Answered by Ustadh Shuaib Ally
According to the Shafi‘i school, is it permissible to perform oral sex to one’s wife?
General Ruling on Intimate Acts
It is permissible in the Shafi’i school for a man to perform oral sex on his wife; that is, using his mouth or tongue to pleasure his wife’s private parts. This is because it falls within the rubric of the general rule that any intimate act between a husband and a wife to pleasure one another that does not cause measurable harm, involving any part of their bodies, including their mouths, is permissible.
Two Exceptions to Intimate Acts
The two main restrictions to the general ruling are
- anal intercourse and
- intercourse during the menstrual cycle; both are prohibited.
Oral Sex in Shafi‘i, Hanbali, and Maliki Texts
Texts do not generally go into much detail regarding oral sex; the above general ruling serves as a sufficient guideline to establish its permissibility. The Shafi‘i text Fath al-Mu‘in, as well as its commentary I‘anat al-Talibin, mentions sucking the clitoris as an example of the extent to which sexual acts are permissible.
Hanbali texts such as Kashshaf al-Qina‘ mention the permissibility of kissing a wife’s genitals before intercourse, and consider it disliked afterward. They do not mention any other restriction with respect to the act itself. Ibn al-‘Arabi, in the Maliki school, mentions the permissibility of licking one’s wife’s genitals in his Ahkam al-Qur’an and also does not mention any restriction in this regard.
Spreading Impurities – Female Genitalia
The Shafi‘i school does not generally permit spreading impurities without due cause. However, it is likely the case that impurities spread during intimate acts are considered a due cause or forgivable and overlooked. The school explicitly permits using the entire body in intimate acts, which can predictably lead to the spread of impurities – specifically, the madhy of a man. For example, the school’s texts mention the permissibility of a woman masturbating her husband and vice versa, or him rubbing his penis on any part of her body, including the anus (short of penetration). These texts do not consider the spreading of impurities a complicating factor in these scenarios.
More importantly, the Shafi‘i school’s authoritative position is that the vaginal fluid that one would come into contact with during intercourse and – for our purposes – oral sex, is pure, it is neither purely madhy nor purely sweat (the Hanbali school also considers its purity to be the stronger opinion). Therefore, a man’s performing oral sex on his wife would not involve the spreading of impurities.
The school generally permits the consumption of anything that is pure but makes exceptions for bodies that, while pure, are considered dirty, such as seminal fluid, sweat, and mucus. This would likely also apply to vaginal fluid, even though it is pure.
However, performing oral sex on one’s wife does not necessitate ingesting this fluid, even were it to enter the mouth. A person can take steps to avoid ingesting it, as well as clean his mouth following it, as would, in any case, be the dictates of common sense.
This answer has been confirmed through extensive consultation with leading Shafi’i scholars.
Sources: al-Majmu’; Tuhfatul Muhtaj/Sharawani; Fath al-Mu’in/I’anatul Talibin; Hashiyat al-Bujayrami; Kashshaf al-Qina’; al-Mughni; al-Insaf; Ahkam al-Qur’an
[Ustadh] Shuaib Ally