أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَائِكُمْ ۚ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ ۗ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَخْتَانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنكُمْ ۖ فَالْآنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ ۚ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ ۚ وَلَا تُبَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمْ عَاكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ
“It has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your wives [for sexual relations]. They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He accepted your repentance and forgave you. So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you. And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. Then complete the fast until the sunset. And do not have relations with them as long as you are staying for worship in the mosques. These are the limits [set by] Allah , so do not approach them. Thus does Allah make clear His ordinances to the people that they may become righteous.” [2: 187]
Ibn Kathir says in his tafsir:
These Ayat contain a relief from Allah for the Muslims by ending the practice that was observed in the early years of Islam. At that time, Muslims were allowed to eat, drink and have sexual intercourse only until the `Isha’ (Night) prayer, unless one sleeps before the `Isha’ prayer. Those who slept before `Isha’ or offered the `Isha’ prayer, were not allowed to drink, eat or sexual intercourse sex until the next night. The Muslims found that to be difficult for them.
Volume 3, Book 31, Number 139:
It was the custom among the companions of Muhammad (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) that if any of them was fasting and the food was presented (for breaking his fast), but he slept before eating, he would not eat that night and the following day till sunset.
Qais bin Sirma-al-Ansari (radiallaahu `anhu) was fasting and came to his wife at the time of Iftar (breaking one’s fast) and asked her whether she had anything to eat. She replied, “No, but I would go and bring some for you.” He used to do hard work during the day, so he was overwhelmed by sleep and slept. When his wife came and saw him, she said, “Disappointment for you.” When it was midday on the following day, he fainted and the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) was informed about the whole matter and the following verses were revealed: “You are permitted To go to your wives (for sexual relation) At the night of fasting.” So, they were overjoyed by it. And then Allah also revealed: “And eat and drink Until the white thread Of dawn appears to you Distinct from the black thread (of the night).” (2.187)
Volume 3, Book 31, Number 140:
Narrated ‘Adi bin Hatim (radiallaahu `anhu):
When the above verses were revealed: ‘Until the white thread appears to you, distinct from the black thread,’ I took two (hair) strings, one black and the other white, and kept them under my pillow and went on looking at them throughout the night but could not make anything out of it. So, the next morning I went to Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) and told him the whole story. He explained to me, “That verse means the darkness of the night and the whiteness of the dawn.”
Volume 3, Book 31, Number 141:
Narrated Sahl bin Saud (radiallaahu `anhu):
When the following verses were revealed: ‘Eat and drink until the white thread appears to you, distinct from the black thread’ and of dawn was not revealed, some people who intended to fast, tied black and white threads to their legs and went on eating till they differentiated between the two. Allah then revealed the words, ‘of dawn’, and it became clear that meant night and day.
I’ve always found this incident regarding `Adi bin Hatim (radiallaahu `anhu) very cute! It goes to say how some of us are quite literal in understanding things. Not that we’re to be blamed. :P
On the other hand, there’s an important lesson in it for us: the companions weren’t always correct in their interpretation of Quranic ayaat or Ahadith. We’ll always find differences of opinions among companions, and when we do, we should go for the most correct and favored opinion. And just because a companion reached an incorrect conclusion doesn’t mean he was less intelligent or had weak imaan, na`oodhu billah! It only proves that they were human beings like us, but far better than us. If we were there, we would’ve made fun of `Adi (radiallaahu `anhu). But we don’t find any reports of companions or the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) laughing at him or making him feel bad about what he did. Such were the chosen people. <3
While I was walking with ‘Abdullah (radiallaahu `anhu) he said, “We were in the company of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) and he said, ‘He who can afford to marry should marry, because it will help him refrain from looking at other women, and save his private parts from looking at other women, and save his private parts from committing illegal sexual relation; and he who cannot afford to marry is advised to fast, as fasting will diminish his sexual power.”
Sexual desire is something that has been created in man and it cannot be got rid of. Getting rid of it is not something that is required of the Muslim; rather what is required of him is to refrain from using it in haraam ways, and to use it in the ways that Allaah has permitted.
Halaal way: get married. If you can’t, fast. It’s going to help you resist the desire inshaAllah.
How to resist sexual desires? Read about the 2-step solution to this problem here.
Is there any benefit in resisting/breaking this desire? Read an interesting approach on this subject here.
Today’s Hadith is very much relevant to Kitaab-ul-Haydh, but my discussion will be a bit off-topic..
Narrated ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Aswad:
(on the authority of his father) ‘Aisha said: “Whenever Allah’s Apostle wanted to fondle anyone of us during her periods (menses), he used to order her to put on an Izar and start fondling her.” ‘Aisha added, “None of you could control his sexual desires as the Prophet could.”
Prophet (SAW) had nine wives at once. He didn’t have to control his desires. Yet, we find that his own wives testify to his amazing hold on himself. It’s a Sunnah that we need to follow. We need to control all sorts of desires, from food to sex. Even when we’re leading a Halal lifestyle, we can’t have everything we want, as much as we want and whenever we want. It’s a great quality to possess: control.
Don’t like what you read? Tell me, what’s the main purpose of the month of Ramadaan? What does being deprived of food, drink and sex teach you? Even though the food you eat is Halal, the stuff you drink is very much Halal as well, and you fulfill your desire with your very own spouse: totally Halal! Why are you then asked to restrain yourself from all these Halal things for a specific time period everyday for a month each year? Simple: to teach you self-control. That 30-day training is enough to last you the whole year. YES! You have to practice it outside Ramadaan as well. :)
As to the question ‘How?‘, it’s very simple.
- Start denying yourself your favorite food, hobby, pastime etc. You don’t have to do it all the time and every time. It could be a punishment you give yourself for not waking up for Fajr on time, for example. Personal experience: I deny myself breakfast (which I can’t live without) if I wake up late for Fajr. So I don’t have that habit Alhamdulillah.
- Voluntary Salah (prayer) and Sawm (fast). A very good way to achieve self-restraint! You’re so caught up in ‘Ibadah (worship), that you don’t really get time to think about other stuff. Or better, you don’t feel right when you think about other stuff. ;)
- Make du’a (invocation). Indeed a very useful tool for a believer. When nothing else works, du’a shows it’s miracles.
- Be firm with yourself. No excuses, no ‘going easy’. Tit for tat. And that’s it!