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Does the Qur'an Prohibit Masturbation?

There is a teaching within 'Islamic' literature on the prohibition of masturbation and that it is a filthy and sinful act. There is nothing in the Qur'an to suggest this is prohibited or is sinful. The portrayal of one's own genitals as untouchable and sinful has an indirect side-effect on growing individuals' minds by creating subconscious 'blockades' to sexual pleasure - that receiving pleasure from their bodies is at some level, inherently wrong and incorrect. It may lead to mental reluctance to acceptance of sexual pleasure and to fully surrender to the enjoyment of sexual sensations Allah bestows on them during their merital lives. Instead of embracing their bodies and the ability to enjoy sexual pleasure, this teaching promotes in building a sense of guilt for having sexual tension.

Sexual desire itself is one of many bounties Allah bestows on an individual. It is both healthy and needed for enjoyment and well-being. Being another bounty of Allah, it should be perceived by every person as a miracle of Allah and to not only be accepted but also embraced. However, the instilled notion as a result of this teaching is as stated, the opposite. The effect trickles into the bedroom when they are married and can lead to inhibitions to sexual creativity, exploration and a lack of confidence to sexually express themselves and confidently enjoy sexual expressions with their husbands or wives.

Self exploration / masturbation can lead to better understanding of one's body. For instance, a woman having understood the rhythm, pressure and her spots is in a better position to guide her husband to what pleases her most.

Modern medicine also considers masturbation safe and normal. To conclude, there is no prohibition in the Qur'an on masturbation. There is nothing to suggest it is abnormal or unhealthy. 

Understanding 23:5-7

"...who guard their private parts, except from their spouses or whom their right hands possess - these are not blameworthy. But anyone who seeks more than this, then they are the transgressors." (Qur'an 23:5-7)

This verse is stressing the severity of adultery and fornication. As mentioned in the verse, one can have intercourse with only "spouses" or those "whom their right hands posses" (who also have to be married - 4:24). The sinfulness of this act is depicted by labeling the one who has had intercourse with a person who is of any other relationship than these "transgressors" (الْعَادُون). [Adultery / fornication is strictly forbidden in Glorious Qur'an 24:2 and for which a punishment is prescribed].

The expression, "these are not blameworthy" used to describe those who only engage in sexual acts with married spouses/married right hands possess, and the word "transgressors" used for those who do it with other than these, are indications that the verse is in reference to adultery and fornication.

Therefore, the expression, "anyone who seeks more than this", is in reference to anyone seeking someone who is not their married spouse/married rights hands posses for sexual intercourse rather than masturbation. The intention of the verse is to stress that marital tie/agreement is a necessary prerequisite for sexual intercourse with someone in order to not be blameworthy and to not be a transgressor. Therefore, it cannot be related to masturbation, which is unrelated to the context of discussion. 

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See also:   

One Must be Knowledgeable of the Qur'an to be a Servant of Allah

Marriage of Believers

Polygamy - To Mothers of Orphans Only

Birth Control / Contraception is Not Forbidden

The Only Legitimate Consumers of Earth's Blessings Are the Believers

The Myth that Women have to "Obey" their Husbands

Misconceptions link