Child Education 2008 (28-36): Teaching Children to Ask for Permission to Enter Others' Rooms

2009-03-21

Sex education

Dear brothers, this is lesson No. 28 of the series Children Upbringing in Islam, and today's topic  The Sex Education.

Three basic human needs

Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, has installed three basic needs in man; the need of food and drink in order to maintain his existence, the need of having sex in order to preserve human race, and the need of self-assertion in order to maintain his reputation even after his death. Based on these facts, man has a basic need to have sex. However, due to Allah's Deep Wisdom, man is charged with a Divine Assignment, and he has the free will (to make his own choices in life) as well. Concerning the lusts installed in him, they have a neutral nature; they can be means to exalt one to the highest ranks in the Sight of Allah the Almighty (when fulfilled in proper [Halal] Islamic ways), and they can lead him to the lowest depth of Hell-Fire (when fulfilled through illegal [Haram] ways).

When someone gets married to a pious wife, and he has  righteous children who are the source of his happiness, and who will in turn get married to righteous women (in case of the sons) and to righteous men (in case of the daughters), the household will be one coherent unit of loving and supportive  pious children, sons in law, daughters in law, grandchildren, and so on.

Actually, this blessed marriage is based on a Halal sexual relationship, which is quite different from illegal sexual relationships committed in brothels. Both relationships are a fulfillment of a lust which could be the means to throw man to the lowest of the law (when it is fulfilled illegally) or the means to elevate him to the highest ranks in the Sight of Allah the Almighty (when fulfilled legally). Keep in mind that every lust has a lawful Islamic way to be fulfilled through, so there is no deprivation in Islam. Let me repeat this critical point over and over again: In Islam, every desire has a lawful clean way through which it can be satisfied blamelessly. 

The first principle of sex education

1-    The etiquette of asking for permission

The subject of our lecture today is sex education. Actually, this important subject is rarely discussed although many parents do not know how to respond to their kids' embarrassing questions. For example, if a child asks his father how  he came into existence, his father may hit him or scold him, saying, "What a shame! Do not ask such questions again!"  However, this behavior does not solve the problem, so, we should know how to educate our children about sexual matters, and the subject of sex education may take many lectures to be covered as it is  very wide. 
 
In today's lecture, we will talk about some of the principles of sex education. Let us start with the etiquette of asking for permission before entering a room. According to accurate and precise studies, in many cases, moral aberration and deviation among young people starts in early childhood. In other words,  a little child may suddenly walk in his parent's bedroom and catch them in a situation, which is strange to him (i.e. while they are making love), and so he may keep this image in mind.  

To prevent this problem from happening, one should follow the instructions mentioned in a Noble Ayah in the Noble Quran where Allah teaches us the etiquette of asking for permission before entering someone's room. In fact, many serious moral deviation cases started at a very young age when a little child entered into his parents' room suddenly and caught them in an unfamiliar situation (while there were making love), and so he began to think too much about what he had seen, then it would lead him towards delinquency, adultery or sexual deviation. The root cause of that serious problem was the strange situation he had seen his parents in. 

Wearing modestly at home helps avoid delinquency 

Actually, there should be some rules and regulations governing children behavior at home. There is an Ayah in the Quran in which Allah mentions one of these rules. Allah the Almighty says:  

(O you who believe! Let your legal slaves and slave-girls, and those among you who have not come to the age of puberty)

Those who have not come to the age of puberty are the kids. 

(… Ask your permission (before they come to your presence) on three occasions; before Fajr (morning) prayer, and while you put off your clothes for the noonday (rest), and after the 'Isha' (late-night) prayer. (These) three times are of privacy for you, other than these times there is no sin on you or on them to move about, attending (helping) you each other. Thus Allah makes clear the Ayat (the Verses of this Quran, showing proofs for the legal aspects of permission for visits, etc.) to you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.)

(An-Nur, 58)

As parents, it is recommended to keep the door of the bedroom locked in those three times, so that if the child forgets to ask for permission to enter this room, he will find it locked. He will get used to find it always closed or at certain times of the day. This is one of the Islamic etiquettes mentioned in the Noble Quran.  Thus, the toddler should not see his parents making love, even though these things will be known by him when he becomes a young man,  because knowing about them at a very young age may urge him to think about his private parts, and he may hurt himself while discovering things about them, and this could have disastrous consequences. Notice how this Ayah in the Noble Quran teaches us the etiquette of asking for permission (to enter others' rooms). 

Among my acquaintances, there are many believing parents who never take off their clothes in front of their little children. In fact, the more descent the dressing up of the family members is, the further they are from moral deviation. 

Asking for permission to enter one's mother or daughter's room

Actually, this delicate subject should be discussed in details, but let us first ponder over the aforementioned Noble Ayah which is considered one of the basic principles of sex education in Islam, and which refers to the etiquette of asking for permission (to enter others' rooms) at three times: before Fajr (morning) prayer, while one puts off his clothes for the noonday (rest), and after the 'Isha' (late-night) prayer. Hence, parents should always lock the door of their bedroom, or they should teach their children to respect their privacy and never enter their bedroom before asking for permission.

You may find this strange, but one should also ask for permission to enter his daughter's bedroom, because if someone enters his young daughter's room without asking for her permission while she is sleeping, he may see parts of her body that are forbidden to be exposed even to her own father. Is he allowed to see his daughter in such a situation? Of course, he is not. Thus, one of the axioms of Islamic etiquettes is asking for permission to enter one's  mother or daughters' room. 

Let me refer to one more point, it is not permissible for a young man to sit in front of his young sisters in  his underwear. Likewise, it is not permissible for a young girl to wear see-through or tight clothes in front of her young brothers. 
 
According to Shari'ah rulings (Islamic Laws), young men and women should not expose their bodies before one another whether by staying at home in underwear (in the case of the brother) or by wearing transparent clothes (in the case of the sister). If you keen on having a disciplined and moral household, you should stick to the Islamic etiquettes of covering Awrah (private parts), which is a wide topic, but what I have mentioned so far is included in Shari'ah rulings, and it is axiomatic in Islamic etiquettes. 
 The kid's mind is like a blank sheet of paper, and he is pure and innocent, but when he sees his parents in a situation which is strange for him (i.e. making love), he will inquire about it, he may ask some of his friends about it, and if one of his friends is deviated, he will be the direct cause of his delinquency, and he may lead him to commit prohibited acts. 

As I have said up till now, the first etiquette of sex education is to teach children to ask for permission to enter their parents' room, especially in the aforementioned three times. Furthermore, parents would rather lock their bedroom door, so if their child forgets to ask for permission to enter their room, he will find it locked. Also, one of the basic principles of sex education is that a little child should have no knowledge about sexual matters until he is ready to get married which is normal for him to know about such matters at that stage of his life.
 

2-    The etiquette of looking at the opposite sex

The second etiquette of sex education is the etiquette of looking at the opposite sex.  Actually, man's Mahrams (plural of Marham: Anyone whom it is permanently forbidden for the man (female Mahram) and for the woman (male Mahram) to marry because of blood ties, breastfeeding or marriage ties. This is not based on traditions and customs; rather it is based on Shari'ah rulings) fall into three categories. The first one is his wife; it is permissible for him to look at any part of her body. Furthermore, he may enjoy intimacy with her in whatever way he wishes, but he is forbidden from anal intercourse and from having intercourse during her menstrual period (or post-partum bleeding). Apart from that, he may enjoy her in whatever way he wishes. This is the first category of man's Mahrams.

The second category includes the Mahrams due to blood ties (Nasab) such as his daughter, sister, mother, paternal aunt, maternal aunt, granddaughter, etc. The woman who belongs to this category  can uncover her hands, feet, arms, hair, ears, neck and shins in front of him. However, it is not permissible for her to wear tight or see-through clothes in front of her Mahrams, but rather she should wear clothes which cover her chest, elbows and knees. Thus, this is how your Mahrams, such as your mother, sister, daughter, maternal aunt, paternal aunt, niece, granddaughter, etc. should be dressed in front of you.

The third category includes Mahrams due to marriage ties such as one's step-mother or daughter in law. According to Ibn Abdin's book of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi School of Thought, it is not permissible for a man to meet his young daughter-in-law in seclusion. Also, if someone's elderly father has married a young women, it is not permissible for him to sit with her in private, according to Ibn Abdi's book of Islamic jurisprudence. 

As for the way  the woman should be dressed up in front of her  Mahrams due to marriage ties, it is just like what she should wear in front of her Mahrams due to blood ties.

The three categories of female Mahrams

1-    The wife


As I have mentioned above, man's Mahrams fall into three categories. The first category is his wife, whom he can see with no limit of enjoyment between them, but he should avoid anal intercourse and intercourse during her menstrual period (or post-partum bleeding). Allah the Almighty says:

(They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they have purified (from menses and have taken a bath). And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina)." 

(Al-Baqarah, 22)

As the saying goes, "Shyness should not prevent a Muslim from asking about anything including the delicate sexual matters." Allah the Almighty says:

(Then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina).

The second etiquette of sex education is the etiquette of looking at the opposite sex.

 The Mahrams due to blood ties

This category of Mahrams is mentioned in the following Noble Ayah:

(Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters, your mother's sisters, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters,…)

(An-Nisa', 23)

They are man's Mahrams  due to the relationship of lineage/kin.

 Mahrams due to marriage ties

Allah the Almighty says:

(And marry not women whom your fathers married…)

(An-Nisa', 22)

It is a reference to one's step mother. Allah the Almighty says:

(…Except what has already passed; indeed it was shameful and most hateful, and an evil way)

(An-Nisa', 22)

Pay attention to the following Ayah where  Allah the Almighty says:

(…and the wives of your sons…)

(An-Nisa', 23)

It is a reference to one's daughter-in-law

(…Who (spring) from your own loins, and two sisters in wedlock at the same time, except for what has already passed; verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful)

(An-Nisa', 23)

In the following Ayah, Allah the Almighty says:

(… your wives' mothers…)

(An-Nisa', 23)

This is an indication to one's mother-in-law, and in the following Ayah  there is a reference to one's step daughter. Allah the Almighty says:

(…Your step daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives…)

(An-Nisa', 23)

This means the daughter of one's wife from her ex-husband.  Thus, there are three types of Mahrams: his wife, his Mahrams due to blood ties, and his Mahrams due to marriage ties. 
 

Helping the youth to maintain their chastity is women's best act of worship

Dear brothers, let me assure that the most important task of Shaitan (Satan) is to encourage nudity, and that is why nakedness is one of the signs of the wrong-doers, whereas dressing modestly is one of the signs of the true believers. Pay attention to this precise point: As you know Jihad (fighting in the Cause of Allah) is exclusively imposed  on males, but someone may ask, "How about females? Do they have any act of worship that is exclusively imposed on them?" Of course they have, and it is covering their beauty and wearing modestly in order to help the youth maintain their chastity. In fact, the woman who wears loose, long and thick clothes, and who neither wears see-through clothes which show the color of her skin, nor wears tight clothes which show the shape of her body, will be rewarded abundantly by Allah the Almighty.

One of the characteristics of the Islamic dress for women is to be loose, so that it does not show the shape of the woman's body, while most Muslim women nowadays wear clothes that show their shape. Also, it should be thick enough, so that is does not show the color of the skin. Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, described Muslim women's clothing in times when immorality would spread, saying:
 

((…Women would be dressed but yet appear to be naked))

[Muslim and Malik]

Women would wear see-through clothes which show the color of their complexion, or they would wear tight clothes which show their bodies' shape. Actually, it is not permissible for Muslim women to wear these kinds of clothes since the tight clothes show the shape of their body, and the transparent clothes show the color of their skin. Therefore, it is prohibited in Islam for women to wear these kinds of clothes. 

As I have mentioned above, Shaitan's utmost task is to encourage nudity. Allah the Almighty says:

(...Stripping them of their raiments…)

(Al-A'raf, 27)

Having true faith requires dressing modestly and covering woman's beauty.
 
Dear brothers, I am not exaggerating when I say that the main cause of every act of moral delinquency inside homes is failing to adhere strictly to these Shari'ah rulings, which is a bitter truth, but as I keep saying, the bitter truth is better thousand times than the tranquilizing illusion. Thus, the major reason behind the serious cases of moral deviation inside homes is ignoring these Shari'ah rulings which are considered the most basic principles of sex education for children in Islam.

"Tell the believing men to lower their gaze" has different meanings

1-    A Muslim should lower his gaze from looking at non-Mahrams 

 
The first etiquette of sex education in Islam is to ask for permission to enter others' rooms. The second etiquette is to lower the gaze from looking at forbidden things, and I would like to discuss this etiquette in details. Allah the Almighty says:

(Tell the believing men to lower their gaze / to reduce [some] of their vision.)

(An-Nur, 30)

What does the word 'some' means here?  It means a part of their vision. Allah the Almighty says:

(To lower their gaze / to reduce [some] of their vision)

This means a Muslim should reduce some of his vision. Unquestionably, he should lower his gaze from looking at non-Mahrams, but when it comes to Mahram women, he should look at them without focusing on their body, i.e. it is not permissible for a man to look closely at the lines of his sister's body for example, or examine it attentively. Allah the Almighty says:

(To lower their gaze / to reduce [some] of their vision)

A Muslim should reduce some of his vision even while looking at his Mahram women. He says:

(…[some] of their vision…)

This means when a Muslim look at one of his Mahrams , he should not focus at certain parts of her body, nor should he examine every detail of her body, which might be exposed unintentionally when she stands up, sits down or climbs the stairs, etc. What I want to say is that  he should reduce some of his vision while looking at his Mahrams; he should never gaze steadily at the lines of their bodies. Allah the Almighty says:

(Tell the believing men to lower their gaze / to reduce [some] of their vision)

Thus, the first meaning of lowering the gaze is to avoid staring at non-Mahrams, while it is permissible to look at your wife and your Mahrams due to blood ties or to marriage ties. This is the first meaning of lowering the gaze.

2-    Looking at Mahrams without focusing on their bodies

The second meaning of lowering the gaze is that when one looks at one of his Mahrams due to  blood ties or marriage ties,  should look without focusing; he should not gaze steadily at her body, because as I have mentioned earlier, some of her body may be exposed unintentionally when she moves, for instance, and this is part of the believer's good conduct. 

In a previous lecture, I mentioned that Islam encompasses four sections: Aqeedah, ritual acts of worship, transactional acts of worship, and etiquettes. The subject of this series comes under the heading of Islamic Etiquettes. 

3-    The first accidental glance at woman is permissible while the second one is forbidden

  
Dear brothers, the third meaning of lowering the gaze is that if someone is walking along the road, then his gaze accidently falls on a non-Mahram woman who is dressing up indecently, that first accidental glance is sinless, even if he still remembers it since it is not by choice. However, it is forbidden for him to look a second time or to stare unblinkingly at her for some minutes. 

Let me repeat the three meanings of  lowering the gaze. The  first meaning is to avoid gazing at non-Mahrams and to look only at your wife or your Mahrams  due to blood ties or marriage ties. 

The second meaning is  to look at Mahrams without focusing as some parts of her bodies may be exposed unintentionally when she moves in a certain way.  

The third meaning is a reference to  one's accidental gaze; when he sees a non-Mahram woman. In this case, the first gaze is permissible while the second one is not. All those meanings are encompassed in the Noble Ayah below in which Allah the Almighty says:
  

(Tell the believing men to lower their gaze / to reduce [some] of their vision...)

Lowering the gaze is an effective means to guard private parts

Allah the Almighty says:

(…And protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.).)

(An-Nur, 30)

Had Allah the Almighty ordered Muslims to protect their private parts from some illegal sexual acts as He ordered them to reduce some of their vision, people would have thought that some illegal sexual acts are permissible, which is absolutely not. Muslims are ordered to protect their private parts completely from any illegal sexual act. Allah the Almighty says:

(…And protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.).)

(An-Nur, 30)

There is no "some" here. Actually, this Noble Ayah implies that guarding private parts from illegal sexual acts is based on lowering the gaze from looking at forbidden things. Allah the Almighty says:

(Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them…)

(An-Nur, 30)

As long as there is a Noble Ayah in the Noble Quran, which has a finite number of pages, about lowering the gaze, that means lowering the gaze is a very crucial matter. To make this point clear, consider the following example: if there is only one sign in a gas station, what words do you think are expected to be written on it? Do you think it could be "The Pinnacle of Wisdom is to Fear Allah" or "The Envier Will Never be Granted Authority"? Of course not, it should  be "No Smoking", because smoking at a petrol station is really dangerous since it may cause a fire at it. Likewise, when you find an Ayah in the Noble Quran, which consists of approximately 600 pages, about lowering the gaze, this means it is not a secondary issue, but rather it is a very critical one since it is mentioned in an Ayah of the Noble Quran.

The rational person stays away from causes of the  major sin

As I have mentioned above, the way to guard private parts from illegal sexual acts according to the teachings of Islam is to lower the gaze from looking at forbidden things. In fact, the sexual desire could be likened to a rock on the top of a mountain, if you push it towards the valley, it will never stop in the middle of the way, so it will never stop till it reaches the bottom of the valley. Likewise, when one is driven by his sexual desires, it will lead him to commit major sins. 

As you can notice, Allah the Almighty does not only order us to avoid committing adultery, but also to avoid approaching it, which means to avoid approaching matters which may lead to fornication, such as meeting a non-Mahram woman in seclusion.  It was narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

((No man is alone with a woman but the Shaitan (Satan) is the third one present.))

[At-Tabarani]

When a Muslim stares at non-Mahrams and does not lower his gaze, he will (figuratively) go into an exclusive zone. To make this point clear, consider the example of a deep river which has a slippery sloping beach and a dry flat one; if someone goes to the slippery one, he will most probably fall into the river. Therefore, the righteous person stays away from anything that may lead him to commit a major sin. Allah the Almighty orders us to lower our gaze from looking at forbidden things and when he mentions fornication, He orders us to stay away from its causes. 

(And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse…)

(Al-Isra', 32)

This means do not approach anything which may lead you to commit adultery; such as being with deviant friends who always tell dirty jokes, staring at non-Mahrams, wandering in the streets or sitting in a sidewalk café in order to gaze at half-dressed women walking in the street and exposing their body. These are some reasons for falling into this major sin. Allah the Almighty says:

(And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse…)

(Al-Isra', 32)

It is exactly like a high-voltage direct current "Do not approach" warning sign, from which one should keep a margin of safety, lest he will get attracted by the electrical current, and then he will be burned to death.

One should keep a margin of safety that separates him from sins

Actually, one should keep a margin of safety to avoid committing a major sin, such as lowering his gaze from looking at forbidden things, refraining from meeting a non-Mahram woman in seclusion, abstaining from taking sinners and wrong-doers as friends, avoid reading stories that revolves around sex, keeping away from pornographic films and avoid surfing porn sites, etc. The true believer stays away from those matters in order to avoid committing that major sin, whereas he who goes into this no-go zone may probably get engaged in an illegal sexual relationship. Thus, when Allah the Almighty orders us to avoid approaching fornication, it means we should avoid anything that may lead to it. He says:

(And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is a Fahishah [i.e. anything that transgresses its limits (a great sin)], and an evil way (that leads one to Hell unless Allah forgives him).)

(Al-Isra', 32)

Dear brothers, some of the principles of sex education for children is to teach them the etiquettes of asking for permission before entering other's rooms and to teach them to stay away from the matters which may lead to major sins.

Good discipline helps us to keep adolescents away from deviancy

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

 

[At-Tirmidhi]

The meaning of this Noble Hadith is quite clear, but there is  a serious implied meaning in the following Ayah with regards to putting obstacles in the way of getting married. The Prophet, peace and be upon him, said:

((…for if you do not do that…))

If you put obstacles, like making excessive demands regarding the dowry or other unrealistic expenses in the way of the youth who are willing to get married this will not be a stumbling block in male-female sexual relationships, but rather the youth will forgo marriage (due to economic difficulties) and will switch from fulfilling their sexual desires through Halal ways (marriage) to Haram ways (illegal sexual relationships). The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:((…for if you do not do that, there will be fitnah (tribulation) in the land and widespread corruption.)) 
In one of my previous lectures, I supported my argument with strong proofs that if our society is full of disciplined and well-mannered people, we will not suffer from adolescents' deviancy. Adolescence is the result of  prevailing matters and materials which stir up sexual desires of the adolescents, such as half-naked women walking in the streets,  pornographic materials or items in journals, magazines, websites, satellite channels, and porn films, etc. while these adolescents are 10 or even 20 years far from being financially ready to get married. This is a very serious problem, but unfortunately it is often overlooked.

We should protect the youth from deviation 

As I always say, the youth are the pillar of our Ummah (Islamic nation), her promising future  and on whom our hope is pinned. However, unless we, as people in charge or parents, do our best to fulfill their three basic needs; the need for marriage, for having  a job, and for a house to dwell in, we will face a grave problem of youth deviancy. Actually, young people have a strong sex drive, so when we put financial obstacles in their way to get married, this will make them morally deviated.

The fewer financial obstacles we put in the way of young people to get married, the fewer the number of brothels will be in our society. Thus, when we put stumbling block in the way of young people to get married, such as making excessive demands regarding the dowry or other unrealistic financial demands, we stimulate them to fulfill their sexual desires through illegal ways. That is the meaning of the aforementioned Hadith of the Prophet, peace be upon him. 

In fact, the true believer has full control over his sexual desires; he lowers his gaze from looking at forbidden things which stir up his sexual desires. Also, he avoids meeting a non-Mahram woman in seclusion, being in the company of a deviant friend who boasts about his illegal sexual affairs, speaking about women in an indecent way, staring at half-dressed women walking in the street, and attending a meeting where three is free mixing between males and females. Furthermore, he adheres to the Islamic dress code which covers his Awrah. By doing so, Allah the Almighty will help him stay away from major sins which are the root cause of the moral decay of many countries,  such as one of the Asian countries. The Prime Minister of such a country declared that there was no virgin girl in his country; he boasted about the fact that his country is one of the most well-known tourism destinations in Asia.

Once I visited Algeria whose coast is almost 1.000 kilometers long, and there are many green mountains and breathtaking natural landscapes. Nevertheless they do not encourage tourism out of the fear of sex tourism and violating girls' chastity which mostly happens in any tourism destination. Actually, this is really an honorable attitude, while in other tourism destinations, they permit such illegal sexual activities and obscene practices which do not please Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He.

Sex education is based on Shari'ah rulings that are derived from definitive proofs

Dear brothers, sex education is a very delicate subject, and of course it needs many lectures to be covered. In this lesson, which is the first one about this subject, we have talked about the etiquettes of asking for permission before entering others' rooms, the types of female Mahrams, lowering the gaze from looking at forbidden things and other etiquettes which all people, including the old, the young , the parents and children, etc. need to learn.  

In fact, parents should teach their kids these etiquettes, and older siblings should teach their little brothers and sisters these etiquettes as well. As you all know, Islam encompasses four sectors; Aqeedah, ritual acts of worship, transactional acts of worship, and etiquettes. This lecture comes under the heading of Islamic Etiquettes but it is based on Shari'ah rulings (Islamic laws) derived from Qat'i Ath-thuboot (definitive by transmission) and Qat'i Ad-Dalalah (unambiguous and explicit) texts.