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Halal Sex

by Viking

An unprecedented glimpse into the sex lives of female and gender-expansive Muslims living across Canada and the United States.

In the Muslim world, sex is permissible (or halal) only within the confines of marriage. Outside of wedlock, the act is considered haram, a sin of the faith. Girls are taught to protect their virginity; their mothers, if not forgoing “the talk” altogether, obscure the facts with elliptical language and metaphors.

So, what happens when immigrants and the children of immigrants set about pursuing an open and active sex life on a more sexually liberated continent, amid western peers and attitudes? The six deeply personal stories in Halal Sex attempt to answer this question, bringing a hushed conversation out into the open.

Within these pages you’ll meet Azar, a non-binary trans Sufi; Bunmi, a Nigerian navigating shame and Tinder; Eman, a lesbian stand-up comic in an interfaith marriage; Taslim, a virgin in her forties struggling to erect healthy boundaries; and Khadijah, an exotic dancer and sex worker.

With great empathy, Sheima Benembarek makes space for the honesty and vulnerability of each participant and handles their stories with gentleness and care. What emerges is a tapestry of a diverse Islam—encompassing a wide variety of cultural and religious and socioeconomic backgrounds—and a frank, feminist contribution to the advancement of Muslim sexual education and pleasure.

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Year Published  2023
Pages 219
Format Hardcover

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SHEIMA BENEMBAREK is a Moroccan Canadian journalist who’s written for The Walrus, Broadview, Maisonneuve, and the Literary Review of Canada. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of King’s College, where she was a finalist for the Penguin Random House Canada Best Nonfiction Book Proposal Prize. In 2020, she was chosen as one of the five RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writers of the year. She's currently a senior editor at Toronto Life.