Note that due to its behavioural/ psychological nature sexuality is unfixed and can be changed, though often with considerable effort. In fact, NARTH specialises in helping gays become straight if they so choose, and advocates recognition of the mutability of sexuality (which the American gay lobby wishes to deny). To some this sounds ludicrous, or even homophobic, but it’s a truth that’s being very actively suppressed.