In the Muslim world, sex is permissible (or halal) only within the confines of marriage. Outside of wedlock, the act is considered haram, a sin of the faith. Girls are taught to protect their virginity; their mothers, if not forgoing “the talk” altogether, obscure the facts with elliptical language and metaphors.
So, what happens when immigrants and the children of immigrants set about pursuing an open and active sex life on a more sexually liberated continent, amid western peers and attitudes? The six deeply personal stories in Halal Sex attempt to answer this question, bringing a hushed conversation out into the open.
Within these pages you’ll meet Azar, a non-binary trans Sufi; Bunmi, a Nigerian navigating shame and Tinder; Eman, a lesbian stand-up comic in an interfaith marriage; Taslim, a virgin in her forties struggling to erect healthy boundaries; and Khadijah, an exotic dancer and sex worker.
With great empathy, Sheima Benembarek makes space for the honesty and vulnerability of each participant and handles their stories with gentleness and care. What emerges is a tapestry of a diverse Islam—encompassing a wide variety of cultural and religious and socioeconomic backgrounds—and a frank, feminist contribution to the advancement of Muslim sexual education and pleasure.