What About Skype Sex for Long Distance Marriages?

Question and answer details
HZ (24-female-Pakistan)
Salam! Thank you for the effort you put behind your column, it is a much needed one. Dear Counselor, I have been married for just a few months and after the first couple of weeks, my husband and I have been living in different continents due to our studies, career etc. This is through mutual consent, as well as necessity, but since we have excellent love, trust and communication between us, the separation isn't causing any emotional problems per se alhamdulillah. However, with regards to intimacy -- we both have high sex drives but we only meet once a year and this state of affairs will continue for a few more years to come!Things gradually evolved that we ended up having "Skype sex" (the evolution took us both by surprise!) -- Basically, self stimulation leading to orgasm while the other watched, which was arousing for both parties actually. However, we are now a bit confused whether this is allowed Islamically. I read Sh Yasir Qadhi's comments (in LikeAGarment) saying he didn't consider masturbation haram, whereas other sheikhs seem to abhor it. What are we supposed to do?I'm not sure if I'm asking a fiqh question, if I am and you would rather not answer, could you direct me to someone who would? Jazak Allah!
Dr. ‘Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah
Dr. Maryam Bachmeier

Answer from Dr. `Abd.Lateef Krauss Abdullah:

Salam H,

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, the specific question you are asking is a fiqh question, and as you alluded to, the answer you get is going to vary depending on which sheikh you refer to.

I think it raises questions because in a typical situation, masturbation is considered by most - not all - but the vast majority of scholars as haram, except under certain circumstances such as when people fear falling into greater sin - such as adultery or fornication.

I am certainly not qualified to give you a fiqh ruling on it; however, given the circumstances you have described - especially the limited amount of time you get to see each other - it could fall under the exception to the rule that I mentioned above. PLEASE don't take that as some kind of fatwa - astaghfirullah - only that it is a very unique and interesting case.

Also given the fact that it can greatly help keep your marriage healthy and happy despite the trials you are facing with being apart so much, again, it could be considered an exceptional case.

Usually, however, the scholars themselves will often advise us to find one reliable (and that's an important distinction because today there are many not-so-reliable 'scholars' out there) scholar and follow his/her opinion, rather than going around taking a supermarket poll of what many think.

Undoubtedly if you try and get opinions from many scholars you will get different views, which will only confuse you more. Usually, we follow a certain mazhab that encompasses a certain school of legal thought (i.e. Shafie, Maliki, Hanafi, Hanbali). The scholars within those schools tend to be consistent in their rulings on matters; however, within schools there are also majority/minority opinions.

So, if you do find that one reliable opinion, go with it and fear Allah and ask for forgiveness for unknowingly committing any wrongdoing that you might be engaging in. That's the best that I can tell you.... We advise you to submit your question to Ask the Scholar section of onislam.net.


Answer from Dr. Maryam Bachmeier:

Salaam Sister Hana,

My response will be unusually short due to the subject matter and the fact that I am not a Shiekh or Islamic scholar.

Indeed if you want to know whether or not this behavior is permitted within the “Islamic Community”, you would want to ask your Sheikh or Imam. Perhaps your husband could find one in his neighborhood.

My contribution here is to advise you to make a thorough check into how safe and secure your privacy is should you decide to continue.

Other than that, I do not feel that anyone really has a right to tell a couple how to conduct themselves in their private and intimate affairs. You are married, and you are making your mutual decisions together.

Thank you for writing in with your question. As we continue to evolve past the post tech age into the future, it is likely that many couples will face similar situations, circumstances and questions. Your writing in likely helped another to know that they are “not the only ones”.

About the Counselors:

Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Study’s Community Education and Youth Studies Laboratory, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware (U.S.), his M.S. from Columbia University (U.S.) and his PhD from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies (PEKKA), Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005 in the field of Youth Studies. Abd. Lateef is an American who has been living in Malaysia since 2001. He is married and has 2 children.

Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 13 years. She is also a published researcher, former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant to her  Muslim community in the areas of mental health, cultural, family and relationship issues, and more.