In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.
It is permitted for married couples to enjoy themselves with complete satisfaction when they are in seclusion with one another; whether it is by taking pleasure at looking at each other’s body, or kissing, or touching and caressing one another, or by conversations of an adult, sexual and intimate nature or by any other means of permissible enjoyment.
From the most important aspects of this pleasure is that the married couple can look at each other in order to arouse the desire and passion in themselves for their partner―especially when they are in seclusion and alone―and they should make themselves presentable for that purpose in terms of bathing, perfume and garments. So taking enjoyment from looking at each other is permissible, and it prevents their eyes from looking at that which is disallowed outside the marriage. Indeed, it is permitted for them to look at the nakedness and intimate parts of their spouse and take pleasure from that when they are secluded or in bed together―there is no Shariah prohibition in this nor is it prohibited from the customs of the people. Rather it is from the complete fulfilment of enjoyment between them―and it protects Muslim communities from the corruption of fornication, lewdness and pornography. So the fulfilment of intimate pleasures between the couple is good for the marriage, it brings happiness to the family, increases the number of offspring and it lowers the gazes―and it prevents the hearts from desiring what is harām because what they have at home more than suffices them.
The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Hide your ‘awrah (private parts) except from your wives and what your right hands possess.” (Ahmad 5/3) And the mother of the believers, Ā’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) said: “I and the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) would take a bath together from the same vessel of water after having sexual relations.” (Al-Bukhāri 1/64, Muslim 1/256) So this is proof that the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) would look at his wife, and that she would look at him. And complete pleasure and enjoyment are achieved by gazing along with caressing, touching, whispering intimate speech, foreplay and sexual intercourse. Ibn Al-Qayyim (d. 752H) stated: “It is from the necessary affairs that a man precedes sexual intercourse with his wife with foreplay, kissing and sucking her tongue. Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) would participate in foreplay with his wives and kiss them.” (Zād al-Ma’ād, 4/253) All of this is allowed and legislated―and it brings about love, intimacy, compassion and the utmost nearness between their hearts and bodies.
And if this is occasionally preceded by a romantic evening (with just the two of them), a nice meal and a stroll before retiring to the bedroom, then it only adds to their desire. Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said to Jābir bin Abdillāh (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā), “Why not marry a young woman so that you could play with her and she could play with you?” (Muslim, 715) This shows that foreplay, touching and kissing between the married couple is important and recommended and it is from the greatest means that leads to intimacy and sexual pleasure that leaves no room for seeking what is prohibited from relationships outside of marriage. And each of them should prepare themselves for their intimacy. In the same hadeeth Jābir stated: “Then when we arrived and were about to enter Madinah (and it was still daylight), the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Wait, so that we may enter by night in order that the woman with dishevelled hair may comb it, and the woman whose husband had been away may shave her intimate parts. And when you enter your home enjoy sexual intimacy with her and make children.”
Allah (the Most High) stated:
أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ ٱلصِّيَامِ ٱلرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَآئِكُمْ ۚ
“Allah has permitted for you sexual relations with your wives on the night of fasts.” (2:187) Ibn Jareer At-Tabari (rahimahullāh) said in his Tafseer (3/488) that this includes, “lewd speech of a sexual nature.” And Ibn Jareer and Ibn Mundhir reported from Ibn ‘Abbās (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) that he said: “Ar-Rafath (ٱلرَّفَثُ) means frequently coming to the wife, kissing her, winking at her and speaking with sexually explicit language.” (Shaqā’iq al-Atrujj of As-Suyooti, p. 85) Also, ‘Abd bin Humayd reported from ‘Atā (rahimahullāh) in his explanation of this verse: “Ar-Rafath (ٱلرَّفَثُ) means sexual intercourse and besides that from sexually explicit language.” Ibn Seereen (d. 110H) was asked, “Can a person use sexually explicit language during intercourse?” He responded: “The most pleasurable intercourse is the one with the most sexually explicit speech.” (Nawādir al-Ayk of As-Suyooti, p. 48)
All of this conduct is good for society as a whole and brings about its cohesion and harmony.
There are many proofs showing that the Salaf would take enjoyment from their wives and their wives from them―that couples get pleasure from kissing, embracing and intimately touching, even if that does not always lead to sexual intercourse. A couple should be ready and willing to gratify each other’s needs (through foreplay and intercourse) at any time they feel the desire for that (in seclusion and complete privacy). A man came to Ibn ‘Abbās (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) and said: “I married a pretty daughter of an uncle of mine, and this took place in Ramadān. Am I allowed to kiss her?” Ibn ‘Abbās asked: “Are you able to control yourself?” He replied: “Yes.” So, Ibn ‘Abbās said: “Kiss her.” The man asked: “Am I allowed to caress her?” Ibn ‘Abbās said: “Are you able to control yourself?” The man replied: “Yes.”So, Ibn ‘Abbās said: “Caress her.” The man asked: “Am I allowed to touch her private part with my hand?” Ibn ‘Abbās said: “Are you able to control yourself?” The man said: “Yes.” So, Ibn ‘’Abbās said: “Touch her.”1 And this was due to the fact that he was fasting. Outside of the restrictions of Ramadān, they may take complete pleasure from each other.
Ibn Abi Shaybah (rahimahullāh) reported from Ibn ‘Abbās (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) with a more summarised wording stating: “He allowed him to kiss, caress and touch her with his hand as long it does not lead to anything else.”2 Masrūq (rahimahullāh) asked ‘Ā’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā): “What is allowed for a man with his wife during the fast?” She (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) replied: “Everything except sexual intercourse.”3
Even when a woman is on her monthly period, she is allowed to enjoy foreplay and caressing from her husband, and it is known that men take much pleasure in this. Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) allowed men to seek pleasure from their wives (on their monthly periods) through kissing and touching as long as the private part of the woman is avoided. He said to them: “You can do everything besides sexual intercourse.”4 And A’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) stated: “When one of us was on her monthly period and Allah’s Messenger wanted to take pleasure by touching her, he would put a garment over her private part, then he would touch and embrace her.”5 And Ibrāhīm An-Nakha’i (a scholar among the tābi’een) said: “A menstruating woman can be caressed by her husband in her soft places and between her thighs, and if he ejaculates on her, she should wash what pours onto her, and he performs ghusl.” So it is permitted for a man to gratify himself from the body of his wife however he wishes.
And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and all his Companions.
1. Ibn Hazm stated: “This is the most authentic of chains to Ibn ‘Abbās.” See As-Sahīhah of Al-Albāni, (1/436).
2. Al-Musannaf (2/167/2), Al-Albāni stated: “Its chain of narration is sahīh upon the conditions of Al-Bukhāri.” See As-Sahīhah, (1/437).
3. Abdur-Razzāq in Al-Musannaf, Ibn Hajr grade the chain of narration as sahīh, see As-Sahīhah of Al-Albāni, (1/435).
4. Bukhāri, 1/64, Muslim, 1/242.
5. Abu Dawood, 268, 272.
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