Do Muslim Children Need Islamic Sex Education?
Due to sexual relations and sexual morality comprising a significant aspect of human life, Islam has provided detailed guidance and laws to be followed in all sexual matters. As children reach the appropriate age in their development, it is essential that they are educated in these rulings and in the Islamic values pertaining to the importance of marriage, chastity and modesty and of course in the ongoing teachings of obedience to God.
In Islam, educating children about sexual issues should be done within the larger context of Islamic values and principles; not separated from it, as is prevalent in western sex education initiatives. In non-Islamic schools, children are often ‘educated’ in skills such as applying contraceptive methods to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies or in learning how to give sexual consent or arrange an abortion. There is scarce mention regarding the sacredness of their own bodies or of the sexual act, nor of moral teachings such as the importance of chastity and waiting for marriage.
In Islam, children should be educated about accountability and responsibility for themselves and their bodies. As they become sexually mature they should be taught about the importance of self-control and the importance of marriage for satisfying the sexual urge. Sex education in Islam therefore forms an inherent part of a parent’s duty to educate their child in their Islamic duty and faith and should not be viewed separately.
The global movement of introducing ‘sexuality education’ into all schools worldwide has somewhat altered how we may ideally educate our children in sexual matters as Muslims. If our children attend school we no longer have the luxury of deciding when our children are ready to be taught certain topics, as the state via the school system has taken that right upon themselves.
If we do not educate our child, they will learn about sexual matters either from school or through other means (internet, media, social media, friends etc.). We need to address any counter-messages, or un-Islamic sexual ideologies that they may be picking up from school or society, and correct where necessary, what they are learning and provide for them an Islamic understanding and perspective.
Additionally, we need to be aware that western culture (which has spread throughout many countries worldwide) has become increasingly sexualized. Children are continuously bombarded with sexual images and messages from every angle of society. To address this, even if your child is not at school, it is essential that children are educated by their parents about sex education from an Islamic perspective, so that they can form a proper understanding, and practice their faith correctly in all aspects.
If our children attend school then as parents, it is imperative that we engage with the school and find out exactly what they are being taught ‘sex education’. In the UK Relationship & Sex Education (RSE) is now compulsory and Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is part of the 2030 Global Education Agenda that wants to see this initiative in all schools worldwide by 2030. Warning RSE/CSE is underpinned by political and sexual ideologies that run counter to not only Islamic teachings but all major faith teachings. For a more in depth understanding of why these sexuality curriculums are extremely harmful please see other related articles.
Alternatives to sending your child to school such as home education, for those families who are in a position to do so, can also be considered as well as online schools as an alternative to sending your child to school.
However, in all cases, providing your child with Islamic sex education at the appropriate time is essential.
What, When & How Do I Teach My Child about Islamic Sex Education?
There are two things to consider regarding educating you child in sex education and related topics:
The first is your duty as a parent to educate your child in matters of religion, instilling in them the beliefs, principles and values of Islam. Education in Islamic matters of relevance to Islamic sex education, such as cleanliness, awrah and the protection of private parts; that God created male and female, marriage, and so on, can all start at a young age and will form the basis on which more detailed information relating to ‘sex education’ will later be built. It is essential that you start building these foundations early and before children go to school.
The second factor you need to consider is what your child is going to be taught at school regarding ‘sex’ education, as well as what sexualized messages they are picking up from the wider society (e.g. from media, films, posters, clothing, celebrities, music etc. that it is impossible to completely protect children from). These issues will then need to be addressed as your child is exposed to them and put into an Islamic context. This will be much easier if you have already begun teaching your child about Islamic values and practices as mentioned above.
When your child begins school, or if they are already at school, there are two main sources of knowledge you will need to acquire to educate your child in Islamic sex education and counteract any un-Islamic beliefs or practices they are being taught:
1) Knowledge from your child’s school regarding what they will be learning in RSE/CSE etc and when and how they will be learning it. This is essential so that you know what to teach your child and put into context from an Islamic perspective
2) Islamic knowledge so that you can firstly put what your child is learning into a proper Islamic context and secondly address anything they are taught that contradicts Islamic teachings and practice.
God Willing, further resources and help to support parents in this task will be produced. If you would like to get in touch for further support then please do so via the contact page.