Law Professor Examines ‘Sex and the Shari’a’

Haider Ala Hamoudi, Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Research & Faculty Development at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, presented his research on “Sex and the Shari’a” at a seminar on Oct. 19 sponsored by Hartford Seminary’s Imam Ali Chair for Shi’i Studies and Dialogue Among Islamic Legal Schools and hosted by Prof. Sayed Ammar Nakhjavani.

Dr. Hamoudi discussed the Shari’a laws in Shi’a Islam pertaining to sex, offering three reasons for the great detail with which sex is regulated.

First, he said, a premise exists that humans, particularly men, have a craving for sex that is almost debilitating.

Second, sex has to be limited to keep believers focused on God.

Third, these laws emphasize the importance of gender roles and regulate interaction between the sexes.

The rules that regulate sex are complex and the potential punishment for breaking them can be severe, he said. While many modern Muslims may not subscribe to these rules, Dr. Hamoudi said, they should be aware of them to move forward the moral and ethical discussions surrounding sexual behavior and practice.


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