Instinctive Love and Platonic Love
Is it possible for us, with respect to love, to speak of what is termed "platonic love" or virtuous, sentimental love?
When you speak of love as an emotion, you cannot categorize it as "platonic", on the one hand, and "instinctive", on the other. But we may say that there is a state of sexual impulse which some people may term "love"-i.e., a state where there is a physical attraction between one body and another body, not a state where one person loves another person. The issue of physical attraction represents a physical act where one body gets close to another without there being any place for the facet of humanness in it.
But love is a human emotion which attracts you to another person by way of the beautiful, ideal, functional, or other attributes. The onus is on us to differentiate between the emotion which plays a role in physical contact, and that which plays a role in the appreciation of a person, in a natural relationship structured on the basis of mutual respect.
Sex Education: How do We give it to Our Youth
How may we teach sex education to our youth?
I do not limit the issue to any particular range; we may need books to explain a particular idea, as we must also tell the people of the injunctions of the Shariah on the issues of sex so that they may know their responsibilities in the area according to the Shariah.
I began an attempt to answer questions directed to me, and I spoke candidly on some sex issues which affect the community. Sex education is like any other subject; we have to teach it but with a functional approach, regardless of whether it is through books or school programs, conversations at home, or general debate.
Sex is something that affects the body of a person and how he deals with his impulses. It is normal that one should know all this. What we view as socially forbidden may be a result of imitation or traditional baggage. Therefore, confronting custom means that we must substitute wisdom to avoid creating more negative aspects than those we are trying to rid ourselves of.
Islam Adopts Sex Education
What are the parameters of this education? Is there a specific age at which we can begin instruction?
Islam has opened the door to sex education for all Muslims with respect to the sexual relations which the Quran discusses somewhat candidly. Indeed, on the subject of marriage, the Quranic terminology employs linguistic forms which suggest more sexual than contractual connotations, as in its use of the term "nikah".
Indeed, if we want to study the noble Sunna, we find that there are hadiths on sexual issues which pertain to relations between a man and his wife in commendable matters, legal rulings, and ancillary topics. In more than one hadith, sexual organs are so candidly and naturally covered that one can only infer that the milieu of the (prophetic) message saw nothing immoral in the topic.
We may find some hadiths which deal with the conversation between the Prophet and someone who came to confess to having committed adultery (zina). We see that the last question directed to the perpetrator concerning the sex act used a term which people today may shy away from expressing.
In this manner we find related hadith issues pertaining to women in menstruation, pre-menstruation, the postpartum period, as well as matters pertaining to the state of man after sexual relationship (janabah), etc.
When we study the books of the jurists and the chapters that relate to sex, we see that there are clear, candid discussions on the specifics of sex, regardless of whether they pertain to sexual organs, the sex act, or some related issue.
We also find that the earlier scholars discussed sex in their books through rare stories, witticisms, and jokes transmitted in a manner that may be considered immoral by the present society. We find that some old books written by pious, ascetic, pure scholars consist of chapters that describe methods which are not conventional and familiar in the sex act. Their justification was that they felt books such as these might make the spouses learn sexual conduct, whereby they would comply their own natural desires as well as those of their spouses, and would therefore need not satisfy those desires outside of the marital life.
This confirm that Islam adopts sex education by virtue of its relationship to the Shariah rulings-the commendable, the obligatory, or the forbidden-which relate to this aspect of the life of the human being. When we study this issue, however, we focus on it in the light of the principle that this discussion is not within the sphere of the forbidden but that of the lawful.
The evolution of cultural and social mores may have helped cultivate negative attitudes towards sex education or some specific aspect of it. This is especially true if the circumstances surrounding these mores, in the reflection of the youth or children, lead to negative results: it will cause subconscious reactions in the child or youth, leading him to stray from Islamic guidelines.
From this perspective, the subject has to be studied in much detail and caution before its thematic associations could be known-relating to the personality of the human being seeking such instruction or the factors that influence his life. What I would like to stress is that sex education did not begin with contemporary developments. Islam did so earlier on every issue so far discussed.
The Mandatory Steps in Sex Education
On the issue of instructing the coming generation in this regard, steps must be drawn up for this in terms of the methods, issues, and milieus, so that the emphasis remains on the education technique, with no elementfrom the old concepts. This means stressing to the child or youth that his sex organ is not something odd, but that it is quite natural; it does not imply strangeness, deficiency or any such thing. Rather, there are Shariah laws which call for the covering of this organ, and for using it within a specific scope of activity, as directed by God-who has spoken about other organs in relation to forbidden matters, such as not eating this or that, not looking, etc.
Nevertheless, before all this the issue calls for an appropriate setting, and it is imperative that we structure this setting, because many social mores rate sex education as a work or subject that is immoral. If we can undertake this, we will be able to instruct the coming generation in sex education through a functional, objective approach, going all the way to subjects like childbirth, where the fetus comes from. We must be straightforward, but with an approach structured on gradually divulged details in this area.
The nature of these things may incite some children to experiment, just as we observe that some of them who watch films of television are quick to put them into practice, and may be hurt as a result. There are also those who read books on sex, or watch erotic films, may attempt to do what they see, living the experience in a twisted form, at a moment when the person's inner impulses combined with the outer surroundings are so influenced that they push him to experiment with whatever he learns. At the same time, however, I stress that the present mode of instruction affecting every house, through television, newspapers, disseminate sexual information which allows youths and children to know much more about sex than the mother or the father.
A telling instance of this is when some women were speaking to one another, one said to the other, "My daughter has now attained puberty, so how can I speak to her about matters related to puberty and sex?" The other replied that she should give her the impression that she knows as much as her daughter, since it was possible that the daughter knew more than her mother!
Sex education may be all the more urgently needed nowadays because it is given to teenagers by way of films and cheap books, with no controls or limits. It may, therefore, be necessary for the specialists in Islamic methodology to draw up a special program to rescue the present generation from all the distorted information on sex.