The Secret Habit – Masturbation & its Rulings
Muslims have enquired about the ‘secret habit’ (as it is known in Arabic) since the time of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (S). The scholars have differed in this regard. First we wish to present the text of an American Muslim cleric who permits it. Then below that will follow two short 2-minute videos from Muslim scholars one of whom determined it to be makrooh (disliked) and the other determined it to be haram (forbidden). Then below that will follow additional commentary. Our intention with this article was to inform the American Muslims that there are other scholarly opinions in Islam regarding this matter that differ from that which was presented by the American Muslim cleric who was quoted in 2010 as follows:
“My position on masturbation is exactly the same as Imam Ash-Shawkani and many of the scholars before and after him. Their stance was: there is nothing in our Shari’ah which prohibits masturbation. When I say it’s permissible, I’m not saying one should be proud and boastful about it, rather it’s when one who needs it he can use it. In fact the narration of Ibn ‘Abbas seems to be the single most proof that masturbation is not haraam.
When the young man came to him and said I play with myself until I ejaculate, Ibn ‘Abbas didn’t say; “La hawla wala quwwata illah billah.” He didn’t say’ “Astaghfirullah” He didn’t say; “How could you?” or “Haram, shirk, Kufr!” All he said was: “What you are doing is better than zina, but if you were to marry a slave girl it would be better for you.” He didn’t rebuke this teenager; he didn’t get angry at him. He simply said; “I’d rather you marry a slave girl.”
There is no doubt something which is mubah (allowed) can be misused, and in turn can become bad, but in general, a man or woman who needs it, I don’t see any problem with this. Even if they’re married, they may be dissatisfied with their partner as he may only come once a month and she needs to take care of herself more than this; there is no problem with her doing this action.” – Yasir Qadhi
Now the video by Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (with English subtitles):
Now the video by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilaal Phillips:
Something that some other scholars have discussed is the use of the secret habit in cases of emergency i.e. if a greater haram (e.g. fornication) is imminent and the only way to cool down the fire is to use the secret habit then they allow resorting to the lesser evil in such extenuating circumstances if that is your only means of avoiding fornication.
If a man is in a compromising situation with a woman and fornication is imminent in the next few moments, then it is better for him to use the secret habit to douse his flames of desire. This is a tactic that can work.
If you are in college and have a hot date set up with a beautiful girl and it is half an hour before you are scheduled to pick her up, it is undoubtedly a better option to go take care of your business using the secret habit. This will satiate your desire and cause you to forget about her and instead take ghusl (bath) and spend your Friday night watching news, cooking biryani, or solving some differential equations instead. Your flames of desire might be doused enough for you to go attend a Friday night halaqah instead of going on that hot date with a woman you are not allowed to touch. However, we refer you back again to the scholars in the videos for the final say.
We recognize that life for Muslim men in the west in terms of controlling basic instincts is extremely difficult especially between the ages of 13 to 29. We wanted to present to you the full range of opinions regarding the secret habit so you can make informed decisions.