Heba Kotb: On Sex and Muslims

January 23, 2007 § 37 Comments

Associated Press (AP) | Human Sexuality | January 20, 2007
By Nadia Abou El-Magd
Journalist, Associated Press

Heba KotbCAIRO, Egypt – Heba Kotb is a conservative Muslim, wears an Islamic head scarf, and goes on television once a week to talk – frankly and in great detail – about sex.

On her show, “Big Talk,” Kotb answers questions from Muslims all over the Middle East about the most intimate bedroom issues with an openness that is shocking and revolutionary in a society where discussing the subject is taboo.

“How do I talk about these issues? Very seriously,” the Egyptian sexologist says. “I put on a mask-like face and make sure I speak in the right tone of voice.”

She also does it by talking about sex in an Islamic light, arguing that the faith is in favor of pleasure for both men and women, with one important caveat – that it be only in the context of marriage.

“I’m very proud of my religion,” Kotb told The Associated Press in an interview at Cairo University, where she teaches forensic medicine. “My studies revealed to me more and more how Islam was ahead in all sexual matters … I discovered that Islam understood sex long before the rest of the world.”

For example, Islam “stresses the importance of foreplay,” Kotb said, and she often stresses to listeners that women should also enjoy sex.

Kotb’s frankness is a hit in a region where sex education is minimal, male-female contact is often discouraged and talk on the subject is usually in hushed tones, allowing myths to circulate freely.

She lectured in Saudi Arabia and Yemen recently, where she said many men in the audience where shocked, while women – some with veiled faces – bombarded her with questions.

Kotb, 39 and married with three daughters, studied sexology with Maimonides University, a private school in Florida, and combined it with her own knowledge of her religion to produce a dissertation titled “Sexuality in Islam.” She opened a sexology clinic in Cairo in 2002, wrote sex advice columns in newspapers, appeared on talk shows and answered questions on an Arabic Web site.

She started “Big Talk” on the independent Egyptian satellite channel El-Mehwar more than three months ago.

Much of her advice is straight biology – laying out facts rarely aired elsewhere. Nothing is too sensitive. She discusses sexual positions, female orgasm, oral sex (allowed, “since there is no religious text banning it” ), even masturbation (frowned upon but at least preferable to unmarried or adulterous sex, which is haram, meaning forbidden by religion).

She takes a strict Islamic line on homosexuality – she calls it a disease.

Along with doctors, she sometimes brings Islamic clerics onto her show, and many callers ask about the religion’s rulings on sexual issues.

Because Islam trumps all else on her show, some complain that it’s part of a general inclination in the Middle East to view everything through the prism of religion.

“After Islamic banks, Islamic fashion, Islamic TV channels, Islamic hairdressers, Islamic swimsuits, Islamic writers … now Islamic sex? This is too much,” protested feminist writer Mona Helmi in a column in the Egyptian pro-government weekly Rose el-Youssef.

“Sex is an emotional and human condition, not a religious or identity issue,” she said.

Kotb says frankness is essential and believes 80 percent of divorces in the Arab world are due to sexual problems brought on by ignorance and societal pressure”Many women know nothing about their bodies, not to mention sex, and they were raised to believe sex is for men and a dirty thing,” she says.

Abou El-Magd, Nadia. “Big Talk”: Sex and the Married Muslim. “Associated Press” 20 Jan. 2007. <http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070120/NEWS/701200391/1326>

On The Net: Kotb’s Web site, in Arabic, with some English: www.hebakotb.net

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§ 37 Responses to Heba Kotb: On Sex and Muslims

  • Danya says:

    Interesting. That certainly takes a lot of courage, masha’Allah. It’s good that she can handle it maturely…

  • […] Posted in Health, Islam, Society, Articles, Fiqh, Muslims at 8:50 pm by Danya Got this from Hakim Abdullah […]

  • dear sir/mam
    i like to talk to heba

  • dear mam,
    i like to talk with u

  • Dirty Butter says:

    To go on TV in any part of the world and discuss sex in a reverent, but informative, manner would be difficult. But to do it in the context of the culture of the Middle East would be quite a daunting task. Good for her!

  • Hakim says:

    “Good for her!”

    DB: Absolutely! I am working on a series of articles concerning women in Islam… my little contribution to the appreciation of Muslim women on the web. Keep a look out for it, you may enjoy it.

  • um-elhelween says:

    assalamu alaikum brother HAKIM
    Ithink it is very important subject…especially coming from afemale committed muslim doctor,to fill the gaps of arrogance& ignorance..and enlightening lives by the simple direct &deep instructions of ISLAM

  • Adeel Ansari says:

    Its nothing but something to steer the muslims in wrong direction and invoking an evil. Its a kind of slow poisoning. You will find no prove of her work in the light of Quran and Sunnah.

    All crap…

  • Baraka says:

    Salaam,

    Thanks for posting this. The Prophet, peace & blessings upon him, was both frank and modest in speaking about sexuality and we could all learn much from his words.

    Adeel, how can there be no proof of her work in the light of Quran and Sunnah?

    Taking just one example: ‘Islam “stresses the importance of foreplay”’, we find this commonly-quoted hadith:

    The Prophet said, “No one among you should have sex with his wife like animals; rather there should be a messenger between them.” When asked about the messenger, he said, “It means kissing and talking.”

    What is so unIslamic about mutually satisfying and loving marital relationships?

    Such a relationship is obviously based on his sunnah – and his wife Aisha (ra) said his life was the Qur’an embodied.

    Thanks again, Hakim.

    Warmly,
    Baraka

  • TrippelDum says:

    There’s a big myth that muslims adhere to sex within a matrimonial context only. Muslim men are horny in particular and would do anything to have sex – as long as none of their peers are able to gossip. Hypocrisy DE LUXE! And everybody know this, so why pretend the world is different?

  • decent guy says:

    Asalamualykum there,

    Unfortunately, I do not necessarily buy what you are saying. I know a couple of good Muslim men, though tempted, as we all are, do not pursue their natural inclinations or lusts. Yes, I am being anecdotal, but do elaborate on the reasoning to your conclusion. A couple things need to be sorted out, for clarity. How do you define a “Muslim” and what is your link between peers not knowing and hypocrisy? Your conclusion does not necessarily follow, to say the least.

    Alykum’aslaam for now.

  • pistolpete says:

    It sounds as if Heba has a healthy view of sex and that it stems from her faith. I would imagine that, like with Christianity, Muslims interpret sacred texts in a variety of ways such that sex might come out seeming dirty or it might be a healthy expression of love.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum. pistolpete you wrote,

    “I would imagine that, like with Christianity, Muslims interpret sacred texts in a variety of ways such that sex might come out seeming dirty or it might be a healthy expression of love.”

    That is a good assement. There are a number of elements that enter a Muslim’s religious life as a result of cultural beliefs that have nothing at all to do with Islam. But of course, a clever person can do anything with text. This is why you need shaykhs those righteous elders and scholars of the community that carry a position of authority and leadership to direct the community in the way of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.).

    But many will argue that it is the shaykhs that reinforce the culturally colored interpretations of the Qur’an. I would merely say to them, perhaps you should evaluate how your community identifies someone as a shaykh, a righteous elder?

  • Alperen says:

    Esselamu aleykum,

    I live in Turkey and I had only the oppurtunity of reading articles like that about Heba Kotb, but I can understand clearly that she has a right aspect on the matter and also has a very good knowledge about our religion’s sources. I believe that she’s very important to make a synthesis between our religion and modern science on sexuality. Like she said, our religion Islam is “ahead in all sexual matters … long before the rest of the world”.

    I strongly disagree with Mona Helmi, Islam bring orders in all areas of life and so we need to know and apply its view on everything.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    wa alaykum asalaam. Alperen, welcome to you! Good comment please, feel free to comment anytime.

    -Saifuddin

  • Saima Khan says:

    Asalamwalaikum all

    Heba is doing a good job talking about sex between husband and wives. . Its a eye opener for most of us.

    There are things like oral sex i thot was wrong just hearing from friends and colleagues but didnt know that it was like there…….. u know what i mean. some of us are blind and we shud thank if someone out there has studied and is ready to share with other women and saving alot of marriages from breaking instead of appretiating, i think it is very wrong of others to call it AL CRAP!!!!!

    Wasalam Keep up the good work Hebo we need more people like u to enlighten us on issues we are to afraid to ask and end up losing everything.

  • Aaron says:

    Sex is not a taboo in any religion. But sex is not a public topic to be discussed if you believe in morality. I’m sure that Islam [ a religion i have great respect for] has morality and logic at its base, from my readings. Even I, an atheist, can see how stupid this woman looks for islam, making it look like life is about SEX and nothing else. Let the world starve and people get killed in wars and she worries about sex!!. What about the afterlife that she believes in? is that about sex too? did God create you for experiencing differenent sexual positions?!?!

  • biro says:

    i want 2 share this site

  • syed saboor says:

    Yes, I admit she is doing good, but don’t carried away. There are many books that were written before Heba Kotb discussing Islam’s view of sex and it is to be performed appropriately. In fact, there are a number of sex manuals written in the Arabic language based upon the Quran and the Hadith. So really she is not revolutionary afterall.

  • Pak Karamu says:

    Assalamu’alaikum Wr,Wb

    Ramadhan mubarak to you and your family, may Allah accept you fasting ibadah, and to all muslim anf muslimah in your country too

  • Ayesha Jakoet says:

    I think that what Heba Kotb is doing is amazing work for not just our muslim ummah but for the world. Sexual relations is of utmost importance in marriage which is the cornerstone of society.

    So proud sister!

  • s sheikh says:

    Theory may help and arouse passion.But cant have experience before marriage which is HARAM

  • quamar says:

    dearest s sheikh,
    as-salamo-alaikum.
    y r u trying to blow things out of context?she never advocated pre- marital sex,did she.all she was quoting it, not make it monotonous or loathsome.trying to make it simple and understandable.

  • syed saboor says:

    Okay you bastards, why do you keep deleting my comments. I am entitled to my freedom of speech!

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    My blog is not a democracy. Take your claim for “free speech” else where. Check the comment policy if you violate it your comments will be deleted.

    -Saifuddin

  • syed saboor says:

    you are a desert bastard!

  • rahim says:

    Assalamu’alaikum Wr,Wb

    Ramadhan mubarak to you and your family, may Allah accept you fasting ibadah, and to all muslim anf muslimah in your country too

    Heba is doing a good job talking about sex between husband and wives. . Its a eye opener for most of us.

    There are things like oral sex i thot was wrong just hearing from friends and colleagues but didnt know that it was like there…….. u know what i mean. some of us are blind and we shud thank if someone out there has studied and is ready to share with other women and saving alot of marriages from breaking instead of appretiating, i think it is very wrong of others to call it AL CRAP!!!!!

    Wasalam Keep up the good work Hebo we need more people like u to enlighten us on issues we are to afraid to ask and end up losing everything.

    Sex is not a taboo in any religion. But sex is not a public topic to be discussed if you believe in morality. I’m sure that Islam [ a religion i have great respect for] has morality and logic at its base, from my readings. Even I, an atheist, can see how stupid this woman looks for islam, making it look like life is about SEX and nothing else. Let the world starve and people get killed in wars and she worries about sex!!. What about the afterlife that she believes in? is that about sex too? did God create you for experiencing differenent sexual positions?!?!

  • syed saboor says:

    Islam is open about sexual discussion, but not open about discussing our marital secrets before throngs of people.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    Yes syed saboor. You are right.

    -Saifuddin

  • syed saboor says:

    Heba Kotb is doing a disservice to all Muslims, with her constant discussion about human sexual relations on the worst forms of corruption–namely, television. Any pious Muslim who reads the hadith knows full well the rules regarding sexual ettiquette, do and don’ts and how to maxsimize sexual pleasure the Islamic way. We don’t need a woman to go in front of millions of people to do it.

  • syed saboor says:

    Arabs are obsessed with sex, I wonder why!

  • Faizal Hossen says:

    Faizal
    from Mauritius

    As-salamou-alaikoum to all,

    I live in the Island Republic of Mauritius and it ‘s my first time that I am reading on sex from Heba Kotb, but I can see that she has the right attitude/concept on the subject of sexand marriage: that is, sex is from Allah, not from Saitan; to do sexual intercourses only after marriage/nikah and no deprivation. As long as she is doing her TV programmes to please Allah and to help sincerely other Muslims and others and to advice within the Laws of Allah and His Holy prophet(may peace be upon Him), what’s wrong is she doing?

  • Babagana says:

    Yes this is beautiful I like her because she has really tried, definitely Islam taught everythings you know about life, it does left anything. The prophet ( May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said everything about way life for muslims. So it very good of her to go and sexology as a course, i think good that she knows everything on this topic. Wish everyone of us should make more research about islam so we can’t do things in ignorance. Thank you sister for helping us may Allah reward you.

    • Seyfettin says:

      BismillaharRahmanirRahim

      Babagana, yes perhaps she tried yes, but on whose authority. Her own? What sunnat is she carrying in this work?

      Besides, this is an old article and I am not aware of the current standing.

      -Seyfettin

  • Syed Saboor says:

    Go to http://www.poweroftruthradio.com to get the real information about life, religion, politics, etc…

  • shiko says:

    دكتورة هبة بجد ليكى تأثير كبير على ثقافتنا الجنسية مش للمسلمين فقط بل للعالم كله كفاية انك بتتكلمى عن العلاقة فى منظور الاسلام انه عملية انسانية حميمية “”وجعل بينكم مودة ورحمة”” حقا الاسلام دستور الحياة فى جميع الشئون سياسية واجتماعية واقتصادية والعلاقات الزوجية ايضا

    فخورة بانى مسلمة وبأنك تتحدثين بالتشريع الاسلامى
    مشكورة

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