Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
My wife and I have to live far apart. Is it permissible to look at her pictures for sexual satisfaction or hold intimate phone conversations for arousal?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
All forms of intimacy and arousal are permitted between consenting spouses, with very few exceptions. Both sharing photos and speaking sexual language over the phone are within the scope of permissibility in the Sacred law.
However, keep the following in mind:
Compromising Photos and Intimate Conversations
Despite the permissibility for one seeing their, spouse, whether in person or via nude photo, it is hazardous in our day and age to share naked pictures over the internet. There have been many accounts of people sharing such images and ending up on public forums, never to be taken down again.
Speaking intimately to one’s spouse is an act of worship. It is also one of the acts of foreplay encouraged in the Sacred law.
Secondly, despite the permissibility, Islam is firmly based on the principle of modesty. Our Beloved Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) taught us to be modest even in our sexual interactions with our spouses.
Some of the Prophetic advice are:
- Keeping cover under a sheet/blanket during intercourse. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “When any of you have intercourse with their spouse, let them (Not) uncover completely like two donkeys.” [Ibn Maja]
- Not looking at one’s spouse’s private parts
- Concealing any knowledge of intercourse from others in the home
Some of the scholars of Prophetic narrations would declare Allah Akbar loud enough that the rest of those in the home could hear it, then he would turn away from the Qibla out of honor for it, and cover himself and his spouse in a cloth [due to the following narration] [Ghazali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]
It is narrated about the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace), “that during intercourse he would cover his head, lower his voice, and say to his spouse, ‘be calm.’” [Hakim: there is some weakness in the chain, as per Khatib al-Baghdadi]
Lower Standards Due to Necessity
The above are encouragements and not obligatory. However, they set a tone of modesty that we should strive to uphold as best and whenever possible.
Due to the over-sexualized nature of today’s societies, these etiquettes are less likely to be upheld. The biggest priority is that Muslims keep their intimacy confined to a marital relationship.
Long-distance relationships are complex. Due to this, many try to find a way to be intimate despite the distance. In today’s technological age, many options exist, such as those above.
However, no matter the variety of technological means, images and phone calls due not fulfill the sexual desire. Instead, they increase it. Because of this, one puts themselves in a more complex situation, often leading to sinful acts.
If one does not have a permissible avenue to fulfill their sexual desire, the recourse is to limit and repress sexual desire as much as possible, not stir it up.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “O youth! Whoever among you is able, let him marry. Whoever is unable, let them fast for it is a protection.” [Bukhari]
This same principle can be applied to a married person who is away from their spouse.
By sending one another sexual photos and speaking intimately on the phone, sexual arousal is likely to be stirred up. With increased sexual desire and no possibility of intercourse, the likelihood of following into sin is greater.
This may lead one to any of the following major sins:
- Looking at other’s with lust
- Looking at pornographic content
- Fornication (Zina)
Sending photos and speaking intimately is permissible according to the letter of the Sacred law. However, discouraging it is a befitting response. Doing so does not fulfill sexual desire, rather it increases it, leaving one worse off than before.
Speak with your spouse and enjoy one another’s company. This will increase love and affection for one another. However, try to keep the sexual content to a mto assist yourself betterourself and her in guarding chastity.
If, however, you prefer to act on the mere permission above, be very wary that your photos are not in jeopardy of being seen by others. Erase them immediately after seeing them, if possible. Furthermore, fear Allah Most High, regarding unrequited sexual desire. Do not allow your desire to lead you to sinful acts.
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.