Ask Marwa: Physical Intimacy in Ramadan
Date posted: August 4, 2012
This article was published in Identity Magazine – August 2012
My problem is that, with Ramadan coming up, I’m not sure what the protocol is exactly for my boyfriend and I, in terms of physical intimacy. I’m not a hugely religious person but I am religious and I believe in the sanctity of this holy month and I feel like physical contact should definitely be limited during Ramadan. My boyfriend however, does not. He thinks that while we’re fasting it’s still okay to hold hands and little things like that, and that after Iftar all bets are off. He has no problem hugging and kissing and cuddling and doing whatever else, after Iftar, which I disagree with. He’s not very religious but he does fast, although it’s more out of tradition than a true belief in the process of fasting. We have completely different stances on the issue of physical contact during Ramadan. It was a problem for us last year and will probably be a problem for us this year as well. I can’t claim to be a perfect Muslim, but there are some things I believe we should definitely adhere to. I don’t want to upset my boyfriend but it’s more important to me that I don’t upset God. I mean at the end of the day, it’s just one month out of 12. We have the rest of the year to kiss and cuddle. I just feel like it’s the least we can do as Muslims, to not have physical intimacy during Ramadan, seeing as we aren’t married yet. How do I get my boyfriend to understand this? He won’t force me to do anything but he won’t be happy about it either, and we’ll probably have a lot of arguments about it. How do I address this issue with him? I don’t want this to be a problem every year until (or if) we get married. What do I do?
Confused About Intimacy
Dear Confused About Intimacy
I have a friend of mine who happens to be Muslim who just got married to a man who happens to be Jewish! Don't drop your jaw just yet! The religious ceremony was conducted by two men – a Muslim Sheikh and a Jewish Rabbi! Looking at their lovely wedding pictures made me feel miniscule and trivial – Egypt has made us so narrow-minded and judgmental of others to a sickening extent!
This is what's really wrong with your relationship with your boyfriend! If two religious people from different religions manage to get married and to have their union blessed by their respective men of religion, then the problem is definitely in how we think as Egyptians. Boundaries and respect are two things that you and your boyfriend need to work on.
Your boyfriend needs to respect your beliefs if he wants you to be his partner not just a woman in his life. He needs to understand your boundaries and work on making you comfortable in the relationship especially that you are not asking him to withhold from all physical intimacy until you are officially married.
As for you, you might want to revisit your beliefs one more time! Your logic behind withholding for one month then resuming intimacy afterwards is odd. The God of the one month is the same God of the other eleven months. Actually, the purpose of abstaining from sinful acts during Ramadan is to repent and denounce such acts forever.
What I understood from your message is that you are OKAY with physical intimacy before marriage, so who are you kidding trying to withhold during Ramadan? You either acknowledge physical contact as sinful and denounce it or make peace with your beliefs and stop making your life miserable for no good reason.
To conclude, you either abstain during Ramadan with the sincere intent of carrying on your abstinence until you get married or you deal with Ramadan the same way you deal with Shaaban!