By : Dr. Nur Rofiah, Bil.Uzm.

Education becomes the key word to build human consciousness which is expected to change human behavior in order to be better. Islam, through many verses and Hadith give new perspective and examples of responsible attitude on many things related to reproduction of male and especially female. 

Building Character of Responsibility

Reproductive health probably is a new concept and awareness. But it is not in coincidence that the Qur’an has pertained a lot of this issue since 1400 years ago. The Qur’an mentions the word “farji” or “furuj” (genitals) no less than seven times. Even in the QS. Al-Mu’minun / 23: 5, it is stated that anyone who guards well his “farji” is considered as one of successful believers in the sight of Allah. 

Meaning:  

“And they who guard their private parts”. (QS. Al-Mu’minun : 5) 

It shows that the use of reproductive organ responsibly is something important in Islam. One of the important things in the concept of reproductive health education is to build character that supports the maintenance of reproductive health that is responsibility and respect for our own reproductive organ as well as the other person’s organs. This is in accordance with the Quranic verses which talks about morality in treating reproductive organs, for instance, the moral on treating women when they experience menstruation. 

Meaning:

“And they ask you about menstruation. Say, “It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves”. (QS. Al Baqarah : 222) 

Ibn Asyur in at-Tahrir wat- Tanwir said that the word “adza” is adl-dlurru al-ladzi laisa bifahisyin (something which is disturbing but not bad). The Quran also changes the viewpoint in the taboo of menstruation (menstrual taboo). Menstrual blood is considered as taboo and women who are menstruating according to the Jewish’s religious belief must live in a hut specially designed as a shelter for women who are menstruating or they isolate themselves in caves, should not gather with their family, should not have sexual intercourse, and should not touch certain kind of foods.  Their eyes’ gaze was commonly called as the eyes of evil which have to be avoided because of the belief in causing accident. The change on the Jewish’s viewpoint which humiliated women is also illustrated by the Hadith on the attitude of the Prophet, peace and blessings be uon him, to ‘Aisha during her menstruation. For instance, the Prophet drank from the same basin used by ‘Aishah while she was menstruating; as mentioned as the following hadith meaning : ‘Aishah said: “One day I drink, while at that time I was menstruating. Then I give my drink to the Prophet then he puts his mouth exactly in the used place I drink, then he drinks. “(narrated by Muslim).

The above verse and Hadith change the viewpoint which humiliates menstrual women as stated in menstruation taboo, to be the attitude which humanizes women as exemplified by the Prophet. The prohibition of sexual intercourse with a menstrual woman is not because she is disgusting, rather to prevent woman experiences pain due to menstruation and pain due to sexual intercourse as well. From the aspect of health, the prohibition of sexual intercourse with a menstrual woman is an effort of protection on her reproductive organ, either vagina or uterus which directly relates to woman’s health and even her safety because having sexual intercourse during menstruation is considered as the cause of death. 

The effort to build the character of responsibility on someone’s reproductive organ as well as to the other is also contained in the marriage guidance. Formerly, marriage is regarded merely as a mean of getting sexual satisfaction and offspring. Marriage is then practiced in any manners which harm women’s reproductive health and even humiliate women. For instance, the son marries his mother after his father’s death (ad-daizan marriage), marriage in a certain period (muta’ah marriage or temporary marriage), exchanging wives (zawaj al-badal), marriage which allows the wife to have sexual intercourse with the other man in order to get pregnant (jawaz al-istibda) etc. Al-Quran changes that viewpoint on marriage by calling it as a solemn covenant (mitsaqan ghalidla) (an-Nisa / 4: 21). 

Meaning:

“And how could you take it while you have gone in unto each other and they have taken from you a solemn covenant”. (QS An Nisa : 21) 

Wahbah az-Zuhaili says that this verse and the two previous verses affirm that the rights of women related to marriage which are not given by the Jahiliyah (society of ignorance), those are the right in order not to be inherited like the property, the right not to be prohibited from marriage perpetually and avoided from sexual harassment, the right to get decent treatment, and the right to get full dowry. 

If the marriage is formerly conducted merely to get sexual pleasure and descendants, the Qur’an insists that the purpose of marriage is to create tranquility (sakinah) which is obtained due to relationship based on love and compassionate . (mawaddah wa Rahmah) (QS. Ar-Rum / 30: 21). 

Meaning:

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought”. (QS. Ar Rum : 21) 

In line with aforementioned verse, QS. Al-Isra / 17: 32 and QS. An-Nur / 24: 3 also confirm the prohibition to approach adultery. 

Meaning: 

“And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way”. (QS. Al Isra’ : 32) 

Meaning:  

“The fornicator does not marry except a [female] fornicator or polytheist, and none marries her except a fornicator or a polytheist, and that has been made unlawful to the believers”. (QS. An-Nur : 3) 

The necessary of marriage to have sexual intercourse is an attempt to use oneself reproductive organ and the other responsibly as implied by Said Nursi, a great Muslim scholar from Turkey as follows; When a man desires the pleasure that lasts eight minutes, at least he only lose eight lira. So it is unfair if the result of enjoyment experienced together by male and female during the eight minutes becomes the responsibility of the female herself for eight months. 

So, as a firm pledge, marriage should not be misappropriated by anyone, whether a husband, wife, parents, community, religious community, and country. 

The Qur’an also teaches us about empathetic attitude towards women who undergo pregnancy and childbirth. Both are regarded as double burden (wahnan’ala wahnin) (Qs. Luqman / 31: 14) so that the husband, the family, society, and the state are supposed to work together based on each capacity to make both (pregnancy and childbirth) can be undertaken safely and comfortably. 

Meaning: 

“And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination”. QS. Lukman : 14) 

The Quran also shows empathic attitude concerning breastfeeding. On one side, mothers are asked to fulfill breastfeeding up to two years and fathers guarantee the livelihood of the wife and the child well. But on the other hand, it is also confirmed that the parent should not complicate each other so that parents could discuss and agree to breast-feed their child to another woman (Qs. Al-Baqarah / 2: 233). 

Meaning:
“Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is the mothers’ provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity. No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the [father’s] heir is [a duty] like that [of the father]. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is seeing of what you do”. (QS. Al Baqarah : 233). 

In addition, the morals regarding our attitude on reproductive organs of men and women responsibly are expounded in detail in the books of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence).

The Strategy in the Education Institutions

The issues discussed in reproductive health actually are the common issues discussed in fiqh or Islamic law, for instance, menstruation (haidl), marriage (nikah), sexual intercourse (jima’), childbirth (wiladah), postnatal bleeding (nifas), breast-feeding (radla’ah), and the others. Islam views that reproduction as a noble task which must be undertaken with full responsibility. Therefore, Islam regulates morality associated with the use of reproductive organ, including regulates marriages which become the requirement of male and female to undertake reproductive function. Even in Islamic law, there is specific teaching called as fiqh on marriage (Fiqh Munakahat). 

The community of Pesantren (Islamic boarding school) also has awareness on the importance of reproductive period. The problem is it is just viewed from the perspective of law (fiqh) so that the function and the period of reproduction are merely discussed in the context of law that is which one is obligatory (wajib), permissible (mubah), forbidden (haram), recommended (sunnah), abominable (makruh) during the period of reproduction. But the health perspective has not been used so that awareness on law has not been accompanied by the awareness on health. Even the issue on istihadlah (irregular bleeding) which is understood as the blood that comes out from female’s vagina apart from menstrual blood and is believed to be a sign of pain is only discussed in law perspective. 

The law and health approach which is unbalanced will cause awareness on purity, cleanliness, and health which is also unbalanced. The awareness on purity of a person from small and big impurity and the purity of place from light impurity (mukhaffafah), medium impurity (mutawasithah), especially big impurity (mughaladlah) are not parallel with the awareness on cleanliness, health, especially neatness. Similarly, the awareness on the importance of lawful sexual intercourse according to religion is much greater than the awareness on the importance of proper (ma’ruf). sexual intercourse The result is there is no adequate attention to any kinds of legal marriage based on religion, whereas cause negative impact in health. For instance, child marriage, forced marriage, and so on. 

Education on Reproductive and Sexuality health becomes important given since adolescent because their reproductive organs start functioning and when they get adequate information, the students do not understand how to respond responsibly according to health and religious science. Here are some strategies which can be considered. First, integrating character education in giving the subject on Reproductive and Sexuality Health. Information on Reproductive and Sexuality Health is supposed not to be neutral but students are given knowledge about the importance of undergoing healthy reproductive period, responsible, and in accordance with religious norms. Secondly, especially for education institutions in Islamic boarding schools, the materials of Reproductive and Sexuality Health can be integrated in the perspective of Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh) so that the students do not only know information on Reproductive and Sexuality Health but also get information of what should be conducted from the perspective of fiqh. Thirdly, combining the language of health and of religion in order that the attitude of students’ responsibility is established from two sides those are rational consideration means to think about the impact of short-term and long-term and also religious consideration means the awareness to undergo healthy reproductive period, responsible, and appropriate with religious norms as part of religious obligation. Fourthly, using the perspective of gender equality so that the materials of reproductive health and sexuality and the materials of fiqh consider the benefit for men and women in balance in accordance with the specific condition of each party. Wallahu a’lam {}

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