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Marital Etiquette - Part 2

by Hussein Khalid Al-Hussein, Ph.D.


Islamic education is comprehensive, covering all fields of study. It has been innovative in the fields of marital relationships and has provided useful and appropriate teachings to married couples. These teachings provide Muslims with guidelines to keep them within appropriate limits, because exceeding the limits to any extreme causes harm to the individual and the society.

Adab Al-Jima` (Intercourse Etiquettes)

Islam, in a very decent language that is hard to show in the translation from Arabic, teaches Muslims how to perform their marital duties.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) recommended the husband to be kind to his bride, and to comfort her by offering her something to drink when they meet the first time after the wedding.

The man is also told on that very first day to put his hand on her forehead, say the name of Allah (Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim), and pray to Allah (make a Du`a') to bless their marriage.

The groom and the bride are also recommended to pray two Rak`ahs together when they meet on the first day of marriage.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) recommended the couple to start every intercourse by saying: Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim (in the name of Allah), and by praying to Allah (making a Du`a') to protect them from Satan, and to protect the child from Satan if a child comes from that intercourse.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {If one of you when going to his wife said: Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim (In the name of Allah), O Allah! Protect us from Shaitan and protect the sustenance (child) you give us from Shaitan, and if Allah gave them a child, Shaitan would not affect it at all.} (Al-Bukhari).

The Prophet (s.a.w.) also told the men not to leave their wives before they too had been satisfied, as is their right.

The man should not surprise his wife by starting the intercourse suddenly, since that is harmful to her, and the consequences could be harmful to her faith. He should get acquainted with her and should make her feel comfortable instead. The man is also prohibited from surprising his wife when coming back from a trip. He should notify her and give her the time to take care of herself, as the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his companions did when they came back from a battle.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {Do not surprise women at home at night.} (Al-Bukhari). Another narration in Al-Bukhari and Muslim adds that this will give the woman enough time to take care of her hair and herself.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) told the husband to do Wudhu' (ablution) (the same way he does it for the prayer) after having intercourse if he wants to do so again.

The Wudhu' (ablution) is the washing of some of the body parts to prepare oneself for the prayer and implies the intention to pray. It includes washing the hands to the wrists three times, rinsing out the mouth with water three times, cleansing the nostrils of the nose by sniffing water through them three times, washing the whole face three times with both hands, washing the arms up to the far elbows three times starting with the right arm, wiping the whole head with a wet hand once, wiping the inner sides of the ears with the forefingers and the outer sides with the thumbs, and washing the feet up to the ankles three times starting with the right foot. The obligatory steps are washing the face, washing the hands to the elbows, wiping the head, and washing the feet to the ankles. The rest of the steps are Sunnah. The above sequence should be followed in performing Wudhu'.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {If one of you went to his wife and then wanted to go to her again, he must do Wudhu' (and in another narration: like that done for the prayer) between the two times, because it makes him more active in coming back.} (Muslim, Ahmad, and Abu Dawood).

However, taking a bath is better in this case.

Abu Rafi` narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) went to his wives' places on one day, one after the other, taking a bath at the place of every one. Abu Rafi` said that he asked: O Messenger of Allah! Why don't you make it one bath? The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {This is better, more purified, and cleaner.} (Abu Dawood and An-Nasa'i).

The word Junub describes the state of a person after intercourse (even if the genitals just touch each other without having an intercourse), or after the emission of semen, called Inzal or Dafq (ejaculation; ejection of semen), whether the person is awake or asleep. If this happens while the person is asleep, it is called (Ihtilam). This status of impurity is usually called Janabah. These words are used in some of the Hadiths quoted in this section. This status of impurity can be rid of by taking a bath if water is available; otherwise, Tayammum (explained below) will do it. The antonym of Janabah is Taharah (cleanness), and the antonym of Junub is Tahir (pure or clean).

The husband and the wife are allowed to take a bath together in one place, even if he sees all of her body and she sees all of his body.

`A'ishah said: {I used to take a bath with the Prophet (s.a.w.) from one water container that was between me and him. Our hands used to get mixed in it, and he would put his hands in the water until I say: Leave for me, leave for me. She said: We were both Junub.} (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

The Prophet (s.a.w.) recommended the couple to do Wudhu' (ablution) after the intercourse, before they go to sleep. Taking baths, however, is required before resuming certain activities such as praying, reading or touching the Qur'an, and entering the prayer area of the mosque.

`A'ishah said: {The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to wash his groin area and used to do an ablution (Wudhu') before he ate or slept while being Junub (status after the intercourse).} (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

`Abdullah Ibn `Omar said: { `Omar asked: O Messenger of Allah! Can one of us go to sleep while being Junub? He said: Yes, if he does Wudhu'.} (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Another narration says: {Yes, he does Wudhu' and sleeps until he takes a bath, if he wants.} (Muslim). Another narration also says: {Yes, and he does Wudhu' if he wants.} (Ibn Khuzaimah and Ibn Habban).

This Wudhu' is not required for Muslims, but it is strongly recommended.

`A'ishah said: {The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) used to sleep while being Junub without touching the water, until he wakes up and then takes a bath.} (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, and At-Tirmizi).

A man can postpone the bath if he wants to have intercourse with his wife when he wakes up. This is narrated in many authentic Hadiths by Ibn `Abbas and others.

In another narration, `A'ishah said: {The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to sleep while being Junub. Then, when Bilal would come and call the Azan for the prayer, he would get up and take a bath. I used to look at the water dropping off his head. Then, he would go out, and I would hear his voice in the Fajr prayer. Then, he would remain fasting (if he was fasting). Matraf said: I asked `Amir: In Ramadhan? He said: Yes, whether it was in Ramadhan or in another month.} (Ibn Abi Shaibah and Ahmad).

The couple has the option of doing Tayammum instead of Wudhu'. Tayammum is done by rubbing one's palms on the ground, and then wiping the face, and then the hands to the elbows. This option is permitted when water is not available.

`A'ishah said: {The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) used either to do Wudhu' or Tayammum before going to sleep while being Junub.} (Al-Baihaqi).

The husband and wife may take a bath before they go to sleep if they choose; this is better than the Wudhu'.

`Abdullah Ibn Qais said: {I asked `A'ishah: What did the Prophet (s.a.w.) use to do about Janabah? Did he use to take a bath before sleeping, or did he use to sleep before taking a bath? She said: He used to do all that; he used to take a bath and sleep sometimes, and used to sleep and then take a bath some other times. I said: Al-Hamdu Lillah (thanks to Allah) who made this so convenient.} (Muslim and Ahmad).

Islam prohibits eccentric, violent, harmful, and dirty forms of sexual interactions between a husband and wife. There is no specified position for intercourse in Islam, but the man is prohibited from having anal intercourse with his wife.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {Do not approach women from the anus.} (Ahmad, At-Tirmizi, An-Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah).

Touching the genitals with the mouths, an act currently practiced in non-Islamic societies, was never practiced by the Arabs before or after Islam, nor was it mentioned in the Hadith. According to Shaikh `Abdullah Ibn Jibrin, a member of Dar Al-Ifta' ( Fiqh committee) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this act is strongly hated. A translation of his Fatwa, published in Al-Muslimun Magazine (54) states: "This is a bad act that People with honored souls dislike and hate. The satisfaction in this case is one-sided, not like that in the normal intercourse that causes reproduction. It may be part of what the youth have learned from watching foreign pornographic movies (which is prohibited in Islam). This act could also cause harm to the couple from the liquids that could reach their mouths and get mixed with their saliva or be swallowed. So when it comes to judging it Islamically, it is better to say that it is strongly hated."

Al-Awqat Al-Muharramah (Prohibited Times)

Islam specified the periods of time during which a man is not allowed to go to his wife. These include her menstruation period, and the childbed period, which is the first forty days after the childbirth, or until the blood stops, whichever comes first.

The length of the menstruation period varies from three to ten days. It is called Haidh or Mahidh in Arabic. During this time, the woman is called Ha'idh. Any menstruation less than three days or beyond the ten days is not considered a menstruation period but is called Istihadhah in Arabic, during which the woman is considered Tahir (pure) or has Taharah (purity).

The childbed or confinement period lasts until the blood stops, or forty days, whichever comes first, and is called An-Nifas. During this time, the woman is called Nufasa'. If the childbed lasts beyond forty days, the woman will be considered Tair, and the Nifas period will be considered over.

In these two particular cases, it is the intercourse only which is prohibited, because it is harmful at this time, as the Qur'an states. The couple, however, can do everything else, such as kissing, hugging, or touching, provided the wife covers her groin area to avoid its contact with his body.

Allah (s.w.t.) said: {{They question you (O Muhammad) concerning menstruation. Say: It is an illness; so refrain from women during such times and go not in unto them till they are cleaned. And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has enjoined upon you. Truly Allah loves those who turn unto Him, and loves those who have a care for cleanness.}} [Al-Qur'an: Al-Baqarah (2:222)].

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {Do everything except the intercourse.} (Muslim and Abu Dawood).

`A'ishah said: {The Messenger of Allah used to tell one of us (the women) when she is in her menstruation period to cover the place (groin area), and then her husband may sleep with her, or touch her.} (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

One of the wives of the Prophet (s.a.w.) also said about him: {When he used to want something from the wife who is in her menstruation period, he would cover the groin area, and then he would do what he wanted.} (Abu Dawood).

These Hadiths mean that a man can sleep with his wife without having intercourse.

Once the blood stops, the husband can go to his wife after she cleans her groin area only, after she does Wudhu', or after she takes a bath. If water is not available, Tayammum is enough to make it lawful for him to have intercourse with her.

The man is also told not to go to his wife after he ejaculates in his dreams and before he cleans the place, takes a bath, or urinates. During this time, he is Ihtilam. This emission is considered from Shaitan (Satan), and its residuals should be cleaned.

The man is prohibited from having intercourse with his wife from dawn until dusk during the days of the fasting month of Ramadhan. The husband and the wife are allowed to kiss or hug provided it does not lead to anything which would void their fasting. Even during days of voluntary fasting, this rule must be followed.

For pilgrims in Mecca, no exception is given, even during the night. Throughout the time of Hajj (pilgrimage), pilgrims should abstain from intercourse and all that leads to it, such as kissing, touching, hugging, and talking about it.

This rule for pilgrims in Mecca also applies to men doing I`tikaf (retreat) in the mosques.

Allah (s.w.t.) said: {{But do not associate with your wives while you are in retreat in mosques.}} [Al-Qur'an: Al-Baqarah (2:187)].

Al-Istitar (Privacy)

In Islam interaction between the husband and his wife should always be done privately, away from others' observation, including one's children who live in the same house. The Prophet (s.a.w.) also prohibited the man and the woman to talk to others about details that happen in their bedrooms. One is only allowed to reveal what is necessary when there are good reasons, such as medical issues.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {Among those who will occupy the worst position in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection is the man who has intercourse with his wife and she with him, and then he spreads her secrets.} (Ahmad and Abu Dawood)

Asma' Bint Yazid said: {I was present where the Prophet (s.a.w.) was, and men and women were sitting. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said to them: "May a man be talking about what he does to his wife, and may a woman be talking about what she does with her husband?" The people remained quiet and did not answer. So I said: "Yes, O Messenger of Allah! The women do that, and the men do that too." He said: "Do not do that, because doing that is like a Shaitan meets a Shaitanah in a street, then he had intercourse with her while people were watching."} (Ahmad).

At-Tazayyon (Adornment and Beautification)

Muslim men and women should take care of themselves and should always try to look nice and stay clean, so they do not cause offence to each other, which could lead one of them to seek illicit relationships with others. Elegance and beautification are encouraged in Islam, as the Qur'an states.

Allah (s.w.t.) said: {{Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of His providing.}} [Al-Qur'an: Al-A`raf (7:32)].

Men and women are told not to grow their pubic hair, armpit hair, or their fingernails and toe nails. Islam requires all men to be circumcised, grow beards, and trim their moustaches. These are part of the cleanliness code in Islam.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {Fitrah is five: Circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, trimming the moustache, clipping the nails, and pulling the armpit hair.} (Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, and An-Nasa'i).

The Fitrah is the Sunnah (tradition) of the Prophets that we are told to imitate. It also means the instincts that are born with us without the effect of our upbringing.

Anas said: {The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) told us to trim the moustache, clip the nails, pull the armpit hair, and shave the pubic hair, so that we may not leave that for longer than forty nights.} (Muslim, At-Tirmizi, Abu Dawood, and An-Nasa'i).

A Muslim man or woman should like only what is Halal in his/her spouse. When someone starts to enjoy what is Haram and starts to think it is beautiful, he/she should question his/her belief and its strength. It goes without saying that many of todays fashions (punk haircuts, etc.) are against the teachings of Islam, and are from the influences of Shaitan. May Allah protect us from these influences.

Men are told to adorn themselves for their wives as women are for their husbands.

Ibn `Abbas, the companion of the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: "I adorn myself for my wife just like she adorns herself for me, and I wouldn't want to get my right from her without giving her her right too, because Allah (s.w.t.) said: And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness". (Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir).

The adornment of men varies by age. What is appropriate for a youth may not be appropriate for older men and vice versa. The man should make sure that he wears clean clothes, keeps his body clean, combs his hair, and uses perfume. It ought to be mentioned here the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) prohibited the men from imitating women, and women from imitating men in the way they dress.

Islam prohibits Muslim men from wearing gold and pure (natural) silk. Many authentic Hadiths emphasize this rule.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) took silk in his right hand and gold in his left, and said: {These two are Haram (prohibited) for the males among my followers} (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, An-Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah). Ibn Majah reported the additional phrase: {but Halal (allowed) for the females}.

There was an instance in which the Prophet (s.a.w.) allowed one of his companions to wear silk, because the man had a skin problem (scabies). While Muslim men are not allowed to wear gold at all, they are encouraged to wear silver rings.

Islam prohibits Muslims from dressing for the sake of fame, vanity, and pride.

Allah (s.w.t.) said: {{Allah does not love any proud boaster}} [Al-Qur'an: Al-Hadid (57:23)].

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will not look at the person who trails his robe behind him out of pride.} (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Any beautification that alters the physical appearance Allah created us with is prohibited in Islam, unless it is for medical reasons. This prohibition includes plastic surgeries performed by people to change their noses, breasts, or other parts of their bodies.

Allah (s.w.t.) said about what Shaitan said about his followers: {{And surely I (Shaitan) will lead them astray, and surely I will arouse desires in them, and surely I will command them and they will cut the cattle's ears, and surely I will command them and they will change Allah's creation. Whoso chooses Shaitan for a patron instead of Allah is verily a loser, and his loss is manifest.}} [Al-Qur'an: An-Nisa'(4:119)].

Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi, a contemporary Muslim scholar, states that what Islam disapproves of is change merely for the sake of beautification. However, if changes are needed to eliminate pain or distress, there is nothing wrong with it; but Allah knows best.

Al-Bahi Al-Khuli, another contemporary Muslim scholar, says in his book "Al-Mar'ah Bain Al-Bait wal Mujtama` ": "It may happen that a person has an unusual physical defect which attracts the attention of others to the point of inflicting physical and psychological pain, every time he meets people. In this case, he may treat the defect, and thus alleviate the embarrassment which made his life miserable. Allah, the Most Merciful, has imposed no hardship on us in religion."

The Prophet (s.a.w.) also prohibited tattooing, cutting the teeth and widening the gap between them for the purpose of beautification, plucking the eyebrows, and wearing wigs and hairpieces for both men and women, (or the addition of any other natural or artificial hair.)

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {Allah has cursed the Washimat and the Mustawshimat, the Namisat and the Mutanammisat, and the Mutafallijat for beauty, who change what Allah has created.} (Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, and At-Tirmizi).

The Washimat are the tattooers, and the Mustawshimat are the people who are tattooed. The Namisat pluck the eyebrows to straighten them or to make them thinner, and the Mutanammisat are the people whose eyebrows are plucked. Some Muslim scholars apply this prohibition of plucking the hair to all the facial hair of the woman. The Mutafallijat for beauty are the peoples who widen the gaps between their teeth for the sake of beautification.

The Hadith says: {The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) cursed the Washimah and the Mustawshimah, and the Washirah and the Mustawshirah.} (Muslim).

The Washimah and the Mustawshimah are the singular forms of the Washimat and the Mustawshimat that are mentioned above. The Washirah is the one who cuts or shortens the teeth, and the Mustawshirah is the one whose teeth are cut or shortened.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {Allah has cursed the Wasilah and the Mustawsilah.} (Al-Bukhari).

The Wasilah is a woman whose profession is making wigs and hairpieces, and Mustwasilah is a woman who wears them.

In addition, making braids out of anything that is not made of hair, like wool or silk, is allowed.

It is Sunnah to dye one's hair and beard

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {The Jews and the Christians do not dye their hair, so be different from them.} (Al-Bukhari).

The color of the dye should be appropriate for the age of the person; for instance, black dye is not appropriate for old men while it is appropriate for young men. It is not from the Sunnah, however, to dye the beard with black color. Dying the hair was practiced by some of the companions, like Abu Bakr and `Omar while others, like `Ali, did not dye their hair.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) also told Muslim men to let their beards grow and to trim their moustaches. Growing beards is considered a requirement for Muslim men by most Muslim scholars and the four famous Islamic schools of law. Muslim men should not shave their beards, or drastically shorten or trim them. They are allowed, however, to trim the length and the breadth of their beards if they grow too long or wide. Imitating and resembling the unbelievers is prohibited in Islam.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: {Be different from the Mushriks (idolaters): let the beard grow and trim the moustache.} (Al-Bukhari).

Many contemporary Muslim scholars allow a man to shave his beard in cases in which having a beard could cause harm. This case exists in many countries where Muslims are oppressed by their leaders, and men are arrested and tortured just because they grow beards.


{The Prophet (s.a.w.) once said: "A man is recompensed for the intercourse he performs with his wife", and when some of the surprised listeners asked the Prophet (s.a.w.): "Is the person rewarded for satisfying his passions?", the Prophet (s.a.w.) answered: "Do you not see that if he were to satisfy it in a prohibited manner he would be committing a sin? So if he satisfies it in a lawful manner he will be recompensed."} (Muslim).

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