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Introduction To Islamic Relationships, Modesty & Love. 'Like A Garment'

"May Allah have mercy on the Ansaar, their shyness did not prevent them from learning the religion." The women of Madina did not restrict themselves from asking the Prophet ﷺ questions about intimacy.
~ 'Aisha's hadith رضي الله عنها (may Allah be pleased with her).
sex in islam
These are key notes from session 1 of the 'Like A Garment' course with shaykh Yasir Qadhi (AlMaghrib tutor, Muslim Matters writer, practical imam). The purpose of these is to educate Muslim women and men on the Islamic, and therefore, correct stance on sexuality, modesty and Muslim expressions of love as inspired by Allah subhanahu wa ta`la. While we find there are no 'right and wrong' cultural practices in the love department, Islam has clear guidelines and rules (fiqh) of halal intimacy, that is, the acts of love that occur within a Muslim marriage.

This course was aimed at newly weds, mature folk, married couples and those stupidly in love (!) You know what's it like, you can't eat, you're constantly excited, you think about "that" person more than normal, life is in ultra colour and amplified, and then sh. Yasir Qadhi comes along and shakes you out of it..! No he doesn't really, he encourages it (rational love) but explains the Shari`ah perspective of how Muslims should prepare themselves for a realistic marriage - not one based on chick flicks, and understand how their husband/wife THINKS to improve the relationship - instead of throwing around macho-feminist-vibes.

Due to the nature of the material I will only share simple rules and maxims. The information from outside of the Shari`ah is not set in stone nor applicable to every person and every marriage; it is generic and general `ilm (knowledge) for everyone, without exceptions. For this reason I kindly ask for etiquette should you wish to comment or rebut statements; these are not my ideas or thoughts, rulings or pieces of advice. Also, Yasir Qadhi did the wisest thing by including varying scholarly opinions, perspectives from the main schools of thought (madhabs) and their evidences, biological education, contextual events from the Prophet Muhammad's ﷺ noble era and contemporary reports for further reading.

Right, I've heaps of notes, let's get crackin'. Note: a PDF e-book of the series with brief notes and FAQs is available for download which I'll link love later.

Bismillahi'Rahmani'Raheem. In the name of God, entirely Compassionate, especially Merciful.

Qur'an and intimacy

The Qur'an often references to sexuality, at least 24 times, therefore Allah does not shy away from intimacy. Allah uses very poetic terminology, it's lofty: never vulgar and never crude, never defeating but frank. One clear reference to intimacy is where Allah says,

'It is He who created you from one soul and created from it its mate that he might dwell in security with her. And when he covers her, she carries a light burden and continues therein. And when it becomes heavy, they both invoke Allah , their Lord, "If You should give us a good [child], we will surely be among the grateful".' (Qur'an, 7:189

This wife and husband are religious, believers. A verb is used "gash-shaha" meaning "he enveloped/ covers her" which describes the act itself. This couple make a du`a to Allah for children at the peak of intimacy, and this pushes shaytaan away. The reminder to us is that many Muslims ignore Allah after having children and so shaytaan reenters their marriage and intimate life. Therefore keep making du`a! 

The 'Like a garment' phrase comes from surah Baqarah. Shaykh Qadiri notes: "This verse is a direct reference to the act where a man/woman take off their clothes". Therefore a Muslim husband and wife are the only garment for one another as there is a nakedness that normally would need covering. Only in a lawful Muslim marriage is this exposure natural (legal) and thus, "clothed" by the other partner. 

The Hadith of Jaabir (ra) 

Jaabir (ra) married an older woman to which the Prophet ﷺ said:
“Why did you not marry a younger woman, your age - to make each other laugh, to play with each other!” (paraphrased, authentic hadith).
These are blatant reference to sexuality. The Prophet ﷺ encouraged a healthy, 'romantic' relationship for Muslims and as Jaabir (ra) was a young man, he ﷺ also said to "enjoy one another". This alludes to what in modern jargon we'd call flirtations and foreplay. 

Abu Dawud (ra) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said “When one of you engages in intimacy, and he wants to repeat the act - the least he can do is perform wudhu.” Why? "Fa inna hu al shattau arth" -- It's more energetic to (make wudhu and) come back". This isn't a religious wudhu required for worship, salah or Qur'an. This is primarily for physical energy. Advice to men: to gain arousal again make WUDHU.

A note from Yasir Qadhi
It is a role of imams to educate young Muslims on these things.

The media does not have the same morals as Muslims. This area of study should be our domain, the fuqaha should educate us, not Hollywood, just like the Prophet ﷺ taught his companions. Sexuality is so prevalent that couples cannot seek personal advice from the older generation. "Younger" scholars who are born and raised in our cultures need to give us this education before we learn it incorrectly from X Y Z.

TV (and the Internet) is the WORST place to learn about sexuality. It entertains, not educate. Think about it: if Islam is never portrayed as we actually live it, why should we believe anything else?

So the big question is, "how can you be teaching this, dude?" Qadhi says: Yes! We should and more should be. This is a part of our religion. All the artificial images pumped into our minds of supermodel women (men’s criterion), and superhuman men (women's criterion), to be "good" in bed etc., has created a huge problem through unrealistic expectations. These views destroy Muslim marriages.

Our aim insha'Allah is to cover two areas: (1) Actual intimacy and (2) Differences between men and women. [emotionally, physically, physiologically].

What's love got to do with it?

Islamically, love and physical relationships only lawfully exist within Muslim marriage, bound by niqah (my joke, sorry). In marriage, both love and sex are combined - not outside, ever. Mainstream culture says to "sleep around, love her, don’t love him, wake up the next morning and even forget her/his name!" That's their culture, not Islam's.

In surah Rum (30:21) Allah "Placed love and mercy" amongst partners. Allah says He is the source of this love, allowing tenderness to exist between two people. Husbands and wives love each other more than any other person, yet, you never knew your wife/husband for so many years before that. Where does this strong bond of love come from? From ALLAH. "Wa ja ala bayna kum". It's all Allah's miraculous creation. A Sign! Alhamdulillah.

Love is Organic (feed it or watch it decompose) 

There are different types of loves, appearing in different forms. We learn this from our parents, other marriages, we have compassion for children, our friends. Love is not a static thing, it's organic. Organic? This means love GROWS and it changes over time. The biggest myth is that love will remain in one shape. It won't. And we need to start accepting this.

Modern research shows that feelings of love during the early courting stages are at a peak - you feel the butterflies! An initial crush can lead to texting, flirting, spying on the guy or girl (you know who you are). This "puppy" love in marriage, also known as the 'honeymoon period' is not going to stay, you will go through it, but that is only one phase. Spouses who are not ready to change, and develop, and alter their love think it's gone or that their spouse isn't reciprocating.

Real love is like an innocent seed becoming a wiser tree.

Thus, be better prepared to deal with changes.

WARNING: There are no 'happily ever afters'. People are only interested in the beginning, blossoming and exciting stuff of relationships, which is fine, but eventually the Disney movie has to end.

As an Ummah we can't blame young Muslims for believing that this never-changing type of love is all there is: that's what they're shown. So don't put your expectations to those levels. Readjust your concept of love. Understand that your marriage is not collapsing because you and your partner have different views, it's doing what it's supposed to do: CHANGE.

Love's symptoms and its effects constantly change. Love is organic. Remember that.

The Series
Part 1 | Introduction
Part 2 | What Muslim Women Look For In A Husband
Part 3 | What Muslim Men Look For In A Wife

Part 4 | 5 Languages Of Love In Muslim Marriage

Once you know what the opposite gender requires by Allah's design, it's easier to understand our differences. Men will think we women are illogical, and often, women will think men are one-track minded (if you catch my drift). This truth hurts but forget judging the other, just understand them. 'The man is NOT like the woman'. Nothing between us is 100% the same. Go figure.

© 2011 Like A Garment.
Please credit link appropriately when sharing (Source: www.zaufishan.co.uk © Like A Garment)


  1. Ma'sha'allah, very tastefully, maturally written and explained. Very useful for those of us who couldn't attend the seminars. Indeed, as you mentioned, this aspect of our lives is an important one that our Imams address within their young communities, as there are so many things that could pull the youth away from dealing with this in the appropriate Islamic way, as given to us in the Qur'an and Sunnah, which is much more beautiful and dignified than what we see being done in society in a general sense. Jazak'Allahu Khairan as always.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Zaufishan. It's an important topic worth discussing.

  3. Mohamed shakeeb19/07/2011, 10:22

    Great Post .In surah Rum (30:41)  should be 30:21

  4. @Mohamed, I hope Allah rewards you for the correction (30:21) - consider it amended. Appreciating your readership, with respect. Salam.

  5. That's actually my favorite second ayah after 9:71. Don't know why I didn't see that when I read it initially. Indeed, May Allah (swt) Reward Br. Mohamed for making that correction. Ameen.

  6. Really enjoyed reading this article. It's about time somebody tackled these issues and bought them to the fore. Thanks. :)

  7. Ma sha Allah, now that you've read it, share it man! (:


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