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Temporary Abstinence

Islam has allowed marriage as soon as a person becomes physically mature, and it also strongly recommends that at least during the early years of marriage adopt a simple life-style so that lack or paucity of financial resources does not obstruct a happy life.

But if a person decides, for whatever reason, not to marry soon after he or she becomes physically mature, then the only way is to adopt temporary abstinence. After strongly recommending the marriage of single people, the Qur'an says, "And those who cannot marry should practise restrain (or abstinence) till Allah enriches them out of His bounty." (24:33)

However, abstinence from all the forbidden ways of fulfilling the sexual urge is not easy. Therefore, a few guide-lines would not be out of place. Once a man came to the Prophet and said, "I do not have the (financial) ability to marry; therefore, I have come to complain about my singleness." The Prophet advised him how to control his sexual urge by saying, "Leave the hair of your body and fast continuously."1 By saying that "leave the hair of your body," the Prophet is referring to the bodily hair which grows on public area, chest, etc.

This hadith is indicating that shaving the excessive hair increases one's sexual urge. (Probably, that is why the shari'ah has recommended to shave the excessive hair every 40 days for men and every 20 for women.) In retrospect, it means that not shaving the hair will decrease the sexual desire and help the person in abstinence. Imam 'Ali says, "Whenever a person's hair increases, his sexual desire have also decreased."2 I have not yet come across any scientific discussion on the relationship between shaving the hairs and sexual urge, but I hope Muslim scientists will do some work on this issue.

The other method of decreasing the sexual urge was fasting. It is obvious that one of the greatest result or benefit of fasting is the strengthening of one's will power. And no doubt, the abstinence in sexual context mostly depends on the will power of the person. So fasting will strengthen the will power of the person and make it easier from him or her to restrain the sexual feelings.

1. Wasa'il, vol.14, p.178

2. Wasa'il, vol.14, p.178.

Adapted from: "Marriage & Morals in Islam" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi"

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