Is Masturbation Haram? (Prohibited in Islam)

Is Masturbation Haram? (Prohibited in Islam)

Summarising the scholarly opinions on masturbation with reference to the Qur'an and Sunnah

Causes of confusion on the topic of masturbation within the Muslim community

Whether masturbation is haram, makrooh or halal in Islam is confusing for some Muslims, primarily because the Qur’an does not explicitly mention the act of masturbation by name, and is merely alluded to by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in hadiths pertaining to the topic. 

Because of the lack of unambiguous, explicit prohibition by name, opinion among Islamic scholars is not completely unanimous. 

Because of the lack of unambiguous, explicit prohibition by name, opinion among Islamic scholars is not completely unanimous. Some scholars prefer to limit declarations of what is haram to those things expressly prohibited by Allah in he Qur’an or the Prophet’s Sunnah (PBUH), while others allow more leeway for interpretation and reading between the lines of the statements made by the two to draw reasonable conclusions.

Some scholars have ruled that masturbation is permissible in a very limited set of circumstances, primarily to avoid greater sins such as zina (adultery) or for medical reasons. The modern preacher Zakir Naik (who by his own admission is not a fuquha (Islamic jurist) has argued that masturbation is makrooh (disliked and discouraged) - a very controversial opinion which appears to have little support from peers or jurists.

Our sinful nature can lead some of us to seize on any ambiguity to justify sinful or makrooh actions and follow our base desires, rather than what we know is truly best. This very minor amount of debate combined with online discussion and amateur jurisprudence invites confusion where there used to be none. The difference of opinion seems to be a modern phenomenon, with the 4 classical madhabs all agreeing that masturbation is indeed haram.

“In a very lengthy publication from Madrasah Arabia Islamia (South Africa), the scholars wrote:

 …that masturbation is haram. This is the ruling of the 4 schools of thought viz. Malikiyah, Shafi’eyah and Hanafiyah and one riwayah (narration) from Imam Ahmed.” - Abdul-Lateef Abdullah, https://fiqh.islamonline.net/en/the-truth-about-masturbation/

They have drawn their conclusions from the following proofs from the Qur’an and Sunnah:

“Al-Imam Shafi'i stated that masturbation is forbidden based on the following verses from the Quran (interpretation of the meaning):

{And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts). Except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, - for them, they are free from blame. But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.} (Al-Muminun 23:5-7)

Here the verses are clear in forbidding all illegal sexual acts (including masturbation) except for the wives or what their right hand possesses. {And whoever seeks beyond that is the transgressor.} 

Some scholars used as evidence the ayah (in meaning),

{And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them of His bounty.} (Al-Nur 24:33)

This verse also clearly orders whoever does not have the financial means to marry to keep himself chaste and be patient in facing temptations (including masturbation) until Allah enriches them of His bounty.” - Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, https://islamqa.info/en/answers/329/is-masturbation-haram-in-islam

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