ThysdrusRoman Coliseum of El-Jem

Panem et Circensis

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Location: Tunis, Tunisia, Tunisia

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Muslims & Sexuality

Dr. Heba Kotb

I have tackled more or less the same topic in a previous post but from another perspective. At that time I referred to a fatwa issued by an egyptian cleric declaring a marriage contract illegal if a married couple engage in sexual intercourse while naked. This time I came across this news item by CNN which reads: "Egypt's "Dr Ruth": Muslims Need Better Sex".

The article in question is about an egyptian medical doctor Mrs. Heba Kotb, (I wonder if she is a relative to egyptian author and islamist Sayyed Qutb, for I am sure he wouldn't be appreciative of what she is doing if he was still alive), who specialized in human sexuality and got her degree from an American University (no wonder).

Dr. Kotb also runs the show "The Big Talk" a famous program broadcasted in one of Cairo's TV channels. In her show Dr. Kotb tackles the issue of sexuality which you like it or not is still a taboo subject in most conservative arab and moslem societies. Dr Kotb's main advice to married couples is to have more sex ( which CNN badly rephrased : "Muslims Need Better Sex", are we arabs and moslems so bad at having sex?? are there international standards for good sex?? I am asking).

In "The Big Talk", Dr. kotb talks about issues like masturbation ... sex over the Internet... sex and Ramadan...the wedding night... however she sticks to the teachings of the Quran something that brought her criticism from those more liberal [who] think she's not being open enough about sex, ignoring topics like extra marital affairs, homosexuality and pregnancy out of wedlock [and] conservatives [who] think sex is not for public discussion.

All in all I personally think that Dr. Kotb's initiative despite its shortcomings is something worth praising and something that needs to be generalized in other arab and moslem societies.

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Blogger cerebrator said...

What exactly is the purpose of talking about sexuality in public?

I mean, what's so bad about not wanting to talk about sexuality in public?

I don't object to having public seminars or talks e.t.c, for married couples...

But if it's in the mainstream media like TV or newspaper, i gotta say that these medium aren't necessary. (Adverts for the talk or seminars or whtever, are alright, but not the discussion itself.)

2:09 PM  
Blogger Hannibal said...

@Cerebrator: I hope you agree with me that the issue of sexuality is still a taboo in our socities it is not a question of why we should talk about it in public or not, it is the fact that even in private is still a taboo, can you talk about in your family? when was the last time you discussed it with your parents for example? I guess there's no harm of raising the issue of sexuality via the media it is one of thousands of issues that the media talks about then if we follow your logic we will ask ourselves why we talk about terrorism in media? why we talk about global warming? why we talk about AIDS? what's the purpose? well it is to make people aware of certain issues that they shy away or avoid to tackle be it in public or in private. In Islam and I am sure you know that, there's the notion that encourages us not to be shy when it comes to matters related to our religion". Sexuality is a very important issue in our lives and unfortunately it is a forbidden topic in our arab and moslem societies. Ignorance is more dangerous than knowledge. Sexuality is part of our culture so the media ( TV, newspapers, radios etc..) are the best means of communication to make people aware of these issues.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Muratto said...

I think what Mrs Kotk is undertaking on this arab channel is not something exceptional or really daring. On the contrary, she has to be more open and iamginative. It is high time that Arabs and Muslims in general start looking at things from a realistic perspective. Sex should be considered as being part of our daily concerns as well as a source of pleasure. Not only that but even more daring and taboo issues should be discussed. Let's jettison this deeply anchored tendency in us to feign to ignore that we, too, have our lot of sexual frustration our atheists, homosexuals, bisexuals, drug-addicts and so on so forth. This is a normal feature of all vibrant societies that encompasses both negative and positive aspects . All these elements are part and parcel of our everyday existence..whether we like or not.


3:43 PM  
Blogger cerebrator said...

I admit my lack of understanding the cultural norms in the Arab world is somewhat impeding me from understanding the whole point.

My fear/scepticism lies in the genuine interest of Kotb's call.

i.e: it's actually meant as a gradual step to move towards a more "sexually-oriented" society with freedom to have pre-marital sex, prostitute,

I'm not saying this is the real intention, I just fear it may be.

That's why I raise the issue of why is it so important? I mean, in Singapore, we don't talk about it in newspapers or the TV and No one's complaining. These issues are handled in marriage courses, and publications with specific target audience. Ohh, there's also the sex education in schools too.

Again, I admit, my scepticism is one that is based on my lack of understanding of cultural norms in the Arab world.


6:57 AM  
Blogger Hannibal said...

@Cerebrator: first of all I would like to clarify that my comment was a general one and shouldn't be understood as targeting you personally:)( I just figured out that my comment was again an emotional reaction but brotherly one;). I admit as well my lack of understanding of the culture of our fellow brothers in Singapore like you and other asian countries. We learn from each others and that's the main reason of this humble blog.


@Muratto: I agree with you that Mrs. Kotb's initiative is nothing new or revolutionary when it comes to our generally closed conservative arab and muslim societies especially when it is about "sexuality".However, Mrs. Kotb's initiative, in my point of view, is quite interesting in that it breaks this culture of fear, repression and frustration.What Mrs. Kotb is doing could be hardly found in other arab and muslim cultures that claim that they are open and tolerant but when it comes to sexuality it's the alarm, I don't recall having watched a program on the Tunisian TV channel for example that has exposed openly and without taboos the subject of sexuality except when it is from a medical perspective only. Such issues remain taboos because we simply help keep them as such. One recent example that shows how our societies are hypocritical when it comes to sexaulity is the introduction of a tunisian gay oriented blog in the Tunisian blogosphere. Edenia kamet we 9a3dit between homophobs and generally liberal readers.The same war launched against the blog of a Tunisian atheist. He was ostracised simply from the blogosphere because he was different.You like it or not we don't accept the other, we don't like to live with the difference and we always fear that the other is threatening our liberty our life and our convictions.I am a true believer in the freedom of choices but I will struggle to protect my liberty too from any outside harm. The Tunisian blogosphere is a microcosm of the Tunisian society as a whole and unfortunately the same rehtoric is channeled through blogs so my point here is that when we learn how to accept the other we will be able to evolve and prosper. We need to change our mentalities and cope with the changing world while protecting our traditions and the basic pillars of our culture. I know it is a long and painful process, what we need is a clear perception of the type of society we would like to have: open, tolerant, moderate ( and this englobes all aspects of life not a cherry-pick method) or closed, intolerant and radical?? when we come to a conclusion I don't think there will be problems anymore.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous muratto said...

What you have asserted is quite pertinent, realistic and thoughful. It could be summed up as follows:
1/ All Arabs and Muslims should bear in mind that tolerance is somethig vital and a prerequisite if we wish not just to survive but equally to learn from others and evolve our own way.
2/We should never lose sight of the fact that even among we, Arabs and Muslims, you will come across atheists, gays, lunatics and all sorts of human diversities. Our being muslims does not shield us from sharing the same sexual proclivities with the rest of Humankind.In the final analysis, we are not that different.We do have the same needs and the same curses can befall us.
3/ Sexual minorities should not regarded scornfully. They are human beings who deserve repect and should be treated with dignity. Their quest, however odd or disgusting it might appear, is one of utter happiness and love. So let's give up our lethal prejudices and hate speech!!!

5:19 PM  
Blogger cerebrator said...

Hey, Hannibal, yeh..

I'd figured that we're not the idiotic type - the ones who like to take every argument as a personal threat. :p

anyway.. this article did gave me some insights, so thx..

10:07 AM  

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