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Sex in the mind of some parents is a dirty word. They are uncomfortable in discussing it with their teenagers just as their own parents never discussed it with them. They leave it up to the Sunday school to teach Islam and up to the television and the secular school system to teach sex education.
Thanks to the "birds and the bees" who taught mankind that sex is natural and a gift from God. No one can deny the power of sex and the built-in desires. A powerful genie, if not brought into submission to the Will of God, is certainly capable of causing tremendous destruction of the lofty Islamic morals which Islam builds for its believers.
Muslim parents and teenagers are getting mixed messages about their roles. They are tom between what seems to be an Islamic perspective and what is actually being taught by the secular media and the education system. Children develop right and wrong concepts not from the books but from what they see on the television and what they see around them. For some of today's youngsters, it may not be enough to be told that they should not engage in sex because Islam forbids it. They also need to be advised of the hazards of early sex, sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy and sex education in the dimension of marriage and sex after marriage, in addition to the biology of development and hormonal changes at puberty. Their frank questions about sex should not be avoided but need honest answers from the Islamic perspective.
In this book I have attempted to address all these issues. I have begun each chapter with a quotation from like-minded American sex educators to emphasize that this concern is common to both Muslims and non- Muslims. I pray for the soul of my mentor, the late Dr. Mahmoud Abu Saud, who played a "grandfather's role" for my own children and many, many Muslim youth. I thank the editors of Minaret and the Journal of the Islamic Medical Association for allowing me to use the informative articles of Farhad Khan and Dr. Hamad, respectively. I also thank Dr. Ahmed El-Kadi and Dr. Iman El-Kadi for their permission to use the late Dr. Abu Saud's article, "Sex Roles in Muslim Families in the USA." Above all, I thank Muslim youth, including my own children, for asking me most intelligent and sometimes difficult questions. I also thank Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar for reviewing the manuscript and KAZI Publications for publishing it. May God accept the efforts of those who strive in His cause.
Shahid Athar, M.D.
June 1, 1995
Some time ago I was on an Islamic tour in Canada. My hosts took me to the Islamic center in one city. They proudly told me that the building had been a Christian church until bought by the Muslim community and transformed into a mosque/Islamic center. The architecture of the church revealed the history of the building. It was quite an emotional experience to hear the adhan and observe the Islamic prayers in this place. Then my hosts took me to another city. Their faces gleamed joyfully as they introduced me to a second surprise in one day: the mosque had also been a church and then bought by Muslims. Barely containing their jubilance, they asked me, "Describe your feelings, doctor." I answered, "I feel very scared!" It was a shocking response to them until I explained that the pertinent question to ask should be, "What made the Christians sell their churches to Muslims?" A generation of observing Christians was followed by another generation who could care less for religion or the church. The inevitable thought to follow was whether the same could not happen to Muslims. Unless the coming generation grows up to be active, genuine Muslims, the chain will be broken and God forbid our current masjids and centers might be on the market for sale in a decade or two.
The challenge facing Muslim parents, centers and mosques is obviously tremendous, given the sad state of licentiousness and moral disintegration pervading Western society. At the top of the list comes the sexual revolution with its vagaries that are too obvious to describe. Not only do our young people have the natural sexual instinct as their bodies beam with hormones, but they are also subjected to a tidal wave of neo-morality providing stimulation, inflammation, promotion, commercialization, easy access, rationalization and brain-washing into new social norms that conflict with Islam and with all divine religions.
How do we prepare our children to confront this temptation and be victorious over it? How do we train soldiers for battle? How do we vaccinate our children to acquire immunity against that to which they will inevitably be exposed?
Many Muslim families and indeed Muslim leaders and preachers have no real answer. Some think that children will remain children and others believe that because we are observant Muslims then our children will naturally follow in our steps. To bury our heads in the sand is no good and is a betrayal of our Islamic obligations to our children.
Dr. Shahid Athar is one of the small band of Muslims whose conscience made it incumbent on them to stand up and try to neutralize this
gaping deficit. In my knowledge of him, I found a man who is keen on
serving Islam with his mind and soul, rather than with rhetoric and sioganism so abundant in our ranks. He is among the few whose vision is
more focused on tomorrow rather than the fleeting hustle and bustle of
today. Unless the real issues are addressed, the future will be bleak.
In this book, Dr. Athar establishes the diagnosis and prescribes the treatment. I hope it will be read with an open mind by the Muslim youth and especially by their parents, teachers and preachers.
It is indeed my privilege to write this foreword. My God bless my brother Shahid.