Imam Ilyas Sidyot

What Every Teenager Needs To Know

Everywhere in this society sex and sexuality are openly displayed for all to see. In this climate of free sex and loose moral standards, it becomes imperative for Muslims parents to be proactive in the sexual education of their children. Now, although for many of us, the though of telling our children whys, hows and wheres of the proper sexual behavior between a man and woman, might make us cringe, when we think of the alternative, we'll see what we that we have no choice. Sexual education is a phrase that is taboo for many Muslims.

Part of the reason for this misunderstanding, is that people who encourage fornication and sexual deviations, are often the ones who teach sexual education in this society. How can Muslim parents then not worry when schools and mass media portray fornication as sexual freedom, and homosexuality as an acceptable sexual orientation'? But does this mean that Muslim parents and educators should choose that their children have no sexual education at all? The answer is no! Children will always receive some kind of sexual education, and even if you isolate them, they will still get it from other children! The correct attitude should be to give our children the right sexual education, one that is derived from the Qur'an and Sunnah. It is therefore the obligation of every parent to be prepared to carry out this task, and to be able to do so in the best manner.

This article will, InshaAllah, present some guidance that may make the chore less stressful for all parties involved.

The Different Stages of Sexual Education

7 – 10 years: The age of Discernment: At this age, the child should know the etiquette of entering the parents' room, and the rules concerning looking at others

10 – 14 years: Adolescence: At this age, the child should learn how to avoid sexual arousal, and should be protected from it.

14 - 16 years: Puberty: When the child should know the etiquette of sexual intercourse, if he or she is ready to get married in the near future

16 & Above: Youth: The unmarried young men and women should learn sexual abstinence, and the dangers of adultery and fornication (zina).


The Age of Discernment

In most homes, young children move about quite freely, and often take for granted that they can enter wherever they want. However, there are limitations for older children, who at certain times should ask their parents' permission before entering their bedroom.

Allah subhannahu wa tala says: "oh you who believe! Let your slaves and children among you who have not come to the age of puberty ask your permission (before they come to your presence), on three occasions: Before morning prayer (salatul Fajr), and when you put off your clothes for the noon-rest, and after the late night prayer (salatul Isha). These are three times of privacy for you, outside these times, there is no sin on you or them to move about freely attending to each other. Thus Allah makes clear the Signs to you. And Allah is All-Knowing All-Wise [24:58]

It is then preferable that when the child is old enough to discern between right and wrong, and easily understands and follows directions (usually around age seven), that he should ask permission before entering. This is especially emphasized at the times when the parents are usually undressed, i.e., from the time after Isha prayer to the Fajr prayer and during an afternoon nap.

There is no doubt that this teaches the children to be decent, and aids to protect them from unintentionally stumbling upon scenes that may prove shocking to them. When the child reaches puberty he should be taught to ask permission before entering at all times, as Allah says, "And when the children among you come to puberty, then let them also ask for permission, as those senior to them (in age). Thus Allah makes clear His Signs for you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise" [24:59] By teaching and reinforcing these lessons over time, decency and modesty can gradually be integrated into the child's character.

Meeting The Other Sex: The Etiquette's of Lowering The Gaze

One of the hares lessons for us raised in the West to unlearn, is this notion of eye contact. Although most of us were taught from childhood that it is impolite to stare, we are also taught to look at someone when they were speaking to us, there was no such thins as lowering the gaze. The evidence of this is seen everyday, as men and women openly ogle and drool all over each other in the streets. This si why it is so pressing for us to make sure that Muslim children become aware of what is lawful for him or her to look at and what is not. This is more expressing in the case of children who live here in a non-Muslim society, where they are constantly exposed to indecent scenes of both men and women, in the streets, on televisions, in magazines, on billboards, etc. Indeed the eyes is the window to the soul, and a lustful look can lead to feelings of desire, which can lead to thoughts of fornication. This is why looking at the opposite sex is regulated by the Islamic Shari'ah, where the rules depend on whether they are mahram (plural maharim) or not. This refers to women with whom a man has a specified degree of relationships that precludes marriage.

Etiquettes of Looking

Men Looking at Mahram Women

A man is allowed to look at women who are his mahram, but only at what is usually exposed of their bodies for necessity of working inside the house, such as the head, the hands, the feet, and the neck. For Allah, subhannahu wa ta'ala, says, and say to the believing women that they would lower their gaze and guard their private parts, that they should not display their beauty and ornaments, except what ordinarily appear thereof. That they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their songs, their husbands' sons, their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons." [24:31] However, one should not look at what is usually covered such as the knees, the breasts, the armpits, etc. This means that woman should be decently clothed while in the presence of mahram relatives.

Men Looking at Non-mahram women

It is forbidden for a man too look at women who are strangers to him (i.e., who are outside the mahram relationship). He should lower his gaze as Allah orders him, "Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts, this is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do." [24:30]

Adolescent boys (and even younger ones) that can distinguish between a beautifully woman and a less beautiful one, and can appreciate a women's physical attributes, should be taught to lower their gaze. This protects them form getting their sexual desires aroused. It is sad to hear people saying that there is nothing harmful in an innocent look, especially in the case of teenagers, with the idea that this may somewhat extinguish their sexual desires. On the contrary, a lustful look may lead to a greater sin, as the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasalam, said, "it is written on the son of Adam his lot of zina (fornication/adultery), that will inevitably afflict him. The zina of the ears is hearing, the zina of the tongue is talking, the zina of the hand is assaulting, and the zina of the foot is walking; the heart desires and wishes, and the genitals affirm or deny." (Bukhari and Muslim)

In fact, lowering the gaze is a good deed for which a Muslim is rewarded. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasalam said, "NO Muslim whose eyesight falls inadvertently on the beauties of a woman and then he lowers his gaze, But Allah will credit him for a worship he will appreciate its sweetness in his heart." (Ahmad, at-Tabarani) While the first inadvertent look causes no sin on him, the young man should be taught not to follow it by another, as the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said to Ali Ibn Abi Talib, "oh Ali! Do not let the second look follow the first. The first look is allowed to you, but not the second." (Tirmithi, Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

Men Looking at Other Men and Women Looking at Other Women

Today, both men and women walk about practically in a state of undress, therefore it is more important now more than ever, for Muslim children to be taught to lower their gaze and this applies to both men and women. A man is not allowed to look at another man's awrah, i.e. The area between his navel and his knees (these two parts included), as the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "A man should not look at the awrah of another man nor a woman of a woman, nor should a man go under one cloth with another man, nor a woman with another woman." (Muslim) He also said to a man he saw uncovering his thigh, "Cover your thigh, for the thigh is awrah." (al-Hakim)

It is clear from this that a man should always cover himself from the navel to the knees in the presence of others, and should not uncover his awrah while swimming or playing sports games or while taking a shower in the presence of others. It is highly recommended to teach boys to cover themselves down to the knees at a young age (around seven) so that they grow up with this habit.

This rule applies equally to Muslim women looking at other women, whether these are Muslims or disbelievers. Many of us however, feel no shame at sitting and browsing through a Victoria's Secret Catalogue, or through the pages of a swimsuit or fitness magazine, where the women are practically naked, doing so either out of indifference or ignorance. It is regrettable to see a Muslim woman allowing herself to look at non-believing women who are barely clothed, believing that this is allowed. Girls should be taught to lower their gaze when they see such scenes, and should learn to cover their awrah at all times, when they are in presence of other women, Muslim or otherwise. The awrah of the woman with respect to other Muslim women is the same as the awrah of the man, i.e., from the knees to the navel.

Men Looking at Teenage Boys

While in general, men are allowed to look during usual activities at teenage boys whose beards have not yet grown in, they are forbidden to look at them if there is a fear of temptation, especially in the case of handsome boys. Looking then becomes unlawful, because this may lead to sexual desire and sexual deviation.

Women Looking at Men

A woman is allowed to look at men while they are walking on the street, for the purpose of buying in the market, or other lawful activities, provided that hey are properly clothes, with their awrah completely covered.
The prophet, (swt) allowed Aisha to look at the Abyssinians playing with their spears in the courtyard of his Masjid, while she was hiding behind him. Women are not allowed to look closely at a man, however, or to have a lustful or provocative look, or to look deliberately at them when they happen to be in the same setting (such as on a bus, or in a room). The reason for this rule being somewhat more relaxed for women is that usually they are not the ones who initiate a relationship, due to their nature, and that men are usually more daring.

Looking at a Small Child’s Awrah

There is a consensus among the scholars that children who are four years old or younger have no awrah, meaning that there is no harm in looking at their naked bodies. The awrah of children over four years is the genitals and the buttocks. When the child’s consciousness of sex has developed, or when evidence of sexual urge is noticed in him/her, the awrah limit becomes the same as that of adults and should be treated as such. However it is better to accustom the child to being always properly clothed.

All the rules of prohibition of looking become void in cases of necessity such as in administering first aid or medical treatment or during a trail testimony as the judge requests. Other exceptions are looking at one’s spouse, a man looking at a woman for the prospect of marrying her. These two exceptions will be discussed later.

A child who is raised in the context of these divine rules of lowering the gaze will no doubt acquire a distinguished Islamic personality, and a noble social character. Indeed, there is no better way to teach the child these manners, than for us the parents to lead the way and set the proper example for them to follow.

Who Is Considered Mahram?

Any woman, with whom a man has a relationship (of blood or foster) that precludes marriage, is considered a mahram to him. Mahram women include his mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, grandaunt, niece, grandniece, his father’s wife, his wife’s daughter, his mother-in-law, his foster mother (the one who breast fed him), foster sisters, and any foster relatives that are similar to the above mentioned blood relatives. For the Prophet, (swt), said, “What is forbidden by reason of kinship is forbidden by reason of suckling.” (Bukhari)

These are considered maharim because Allah mentions them in the Holy Quran, “And marry not women whom your fathers married, except what has already passed; indeed it was shameful and most hateful, and an evil way. Forbidden to you (for marriages) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your foster mother who breast fed you, your foster milk suckling sisters, your wives’ mothers, your stepdaughters under your guardianship, born of your wives who whom you have gone in but there is no sin on you if you have not done so (to marry their daughters), the wives of your sons who spring from your loins, and two sisters in wedlock at the same time, except for what has already passed; verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [4:22-23] All the man’s female relatives mentioned in these two verses are considered his maharim, because it is unlawful (haram for him to marry them, except the wife’s sister mentioned last, who is not a mahram because he can marry her if he divorces his wife, or if she dies. Reciprocally, if a woman is a mahram to a man, such her brother, her father her uncle, etc. then he is a mahram to her. One of the hardest things for my family to adjust to is the fact that I can’t be alone or get undressed in front of some of my male relatives. To them, it’s just Patrick or Mike or Kari, what’s the harm? They do not understand that some relatives are not considered maharim who fall under the category of strangers, and are, therefore, legal for marriage under Islamic Shari’ah.

Remember: Two habits that are commonly practiced in some Muslim communities and societies, which are unlawful, and Muslims should be warned against are:

Privacy With Non-mahram

Satan is always eager to tempt people and to make them fall into what is unlawful, and for this reason Allah (swt) warns us saying, “O you who believe! Follow not the footsteps of Satan. And whosoever follows the footsteps of Satan, then verily he commands what is indecent and wrong.” [24:21] One of the Satan’s means to tempt people into sin, is privacy with Non-mahram women, for this reason the Shari’iah has prohibited it. The Prophet, (sws), said, “A man does not meet privately with a women without the Satan being the third (present).” (Tirmithi) Ibn Umar narrated that the Prophet, (sws), also said, “From now on a man must not drop in on a non-mahram woman unless accompanied by one or two men.” (Muslim) therefore, a man is not allowed to be alone with a stranger-woman in a house or a room, or in a car, even if that woman is his sister-in-law or his maid, or his patient [in the case of a physician] etc. Many people are very lax concerning this rule, thinking they have confidence in controlling themselves or confidence in the other party, but this leads to fornication or to its preambles, and causes the increase of illegitimate children.

Shaking the Hands of Non-mahram

The traditions of certain societies have prevailed over Allah’s Shari’ah concerning this matter. Their wrong habits have overcome the rule of religion so much that when one presents the rule of Shari’ah to them, he is accused of being backward. Shaking the hand of one’s female cousins, or one’s uncles wives has become as easy as falling off a long in our societies, but if people considered seriously the dangers of this matter in the Shari’ah, they would not do it. The Prophet (sws), said, “it is better for one of you to be pierced by an iron needle in the head than to touch the hand of a woman that is not allowed to him.” (Tabarani) This sin is considered fornication of the hand, as the Prophet, (sws), said, “The eyes fornicate, the hands fornicate, and the feet fornicate, and the intimate parts fornicate.” (Ahmad) Is there a person purer than Muhammad (sws)? And in spite of that he said, “I do not shake women’s hands.” (Ahmad) He also said, “I do not touch women’s hands,” (Tabarani) Aisha, (rwa), said, “No by Allah, the Prophet’s hand never touched a women’s hand, he used to accept their pledge of allegiance by [hearing their] words only.” (Muslim) Men who threaten to divorce their pious wives if they refuse to shake their brothers’ hands should fear Allah. It should also be known that wearing a glove or wrapping the hand with a cloth while shaking hands is not allowed either.


It is widely recognized that adolescence is the most dangerous and tumultuous period in the life of an individual. IF the child passes this period safely, it his hoped that he will have a happy and successful life later. For this reason, Islam prescribes on every parent whose child approaches adolescence to guard him against anything that might arouse his sexual desire, and this should being when the child is around ten.

Supervision of Children Inside the Home


Supervision of Children Outside of the Home

Muslim children leaving home are like soldiers going to the battlefield; they should be armed to ward off the dangers awaiting them outside. Although too numerous to cite, here are a few:


Communication is the Best Strategy

In the face of all these dangers, supervision outside the house becomes impossible, and in fact may not even be a good strategy, considering the more mature personality of the child at this age. A more positive attitude is to help him regulate his own sexual desire, and correct himself. Some of the ways in which this can be done include:


1-Repercussion on the child’s health: Many children and young men are unaware that sexual promiscuity leads to many sexually transmitted diseases. One such disease AIDS, a deadly disease that has become the plague of sexually promiscuous societies. One single sexual act my ruin the child’s health forever. This danger alone is an incentive strong enough to caution the child against the sin of fornication and any path that leads to it.

2- Repercussion on the society: Any society in which sexual rules are relaxed suffers from many illnesses such as a high number of unwed mothers, children born out of wedlock, a high number of rapists, and finally the gradual destruction of the nuclear family

3-Repercussionon the economy: No doubt that the wave of fatherless children resulting from the plague of fornication constitutes an economic burden on the society. On the other hand, a man who commits such acts acquires a sense of irresponsibility, which will no doubt reflect on his work, and on the society as a whole.

4-Repercussion on the Hereafter: It is very important that he child should fear Allah’s Punishment if he commits this abominable sin. Allah says, “And those who invoke not with Allah any other god nor kill such life as Allah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse; and whoever does this shall receive the punishment. The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace.” [25:68-69]


When a child reaches puberty, he becomes fully accountable for his deeds in the Sight of Allah


When the child reaches puberty, there are certain rules that parents should explain to him or her, which include:


The next step is obviously to teach the child how to perform ghusl and the Sunan acts of ghusl. He or she should know that acts that are unlawful to him or her while in a state of sexual impurity. These include:


Unmarried Staying Chaste

Many means are offered to Muslim youths to help them to preserve their chastity. Some have been discussed earlier, such as lowering the gaze, keeping away from anything that induces arousal, seeking the company of righteous people and fearing the punishment of Allah, Some other ways are:


Deviations are Wrong

Regardless of the consensus of the larger society, homosexuality is not a sexual norm, or alternative. Islam considers homosexuality as a sexual deviation leading to a perverted act which goes against the natural order Allah intended for mankind. It is a corruption of the man's sexuality and a crime against the opposite sex. Therefore, the Islamic Shariah strictly prohibits the practice of this perverted act, which is mentioned in many places in the Holy Quran.

The story of Prophet Lot's people, who were addicted to this practice, is the best example. Prophet Lot alaye asalam, said to his people, "Verily, you do sodomy with men, and rob the wayfarer! And practice all wickedness in your meetings." [29:29] And he said to them, "Of all the creatures of the world, will you approach males, and leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your wives? Nay, you are trespassing people!" [26:165-166] But their answer to Prophet Lot was, "bring us the Wrath of Allah if you are telling us the Truth." [29:29] An so Allah gave them the punishment they deserved. "And We rained on them a rain of torment. And how evil was the rain of those who had been warned." [26:173] Because of the danger, and the atrocity of this crime, Allah punished the people who committed it by four kinds of punishments. No people have been punished by all four combined before: He blinded their eyes, He turned the town of Sodom upside down, He rained on them stones of baked clay piled up, and He sent against them a sayhah [a torment and an awful cry].

Just as a person who has a sexual urge should not satisfy it by committing zina, a person who has this perverted thought should not act upon it. IN order to maintain the purity of the Muslim society, most Muslim scholars have ruled that the punishment for this act should be the same as for zina (i.e., one hundred whiplashes for the man who has never married and death by stoning for the married man). Some have even ruled that the punishment of both partners in sodomy is execution by the sword, if they committed the act by their own choice and agreement. For Ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet (sws) said, "Whomever you found committing the crime of Lot's people [i.e., sodomy], then kill both partners." (Ahmad) the unprecedented plagues and the many dangerous diseases that have appeared in our time such as the fatal AIDS disease, and which are the result of the is immoral crime, show the wisdom of inflicting such as strong punishment for this sin.

What about Masturbation?

Guarding one's chastity also includes staying away from masturbation. Sexual arousal may drive a person to masturbation. Such a person should know, however, that the majority of the scholars consider this practice unlawful. This ruling is bases on the Words of Allah Who says, "Those who guard their private parts except from their spouses or those whom their right hands possess, for them, they are free from blame. But those who crave something beyond that, are transgressors." [23:5-7]

The one who masturbates is considered to be among 'those who crave something beyond that' specified in the verse A Muslim should therefore resist his temptation by avoiding anything that leads to sexual arousal. The Prophet's advice to the Muslim youth is to seek help through frequent fasting, for it strengthens the fear of Allah, teaches self control, and cools one's desire.