British media was shocked this week with the release of a new book, The Muslimah Sex Manual: A Halal Guide to Mind Blowing Sex, a read that delivers detailed advice on all sexual things from kissing to sex positions. Due to their conservatism, Muslim women are rarely associated with sexual acts in the minds of Westerners who typically only make religious connections, perhaps with xenophobic attitudes or associations with terrorism.
The fact that the Islamic faith extols the virtues of reserving the seductive or provocative facets of the female body for the marital bedroom can often attribute to sex an out-of-sight, out-of-mind concept for outside observers of their culture; however, there is no reason to believe or suggest that Muslim women are any less sexual than others.
The author of the book writes understandably under the female penname, Umm Muladhat, so as to maintain anonymity in writing what some fellow Muslims might consider lewd literature. She has been given credit for writing the very first Halal sex manual for women. Others have even claimed that Umm Muladhat is the Halal response to the American-British author, Belle de Jour, who worked as a call girl in London and depicted her experiences.
Shelina Janmohamed covers Muslim culture and subcultures for The Telegraph, and she remarks, “If there’s one thing that Muslims can certainly claim they’ve mastered, it’s procreation. After all, the world’s youngest demographic is Muslim and this is also the fastest growing segment due to birth rates. So you can do the maths, right?”
Sex, of course, is separate from the actual enjoyment of sex, which is a fact with which many women contend for a myriad of reasons on a regular basis. As such, men have grappled ostensibly since antiquity with the enigma of the female orgasm, even going so far as to make the conjecture at certain points as late as the 13th century. The book speaks to the fact that society has come a long way from old paradigms like that of the Victorian period in which women were intended to simply lie prostrate during the act itself.
Janmohamed commented on the issue of “the re-discovery of female pleasure in the 1960’s and onto the ground breaking series Sex and [the] City, which revealed that, gosh, women sit and talk about sex too. And even like it. The history of sex, pleasure and women’s enjoyment follow a similar pattern in many Muslim cultures. At the time of the Prophet Muhammad, sex and sexual pleasure were openly talked about and considered part of a fulfilling marital life.
“In fact, a woman can divorce her husband if he doesn’t have sex with her for a certain period as he’s not fulfilling her rights. Many famous Muslim thinkers have written detailed books on the physical and spiritual delights of sex for both men and women.”
One of the most interesting things to observe for many in the U.K. is that the shock value of associating Muslim women with sexual experimentation and pleasure is how Muladhat describes the responses she’s received from men. Many of them apparently have requested another book to guide them in pleasuring their wives.
“The Muslimah Sex Manual: A Halal Guide to Mind Blowing Sex is therefore a welcome step to busting myths and giving Muslim women confidence. If Muslim women are not enjoying their full sexual potential, then any guide that can help them to maximise their pleasure must be something to be welcomed. It makes a difference to today’s young Muslim women that it’s written for a contemporary audience, using today’s lingua franca when it comes to sex.”
Culture intersectionality, according to Janmohamed who speaks as a woman author as well as a minority due to being a British Muslim during a period of ever-increasing misogyny and Islamophobic sentiment creates an atmosphere conducive to the sort of intervention that Muladhat presents. The work speaks to the Islamic perspective, taking its teachings into consideration when addressing the carnal needs as well as biological attitudes of ordinary women.
The cultural facets of human interaction—dealing with religion, spirituality, social perception, and a plethora of other aspects—inform the way people engage in the fundamentally human activity of sex whether for pleasure or for procreation. The yearn is a primal part of human nature that has been scientifically studied from virtually every angle, even analyzing the types of pheromones that men and women produce unconsciously to attract one another.
“We shouldn’t make the mistake of belittling Muslim women’s aspirations for better sex. All women are still striving to figure this out, and be confident in it. Women’s magazines and their alluring headlines (‘ten ways to achieve pleasure’ or ‘how to help him reach your G-spot’) continue to attract generation after generation of women. Yet hand in hand with this, we women continue to grapple with owning our own sexuality on our own terms and having the confidence to enjoy it as we choose, in the face of homogenous ideas of sexuality, pornification and uncertain ideas of what should really be going on in our bedrooms.”