#427: The Manners of ‘Being Together’ Between Husband and Wife

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What are the manners of having intercourse between husband and wife? Is oral sex permissible between husband and wife? What is the ruling of licking the private parts of one’s partner (married couple)? I’m sorry for asking such a question.

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Marriage according to the 4th Edition of Kamus Dewan means an akad (agreement) that contains the pronouncement of ijab and qabul that made intercourse permissible. [1]

The word marriage (nikah) is stated in the statement of Allah SWT:

فَانْكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُمْ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ

“Then marry those that please you of [other] women,” [2]

In this verse, Allah SWT sanctioned the permissibility of marriage for the whole Muslim ummah and it is even encouraged. [3] This can also be seen in the statement of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH:

يا مَعْشَرَ الشَّبابِ، مَنِ اسْتَطاعَ مِنكُمُ الباءَةَ فَلْيَتَزَوَّجْ، فإنَّه أغَضُّ لِلْبَصَرِ وأَحْصَنُ لِلْفَرْجِ، ومَن لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَعليه بالصَّوْمِ فإنَّهُ لَهُ وِجَاءٌ.

“O young men, those of you who can support a wife should marry, for it (marriage) controls the gaze and preserves one from immorality. And whoever cannot (marry) should fast, for it is a means of reducing the sexual desire.” [4]

Marriage is certainly encouraged in Islam on the condition that it follows the shariah set. A valid and complete marriage is a marriage that fulfils the requisites and conditions set by syarak. Certain types of marriages are prohibited in Islam, for instance, mut’ah marriage (practised by the followers of Syiah teachings), muaqqat marriage (contract marriage) and others. [5]

Among the purposes of marriage is to make intercourse between man and woman permissible. Without marriage, intercourse between opposite genders is prohibited. Likewise, for sexual relations with the same gender (sodomy and musahaqah) and istimna’ (masturbation). Thus, the sanctioning of marriage permits sexual relations and the important encouragement is in realizing the purpose of hifz al-nasal wa al-nasab (maintaining the rights of lineage and nasab) that is considered one of the dharuriyyat al-khamsah (Five Most Important Purposes of Shariah).

The permissibility of sexual relations with one’s partner’s whole body

Syafi’iyyah scholars set a guideline that it is permissible for a husband to enjoy sexually his wife’s whole body with two exceptions:

  • Imam al-Nawawi said that it is makruh for a husband to look at the vagina. And the inner parts of the vagina are more makruh. [6]

This is based on a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, where Rasullullah PBUH said:

النَّظَرِ إلَى الْفَرْجِ يُورِثُ الطَّمْسُ أَيْ الْعَمَى

“Looking at the vagina is inheriting blindness.”

However, this hadith is narrated by Ibn Hibban in al-Dhu`afa and he stated that this hadith is fake. Likewise, the same is stated in the opinion of Ibn Abi Hatim. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said in al-Dirayah fi Takhrij Ahadith al-Hidayah [7]: In the sanad, there is a narrator that his speech isn’t accepted. As for Ibn Solah and al-Baihaqi, they accepted this hadith saying that its sanad is jayyid (good). Abu Bakar al-Hisni said: “If this hadith is sahih, then it means the ruling is makruh.[8]

The same is stated in a hadith from Aisyah R.Anha, she said:

مَا رَأَيْتُ فَرْجَ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَطُّ

“I never looked at (or, I never saw) God’s Messenger’s private parts.” [9]

Aisyah R.Anha is also narrated to have said:

مَا رَأَيْتُ مِنْهُ وَلَا رَأَى مِنِّي: أَيْ الْفَرْجَ

“I never saw the Prophet PBUH’s private part and he never saw my private parts.” [10]

Here, we include the conclusion of the opinions of the scholars of the four madhhabs regarding this issue according to the book al-Mausu`ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah  [11]:

“Hanafiyyah, Malikiyyah, Hanabilah are of the opinion that it is permissible to look at one’s partner and their private parts in absolution, according to the Bahz bin Hakim from his father from his grandfather, where he said: I said: O Rasullullah! Our aurat, what can we show and what we should avoid? The Prophet PBUH said: Maintain your aurat except towards your partner or the slaves you own [Narrated by al-Tirmidzi with a hasan sanad]. The reason is a vagina is a place of sexual enjoyment, hence, it is permissible to look at it just like other body parts.

However, according to Hanafiyyah and Hanabilah madhhabs, it is prioritized minding the manners to not look at the vagina, for the statement of the Prophet PBUH: If one of you is having intercourse with his wife, then he should cover his body and don’t be naked like two naked donkeys (Narrated by Ibn Majah with a daif sanad). And according to the hadith of Aisyah RA: I’ve never seen the private parts of the Prophet PBUH. And in another narration: I’ve never seen the private parts of Rasullullah PBUH and he never saw my private parts.

Syafie’yyah opinion states that it is makruh to look at the private parts of one’s partner and oneself without any need, according to the hadith from Aisyah and the makruh increases of looking at the vagina. Some of Syafieyyah scholars are of the opinion that it isn’t makruh but permissible.”

Syeikh Prof. Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi in Fatawa Mu`asarah  [12] said:

“Regarding the hadith presented by the author of al-Hidayah in arguing that it is impermissible to look at one’s partner’s private part after marriage, it is not strong. The reason is the hadith is dhaif(weak). Although we accept the evaluation of Imam al-Suyuti who is considered loose, with a hasan status with the reason that it has numerous narration routes, most of the restriction is makruh tanzihi. Makruh tanzihi ruling is abrogated if there is a light need… This opinion (absolute permissibility to look) is held by Ibn Hazm and rejects firmly the opinion that restricts it, for there isn’t any sahih and sarih opinion that restricts it and rules it as makruh.” [13]

  • It is prohibited for a husband to have anal sex with his wife. [14] This is based on a hadith from Khuzaimah bin Tsabit RA, where Rasullullah PBUH said:

إِنَّ اللهَ لَا يَسْتَحِيي مِنَ الْحَقِّ فَلَا تَأْتُوا النِّسَاءَ فِي أَدْبَارِهِنَّ

“God is not ashamed of the truth. Do not have intercourse with women through the anus.” [15]

From Abu Hurairah RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:

مَلْعُونٌ مَنْ أَتَى امْرَأَتَهُ فِي دُبُرِهَا

“He who has intercourse with his wife through her anus is accursed.” [16]

Before having intercourse, foreplay is sunnah as long as it doesn’t lead to harm. This is based on the statement of Allah SWT:

نِسَاؤُكُمْ حَرْثٌ لَّكُمْ فَأْتُوا حَرْثَكُمْ أَنَّىٰ شِئْتُمْ

“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.” [17]

From Jabir bin Abdullah RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:

هَلَّا تَزَوَّجْتَ بِكْرًا تُلاَعِبُهَا وَتُلاَعِبُكَ

“Why not a virgin, so you could play with her and she could play with you?” [18]

Thus, scholars have also stated that it is permissible for a husband to touch and play with the private part of his wife sexually, in a good way and not harming it. This is mentioned by Syeikh Zainuddin al-Malibari, the student of Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haitami in his book Fath al-Mu`in  [19]:

يَجُوزُ لِلزَّوْجِ كُلُّ تُمَتَّعُ مِنْهَا بِمَا سِوَى حَلَقَةِ دُبُرِهَا وَلَوْ بِمَصِّ بَظَرِهِ

“It is permissible for a husband to sexually enjoy his wife’s body, except the anus (sodomy), even if it is by sucking her clitoris.”

Syeikh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari in Asna’ al-Matolib  [20] stated:

وَالتَّلَذُّذُ بِالدُّبُرِ بِلَا إيلَاجٍ جَائِزٌ

“Enjoying (sexually) at the anus is permissible without the involvement of the penetration of (penis).”

The same matter is stated by scholars from different madhhabs. We cited the statement from al-Mausu`ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah  [21]:

“Jurists have agreed that it is permissible for a husband to touch the vagina of his wife.”

Ibn Abidin said: Abu Yusuf asked Abu Hanifah regarding a man touching the vagina of his wife and his wife touching the penis of her husband to excite their partner; do you find any issue in the matter? Abu Hanifah answered: No, and I hope for a greater reward.

Al-Hattab said: It is narrated from Malik that he said: It is fine if one looks at the vagina when having intercourse. In another narration, there is an addition, and to lick it with his tongue. It is a hyperbola of its permissibility when the appearance is as such.

Al-Fanani from among the Syafieyyah scholars said: that it is permissible for a husband to enjoy the body of his wife except at the anus, even if he sucks her clitoris.

Hanabilah scholars clearly state that it is permissible to kiss the vagina of one’s wife before intercourse and makruh after intercourse.

To conclude and close this discussion, we state that any sexual activity should be performed being mindful of the manners and respect towards one’s partner. Consensus and permission from one’s partner will result in calmness and satisfaction that is blessed by Allah SWT. Hence, Allah SWT states:

وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ

“And live with them in kindness.” [22]

Imam al-Qurtubi stated in his commentary: “That is to live with them in kindness is what is commanded by Allah SWT.[23]

According to this statement, we are inclined to state that sexual foreplay using one’s mouth and others is permissible according to syarak on the condition that it doesn’t lead to diseases or health complications, is consensual and agreed by both parties and isn’t harmful and performed while being mindful of the manners. The same goes for a wife doing such for her husband. [24] Especially, in our recent times when one is exposed to various fitnah involving desires such as fornication, prostitution and pornography, any technique to increase the sexual quality between a husband and wife is reasonable as long as it doesn’t involve any prohibited matter such as sodomy and swallowing najis.

May Allah SWT grant us all a clear understanding in this religion and bless us with a content and happy marriage. Amin. We end with the supplication:

رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

“Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.”

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] See https://prpm.dbp.gov.my/cari1?keyword=nikah

[2] Surah Al-Nisa’: 3

[3] See al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 16/125

[4] Narrated by al-Bukhari (5066) Muslim (1400)

[5] See al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiah, 41/325

[6] See Raudhah al-Talibin, 7/27

[7] See al-Dirayah fi Takhrij Ahadith al-Hidayah, 2/229

[8] See Asna` al-Matalib (3/113) dan Kifayah al-Akhyar, pg.352

[9] Narrated by Ibn Majah (662), Ahmad dalam Musnadnya (25568), al-TIrmidzi dalam Syamail (352), and al-Baihaqi in Sunan al-Kubra (13539).

[10] This athar is stated in several books of madhhab Syafie such as Mughni al-Muhtaj (4/217). Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani includes this hadith in al-Kafi al-Syaf (2/92) stating that this hadith is issued by Abu Ya`la from Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma where Aisyah RA said (with the wording) : “ما أتى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ولا رأه مني – نعني الفرج”with a dhaif sanad.

[11] See al-Mausu`ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 32/89

[12] See Fatawa Mu`asarah, 2/331

[13] See al-Muhalla, 9/164

[14] See al-Mu`tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafie, 4/84.

[15] Narrated by al-Nasaie (8942)

[16] Narrated by Ahmad (9733)

[17] Surah al-Baqarah: 223

[18] Narrated by al-Bukhari (2967)

[19] See Fath al-Mu`in (pg. 482)

[20] See Asna’ al-Matolib, 3/113

[21] See al-Mausu`ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 32/90-91

[22] Surah al-Nisa’: 19

[23] See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 5/97

[24] Section 377A of the Penal Code provides for imprisonment for up to 20 years and whipping for the offense of a man who inserts his private parts into the mouth of another person, even with his wife.

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