Is sex allowed while fasting in Ramadan?
Sura 2 verse 187Sex in Ramadan
"You are allowed to sleep with your wives at night during Lent. They are a dress for you and you are a dress for them. God knows that you [as long as contact with women during Lent was also forbidden at night] you." had cheated himself. Then he turned to you kindly and forgave you. "
This is one of the few verses in the Qur'an that contains an immediate religious law. For the month of Ramadan, the Koran requires that Muslims abstain from all eating, drinking and sexual contact during the day. The verse does away with a notion that was widespread among the first Muslims that one should not have sex during the entire Ramadan. He gives them the go-ahead for after sunset until dawn, when the fast starts again.
The Koran series is explained as a multimedia presentation
It must have been quite difficult - without a joke - for the first Muslims to forego sexual intercourse for a month: "God knows that you cheated on yourself," they say.
Professor Esack lives and teaches in South Africa. (priv.) So the verse reflects God's grace and at the same time alludes to the fact that sex is okay for pleasure as well as relaxation. Monasticism and sexual abstinence are of no value in Islam. On the contrary: sexual intercourse is considered something fantastic and is not only used for procreation.
In the middle of this verse of the Koran there is a particularly charming sentence. Muslims who are concerned about gender equality and equality between men and women often quote him - albeit without considering the wider context: What is meant is the sentence: "You are a dress for you and you are a dress for them."
Those Muslims who keep quoting this verse - and I am one of them - argue that the basic relationship between men and women is complementary; that we are destined to support one another and to be a source of mutual security - instead of men who are superior to women. So it is also in sura 30 verse 21: "So that you can find rest with them." So far, so good - or so "pleasant".
However, a closer look at the original Arabic text reveals a serious hermeneutical challenge. The Koran text mainly assumes that its audience is male and therefore addresses men. In the passage: "They are a dress for you", the "she" is in Arabic in the third person plural feminine: "hunna" and the "you" in the third person plural masculine: "kum".
Lately there have been times when one can argue that the masculine form "kum" encompasses both men and women - similar to the term "humanity". But it can be problematic when it comes to the genders as gender-specific and sexually oriented beings and only one gender is addressed.
If I were a girl, I would think it would be great if my parents kept talking to my brother and asking him to be nice to me. But I would feel a lot better if they spoke to me too.
Of course, the Koran's patriarchal social milieu shines through here. And therein lies another challenge: How do we read a text in the 21st century that was revealed in the 7th century when we believe that every single word is not only divinely inspired but is the immediate and immutable Word of God?
The audio version has been shortened slightly for airtime reasons.
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