Guiding Romantic Desire: Wisdom in the Sexual Ethics of Islam

Paper Summary:

This paper discusses traditional sexual ethics in Islam with a focus on its applicability to the present age. The paradigm within which this discussion takes place is one of goodwill and sincere advice, not issuing condemnation. Traditional sexual ethics is understood to be rooted in the classical dichotomy of reason and law versus passion and whim. Reason requires us to do what is best for ourselves and others over the long term at the expense of instant gratification. Our best interest is clearly conveyed to us in the wisdom of the divine law, and as such we should submit to it. Then, the major areas of this topic are explored with reference to the Qur’an and Sunnah: love and mercy in marriage, family stability, child-rearing, modest clothing, lowering the gaze, seclusion, cross-sex friendships, and extramarital sex. Special attention is given to modern temptations such as cohabitation and pornography, with reference to sociological and medical studies to further show the wisdom of divine law.

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