Teaching Sex Education in Public Schools

Author: Salah Alsawy Ph.D
| Category: Muslim Minorities

According to Shari`ah, how lawful is it to teach sex education to young people in public schools in the way it is done in American schools?

All praise is for Allah, and may peace and blessing be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family and true followers. To proceed:

Teaching anything that it is necessary to teach, whether related to sex or otherwise, is unobjectionable and without blame. The problem arises with other issues unrelated to the teaching process in and of itself, like for example, the provocative presentation and wrong ideas that accompany this instruction.

The way this subject is taught to young people in this country, for instance, in many places, is not devoid of stimulation and arousal. It may rely on videotapes or scandalous pictures showing people engaged in sex acts, portraying the male member during ejaculation, or other things unnecessary to the teaching process and unrelated to the scientific facts of which the student must be aware.

In the cultural background in which this curriculum is being taught, it is not considered sinful for boys and girls to date, nor is this looked upon as a crime which violates the laws of society or even its customs. They are only concerned about the harmful heath effects which will ensue from the spread of sexual libertarianism, or those that will result from teenage pregnancy, so they advise the youth that first, it is better to only have one boyfriend and second, that one should use condoms to prevent pregnancy. Sexual contact in and of itself is legal and protected by the government, which raises young people to accept it, and only warns them not to do it in a bad way.

Just as the cultural background in this society has legitimized the crime of zina (pre-marital sex or any sex outside the bonds of marriage), it has also legitimized sexual deviance and the crime of homosexuality. For that reason, you find them trying to normalize the way they deal with the phenomenon of homosexuality by spreading the message that these sexual deviants are people just like any others; that they were just born with an inclination to the same sex like other people were born with an inclination to the opposite sex. So, it is just a matter of genes and biology which could not break any laws or violate any standards of morality. They emphasize that if you were to analyze the blood of these homosexuals, you would find that they are exactly like you; they are no different, no more, no less. All of this is taught as though it is scientific fact. Then they tell students in the end, “Go and ask your men of religion.” So, when the student goes to ask his imam, rabbi, pastor, priest or whomever, and is told the opposite, they have successfully separated religion and science in the young person`s psyche; it has been transfused into their minds that knowledge and faith contradict each other and that religion is in league with fables and foolishness. This is but one example of the kinds of imbalances that can develop, or rather, one example of some of what is really going on in the teaching of sex education in this society.Once again, we must emphasize the point that there is no relation between this and the necessary information that must be provided in relation to sex. On the contrary, some of these details are part of the obligatory information one must have in order to practice the religion of Islam.

The Qur`an has addressed the very nature of creation, when Allah says, {So let man see from what he is created! * He is created from a fluid poured forth * Proceeding from between the back-bone and the ribs}[At-Tariq 86:5-7]. The Almighty has also said, {And that He (Allah) creates the pairs—male and female * From drops of semen (male and female discharges) when it is emitted}[An-Najm 53:45-46].

In books of hadith (the words and witness accounts of the practices of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), there is plenty of information about sex and related topics. One example is the narration about the five natural acts of purity ordered by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), one of which is shaving the pubic hair. Another example is the narration about the signs of puberty, in which there is mention of wet dreams, the obligation of performing ghusl (a full ritual bath) after menstruation and post-partum bleeding, the ejaculation of semen as a result of desire and the occurrence of penetration without ejaculation. Then there is the narration about how to tell the difference between the maniy (ejaculatory fluid) that requires ghusl, which comes as a result of desire and that which does not require ghusl and may be considered a result of illness. Yet another narration describes defects of the genitalia, such as malformation or blockage of the vagina and impotence, as well as the woman`s right to a divorce if her husband is impotent. These are but a few examples, as there are innumerable rules of fiqh which discuss detailed information about sex.

Modesty did not prevent the Ansari women from asking questions to learn their religion. A woman once came to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and asked him if a woman must perform ghusl if she has a wet dream. He replied, “Yes, if she sees the water [fluid].” Another woman came to ask how to purify herself following menstruation. Yet another came to complain about her husband to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and to request khula` (divorce at the request of the woman) because what is with him [his penis] is like the unwoven edge of a garment [flaccid]. Her husband objected, saying that, on the contrary, he shakes her like you shake out [a piece of] leather [to get the dust off].

In Islam, there is even talk of sexual intercourse between spouses like that in the saying of Allah Most High, {Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth when and how you will, and send (good deeds or ask Allah to bestow upon you pious offspring) before you for your ownselves. And fear Allah, and know that you are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give good tidings to the believers.}[Al-Baqarah 2:223] This clarifies that intercourse must not occur except in the place of fertilization [the vagina] and that it is permissible for a man to have sex with a woman from behind, as long as it is in the same receptacle [not the anus]. There is also a narration recommending foreplay between husband and wife before they engage in intercourse, saying that between him and her there should be a messenger, which means kissing, flirting, playful touching and the like.Of course, it is not necessary for this information to be conveyed to students by showing them images of penises ejaculating semen on videotape, nor by showing them explicit pictures of sexual intercourse as though it were just an innocent lesson, meant only for the sake of knowledge.

The point is that we agree people should be taught information about sex, but we disagree over the provocative way in which it is done. We accept the presentation of information, but we reject the information system that imposes its secularist culture in this or any other country, with all the declining standards and bad values that come with the teaching of this subject.

Some of the brothers who were with us in Detroit, Michigan have had experience in dealing with this subject. They called those responsible and told them of their objection to teaching their children this subject, so attendance was made optional for them, and the problem was solved in that way.

Our recommendation is that that a Muslim scholar should write a textbook on the subject or that the teaching of this subject should be taken over by Muslim instructors who give science its due right while protecting the sacredness of religion and morality, without inventing an unfortunate rift between religion and science or between religion and life.

And Allah knows best.

Salah Alsawy Ph.D

Previously, the shaykh assumed various prominent positions some of which were: Professor in the Faculty of Legislation and Law at Al-Azhar University, Professor at Umm Al Qura University, a visiting professor in the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Sciences in Washington DC., President of the American Open University and a VP to its Board of Trustees. Currently, the shaykh is ...
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