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Last Updated: 2010/07/03
Summary of question
Given that anal intercourse has been forbidden according to a prophetic tradition, why do some jurisprudents consider it to be permissible?
question
Imam Khomeini says in his Tahrir al-Wasilah vol.1, p. 241 issue No.11: “The stronger and widely held opinion is that it is permissible to approach wife from behind.” This verdict contradicts a saying from the Holy Prophet (pbuh) who said: “Allah’s curse be upon he who approaches his wife from behind.” Please explain.
Concise answer
The narrations which have been transmitted and passed on to jurisprudents can be divided into two main categories:
First: Narrations which imply permissibility of anal intercourse.
Second: Narrations which not only do not imply permissibility but prohibition of anal intercourse and in which such a person has been cursed. Therefore, we must endeavor to, somehow, reconcile between these two sets of narrations. The best and most correct way is to accept that it is allowable under specific circumstances and forbidden under others.
a) If wife is consenting to it, it is permissible.
b) It is forbidden, if she is not consenting to it or when it takes place under coercion.
If we are to reconcile between these two sets of narrations, we would say that anal intercourse is abominable in the first instance and it is forbidden in the second.
 
Detailed Answer
First of all, we must say that abominableness (karaha) is something which is not desirable to God, the Almighty but it is also not forbidden. Therefore, one who commits an abominable action will not be punished or reprehended.
As for the narrations which are about anal intercourse, they can be divided into sets:
First, narrations which imply permissibility of anal intercourse, for example, Abdullah bin Abi Ya’fur says: I asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.) about a man who had sex with his wife from the back passage. The Imam answered, “There is no problem and it has been narrated from the Prophet (pbuh) that he said, ‘There is no problem’.[1]
Second, narrations which forbid anal intercourse and which curse the doer of the action[2]as you have mentioned in your message. Therefore, we must endeavor to, somehow, reconcile between these two sets of narrations. The best and most correct way is to accept that it is allowable under certain circumstances and forbidden under others.
a) If wife is consenting to it, it is permissible.
b) It is forbidden, if she is not consenting to it or when it takes place under coercion.
If we are to reconcile between these two sets of narrations, we would say that anal intercourse is abominable in the first instance and it is forbidden in the second. The narrations which forbid anal intercourse are applicable to the second instance.[3] For this reason, we see that some jurisprudents have said: “Anal intercourse is not permissible, as an obligatory precaution, without wife’s consent. If she is consenting, it would be strongly makrooh (abominable).”[4]
 
 
 

[1] Shaykh Hurr Amili, Wasail al-Shi’ah, vol.20, p. 146, hadith 25260, Aalulbayt Institute, Qom, 1409 A.H.
[2] - Shaykh Hurr Amili, Wasail al-Shi’ah, vol.20, p. 142.
[3] Shaykh Hurr Amili, Wasail al-Shi’ah, vol.20, p. 142,  Shaykh Hurr Amili and other scholars are of the view that this narration implies abominableness. They have mentioned two reasons for this.
A) Since there had been a non-Shia Muslim in the gathering, it is likely that the Imam (a.s.) had said that out of taqiya (dissimulation).
B) It is also probable that anal intercourse had been forbidden in the past but the ruling had been abrogated.
[4] Fazel Lankarani and Sistani, Tawzih al-Masail of Maraje’, vol.1, issue No. 450; Resalah Danishjuyee, Sayyid Mujtaba Husseini, question 389, p. 243.
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