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Ibn Abdillah As-sudaisiy Al-Iloori

Author, Halāl Sex and Intimacy

My usual advice for those preparing for marriage even at pre-marital counselling stage is that before the first sex, if one of the parties or both of them are not pleased with what they are seeing in each other, they should never touch each other. It is better to call it quit at that moment to avoid greater havoc. 

I was still telling a couple this last week during an online pre-marital counselling and they were both laughing. I told them it is not a thing to joke about because we have seen a lot on this field. That is why it is not proper to go for an extravagant wedding. These days, couples and their families pay attention to one day wedding and forget things that will make a marriage a successful one. What is the essence of a multimillion wedding and the marriage ends on the night of the wedding or soon thereafter?

No amount of sexual urge should make a couple that are not sexually attractive towards each other consummate the marriage at that point. This may not be so easy, but they must try not to touch each other if there is no motivation. In fact, there ought not to be any urge in the first place. But these days, couples will sleep with each other and turn around to say their partners are not sexually attractive. 

Marrying a man or woman whose character or appearance is not appealing out of pity or out of pressure from family or friends is dangerous. Marriage is not a mock trial. It is not a movie or comedy that people watch for fun. It is not a fiction. It is a real business, a spiritual contract for that matter. I was confronted with a case recently where a brother said he was reconsidering his divorce decision. I insisted on him coming for counseling before anything. He did not show up. It is dangerous to allow a woman to go back to such a man without counseling because there is a reasonable presumption that the decision to take back the wife might not be from his heart. He might just cause more harm on her. If he is sincere about his quest to get her back, he will not hesitate to submit himself to counselling.

Don't be deceived, physical attraction and stature are very important in spouse selection process and it is a subjective test depending on individual's choices. To some people, the facial outlook is their priority, while some people value the shape and size. Some people value both. Everyone is beautiful and handsome because no matter how ugly a person may appear to be, he or she will still find someone "dying" for him or her. 

The instruction of Allāh is: 

فَا نْكِحُوْا مَا طَا بَ لَـكُمْ مِّنَ النِّسَآءِ 

Then marry those that please you of [other] women [An-Nisaa: Verse 3]

This verse simply means "do not marry a man or woman that does not look handsome or beautiful to you, even though the Deen (piety) is the priority going by the relevant hadith. That is why the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم ordered Jabir Ibn Abdillah رضي الله عنه to go and check the woman he wanted to marry. Jābir ibn Abdullah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

إِذَا خَطَبَ أَحَدُكُمُ الْمَرْأَةَ فَإِنِ اسْتَطَاعَ أَنْ يَنْظُرَ إِلَى مَا يَدْعُوهُ إِلَى نِكَاحِهَا فَلْيَفْعَلْ ‏

When one of you asked a woman in marriage, if he is able to look at what will induce him to marry her, he should do so. 

He (Jabir) said:

فَخَطَبْتُ جَارِيَةً فَكُنْتُ أَتَخَبَّأُ لَهَا حَتَّى رَأَيْتُ مِنْهَا مَا دَعَانِي إِلَى نِكَاحِهَا وَتَزَوُّجِهَا فَتَزَوَّجْتُهَا ‏

I asked a girl in marriage, I used to look at her secretly, until I looked at what induced me to marry her. I, therefore, married her. [Sunan Abi Dawud 2082]

According to our Sheikh Dr. Sharaf Gbadebo Raji حفظه الله in a recent video that I watched, a man can even look at a woman's body structure well without her knowledge if he is sincere with his proposal. There is a limit to what couples can see in each other. But a man can send a trustworthy lady to check her stature without her hijāb. They can also ask each other some sexual related questions at negotiation stage without being in a seclusion to be sure of what they are going for. I have a counselee who had to terminate his proposal with a sister because she showed a negative attitude towards oral sex. This is better than entering the marriage with false hope of convincing later to embrace it. It may not be easy again and it can cause problem in the marriage.

Many cases of divorce on the ground of lack of sexual attraction or incompatibility have shown that the exercise of ensuring sexual compatibility to an extent should never be compromised. This is because sex is more than 90% of marriage. In fact, scholars at the point of nikāh should now as a matter of importance try to ask the parties questions on this matter before the solemnization. Though it is not easy to fully determine sexual compatibility at anytime before first sex encounter because Muslims are not allowed to test each other sexually because marriage. But the sharī'ah has given the parties the opportunity to see some points of attraction in each other directly or indirectly to reduce the fears of the unknown.

Therefore, the best thing is to terminate a marriage once the couple are not pleased with what they see in each other on a first sex meeting. Sleeping with each other and later quitting the marriage will leave an indelible pain in their minds, especially in the case of the woman because it reduces her market value. Virginity is a priority for some men. Virginity cannot be purchased in the market. Even if the woman is not a virgin, the honour would still be there if they do not go beyond seeing each other's nakedness. It may be painful to both of them in the first place because their marriage broke up in less than 24 hours, but they will later be happy that they did not touch each other eventually. Seeing is different from touching.

It is absurd to buy a sachet of biscuit, open it, taste from it and return it to the seller on the ground that the flavour is not one's favourite. It is more absurd to sleep with a non sexually attractive woman and send her back to her parents. It is better to leave her for a man who will find her attractive.

May Allāh guide us aright.

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