Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Female Wet Dreams: Islamic Perspectives & Regulations

With the current fervour on sex-education in Malaysian schools, I remember being taught the rudimentary facts about  wet dreams under the subject "Tanda-tanda Baligh" in primary school agama class. One of the tanda  was of course mimpi bersetubuh. So clueless was I about the matter when I first read it in vowel-less jawi  in my fiqah book,  I pronounced it "bersetabah". And later on in secondary school, our elderly (in our eyes) ustaz dwelt on the act under  the chapter on "Nikah Kahwin". It was an all-girls school and the class was  embarrassed when he was discussing the topic.  I do not remember much about it or about him either - yes, that much I was interested in agama subjects at that time, especially nikah-kahwin.  Anyway, word went round many years later that he had married one of the girls from a senior class.

I'm digressing.

I just wanted to share an article from Muslim Matters written by Umm Reem about the technicalities of the title of this post (see, even I find it hard to write it out)  which is rarely discussed amongst us Muslim ladies. The  comments section  is also an interesting read - there's an opinion about a female having a wet dream during menses.

Do read on.
Some time ago, I gave a series of lectures on Taharah (cleanliness) to the sisters in my community. A number of questions were raised from the discussion. It was nice and a very open talk since the one giving the lecture was a female herself. The sisters felt quite comfortable asking questions, in detail, that they normally feel shy about.
One of the matters that we discussed was about the exact nature of female wet dreams. I realized that this issue is not only complicated for sisters but also a much neglected subject. This is why, I decided to have a full entry on this topic, for a number of reasons:
  1. This matter is not as simple and clearly distinguishable for sisters as it is for brothers, so it must be thoroughly explained.
  2. There are a number of lectures given from shayukh to the brothers, in detail; however, rarely do we ever hear any Shariah explanation for sisters, in detail.
  3. Mothers feel shy talking to their daughters about it. In which case, if the young daughter experiences a wet dream, she may not know the Shariah ruling on it or how to purify herself afterward.
Hence, I decided to contribute this piece, along with the help of a professional Gynecologist, Dr. Fatimah Lalani and Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, so it may help and benefit all the sisters who read this.
Wet dreams are as normal for women as they are for men. Although, the frequency may be lower compared to men, nonetheless, the occurrence of wet dreams among women does not indicate any abnormality.
Umm Salamah said: “Umm Sulaym came to the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alihi wasalam, and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, Allah is not too shy to tell us the truth. Does a woman have to do ghusl if she has a wet dream?’ The Prophet said: ‘Yes, if she sees water (a discharge).’ Umm Salamah covered her face and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, can a woman have an erotic dream?’ He said, ‘Yes, may your hands be rubbed with dust. How else would her child resemble her?’” (Bukhari)
Therefore, if a girl/woman sees a wet dream, it does not mean that she is sexually perverted, lewd or immodest in any sense. It is out of her control, especially for younger girls who may be experiencing many hormonal changes in their bodies. In fact, the Shariah itself recognizes wet dreams as a sign of puberty.
“And when the children among you come to puberty (al-hilm)…” [al-Noor 24:59]
The same term, al-hilm, is used for both puberty and wet dreams, marking wet dreams an indication of puberty.
Besides, Allah azzawajal created wet dreams as an outlet for men and women to release their sexual energy. It happens as a result of human nature which Allah azzawajal has created Himself and no blame can be put on a person. Moreover, since wet dreams happen during sleep, while a person has no control over himself/herself, the Shariah frees a person from any blame.
The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alihi wasalam, said: “The Pen has been lifted from three: from the one who is sleeping until he wakes up, from the child until he reaches the age of puberty, and from one who is insane until he comes to his senses.” (Tirmidhi)
Also, keep in mind that the Prophet, sallallahu alihi wasalam, did not reprimand the woman who had a wet dream, neither did he declare it “abnormal” for women. Rather, he made it quite clear that women can have wet dreams just like men do and there is no oddity or incongruity with it.
Aisha (ra) said: The Messenger of Allaah, sallallahu alihi wasalam, was asked about a man who notices some wetness but does not remember having a wet dream. He said, “He should do ghusl.” He was asked about a man who thinks that he had an erotic dream but does not see any wetness. He said, “He does not have to do ghusl.” Umm Salamah said, “O Messenger of Allah, does a woman have to do ghusl if she sees something like that?” He said, “Yes, women are the twin halves of men.” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood)
And so, I want to remind the parents and the husbands to educate themselves on this subject before making any hurtful or psychologically damaging remarks to their womenfolk. This matter is as normal among women as it is among men.
Having said this, I want to encourage mothers to inform and educate their daughters about such dreams. Do not underestimate what others are capable of teaching your daughter, including her friends (inside or outside the schools, Muslims or non-Muslims) or even teachers. Even if they do not attend the “sex-Ed” class at the school, I can assure you that they will be taught by their fellow students. Most of my teen students learned about these issues from their classmates during 3rd and 4th grade. That was about ten years ago and over the time; our society has only become more corrupted.
It is best that a daughter hears and learns this information directly from her own mother rather than from someone else educating her in school or in the streets. A mother’s education is sincere, pure, and free of any vulgarity. Besides, a Muslim mother can/should always point out the Islamic recognition of the normality of our body functions and the Shariah rulings about it.
Do not wait until your daughter asks you, because she may never ask you. This is a step that a mother has to initiate and be the first to “break the ice.” My suggestion is to explain exactly what happens during a wet dream, next give her the biological/hormonal cause, and then explain to her the Islamic ruling about it. Make your daughter feel comfortable, do not pass any embarrassing comments, put a smile on your face but be precise.
Also, do not wait until her menstrual cycle starts. It is better to educate her once the signs of puberty start appearing in her. During my discussion with Dr. Lalani, I asked her if a girl could have wet dreams before she has her first menstrual cycle. And she replied:
“Yes I suppose it is possible. Puberty is a continuum and can begin around age 9-10, starting with development of breasts, pubic and underarm hair, a growth spurt, and then menses. Throughout this time you have hormonal changes, so I suppose you could have a wet dream, prior to onset of menses.”
It led to my other question: Can wet dreams in itself mark the onset of a girl’s puberty (balagha) making her accountable for her religious obligations like fasting and hijab? Of course as any fiqhi matter, this too, had ikhtilaf (difference of opinions). I do not intend to defend one opinion or the other, but I will briefly mention both opinions.
Those scholars, who support the opinion that wet dreams are an indication of a girl reaching the age of puberty, base their opinion on the signs of male puberty and do not make any distinction between the two genders; they include menstruation as an additional sign for females.
However, the other opinion is inferred from a number of ahadith that state that the rulings are to be established at time of menstruation, like the hadith of the Prophet sallallahu alihi wasalam:
“Allah does not accept the prayer of a menstruating woman [i.e who has gotten her menstruation] unless she wears a veil [khimar]“. [Abu Dawood, at-Tirmizi]
And like the narration in Sahih Muslim in which the Prophet sallallahu alihi wasalam indicated that a man’s prayer is cut off when a woman who has gotten her menstruation passes in front of him. In this hadith, the sign of a baligha (a woman who has reached puberty) was indicated by her menstruation, wAllahu ta’ala ‘alam.
To conclude, since the female wet dream may or may not be accompanied by a discharge, contrary to that of men, I posed a few questions to the shuyukh based on the discussion I had with other women and I received following answers from Sh. Yasir Qadhi:
These answers are by Sh. Yasir Qadhi:
To be honest we rarely find such DETAILED discussion in fiqh books, most likely because men are not as familiar with this topic as they should be.  However, based on the hadith of the Prophet, sallallahu alihi wasalam, I would say that:
Question: If a woman sees a sexual dream but is confused whether she had an orgasm or not, what should she do? (Please keep in mind that female genital area is always wet, and they do not necessarily always have extra discharge upon orgasm, so the matter is not as easy to discriminate as for men)
Answer: The ‘asl (original) is that she has not had a wet dream, so until there is yaqin (certainty) she does not have to take a bath. Therefore, if she does not remember an orgasm, and her private area is not extra wet, she doesn’t have to do ghusl (bath).
Question: If she sees extra vaginal discharge but is sure that she didn’t have any dream of sexual nature at all?
Answer: Vaginal discharge does not necessitate ghusl, no problems here.
Question: If she sees extra vaginal discharge and is confused about the dream (i.e. vaguely recalls something but is not sure either), again keeping in mind that extra vaginal discharge could be completely hormonal or due to the normal menstrual cycle?
Answer: She must have yaqin (certainty) or at least a very strong presumption that she’s had a wet dream (which includes an orgasm).

Hope that was beneficial.


Tommy Yewfigure said...

Hmmmm Zee, wow my jaws dropped when u touch on this 'taboo' subject especially for our Asian cultures. TQ, all these years i was burdened with this guilt :)) (naive??). Now I'm glad to know it's only natural & I'm not alone.


P/S - These days it's only dry dreams & wet fart4me....snigger blushing..:))

Zendra-Maria said...

Hahaha Tommy you kill me...

I was just sharing something from one of my favourite Islamic sites.

PS - i don't even remember my dreams