Islam, Early Marriage, and the “Morning-After” Pill

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم

I recently saw the news about the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval for the availability of the “Plan B” contraception pill without a prescription for women 15 or older (archived article available here). In the same vein, I read another article about the expansion of the program of a health council in California, through which free condoms are provided to boys as young as 12 years of age (archived article available here).

Now, I do not think there is any point of talking in here about the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies (the supposedly central aim of such programs). What I think is of relevance to us Muslims to understand is that human beings of today, as always, do develop sexual urges and desires from the time they reach puberty. The huge difference consists in the outlook of the Islamic paradigm versus that of the modern world. The latter, in its spirit of freedom of thought and conscience, considers it acceptable for a young boy of twelve or thirteen to look at women lustfully, to fantasize about them, and commit many more actions connected to his sexual desires[1]. Note that at this stage, there is absolutely no “intercourse” with anyone at all, but the “only” thing involved is looking and thinking, and yet we see that the desires of this kid are very much present and active.

But here is the thing: Islam says that even at this supposedly early stage of desires, the kid should either control his desires, or he should get married and concentrate all of his thoughts and the actualization of his desires on his wife. The message from Islam is thus, that if one really has a need in this respect that cannot be curbed through methods of abstinence (and there is no embarrassment in saying that one has sexual needs as an adolescent), then marriage should be considered as a serious possibility.

Of course, it may be said that marriage is an extremely huge leap to make for mere desires, but Islam says that if you wish to fulfill your desires, then you have to take responsibility for the situation and you have to fulfill it in the allowed manner, or either control the desires through the allowed means (such as fasting, etc.). I know that the economic setup of the modern world is heavily skewed towards delaying marriage as much as possible, and in this respect early marriage seems to be very difficult to envisage, but what I see from a lay Muslim’s point of view is that it is senseless to roll out all of these government or private initiatives with the aim of preventing diseases and unwanted pregnancies, while neglecting that the sexual desires themselves require a lawful outlet for expression and the concomitant taking on of responsibilities for all of one’s life decisions.


[1] I would not feel comfortable except talking about this matter from a male perspective. Perhaps in the future a woman’s perspective may be added in the form of a post, etc.

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