by Alveena Salim (Published in TheRevival Magazine)
As an East London girl, it wasn’t unusual to see crowds of Muslim guys standing outside libraries waiting to try it on with any girl that passed through the door. Nor was it unusual to see groups of Muslim guys standing on top of street corners making comments at girls that walked past.
It definitely wasn’t unusual to see a guy drive round the same block at least four times just to take another look at a girl. Guys chased the girls. The girls played hard to get. But a couple of years down the line, I don’t see that any more. Why? Coz guys don’t need to chase girls any more.
Over the years, a lot more girls don’t see a problem with sleeping around. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise in Vicky Pollard and “Am I bovvered” wannabe Muslim ladettes, a rise in the number of youth who are ‘doing it’ and a rise in Muslim teenage pregnancies.
Fortunately, whilst the UK does have the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Europe, Muslim girls are least likely to get pregnant out of wedlock compared to all other faiths (1). However, Muslim teenage pregnancies DO happen and are often kept undercover.
What’s The Big Deal?
Premarital or extramarital sex – known as Zina is a major sin in Islam! Allah (swt) warns Muslims not to even come near it and describes it as
“an abomination and an evil way.” (17: 32)
According to a Hadith it is also considered one of the worst sins in the eyes of Allah (swt).
The Holy Prophet related a dream in which he saw a number of sinners were being punished. The Prophet said:
“…We proceeded until we came across a hole in the ground that resembled a baking pit, narrow at the top and wide at the bottom. Babbling and voices were issuing from it. We looked in and saw naked men and women. Underneath the pit was a raging fire; whenever it flared up, the men and women screamed and rose with it until they almost fell out of the pit. As it subsided, they returned (to the bottom). I said: ‘Who are these?’ They said: ‘…The naked men and women who were in the pit, they are men and women who indulge in Zina…” (Bukhari)
It is such a serious offence that all things that lead to Zina, such as being alone with a member of the opposite sex who you’re not related to is also forbidden in Islam.
The reason why it’s forbidden in Islam is coz of the major problems that it can bring into society such as illegitimate children, spread of disease, increase in divorce rate, spread of crime, children not being brought up or cared for properly and ultimately the breakdown of the family unit.
As a Muslim, to be pregnant and unmarried is the worst situation to be in. Such girls are often shunned by society, talked about in a bad way and are considered to have brought ‘shame’ on their family. This is why many teenage Muslim girls, who find themselves in such a serious situation, will go to great lengths to hide their pregnancy – and this may result in secret abortions or even a ‘virginity fix’.
24 hymen replacement operations took place between 2005 and 2006. An increasing number of women are paying up to £4,000 in private clinics for the procedure apparently under pressure from future spouses or in-laws who believe they should be virgins on their wedding night. Doctors said most patients are immigrants or British of ethnic origin. Dr Magdy Hend, consultant gynaecologist at the Regency Clinic, Harley Street, London, who started hymen reconstruction more than 18 years ago in the Middle East and the Gulf, said:
“In some cultures they like to see that the women will bleed on the wedding night. If the wife or bride is not a virgin, it is a big shame on the family.”
Dr Hend also said that most clients are in their teens or early twenties and that demand is increasing, particularly from UK residents (2).
It is extremely important to note it is a myth that a bride will definitely bleed on her wedding night if she is indeed a virgin. Bleeding isn’t at all a reliable indication of a girl’s virginity, as many girls who are virgins do not bleed when they first have sexual intercourse and this is normal. To combat such ignorance amongst our people we need to educate ourselves about Islam so that we recognise true Islamic teachings from the backward cultural practices of today.
Some girls are forced to undergo secret abortions. Shanaz speaks of her experience:
The doctor asked me ‘why do you want an abortion?’ I told him it was because of my background and family and that there was no way I could have a baby. As an unmarried Muslim girl, I simply couldn’t go through with the pregnancy. Not only would it break up the family but I could be disowned, in fact anything could happen to me.
I also told him I was at college, and living at home with only a small grant. Throughout this time my then boyfriend was like a stranger.
I really needed his support but got none. He didn’t come to the private clinic with me, or help me with transport to the nursing home where they performed the operation. He just gave me half the money and that was that.
I had no-one to confide in really. The worst thing was coming home and being with my parents, knowing that something was living inside me. It was worse at night, when I had time to think clearly and hurt and feel guilty about what was going to happen. I was about to kill my child. It was terrible to feel like that and keep it all to myself. (3)
Abortion – The Easy Way Out?
So you’re knocked up, not married and scared of how you’re parents will react? Abortion seems like the easy way out. However, whilst many feminists may bang on about a woman having full control over their bodies, Islam does not see abortion as an answer to your problems.
Life is a gift from Allah (swt). No one has the right to take away or stop the life of anyone else. Killing any person is strongly condemned in the Quran, especially the killing of children which is specifically condemned in several chapters.
The Quran says:
“Kill not your children for fear of want; it is We who provide sustenance for them as well as for you; for verily killing them is a great sin. (17: 31).
Sex outside marriage can also result in serious consequences for all involved. In some instances some Muslim girls are killed for getting themselves in such a shameful situation, in so-called ‘honour killings’ which have nothing whatsoever to do with Islam.
So Why Do Unmarried Muslim Girls Have Sex?
“Coz there’s no point going out with a guy if you’re not going to do stuff” claims Anisha. Safa argues that “everyone is ‘doing it’ and anyone who denies it is a liar”. So peer pressure and the current norms of society play a huge part. Another common reason is lack of self-esteem, some girls go all the way because it makes them feel loved, desired and better about themselves. In other instances, it may be due to lack of appreciation or love at home, which makes them go looking for it elsewhere. Detachment from home can lead to attachment elsewhere.
On top of that, there’s the mixed message that teenagers learn in school. In a bid to decrease the number of teenage pregnancies, one government initiative was to give out free condoms, which gave the message “it’s OK to do it, as long as you use protection”. Whilst Western society tries to decrease the number of teenage pregnancies by dishing out free contraception, Islam emphasises no sex outside marriage. Islam gives that as a solution rather than a temporary cure.
The media also gives out messages that encourage teenagers to have sex before marriage; Sex is a topic that advertisers and marketers use very effectively to sell their products, from chocolates to mobile phones to even the latest car.
How many times has the storyline of teenage pregnancies hit popular soaps? ‘The new female imperative is that it is only through promiscuity and sexual aggression that girls can achieve admiration and recognition’.
Films such as Cruel Intentions and Mean Girls, the music and videos of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Lil’ Kim all help portray this message. ‘Girls are being led to believe they’re in control when it comes to sexual relationships.’ (4)
Lack of Islamic education is another reason why young girls have sex outside marriage. How many parents give their children the Islamic ‘sex talk’? How may Mosque Imams address this issue?
So What Do You Want Me To Do About It?
Firstly, we need to acknowledge the fact that is an issue that affects the Muslim youth. Secondly, we need to be prepared to talk about it in order to educate our youth with Islamic knowledge. Parents should know that sex is not always a dirty word. It is an important aspect of our life.
There should be no shame or holding back in discussing this issue, if a child has reached puberty, it’s time to teach him/her the difference between right and wrong. And because the Western society is most definitely going to be tackling this issue in schools and through the media, we need to make sure more so, that our youth are educated about sex according to the teachings of Islam.
The people from the time of the Prophet asked questions about discharge and even wet dreams, in fact the Prophet praised the women of Ansar, because their shyness did not prevent them from seeking knowledge.
The main reason Muslim parents do not or cannot discuss sex education with their children is because of their cultural upbringing. Parents may not be comfortable with their own sexuality or its expression coz of the way they were brought up.
Our Imams/Mosques also need to educate the community and offer counselling to those people who may have fallen into this predicament. That way, young girls would not be forced to have undercover abortions, run away from home, contemplate getting ‘virginity fix’ surgery or be victims of ‘honour crime’.
And girls wake up. Most guys can walk away from a sexual encounter without giving it a second thought. Girls can’t do that. Don’t sleep with a guy in order to win his love, or to be accepted by your friends or even if you’re convinced that you’re ‘in love’.
The truth is that most guys have little respect for a girl who has slept with someone before marriage, even if you sleep with them! Plus, society thinks very low of such people and there’s a possibility that you may fall pregnant.
More importantly, you’ll be guilty of one of the biggest sins in Islam! If you have any self-respect, you’ll hold out for the guy who respects you enough to commit to marriage. Someone who can see themselves spending a bit more than a few nights with you.