Letter to My Sisters

...a story about Islam, Marriage and Vaginismus

My Story

Ibn Zyad 25 Muharam 1439

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I, Ibn Zyad, bring a letter of solace, solidarity, hope and encouragement for my sisters who are being challenged by a condition known as Vaginismus. To those who are wondering why a man would write about an issue totally related to females, let me tell you my story.

About two years back I met a beautiful sister who had recently arrived in the city where I live. To protect the confidentiality of this charming sister, I will name her “Amanah” here. Amanah was recently divorced and wasn’t married at the time I met her. To me, she was beautiful, generous, funny and showed signs that she was very keen to learn her religion. I didn't know everything about her, however I knew enough to realize that I liked her. As a Muslim who doesn't believe in dating I asked her in marriage. She told me about her divorce and the complicated situation she has been through because of this and that she wouldn’t be able to ‎make such a commitment at that particular time. I felt her sincerity and respected her decision.

Ironically and contrary to what her answer was, she started showing more and more attention and interests towards me and I could feel that she really liked me too. We started communicating a lot with each other. I still had the desire to marry her and as I understood she needed time, I was happy to wait for her to be ready. As we were getting to know each other, I increasingly liked her, and she became more and more comfortable with me.

After few months, she revealed a very important secret to me: she had Vaginismus. As I did not know anything about this condition, she had to explain its meaning to me: her Vagina could not be penetrated. I, then realised that my willingness to marry her ‎didn't flutter at all as a result and I instead developed a strong ‎motivation to help her in overcoming the challenge she was facing. I definitely wanted the honour to be the one who might help her victoriously overcome this difficulty in her life; I was extremely determined.

Moreover, this new information about Amanah also confirmed to me my feelings: despite Amanah's great looks and beauty, I was primarily attracted to her wonderful personality. I wasn't after physical sex with her, I was rather looking to build a bond between my heart and her heart, between my soul and her soul. I also felt very honoured that she trusted me by disclosing her secret to me. I also then understood that this big challenge in her life was part of the reason why she wasn't ready to accept my marriage proposal. So, I decided to give her all the time she needed to build her confidence enough to make the commitment of marriage again.

I gave her the respect a Muslim man must give to a Muslim woman: as she wasn't halal for me, I never touched her, I never held her hand, I never kissed her. My interaction with her was completely and beautifully non-physical. But as a result, I found difficult and challenging to assist her directly with her Vaginismus. So instead I chose to be kind towards her, to remain available for her, to behave well towards her, to build trust between us and to give her the time she needed to become ready. I felt so well with Amanah and it seemed to be mutual. I thought that if our interaction could be so beautiful even before being married and without any physical contact, then our marriage was only going to be one of amazing happiness regardless of her vaginismus.

Unfortunately, after approximately 2 years and with immense sadness in my heart, I had to say bye to Amanah. The reason? Let’s say that Amanah and I made different life choices. Nevertheless, this separation made me realise how dear Amanah was to me. I am grateful to Allah for the strength he gave me when it comes to facing trials in general. But regarding Amanah, I felt a pain which I didn’t expect. I felt such loneliness in my heart. I knew Amanah had suffered a lot following her divorce, and it was then my turn to suffer and to be sad. In retrospect, I realise that it was beautiful sadness. I also have the satisfaction in my heart that we separated in a correct manner, without grudge nor hatred. Oftentimes the love claimed by couples turns into hatred when they separate, which raises the question: was the claimed love really love? I do feel like I have been upright, respectful and just, before and after the separation and this appeases my heart.

My Healing Process

Now was the time to carry out the task of healing my injured heart. The best way to find solace was indeed turning towards Allah. I started praying the night prayers more often and reciting longer parts of the Quran, remembering Allah, complaining to him, and invoking him for him to appease my heart, until my eyes would be filled with tears and my voice would start sobbing. Is there a tear more beautiful than the tear of the worshipper who faces his Lord? Allah never forsakes His servant: He appeased my heart and answered my invocations in accordance with his word:

"فَٱذۡكُرُونِىٓ أَذۡكُرۡكُمۡ"
"So, Remember Me, and I will remember you"

Allah knows of the pain, the despair, and the sadness. He is the one we reach for in the darkness. As Quran mentions:

"أَلَا بِذِڪۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ "
“Verily, in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.”

Allah also says in the Hadith Qudusi:

"وَإِنْ أَتَانِي يَمْشِي، أَتَيْتُهُ هَرْوَلَةً"
"if my servant comes to me walking, I go to him at speed"

How appeasing it is when Allah allows us to experience directly the meaning of his words in tangible ways in our hearts! And how truthful the word of our prophet ﷺ:

"عجبا لأمر المؤمن ... ‏:‏ إن أصابته سراء شكر فكان خيراً له، وإن أصابته ضراء صبر فكان خيراً له‏"
"Strange are the ways of a believer … : if he has an occasion to feel delight, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him, and if adversity befalls him he endures it patiently and that is better for him. "

My Motivation

Allah allows us to feel sadness: the type of sadness which is a mercy and brings the servant closer to his creator. Sadness is a natural emotion which one must know how to manage. Sadness, when badly managed, can become anger, hatred or hopelessness. By the will of Allah, my sadness brought me closer to Allah. My sadness also transformed into motivation to help my sisters in their struggle against vaginismus. I was driven to help Amanah in her trial, today Amanah is gone whereas the drive is still here. Why shouldn’t I use this drive to the benefit of my other sisters who are currently facing the same challenge.
Vaginismus is a condition which can make sexual intercourse, gynaecological exams and even tampon insertion either painful or unfeasible. To prevent worsening of the condition it is important that action is taken. The condition can be caused by emotional factors, medical ones or by a combination of both and is one of the leading cause of unconsummated marriages. The good thing is that Vaginismus can be treated with a combination of physical and emotional exercises.
When I started researching the subject of Vaginismus, I came across 2 points linked to Muslims which made me realise how necessary it was to assist especially the Muslim women who suffer from Vaginismus.

1. Men Add Pain to Injury - When it comes to men of religion, I was shocked to find out that many blame Muslim women who suffer from Vaginismus for not having intimacy with their husbands. Instead of offering solutions to my sisters or instead of showing empathy towards them, they added pain to injury. Instead of healing a wound, they made it worse. Instead of helping an innocent, they treated them as guilty. Don’t they understand that being able to normally make love to their husbands without pain is the strongest desire of most of these women. Amanah, for example, during her previous marriage had to listen to the hadith about the women who are cursed by the angels for refusing to sleep with their husbands. Other sisters had Muftis tell them they must fear Allah and to just execute the task of having sex with their spouses. Should these Muftis and Imams blame a man with the right hand broken for eating with their left hand? Should they blame a man with an injured leg for praying seated? Should they blame a pregnant woman for not fasting? Of course not. In the same logic, the women who suffer from Vaginismus should not be accused for something they’re not responsible for. How ignorant their responses are and what a lack of softness and psychology. These examples highlight the importance of mastering both Islamic Knowledge and Comprehension of the Context/Reality (in Arabic: فقه الواقع) for the one who wants to offer religious opinions. Now, my dear sisters, be in any case firm and let nobody, absolutely nobody, make you feel guilty. You didn’t choose to have this vaginismus. On the contrary, you manage it with patience. You are absolutely courageous and totally innocent. Let nobody try to convince you of the opposite. May Allah reward you for your efforts and resilience.

2. Could a Strict Religious Upbringing be a Cause of Vaginismus ? - Regarding the causes of Vaginismus, I was initially surprised when I came across the explanation that a strict religious upbringing could be a cause of Vaginismus. On one hand, it confused me, as Islam is clear and open, in a very non-dirty manner, about sexual matters. Sexual intercourse, is not only a source of religiously lawful pleasure for the married couple, it is also an act worthy of divine reward. It is sex outside of marriage, which Islam strongly condemns.
On the other hand, despite the Clarity and Openness of Islam on the subject of Intimacy for married couples, it is true that Muslims are often uncomfortable when it becomes necessary to discuss sexuality. This discomfort seems to be more linked to culture and is often against the teachings of Islam. I believe that more work on the subject needs to be done by the competent people of the community. It must be clear to our women that Islam is not a cause of their vaginismus, rather it is a strength in their trial. My dear sisters, you can use all permitted (halal) means to overcome your Vaginismus and you have as added value a source of happiness in your heart which other women don’t have: faith in Allah.

In consequence, I came to the conclusion that I should contribute to a Muslim response to the problematic of vaginismus. And I want this response to be full of mercy, solidarity, encouragement and trust in Allah.

Here I am my dear sisters, driven by my personal story and by our Islamic principles, on a mission against Vaginismus and I decided to launch a project which will specifically focus on Muslim women willing to overcome their Vaginismus. The project is currently in progress and will offer tailored support.1 It will enable Muslim women to ask questions to Muslim experts in the field of Gynaecology, Psychology and others and benefit from their knowledge. This will be published on a separate web site in the near future in shaa Allah. This project will be a present, a present which I couldn’t offer to Amanah, a present which I will offer to all my sisters out there.
جزاكن الله خيرا,



1: to find out more about the project, feel free to email contact@ibnzyad.com


Ibn Zyad

For my sisters

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