Dr. Mobin Akhtar, eighty-one, is a Pakistani man on a mission. He has written a book entitled Sex Education for Muslims (or, in Urdu, Special Problems for Young People) which aims to teach people about sex in a way that's consistent with Islamic instruction. Akhtar, who is a psychiatrist, says that the virtual silence that surrounds any talk of sex in Pakistan is doing serious damage to the psyches of young people. He says:
"Adolescents, especially boys, when they get to puberty, and the changes that come with puberty, they think it's due to some disease. They start masturbating, and they are told that is very dangerous to health, and that this is sinful, very sinful."
Dr. Akhtar says he has seen cases where confused teens have become depressed and even taken their own lives. Many teachers and parents are embarrassed about the topic, and there is no sex education teaching in government schools. Through his studies, Dr. Akhtar came to realize that the Prophet Muhammad had actually discussed sex in great detail. One quote from the Koran that's featured in his book reads:
"You are allowed intercourse at night with your wives during the month of fasting. They are as intimate for you as your own clothes, and vice versa."
But many Pakistanis have resisted having their eyes opened to the twenty-first century. Dr. Akhtar has been threatened and called a quack, and very few bookshops will even stock his book. Kudos to the good doc for fighting this uphill battle — interpretations aside, we should all be able to agree that when kids are killing themselves over masturbation, something's wrong.