The Qur’aan frequently references sexual activity (intimate relationship between husband and wife). In dozens of verses, Allah mentions the process of creation. In one verse, the Qur’aan says:

“Let man see what he has been created from. He has been created from a liquid that is spurt out (i.e., ejaculated), which proceeded from between the backbones and the ribs”

[Surah al-Tariq; 5-7].

Many commentators stated that the reference to ‘…between the backbones and ribs’ is to a common sexual position, and the backbone is that of the man and the ribs that of the women.

And Allah says,

“Your women are your field, so come to them as and when you please” [Surah al-Baqara; 223]

Ata (d. 103 AH), the famous Successor, said that whenever he would recite the Qur’aan to Ibn Abbas, Ibn Abbas would never interrupt him, but rather listen intently (to ensure correct recita- tion). However, when he recited this verse, Ibn Abbas stopped him and said, “Do you know why this verse was revealed?

Some Jews of Madinah used to believe that if a man approached a woman from her back (one version adds: while she was kneeling), the child would be born deformed. So Allah revealed this verse, allowing men to approach their wives in any position.” Similarly, in the famous hadith regarding the prohibition of anal intercourse, the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Allah is not embarrassed at the truth: approach her (i.e., your wife) from her front or from her back, but avoid the anus” [Abu Dawud].

So, what is the benefit in this?

The Qur’aan and Sunnah, being the divine code of guidance that they are, mention the issue of various sexual positions, but do so without going into unnecessary details and unbefitting descriptions. Enough is said to get the point across, and other details are left to the couple’s experience and imagination. Similarly, the standard books of tafseer, hadith explanations, and fiqh works do not take on the role of sex manuals, but rather mention enough to explain what is and what is not permissible.

In the verse that Ibn Abbas explained, Allah revealed it in response to an awkward situation regarding the permissibility of a particular position. One of the spouses refused to engage in intimacy in this position, believing that it was impermissible, and that it would be harmful if it resulted in pregnancy.

At this, Allah revealed a beautiful simile: the conjugal act is similar to a farmer planting seeds in a field. The farmer has many options in how he plants those seeds, and is not restricted to any one manner. Similarly, the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam clarified that as long as intimacy occurred in the right place, the Shariah did not dictate or restrict how  intimacy occurred.

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