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