I was having a debate with another brother, he stated in Indonesia it was illegal to masturbate and the punishment was being emasculated. I remembered from your previous post that you stated masturbation was a sort of ‘grey’ area where the Qur’an and Sunnah were silent. However my friend quoted the following to support his assertion.
Masturbation (for both men and women) is haraam (forbidden) in Islam based on the following evidence:
First from the Qur’aan:
Imam Shafi’i stated that masturbation is forbidden based on the following verses from the Qur’aan (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. 23.5-7
Here the verses are clear in forbidding all illegal sexual acts (including masturbation) except for the wives or that their right hand possess. And whoever seeks beyond that is the transgressor.
And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them of His bounty.” 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.”
When I checked on the net I found a few other sites used exactly the same reference and translation by Imam Shaafi. Is this view correct?
According to my understanding, both of the cited verses relate to sexual intercourse and sexual relations, rather than sexual acts. Thus, in my opinion, a more accurate translation of the first verse should be:
And those who guard their private parts [from all people] except from their wives or their slave girls…
A close look at the words of the verse shall show that the suppressed phrase in the verse – as has been clarified in parenthesis – relates to ‘people’, rather than ‘acts’. This point is clearly substantiated by the exception clause in the verse, that is ‘except from their wives…’. If it were the prohibition of ‘sexual acts’, which was intended to be limited in the verse, the exception clause would then have given a list of the allowable sexual acts rather than the people with whom sexual intercourse is allowed. In such a case, the verse would most probably have read something like:
And those who guard their private parts [from all sexual acts] except from the allowable limits of sexual intercourse…
Thus, according to my understanding, the verse is not related to the allowable scope sexual acts, but is, in fact, related to people with whom sexual acts are permitted. In other words, the verse relates to the prohibition of fornication and adultery. As a result, Imam Shaf`iy’s referred derivation of the prohibition of masturbation from the stated verse does not seem to be correct.
Similarly, the second cited verse also relates to the prohibition of fornication. In the referred verse, the Qur’an has directed those believers, who were not in a position to fulfill the responsibilities of supporting a wife due to their financial stringency, to keep themselves chaste and not fall prey to fornication.
In view of the foregoing explanation, I do not consider the opinion derived by the great Imam to be correct. Neither of the verses, in my opinion, is related to the issue of masturbation.
I hope this helps.
August 27, 2002