Islam and sexuality

Why is sexual harassment of women common in Muslim countries? IQ and development, not religion

What I have noticed is that in Muslim countries in which there are more modest woman I get more catcalls, harassment, men following me, staring at my body parts etc. I'm not saying I'm for zina, but it feels unfair that they take out their sexual frustration on us. Maybe you're not able to relate to this, but every day I feel dirty. Even covered. Imagine people saying filthy stuff about your private parts, touching your etc. In countries where sex is more normal I haven't encountered this

Sorry to read that, and I hope it gets better for you. I am actually very familiar with this problem, having spent my teenage years in a large Middle Eastern city (Sulaimaniyyah, Iraq).

This appears to be a matter of intelligence and culture and not religion or sexual frustration. In the United States, catcalls and harassment are common in ghettos and trailer parks, where the lower class lives, even though they have as much sex as anyone else and probably more than the middle class.

Lower class people often think catcalls and harassment are fine, this has been my experience with the lower class whether in Iraq or in the United States. By “lower class” I do not mean poor, I mean those who are unintelligent, rude and uneducated and proud of the way they are. They are generally poor and live ghettos and slums, but their being lower class is not due to their poverty, it is due to low IQ and a lack of devotion to any belief system.

In a country like the US the lower class is very well separated from the middle class. The middle class live in certain neighborhoods, the lower class live miles away in a different part of town. In this way the two classes rarely run into each other. The middle class can go shopping, get their errands done, go to work, do everything they want and go home without having to run into the lower class, in this way they can avoid the bad manners of the lower class.

In the Middle East, the classes are not very well separated in general. There are market districts where everyone goes, so that the classes constantly run into each other, and this is why it is hard for someone like you to avoid the type of man you are referring to. As these countries develop, the separation of the middle class and the lower class should increase, and with it the ability to avoid lower class men.

If you want to know whether the problem is Islam or something else, compare the country you are in with a non-Muslim country that has similar average intelligence (IQ) and similar levels of development. Egypt has an average IQ of about 83, similar to the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. I doubt women will fair much better in these two countries compared to Egypt when it comes to harassment.

The people in Egypt (and in the USA) who harass and catcall are not doctors and engineers, they are uneducated. And if you look at the middle class of the USA or Egypt, they are both equally good-mannered in general. I went to one of the top schools of my country in Iraq for high school, where boys and girls were mixed. Since everyone was middle class or upper class, everyone was perfectly good-mannered, not because we had Western-style sexual freedom (we did not), but because we all came from an intelligent and good-mannered section of society.

Instead of Islam being a cause for sexual harassment, it might be acting as a great limiter on it. If these societies abandoned Islam, the problem might get much worse. In the non-Muslim African country of Botswana (70% Christian), in 2010, 92 out of 100,000 women had been raped. In the Muslim African country of Senegal, that rate was 5.6 out of 100,000 women in 2010, 16 times lower. These two countries are not exactly comparable, due to different IQs and levels of development, but this should give people, especially Christian Westerners, pause when they try to blame Islam for the Middle East’s problems. A woman in non-Muslim Botswana is 16 times more likely to get raped than in Muslim Senegal, so it logically follows that Islam might possibly be having a beneficial effect in reducing rape.

I have never met a devout Muslim male who thinks it is acceptable to harass women. One could in fact say that the problem of these Muslim countries is that they have large non-Muslim underclasses, people who are Muslim by name but do not follow it in any manner in their lives (except when it comes to arranging weddings and funerals). A devout Muslim, no matter how sexually frustrated, would never catcall a woman, because they have sufficient self-respect and empathy to know that it is against good manners and civility to do that.

If a practicing Muslim is 100 times less likely to harass women compared to a non-practicing Muslim who knows nearly nothing about Islam and does not follow it, it is only logical to conclude that practicing Islam helps reduce sexual harassment, and that abandoning Islam will almost certainly make the problem much worse. It is the underclass that has abandoned Islam in all but name in the Middle East that is largely responsible for the harassment problem.

What you could possibly do is try to avoid such people, such as by shopping at malls instead of at shopping districts. If you can get a car and stick to the middle class areas of town, then you may run into them less often.

A certain level of intelligence is necessary for a man to have sufficient empathy for women to realize that harassing them is a really nasty thing to do. For this reason in well-developed high IQ countries like Japan (non-Muslim) and Malaysia (Muslim), women are far safer from harassment compared to undeveloped low IQ countries, whether non-Muslim or Muslim, where the men, due to their lack of intellectual capacity and empathy, are more likely to act according to their animal instincts without caring about their social responsibility or the psychological trauma they inflict on women.

Below is a table that lists countries from the highest IQ (Hong Kong) to lowest. You will notice that the highest IQ countries (those on the left) are generally the countries where women enjoy the most respect.

This table does not show the IQ of everyone in each country. It shows the average IQ, meaning the average person you meet will have this IQ, but there will be many people with higher and lower IQs. Countries with higher average IQs will have larger middle class populations, for example in the Netherlands, 50% or more of the population will have “middle class” values and manners. In India, where the average IQ is 81, the percentage of the population that will have middle class values and manners might be 15% of the population. This means that in India it is far more likely to run into men who think harassing women is OK than you would be if you were in the Netherlands.

Malaysia, with its average IQ of 92, is somewhere in the middle. Women will not be as free from harassment as they would be in the Netherlands, but they would fair much better than they would if they were in Egypt or India.

IQ might be the most significant factor, but it is not the only factor that affects these things. Testosterone levels may also play an important role, and perhaps more important than all of these is cultural and religious values. A truly devout Muslim (or Christian) man is not going to harass women even if they have a low IQ and a strong desire to do so, because their religious values will help them override their animal desires.

“How to avoid sexual desires?”

How to avoid sexual desires? (i'm a girl)

We all have sexual desires and there is no way to completely stop them. There is nothing wrong with sexual desire as long as it does not cause you to sin. If your sexual desire is difficult to manage, you can weaken it with fasting or dieting. You can also google “how to reduce libido” to find more suggestions.

From an Islamic perspective, the closer you are to God, the easier it is to avoid sins and obey Him. For advice on making it easier to avoid sins, please see my answers Islamic Strategies for Escaping a Sinful Life and God has not abandoned you.

Masturbation is not clearly forbidden or allowed in Islam

The generally accepted principle of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) is that when it comes to enjoying sexual pleasure, everything is forbidden unless it is explicitly allowed. The Quran’s general teaching on sexuality is that Muslims should “guard their privates” except when taking pleasure in the context of a religiously sanctioned intimate relationship.

A strict interpretation of this verse is that all sexual pleasure is forbidden unless it is had with a spouse. A non-strict interpretation is that all sexual intercourse is forbidden unless it is had with a spouse, which means that masturbation is not included in the prohibition.

The Quran never mentions masturbation, so we cannot use it to reach a final judgment. As for hadith, there isn’t a single authentic narration that mentions masturbation1, therefore hadith cannot help us either in reaching a definitive judgment.

ʿAmr bin Dīnār, one of the Tabiʿīn (belonging to the generations that came after the Companions) and a hadith and fiqh scholar says, “I see no issue with masturbation.”2 Jābir bin Zayd, known by the nickname Abu l-Shaʿthā, student of the Companion Ibn ʿAbbās also says he sees no problem with it.3 Ibn ʿAbbās says that marriage is better than masturbation, and masturbation is better than fornication.4. Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, founder of the Ḥanbalī school of fiqh, says there is no issue with it.5

The most famous scholar to permit masturbation was al-Shawkānī (d. 1839 CE), a widely respected reformer and revivalist. While he ruled that masturbation is permitted in Islam without conditions (other scholars have said that there are conditions needed to make it permissible, but al-Shawkānī says no conditions are needed), he says:

There is no doubt that engaging in this act is a flaw (in one's character), a show of a lack of self-respect, and a show of abasement in manners and a lack of willpower.

He criticizes the act, but says there isn’t sufficient evidence to forbid it.

In the modern world, the Moroccan scholar Abdel-Bari Zamzami (d. 2016 CE) allowed masturbation for men and women, saying that since it helps one avoid illicit sexual acts, and since there is no clear evidence that it is forbidden, permitting it is more beneficial than forbidding it.

The Mālikī and Shāfiʿī schools say that masturbation is forbidden.

Making sense of the situation

What scholars have often done is try to take the vagueness out of the Islamic texts by enforcing their own interpretations, either saying masturbation is a sin, or saying that there is nothing wrong with it. Both of these approaches ignore an important teaching of the Prophet ﷺ in dealing with vagueness in religious matters, expressed in this hadith narration from Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim:

Allah's Messenger addressed us and said: O people, Allah has made Hajj obligatory for you; so perform Hajj. Thereupon a person said: Messenger of Allah, (is it to be performed) every year? He (the Holy Prophet) kept quiet, and he repeated (these words) thrice, whereupon Allah's Messenger said: If I were to say" Yes," it would become obligatory (for you to perform it every year) and you would not be able to do it. Then he said: Leave me with what I have left to you, for those who were before you were destroyed because of excessive questioning, and their opposition to their apostles. So when I command you to do anything, do it as much as it lies in your power and when I forbid you to do anything, then abandon it.6

The above narration can be considered support in favor of silence over the issue of masturbation.The Quran and the Sunnah do not explicitly prohibit it, and they do not explicitly allow it, leaving it in a gray area, therefore Muslims should neither condemn masturbation, nor should they promote it.

To a pious person who is eager to please God, the meaning of these things is as follows:

  1. It is not important enough to be explicitly forbidden or allowed by God and His Prophet .
  2. Every Muslim’s aim should be to avoid it if they can, since true love and fear of God means that a person should avoid everything that has even the slightest possibility of displeasing Him.
  3. If someone is overwhelmed by desire into doing it, or cannot control their impulses so that they habitually do it, they should not obsess about, they should repent and go on with their lives, knowing that what they have done is a small lapse in manners, rather than a crime.

The Issue of Corporealization

Humans have a build-in revulsion toward masturbation due to the fact that it is a corporealizing act; it places focus on the human body in its physicality; it reduces a human to mere animal, making a human’s individuality irrelevant during the act. Masturbation has little to do with sexual intimacy between two humans who love one another and who continue to see each other as individuals (rather than mere bodies) throughout the sexual act. Masturbation is obscene, it can never be made respectable or acceptable in society. I will leave the issue of corporealization/obscenity for another essay. Those interested in this topic can read the important book Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation by the British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton.

It would be quite wrong to assume that Islamically ruling that masturbation is not prohibited would lead to an epidemic of masturbation throughout the Islamic world. It would probably not make the slightest difference in that regard (because humans are genetically inclined to feel disgust at masturbation and other corporealizing sexual acts); it would only reduce the feelings of guilt of those who already do it.

Masturbation, teenagers and scholarly humility

Teenagers, especially teenage boys, have heightened sexual desire while also having poor impulse control, since the brain’s prefrontal cortex does not finish developing until after the age of 25. These two factors (increased sexual desire, low ability to control urges) can make it very difficult for them to avoid masturbation. Making teenagers feel bad about masturbation is a short-sighted and destructive thing. It only serves to decrease these teenagers’ religious self-esteem, making them feel as if they will never be good Muslims, since they are supposedly committing a great sin and cannot stop themselves.

The result is that these teenagers start to think of Islam as an outdated and cruel religion that is asking them to do the impossible.

The balanced approach is to tell teenagers that it is best if they avoid it since it is in a gray area, while also telling them that it is not clearly forbidden, therefore if they cannot help themselves and end up doing it, they should not obsess about it, but repent and go on with their lives.

Rather than making baseless statements about masturbation, saying it is allowed or saying it is forbidden, we must acknowledge the vagueness of the Islamic texts on this issue, while also respecting the wisdom of the scholars and human nature in their dislike for it.


Different stages of growth and different life circumstances affect a person’s desire for masturbation. Depression, loneliness and a lack of social interaction, for example, makes it more likely that a person will want to masturbate, and not just among humans. I have seen many articles mention that monkeys in captivity masturbate, but those who live in the wild do not.

Most of our scholars consider masturbation an undignified act that a self-respecting person would not do. While they are right about this when it comes to themselves, they should have empathy for younger people living in very different circumstances and subject to far stronger sexual desires and a lower ability to control their impulses due to the fact that their brain development is not complete. Instead of asking the impossible of young people, of having perfect control over their desires like the scholars themselves, they should treat them with kindness and forgiveness, telling them that there is a consensus among Muslims that masturbation is not a dignified thing to do, but that Islam does not clearly forbid it, and that as people age, it becomes easier to avoid it.

Islamic Strategies for Escaping a Sinful Life

19 year old boy here. It's a serious issue but I'll keep it short. I was exposed to pornography at a very young age and I still haven't been able to get over it. And then came the time when I could mingle with the opposite sex and actually do things and since then I haven't been able to stop myself from committing zina. I've barely started to learn Islam but my imaan was a little stable in a few days and I did not do it in a long time. But it ate me from inside. Please help me

Continuing from above, I fear Allah swt but it does not remain constant to me. I’m very helpless and I do not know what to do. I keep doing it. My sexual desire overcomes it and I feel guilty then as usual. I know I’m doing a very horrible sin but I’m really in a position of a porn addict. And if I haven’t asked you the previous thing anonymously then please don’t answer to that? I’m in deep trouble and want my sins to be discreet obviously. Please help me. Jazakallahu khair

I cannot look at myself in the mirror. I desired to be a very influential Muslim and truth in my heart but this major sin inside me is eating me. I’m very frustrated and unable to do anything and I feel horribly ashamed to offer my namaz. Please help me. I’ve asked you around three questions cuz there was a word limit and I hope I get help from Allah swt through you!

No matter how great your sins are, God’s mercy is greater. The greatest sin of all is to lose hope in His mercy and to stop offering the obligatory prayers and performing other obligatory deeds. Regardless of how you feel, this is a duty you cannot ignore. Continue asking for His forgiveness. Even if you fail ten thousand times, He has the power to forgive you more times than that.

At the age of 19 your brain development is not complete. It only completes after the age of 25. What this means is that you have poor impulse control, because of no fault of your own, because the prefrontal cortex of the brain has not completed developing, which is the part of the brain that enables us to control our emotions and impulses.

Trying to make yourself stop engaging in those sins while they are easily available, and while your brain development has not completed, might be asking the impossible. It is like putting a child in a room full of candy and asking them not to eat any. It is an unfair test, because they haven’t developed the ability to control their impulses yet. The same may apply to you.

Think of your desires as an enemy. You cannot defeat it directly, because you do not have the power yet. You must defeat it indirectly. Instead of putting yourself in a test that you are unable to pass, you must avoid the test altogether. This is done by making it impossible to engage in those sins. If you live somewhere where you have easy access to women to sleep with, move somewhere else. Move to a different country if you have to.

If you are sincere in wanting to win this battle, you must do what it takes, even if it requires much work and hardship. Consider it your hijrah. You do not yet have full control over your desires, therefore you must not put your hopes in learning a magical way of overcoming them. You must instead use your intelligence and planning ability to find ways of making it impossible to engage in those sins. Since I do not know your exact situation, I cannot tell you what the best plan for you is. Any plan that requires you to have significant control over your impulses will most likely fail. The plan must take impulse out of the equation by making the sins impossible. For example, if you could join an Islamic educational establishment in a faraway country or area that does not have internet or cell phone coverage, then in that situation avoiding sinning would probably become very easy for you, and you would be able to focus on worshiping God and getting yourself educated about Islam.

Part of the solution could be to get married, even if your family think you are too young, since avoiding major sins is more important. Ibn Masud (companion of the Prophet, ) says that even if he had ten days to live in this world, if he was afraid his sexual desire would cause him to sin, he would do his best to get married. You may be able to find a woman who understands your problem and helps you find ways of overcoming it.

You could also go to a pious person at a local mosque, perhaps the imam, and share with them your problem. Maybe they will be able to help you by getting you involved in certain activities, or helping you move somewhere where you can fight your desires more easily. Sharing your problem with others is difficult, since it will go against your pride and self-respect. But you must give more value to avoiding your sinful life, even if this requires that you expose yourself to highly uncomfortable situations.

If you are unable to find a successful plan for making it impossible for yourself to sin, then know that as you grow older your ability to control your impulses will grow. After 25 it will become much easier for you to avoid sins related to sexual desire. Therefore this should be your back-up plan; if everything else fails, hold on to your faith until it becomes easier to resist your sins. Continue to read as much Quran as you can, try to memorize it, perform all the voluntary prayers including tahajjud, constantly read Islamic books, and if you sin, repent, purify yourself and go back to worship as soon as you can, thinking of it as a temporary interruption in your life of worship, until God helps you completely avoid it.

Continue planning against your desires and praying day and night for God’s help, until He gives you a solution sooner or later. If you sincerely ask of Him and seek Him with everything you have, then He will forgive you and answer you.

Satan will constantly tell you that you are worthless and that you should give up hope. You must fight his whispers and know that there is no solution for you in this world except to seek God, regardless of how sinful and worthless you feel. It is only He who forgives sins.

There is no safety from [God’s punishment] except through taking refuge in Him. (The Quran, verse 9:118)

God knows you better than yourself, and He understands what you go through. If you are sincere in seeking a solution, then He will reward your sincerity and forgive you your past and future sins as you continue to seek His pleasure.

You must consider it your duty to perform sufficient worship and Quran-reading on a daily basis that the afterlife starts to feel as important as the present life to you. This seems to require about an hour of extra voluntary deeds a day, whether it is Quran-reading, supplication, praying at the mosque or performing extra prayers. Once you achieve this state and maintain it for weeks and months, it becomes far easier to resist sins.

You already believe in God and the afterlife. This is only an intellectual belief. Through worship, you can turn it into an emotional belief as well, so that God and the afterlife feel real to you. Once your faith is not just an intellectual belief, but an emotional state, then this will have a powerful effect on your state of mind and on your actions. This is the state that every Muslim must seek to achieve, and it is the state of the prophets and the greatest believers.

The best help I have found toward maintaining such an emotional state has been to perform every prayer at the mosque, to perform dhikr and supplication after every one of them, and to perform all the related voluntary prayers. If there is a mosque near you, then this should be one of the first things you try. Even if it is 10 or 15 minutes away, consider it part of your war against your sins to go there, and God will reward you for your time and effort.

Consider going to the mosque part of your job, as if you earn an hourly wage for it. It is just another job, perform it, and you will get its rewards.

Planning against your sins and doing the work necessary to avoid and overcome them is not going to be easy. It is going to require difficult and perhaps boring and repetitive work. But for this you will be greatly rewarded.

If you want to have a successful career in this life and the next, if you want to be a leader like you said, then do the daily work needed for this. A career requires work, your work is to do worship and to go to the mosque. No matter how unrewarding you find this work, if you do it, you will get its fruits. Worshiping and obeying God is not meant to be fun. It is work, sometimes hard work, sometimes boring work, we do it because we want His rewards. If you do not get any uplifting feeling from your worship or mosque attendance at first, continue doing it for weeks and months, and you will eventually feel it inshaAllah.

When we try to seek God and renew our allegiance to Him, He may withhold His help until we prove our sincerity. If we try to worship Him ardently for a week, then give up hope when nothing happens and we feel no difference, it shows that we do not truly have faith in Him, that we are not sincere in our servitude. We prove our sincerity by constantly working toward Him whether we feel good or bad, whether we feel appreciated or abandoned. This is true worship of God, that we love Him regardless of what He decrees for us. Everything else is mostly self-worship.


The Islamic view of watching anime and reading manga

Salaam. I am a Muslim and I like watching anime and reading manga. I usually watch action, adventure types and block tags that contain mature content. I wanted to ask if I am allowed to do so? Another question I have is about drawing. What has been said about drawing cartoons and such? Jazakullah Khair.

There is nothing wrong with anime and manga inherently. It is however against Islamic manners to seek sexual pleasure outside of marriage, therefore if those “mature” blocks you describe are there for the reader’s sexual enjoyment, then it is not acceptable for you to peruse them. You can skip those pages and scenes that are designed to be sexually suggestive and enjoy the rest.

Since we can never be sure if God will be pleased with us if we seek sexual enjoyment outside of marriage in any form, no one who truly loves and fears God will risk disrespecting and angering Him through such things, even if it is in a seemingly unimportant matter.

The Azhari scholars (from al-Azhar University in Cairo) Gad al-Haq Ali and Yusuf al-Qaradhawi and the Saudi Islamic studies professor Khalid bin Abdullah al-Qasim say that drawing (including drawing living things) is permissible. You will find others who will say that drawing living things is not permissible. The people of Egypt and most of the Muslim world follow the Azhari opinion.