(RNS) — Many religious communities struggle to discuss sex in a way that is both grounded in tradition and affirming of their members’ modern experience of love, attraction and gender. What is the cultural custom of a faith, and what is a religious requirement? What are norms, and what are mandates?It’s no small feat when faith leaders are successful in creating a safe space for these kinds of intimate conversations, especially, perhaps, faith communities that struggle with talking about sex openly.
More than a decade ago, Nadiah Mohajir, a Pakistani American Muslim and a consultant at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in her native Chicago, began to see the extent to which fellow Muslims needed culturally aware information about healthy relationships, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Long a confidant for friends dealing with such issues, she saw a deep unmet need for a place where Muslims could talk about sexual health as well as gender-based violence.
“When you go to public school, your teachers don’t have that conversation about faith,” said Mohajir in a recent interview, “and when you go to Islamic school your teachers may touch upon puberty or menstruation or even relationships, but they’ll do it from a way where they’re focused strictly (on) hygiene. They don’t really talk about relationships and dating an …
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