A Taste of Honey is a well-researched manual for the benefit of the novice and the somewhat knowledgeable on delicate matters. Its Author, Habeeb Akande, is an Historian and an Erotologist.
So what is Erotology? Erotology is the study and description of sexual love and lovemaking. I have to define it because I have been asked before what it meant. Therefore, it’s not a well-known word. Early Muslim Erotologists date back to the 9th century according to the book. From Akande’s researches, we see that fictitious sex stories aren’t new for the people that keep insisting and saying that fiction is bidat in Islam. Early Erotologists had stories about sex and included all gender orientations but to not encourage readers in matters strictly forbidden by Sacred Law. It was rather for moral and educational purposes.
In the introduction of the book, Akande quoted Tunisian sociologist Abdelwahab Bouhdiba who said in his book Sexuality in Islam, “It is a pious duty for a good Muslim to help all other members of the Ummah (Muslim community) to become aware of the art of pleasure, to use it consciously, to benefit from it, in a word, to assume their bodies. The techniques of sexual pleasure must be widely spread among the faithful so that the community of Allah does not suffer depression or sorrow. Being a Muslim means knowing how to be happy and cheerful and to know that Allah’s purpose is achieved through the beautiful, not through the ugly, through pleasure, not through contrition.”
That right there is everything because it helps be me even more confident about the path of work I have chosen myself; raise awareness on sexual education in the Ummah. Had I read Akande’s book four years ago, I might have not been an anonymous writer after all. So no offense to non-Muslims but the Victorian era is what brought prudery and taboo concepts to Islam. And Habeeb Akande touches on that too. And for the record, haya(modesty) is one thing and prudery is another.
Now, where do I start to tell you about this intriguing book? For a start, it’s a tease because impatience gets the best of you because you want to get to the juicy part; ‘action’ tips. Well, at least for me it was nail-biting. The book is divided in two parts; part one deals with definitions and sexual ethics whilst part two is where it really picks up. While I was tempted to skim and skip some parts, I didn’t. When it comes to matters that I’m very interested in, I make sure to read every line of the book for fear to miss an important detail. As a matter of fact, I read this book from cover to cover and wrote notes all over it! It’s a thing I picked up with my step mother the thorough physician who instilled in me sexual education alhamdullilah.
Habeeb Akande’s book was very intriguing from the first page to the last page masha’Allah. I have always known that intimacy was divine based on just the tidbits of Quranic and the Sunnah sources I came across. The Sahabas were not afraid to ask about ‘honey’. Honey is perhaps the solution to all problems.
Oh yea, “Indeed, honey (usaylah) is sexual intercourse.” (Ibn Kathir narrated from prophetic tradition). This is just a tip of the iceberg about this well-wrought researched educational and scholarly book Akande has put together. Akande touches on many issues I bring up in my fiction stories; skin color, faith, love, carnal love, etc.
To continue, A Taste of Honey has a lot scriptures, hadiths, African proverbs, verses of poems and anecdotes. While many of scriptures weren’t new to me, the rest of the groups were refreshing and jaw dropping. Indeed, we could say that some were crude, a little raunchy, and very funny. In other words, the classical Arabs didn’t mince their words and it’s very exhilarating to read their truthful words. I mean, sometimes you just can’t sanitize certain things. You just have to say them how it is and they did!
Drawing from both secular and religious sources, at times A Taste of Honey feels like a compilation but where Islamic sources are lacking to prove his point, Habeeb Akande fills in with an expert knowledge in the matter of lovemaking. In my opinion, A Taste of Honeyis mainly geared towards men and their need to be better men to women even if it also addresses both men and women in some parts. The book also re-hatched the much discussed subject of who between men and women have the strongest sexual drive. Furthermore, it brings up differences and nuances on certain concepts. For instance, why female pleasure insatiability is different from the actual female sex drive. To get your answer or draw your own conclusions, you will have to read to find out because I personally found some subjects open to discussions.
By now, if anybody thinks that Islam is a prude religion is making a big mistake. The Prophet (sallallahu aleihi wassalam), his Sahabas (may Allah be pleased with them), early Arabs, and the Ummah across the board were and is a loving and sexually enlightened people. In this light, A Taste of Honey is a must read. A revival is already in motion and we need to keep it up.
To end, sex is not dirty. Au contraire, it elevates the soul. Keeping it lovely, simple and enjoyable within halal boundaries is the key and what you should take away from A Taste of Honey.
You can read more on Habeeb Akande and his book here and here. Click to here to read the book excerpt.
Jazak’Allah khair for reading.
Originally published at Hayatimagazine.com