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"Removing the Middleman" Chapter 2: Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow): Verses 186-187


When my servants ask about me (God), (Oh, Prophet) inform them that I am (always) near! I (always) respond to the call (or supplication) of those who call on Me. (So it is important) that they should hear My call and believe in Me so that they may be rightly guided. 87

It is acceptable for you (Muslims) to have sexual intimacy with your spouse during the night of the fasting. You are like garments for each other. 88 God knows that you had acted unfairly among yourselves, so He turned to you in mercy and removed the hardship, making it acceptable to have intimate contact with your spouse (during the night) and (continue) to seek what God has commanded of you. Eat and drink till the whiteness of the day becomes visible from the darkness of the night at dawn, and then complete the fast until nightfall and do not be in contact (sexually) with your spouse if you keep to the Mosque (during the last ten days of Ramadan). These are the guide- lines of God, which you should not violate. In this way God makes His message clear to mankind so that they can become responsible.


87 Being rightly guided can only be achieved if we listen and respond to the prophetic call for submission to God. God in His defined ways of gracefulness and responsiveness responds to our needs. For such a God we should do the same and respond to His call. Does our body not function with minimal attention and maintenance? Do we not have air all around us to breathe, water to drink, and grains, vegetation, and fruits to eat? None of these is made from our own hands, yet we consume them and do not respond to His call.

88 Here, God offers several clarifications and additional guidance regarding fasting and brings into play the discussion on marital relationships in a very eloquent manner. While sexual intimacy is a matter of desire, reproduction, and physical and mental well-being, God wants us to exercise restraint during the daytime but not be overly restrained at nighttime during the month of Ramadan. In this context, He also refers to the husband and wife as each other’s garments, which is a very powerful analogy and an apt description of the true nature of a marital relationship. Garments have multiple purposes, from protection and comfort to beautification. Similarly, marriage at one level provides protection from harmful sexual indiscretions such as fornication, adultery, and promiscuous behavior, and then it also provides physical and mental comfort to the partners as well as the blessing of having children who will perpetuate the mission of life.


First, God is ever present and closer to his creatures. Second, God is ever conscious of human needs, even those of the sexual nature. The Qur’an along with the Prophet provides the practical demonstration of how to follow the guidance of God. As human beings, we are better able to follow another human being than the instructions of God, who is invisible and beyond reach in a human sense. The Qur’an and the Prophet’s examples have clarified all major issues in life; yet many Muslims seem to have become preoccupied with simpler issues like what constitutes a proper moon sighting and the debate about wearing the hijab while ignoring larger issues about justice, civility, education, mutual respect, and success.


It is important for Muslims to comprehend the essence of Islamic requirements and to follow through with the same level of vigor as we apply in other requirements in life, such as earning a living. A full appreciation of God’s care of mankind is essential to our faith and human dignity. The ease with which we can discharge our obligations to God and to our fellow men has been made amply clear in the Qur’an, in the examples of the Prophet’s life, and in the guidelines for resolving newer or existing issues in the context of contemporary times and prevailing customs. In this way, we are much more fortunate than our other religious neighbors, but we have fallen short in many other respects.


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