Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sex & Religion

I thought it was only fitting after the last post featuring The Hijabist, that I share with you what my interviewees had to say about sex & religion. Obviously, this is a very polarizing issue, people feel very passionately both for and against religion. It is one of those things, it will always be....

I was thrilled to see the discussion the last post generated. And thats really the healthiest part about this exercise, talking about it - airing out concerns and issues.... learning to tolerate views that are the opposite of ours. So once again, I'd love to hear your views :) 

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Ayesha, Female, 28
 Textual religion I can’t say anything about, but in practised reformist Islam in urban upper class Pakistan demonized sex to such an extent to children and teens that when the time comes to actually have sex, even after marriage, people have already developed an internalized horror of things sensual and sexual. In the Islam my family practices, sex is to be used only to tie one’s spouse to one’s side and in order to procreate.

Layla, Female, 19
It plays a very significant role, and is seen as both good and bad, depending on the situation ( eg.  Premarital supposed to = bad). But a mother giving birth to her child = beautiful. It heightens the power of God as it is like a miracle.

Ambreen, Female, 28
i think in each religion they mention it (as far as my knowledge is concerned) i think sex is very important.... i remember reading somewhere foreplay was mentioned in a hadith... infact there are certain schools of thought that say a wife can ask for divorce if she's not sexually satisfied....

Mariam, Female, 26
Oh god… (groans) I don’t think that sex plays any role in religion…I think religion plays a big role in people's sex lives. In religious guidelines…. Sex is something….functional….especially our religion…Islam…so its really sidelined…. Religious people cannot have any notions about sex….simply because they’re not permitted by religion to have such notions about sex…apart from its very functional …and reasonably enjoyable nature….but reasonably enjoyable for the more emancipated religious people. For the less emanciapated it’s simply functional…that’s why it has a huge bearing on people's sex lives….if u take that (functionality) out of the equation …people would be much happier with their sex life.

Fatima, Female, 25
Sex plays one major role in religion – PROCREATION. But you know, different religions different thoughts…it doesn’t have to be nasty like people make it in our culture.

Our religion encourages you if you want a divorce. I think that way this religion (Islam) is a lot more accepting, I mean fine – it may be a bit male-oriented, but then… all religions are. But yeah – it allows you four wives; you can be ‘doing four different people legally’…

 Also, religion came down pre-contraceptives…pre-birth control, pre-safe sex…so when they tell you not to be sodomizing each other it makes sense. But – that was a time when we couldn't have these plastic things that do wonders. If you take sodomy in the old sense… then yeah… that would mean oral sex too – but you see religion came down when everyone was promiscuous, it didn't come down when everyone was behaving themselves. People started behaving because religion came. So at times like that I’m sure everyone was pretty skanky… so would you want to put your mouth to that skank?

The funny part is that the religious extremist center of Pakistan –  is the first part of Pakistan (up in the north) where we had our first gay marriage earlier on…and then of course they blamed the earthquake on it saying it’s a sign of “Qayamat” …well there are gay marriages all over the world and there are no earthquakes as a result of them. Yeah we still have a lot of education that lacks but its funny how they can be so accepting of the fact that yeah we like it this way…and we can get married… however you come into city centers and urban areas its like we’ve gone back in time – where we’ve caught up with the west everywhere else – this is something that’s still very taboo. It’s what the 80’s was in England for gays is what Pakistan  currently is; very, very closed minded. Yes – a lot of families do disown their children. Yes – a lot of kids have been beaten the shit out of. My own uncle married a gay woman (and this is in the early 80’s) so she could get her inheritance.

We don’t believe in ourselves because that’s what our society teaches us – is not to believe in ourselves even sexually. Sexuality is very personal and because you’re told not to have personal beliefs you end up very dead in today’s world. FUCK people – open your minds… start living! 

Sumeira, Female, 25
I don’t think you should put sex and religion together – they are two different things. I don’t think you should combine them – They are two very different things.

Zobia, Female, 22
Many established, institutionalised religions such as Christianity and Islam try to restrict sexual activity to reproduction, if anything at all.  Other religions like Hinduism embrace sex, whereas Buddhism promotes abstinence and monks aren’t meant to make any physical contact with women whatsoever.  Leading religions however, (i.e. Islam, Christianity) encourage a minimal interest in sex…mostly implying that it is an impious or unclean act…totally ruling out any spiritual qualities that can be attributed to sex.

Saira, Female, 22

 I actually think sex plays a big role in religion in general. I think its misinterpreted that its not allowed or its taboo....its impossible to have a healthy marriage without it so it promotes it in a way. Actually i tihnk in islam u are allowed to have a divorce from ur husband if he's not sexually pleasing u. 

Rabia Female, 23
Sex is an integral part of marriage, and marriage of my religion. Thus it is an important one.  There are numerous mentions of intimacy in the Quran and Hadith (which I can provide if you would like) which indicate their significance.

Farah, Female, 29
Most if not all religions place a number of restrictions on sex. I think in Islam, there are some positive discussions and some negative. The restriction on sex before marriage is understandeable and workable only if people marry very young, and therefore perhaps these parts of the scripture should be reinterpreted to reflect modern times.

Sam, Female, 28 and religion haha. well i should say that to my knowledge, Islam does pay importance to sex, (in marriage of course). Apparently you get 'sawab' for having sex with your partner. And islam certainly is accommodating towards it. I know they say four wives concept was not just to satisfy men’s needs but also to provide women support etc, but c' many men do we know who'd have the urge to marry 3 more times for charitable purposes ONLY? you take the sex out and i wouldn't expect many muslim men will indulge in polygamy much! 

Plus the enticing offer of virgins in heaven (for men) again seems like gods willing to bribe the men with sexual favours! (no offense).

BUT Islam also expects you to bathe everytime you have sex, because you need to pray five times and sex makes you 'unclean', plus you can't have sex during a roza. That, my five-time-praying-friends tell me, isn't most conducive towards their sex lives.

Regardless of how people may choose to defend their religions, I think it has played an extremely negative role by repressing sexuality in society! And i'm talking about what the holy books (mostly abrahamic religions) say, I am not talking about modern practices (which aren’t always an accurate depiction of the religion)

It is after all religion that condemns sex outside marriage, it requires women to cover up, it tries to de-sexualize women, it prohibits contraception etc

The woman most revered in Christianity is the 'Vigrin Mary'. Its like the idea of her having sex was so damaging to her piety and purity, they told everyone, she managed to conceive a baby without intercourse!!

The general message that religion seems to send, specially for women, is that the less sex you have, the less sexual you are, the more pure and holy you are! 

Maliha, Female, 21
Sex in religion…Its become quite a controversy, I think, and there are a lot of misconceptions with regard to sex.  So much of the idea of original sin has seeped into our culture, along with its guilt with regard to sex, and the idea that it’s disgusting or shameful. We forget that there are whole verses devoted to sex in the Quran and that several hadith have detailed how to please your partner.  I think Islam in particular is quite practical about sex – it doesn’t make a fuss about it, but it doesn’t ignore it entirely either.  It recognizes sex as an important part of life, and as with other important areas of life, it gives us advice on how to go about it in a civilized manner.  It’s only us that have created such a wall of mystery and shame around the topic.  Silly of us, really.

Mahreen, Female, 26
I think some religions see sex as a means to oppress women, to “keep them in their place”. A lot of the double standards I see are promoted by religious figures. But that’s my view.

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Ah, thats a healthy and diverse set of opinions... 

What the men say, next time :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Yes, a married Muslim woman is entitled to orgasms

Its quite apparent that the types of Pakistanis and Muslims that are represented on my blog are not of the average kind. Your typical garden variety of Muslim/Desi/Pakistani will usually have more conservative views. But alas, the more conservative kind do not often willingly speak about sex. And they most definitely do not read the filth that is posted on this blog. But I do think it's important that voice from the other end of the spectrum be heard... Recently I began communicating with a wonderful and fairly open minded hijabi, she goes by the name 'The Hijabist'. It goes without saying, that she was shocked and horrified with most of the things she saw on the blog, and couldn't really delve into much of the writing due to her unmarried status. We began chatting about how it really bothers her that all these muslims are trying so hard to be westernized and so freaking liberal, that the true muslim voice doesn't come through on Nice Mangos. And I wholeheartedly agree...I have been searching for someone to speak up from the more religious side for ages. But all i find are these gosh darn liberal hippie types... live and let live....everything is ok and everything is acceptable. Enough of that already....i have that stuff going on in my head all day anyway. I want to hear about scripture, I want to hear about whats 'allowed' and 'not allowed' and why its not allowed.... I want to hear the opposite side of the argument.

I asked her to write up a little something, and she was kind enough to oblige... so here it is folks... time for something different... here is a guest post by 'The Hijabist':

 I am not an Islamic scholar. Nor do I have any sexual experience whatsoever. Now that we have the two most important things out of the way, what makes my point of view important on this blog? This is my humble effort to represent the other desi perspective. As a Muslim, I believe in refraining from sex till after marriage. Over the past year or so, I have come across many people who are shockingly ignorant about sex in Islam. “You guys have to do it with the lights switched off” “The woman cannot say no” “Only the missionary position is allowed” 

Some testimonials I have read on this blog blame their religion for the lack of their sexual liberty. If  you're willing to have sex before marriage because everyone is “allowed” to do so and that you have been unfairly refrained from it because your religion is a restriction on your liberty, then power to you. From my perspective, it is a restriction on my liberty if I am being forced by the media into believing that I must be able to have sex with whoever I want, whenever I want. If this is liberty, then it is most definitely not my version of liberty. 

That being said, I do not force anyone to agree with me pushing down their throats my idea of sexual liberty. What does Islam have to say about sex and sexual practices? What is haram (not permissible) and what is halal (permissible)? Let me start with the beginning of mankind. Christianity believes that Eve was a temptress who lured Adam into committing a sin. According to this theory, woman is the source of all evil. Here is where Islam steps in and puts an end to this gender bias. Adam and Eve are to be equally blamed. They said, "Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers." (7:23). They both asked for forgiveness and they both were forgiven. Without getting into the nitty gritty, this serves as proof that man and woman are equal in Islam. Their rewards and punishments are equal. No gender has the upper hand over the other in terms of sexuality either. 

 Sex in islam is not just for attaining carnal pleasure. It involves the psychological, physical as well as emotional involvement between a husband and wife. Sex is a sadaqa for spouses. Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said: "In the sexual act of each of you there is a sadaqa." The Companions replied: "O Messenger of Allah! When one of us fulfils his sexual desire, will he be given a reward for that?" And he said, "Do you not think that were he to act upon it unlawfully, he would be sinning? Likewise, if he acts upon it lawfully he will be rewarded." (Muslim). Sex in Islam is rewarded! Surely anything that is rewarded is beautiful, no? Sexual pleasure for a woman is a must as it is for a man. One of the reasons for committing adultery (a sin in Islam) is the lack of sexual pleasure from spouse. In order to prevent this, it is very important for the man to be aware of his wife’s sexual needs and the same applies to the woman. This means foreplay, foreplay and foreplay. Imam al-Daylami (Allah have mercy on him) records a narration on the authority of Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) is reported to have said: “One of you should not fulfill one’s (sexual) need from one’s wife like an animal, rather there should be between them foreplay of kissing and words.” (Musnad al-Firdaws Of al-Daylami, 2/55). 

Another hadith to strengthen this further; Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (Allah have mercy on him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) forbade from engaging in sexual intercourse before foreplay. (Al-Tibb al-Nabawi, 183, from Jabir ibn Abd Allah). 

Moving on to sexual positions that are permissible or not, this verse: Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish and put forth [righteousness] for yourselves. And fear Allah and know that you will meet Him. And give good tidings to the believers. (2:223) explains that all sorts of positions are allowed as long as they are not anal. Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah will not look at a man who has intercourse with his wife in her anus.”

(Narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah, 3/529; narrated and classed as saheeh by al-Tirmidhi, 1165). It was reported from Khuzaymah ibn Thaabit (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah is not too shy to tell you the truth: do not have intercourse with your wives in the anus.” (Narrated by Imaam Ahmad, 5/213; a hasan hadeeth). There it is. The can do’s and the shouldn’t do’s from Islam. This of course is a sex in islam quickie review.

(lol, i assume the pun wasn't intended ;), sorry for the interruption, do continue)

For further knowledge and in depth analysis I do suggest you all to indulge into the Qur’an and Hadith. Does this mean sex should be boring? Absolutely not! Does this mean woman is sexually inferior to men? Not in the least bit. Man and woman are equally entitled to complete sexual pleasure as long as they keep it halal. By that I mean sex in a legal marital relationship, between a husband and a woman. If this seems very restricting to some of you, there is no compulsion in religion. You cannot pick and choose what you like about a religion. In my opinion, that is lame. Religion is a way of life that should encompass all stratas of your social, political, economic and sexual lives. This being said, there is much reward in giving your spouse sexual pleasure. Man or woman. Keep it halal ;)

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 Well there ya have it people :) I shall keep my thoughts to myself for now... but would love to hear yours!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"There was no penetration, just foreplay, that’s all..."

Arsalan, 20, Male

At what age (approximately) and how did you come to know about sexual intercourse?
I do not remember the precise age, I think it came to me all of a sudden, nor do I remember my precise thoughts. All I remember is, I started masturbating some time in 8th grade.

Is Pakistan sexually repressed as a nation?
Yes, Pakistan is seriously repressed as a nation. I remember, in my 8th grade, when buying my course books, I bought the second-hand edition of my science book. It contained a chapter on human reproduction. Needless to say, I was fascinated, and showed it to my classmates. (They had the new edition of the book, which did not have those chapters. Someone must have told the teacher, because our teacher summoned me to the classroom, and personally tore the pages out of my book, murmuring “You are too young for this,blah blah blah…”.

I studied my sister’s biology books too, and the photos showing childbirth had a white paper pasted on them. Even now, as I reply to your interview in out university’s computer lab, I have to minimize the word window again and again, just in case anyone notices and I am branded a perv for life :p

Have you ever had/Do you enjoy having sex?
The closest I came to having sex was a homosexual one, in my O levels I believe (I am strictly heterosexual, plz, not gay :p). There was no penetration, just foreplay, that’s all.

On premarital sex:
No, I have never engaged in pre-marital sex, but I am completely ok with it, as long as the people engaging in it are sincerely committed to each other (no one-night stands for me).  But a  friend of mine said “Jo chappal aap kai pair mai fit agaya, phir who har paoun mein fit ajaey ga” (If a shoe fits your foot, it would fit every foot) :p

Have you had more than one sexual partner in life?

On Arranged Marriage:
I am unmarried, I don’t believe the mode of marriage would affect sexuality, but maybe I am not too mature to answer the question yet. I was committed to a girl once, and I couldn’t entertain the notion of having sex with anyone else

On Sex & Equality:
I have read your blogs, and noticed many women complaining they don’t get orgasms. As I have not engaged in the experience yet, so the question ejaculates. A couple of years back, I read “11 minutes” by Paulo Coelho, about a woman who does not orgasm, and the question of how to make a woman orgasm, has always mystified and intrigued me. But a friend of mine has the opinion, formulated on some hadith he quote, that the intensity of a female orgasm is 70 times compared to a man(being an agnostic, I have trouble believing this). For men, pleasure is easy, whether masturbating or having sex, that’s why we ejaculate. But I do want my wife/gf, to enjoy the act as I would do, in equal (if not more) measure.

What do you think nature and the physical differences between men and women have to do with gender roles in society?
Yeah of course. You ever seen a woman on a construction site, labouring?

Have you ever experienced a multiple orgasm?

Have you ever found or had your g-spot found?
No. LOL.

Do you know anyone who has sex but has not yet experienced an orgasm? What are your thoughts on that?

I don’t know

Do you think about sex every day?
Yeah. 10-11 times a day I suppose.

Do you think sex plays a major role in your life?
Well, I think so. I got committed to a girl at my university, she ditched me later L.I don’t know, whether it is lust, or love, but my heart plummets and my stomach flutters whenever I see her, and I do stupid things (apologising, pleading, etc), so I think my life is affected by sex that way/

On Masturbation:
It is good, helps you release pent-up feelings. It also helps me with my break-up (or so, I would like to think)

Would you morally, ethically or in any way, have a problem with marrying someone who had had sex with someone before you?
As long as I love the girl I am marrying, I don’t think it matters

On Pornography:
I have watched, and masturbated to porn, but some videos on the Internet are frankly disgusting (childs porno, 70 year old women, etc)

To what extent, in comparison with the rest of the world, do you think people practice bestiality (sex with animals) in this country?
Never seen or heard about bestiality in Pakistan, although, with this country gaining notoriety in everything, I think we will get some news. Keep tuned in to GeoNews 

What are your thoughts on homosexuality?
Though  they disgust me, I am ok with it, as long as they keep themselves to themselves.I have heard about gay rapes in Pakistan, and it disturbs me. If God had wanted us to be gays, he would have created Adam and Bruce, not Adam and Eve.

Do you think education is important, when it comes to something like sexuality?

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In the beginning of this interview, Arsalan claims that the closest he came to having sex was a homosexual experience, and yet when asked his thoughts on homosexuality he plainly states that it disgusts him. But then, continues to say that despite that he is 'ok' with it.

If i'm left feeling more than a little confused, I can only imagine the confusion in Arsalan's young 20 year old mind.  And I just want to say to him that these mixed feelings are not uncommon. Plenty of young men in segregated societies like Pakistan have homosexual experiences as their first. All over the world, young men, young people in fact, are horny. Really, really horny... this is perfectly natural and nothing to feel guilty about.

What happens in places like Pakistan is, that there is little to no access to the opposite sex. Homosexual experiences are just a vehicle for release. All that pent up sexuality, it's bound to boil over somehow. It's kind of like prison, where men only have access to other men. Eventually a lot of them give in to their desires and welcome any kind of sex...even if its from a same sex partner.

This doesn't necessarily make anyone gay. Just... umm......'resourceful' i suppose. What I find difficult to understand is the 'disgust' he feels towards homosexuality despite having had a homosexual experience himself. You'd think that he would be able to relate to same-sex attraction in some way at least.

Could it be that because like he says, there was no penetration involved; he feels it wasn't truly a gay experience? Or is it because there is a lurking fear that due to this experience he could be considered gay? Put simply, I just want to know how you can do gay things and hate gay people for doing them?

Well whatever the case is, i'm sure its not easy to deal with such internal conflict.  For your sake Arsalan, I would just like to point out that having a 'gay' experience doesn't make you 'gay'. I'm pretty sure you know that, since you were so quick to say so yourself. But y'know incase you were wondering.. :)

A lot of kids experiment with sexuality, in both the West and the East. The context is different though, obviously.

I do thank you so much for your time and your honesty Arsalan, it takes balls to admit to having such an experience, especially if you have a problem with homosexuality. I hope that you will reconsider your disgust, because as you yourself experienced .... sexual attraction is not something you can control.

 I sincerely hope that you have made peace with your experience, and that it doesn't continue to bother you. If it does, please feel free to contact me (nicemangosDOTblogATgmailDOTcom) and we can talk some more about it. :)

Once again, I'll sign off by saying that Sex Ed. is incredibly important, so that our young people can understand themselves, their desires, and act safely on those desires...

and so they can learn to be more tolerant and accepting of difference...


(such adorable dolls eh? they should make brown versions of em and ship em to Pakistan!)

Do you think education is important, when it comes to something like sexuality?

 Fahad, Male, 24
Its obviously very important, because at no point do desi parents have the 'birds & the bees' talk w/their children. This leads to misconceptions about sex and promotes many negative aspects of our society. It leads to rampant sexual experimentation with masi's, drivers, cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles. Sex ed. is also needed to promote contraception as an important part of life. Whether you're married or not.

Sultan, Male, 19
Yea, I think a person should be educated – but then again, one person’s theories do not have to make sense to another person. I think a person should form their own opinions before looking at other people’s opinions and theories. If we are talking about facts then, yes. But if someone’s theories don’t make sense to you - then it’s not like you should be expected to conform. You should be aware of what’s out there, of course. If you truly believe in the philosophy of having sex with just one person, then you should really educate yourself – it’s just another way of exploring yourself.

As far as the poorer people in this country go, i'm not sure if 'sex education' would be beneficial since they wouldn’t even be open to it. There are a lot of religious and cultural differences that act as a barrier for this knowledge to be passed onto them. I don’t think they would be very receptive at all if you were to give them such information. They would basically be very judgmental and would consider it a sin almost to be open about their sexuality. I think general education plays a big role; if we manage to educate the masses then we could get any kind of information across to them. But generally it is important to be aware and educated about sexuality.

Khizer, Male, 26
I wouldn’t take a class for it. I think every single person knows what they are and what they want. 
(After thinking about it his views change) 
Actually, I think that would help everything, it would help the poverty line, it would help the economy, that would help a lot of things… that’s how poverty starts…

Imad, Male, 25
It’s very important because - it all boils down to man restricting himself to give himself more things to do daily, that’s what we do as a species. But don’t contradict nature – there are certain things that are just happening – they are part of the living process, we should know about them and you know … not tamper with nature.

Qasim, Male, 26
Yes...again, its one of those things that like anything else ... u need to experience whats out there.. I'm  not saying u should go cheat on ur spouses.... but one should at least know about what else is out there.... im quite open minded when it comes to a lot of things... i was a very big fan of queer as folk.... it was almost a porn show... but its good to know whats out there... what gets other people off.... for the sake of spicing things up... if ur reaching a rut in a relationship..

Ali, Male, 29
yes...because one should know what sex is ... if one knows... then he can enjoy more...

NJ, 42, Male
Yes it is. I think its different if you ask some1 to suck lick then she/he initiate him/herself.
(as always NJ's comment is irrelevant, but hillarious)

Bilal, 24, Male
Definitely - it would make coming out for me so much easier. Most of the the Pakistani community are stuck with images of old stereotypes when it comes to sexuality - the effeminate gay man, the butch lesbians, the in-denial bisexuals - and even though these stereotype are alive an well in the global gay community, that's not the all there is! I use to deny being gay for the  same reason - i couldn't be gay - i wasn't effeminate in the least bit, so i how could i be gay?

S.K.A., 28, Male
Of course! But doing it in a desi way is not only impossible, it will raise a lot of ire from a lot of people. Judging by how clueless our population is, I think it would not be a bad idea to start it at the University level.