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Last Updated: 2011/07/28
Summary of question
Is it permissible to satisfy one's sexual desires through any way other than marriage?
What should a person, who is unable to contract permanent or temporary marriage, do?
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Detailed Answer

According to Islam, marriage and establishing the family enjoys a special importance because it is a means through which one can keep away from sins and control his sexual instincts, thus he can remain in peace and move towards religious perfection. Monasticism (renouncing worldly pursuits) or living a life sequestered from the world has been reproached as it is believed to be against seeking perfection and attaining prosperity. According to Islam, marriage is desirable and recommended by itself but if a person is in need of marriage and is afraid that he may fall into haram, then marriage becomes obligatory on him.

According to Islamic Shari'ah, satisfying the physical and sexual needs is permissible only through legal means i.e. permanent or temporary marriage. Of course, during the early period of Islam, there were other legal means also over and above to marriage. They were matrimonial relations with captive and slave women who were halal for such purposes but today there is no way for saturating the sexual desires other than legal marriage.

In this regard, the Quran says:

«وَ أَنْکِحُوا الْأَیامى‏ مِنْکُمْ وَ الصَّالِحینَ مِنْ عِبادِکُمْ وَ إِمائِکُمْ إِنْ یَکُونُوا فُقَراءَ یُغْنِهِمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَ اللَّهُ واسِعٌ عَلیم‏»

"Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasseth all, and he knoweth all things."[i]

«وَ مِنْ آیاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَکُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِکُمْ أَزْواجاً لِتَسْکُنُوا إِلَیْها وَ جَعَلَ بَیْنَکُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَ رَحْمَةً إِنَّ فی‏ ذلِکَ لَآیاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ یَتَفَکَّرُون‏»

"And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect."[ii]

The Holy Prophet of Islam (s) said: 'O, youths, whoever of you affords should adopt a spouse; because marriage covers the eye from non-mahram (stranger) and makes it more chaste.'[iii]

Therefore, a person feels the urge to marry should work hard, rely on God and choose a spouse who is financially at a lower position. He should avoid ceremonial, useless and unnecessary customs and habits which, unfortunately, our society is entangled with and which form a great barrier to the marriage of most the youths. Thus, one should suffice to minimum facilities and means so that he, God forbid, may not commit a haram act.

If you are afraid lest you should fall into a sin as a result of not marrying, it is necessary that you should act according to the following pieces of moral advice so that you may remain immune against any error until you can afford marriage:

1. Fasting is very useful for controlling the physical desires and strengthening your will. If you are not capable of fasting, try to not to overeat or at least your belly should not be full before going to bed.

2. Do not eat the food that causes sexual excitement. Do not eat bananas, chocolates, figs, dates, onions, pepper, eggs, beef, oily foods etc.

3. Always keep your bladder empty.

4. Read something before going to bed. Also do not sleep with your face down to the ground.[iv]

5. Although sexual problem is a reality, it appears to man bigger than it really is. Thus, he thinks that he cannot control it but the reality is that man can overcome and control this problem with strong will, firm determination and proper thinking.

[i] - Al-Noor:32

[ii] - Tauzihul Masail of Imam Khomeini (with connotation), vol.2, pg.449, Rules of Marriage, issue No.2443.

[iii] - Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.2, pg.531, hadith No.21.

[iv] - Extracted from question No.1123.

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