Tuesday, December 27, 2011

(Mis)conception.

In the spirit of all things festive, the story of Mariam or Mary inspired this post. As you know, the Qur'an tells us the story of Mariam's miraculous virgin conception. Another person who was created out of exceptional materials was the first man, Adam, and his wife (unnamed in the Qur'an but conventionally known as Hawa or Eve).

It seems that until today, many Muslims like to keep on thinking of conception as miraculous,* and here are two examples that illustrate this.

The first example is the spells we are taught to execute for safe (not in the sense of safe sex, haha!) and healthy conception of a baby. This is found in a manual for a pre-marriage workshop in Singapore, designed specifically for Muslims. It's from the chapter on sexual intercourse, and because we Malays are so shy about sex, there are lots of euphemisms.

Notice the lack of activity between 5 and 6 :D
At stage 6 of these 'encounters', a dua or supplication should be recited at the point of ejaculation. Depending on sources, this should be done by either only the husband, or both the husband and wife. (I guess the man has to let the woman know when!) This is the dua given in the Addendum, which is actually from a hadith from Bukhari, narrated by Ibn Abbas:

بِاسْمِ اللَّهِ، اللَّهُمَّ جَنِّبْنَا الشَّيْطَانَ، وَجَنِّبِ الشَّيْطَانَ مَا رَزَقْتَنَا

which roughly translates to:
In the name of God, O God protect us from Satan, and protect from Satan (the child) which you provide/grant us.
Needless, at this point in the counselling session I almost fell off my chair -- something the counselor was probably trying to prevent by using all the euphemisms he could during the session.

The reason for my surprise was not that we were using the word 'encounters' instead of sexual intercourse, or that ejaculation is the endpoint of mutual intercourse, or even that sex always means reproduction, but that a couple, during sexual intercourse, should be ever-aware and afraid of Satan.

What happened to earthly expressions of God's love? Or the sanctity of sexual intercourse? (Not to mention, the fact that Satan is constantly anthromorphosised, which downplays our internal satans, haha)

To give a second example, here's a conversation I had with a married male friend some time ago:

- Dude, I think my wife is pregnant.

- I thought you guys weren't ready to have kids yet. Didn't you use birth control?

- Yeah, we tried condoms but I didn't feel much.

- Did you count the days of her cycle?

- Yeah, and we had sex on one of her fertile days.

- Did you ejaculate inside her?

- Yeah.

We all learnt in Biology class how conception works, right? What do you expect to (probably) happen if you have unprotected sex on fertile days? I say, a high chance of conception, but what say you?

--
* Conception is a miracle in the sense that it is a sign of God, like mountains, rain and the sprouting of grain, but in this context I am referring to miracle as something that occurs outside of scientific laws.

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