CAIRO – The opening of a first ever “halal” sex shop has triggered waves of queries among Muslims, seeing the topic, which tackled a taboo issue in the Muslim world, as a reflective of the adaptive qualities of capitalism in the west.
"Muslim countries have all of these but they don't advertise them," Hamza Yusuf, an American Islamic scholar and co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, told Foreign Policy by phone.
"It all goes back to the monetization of religion."
Sparking an expected controversy, a so-called “Islamic” online sex shop opened ten days ago in Turkey to sell “halal” sex products, becoming the first of its kind in the predominantly Muslim country.
The founder of website, Haluk Murat Demirel, 38, said he had been inspired to launch the site by friends who wanted sex advice and products but found the content on other websites and in specialist stores too explicit.
Allah created the sexual desire in humans. It is as normal as is the desire for food or shelter.
Yet, Islam is aware of educating man on the proper way of satisfying his desire in the light of its noble teachings.
In Islam, sexual relations are allowed only among the married couples. Sex outside marriage is not allowed.
While rigid rules governing pre-marital relations in Islam, the Qur’an and Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) make clear that sex within the confines of marriage is not purely for procreation, as it is in some Christian denominations.
"The maximum limit a husband is allowed to be away from his wife is four months, or six months according to the view of the Hanbali scholars. This is the maximum period a woman can endure separation from her husband,” Dr. Su`aad Salih, professor of Fiqh at Al-Azhar Univ., states in a fatwa to OnIslam.net.
"It's not a prudish culture ... but decorum is still very important," Yusuf said.
In Turkey, though similar shops operate freely, public discussion of sex is still a delicate subject.
"They invented 'Islamic fashion'," writes one Turkey's most-read newspaper columnist, Ahmet Hakan, BBC reported.
"Then 'Islamic hotels' and 'Islamic holidays'. Now, finally, they've moved into sexual products."
On social media in Turkey, Helal Sex Shop is the subject of intense debate.
"Let your Helal shop be for the best... :) The only thing you have not exploited for religion was lubricant," writes one critic on Twitter.
"It's a website that helps people who are having sex with their spouses," posts another commentator.
“Instead of being criticized it deserves to be appreciated.”
The debate, however, has spread the new website which now gets around 50,000 clicks a day.
Approximately 99 percent of Turkey's population are Muslim, mostly Sunnis.
Turkey does have so-called "erotic shops" in its streets, however Islamic conservative Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested last year they rename themselves "love shops."