Turkey Welcomes ‘Halal' Sex Shop

Article Summary
A self-proclaimed "halal" sex shop has recently opened in Turkey, further highlighting the complex relationship between Islam and capitalism in the country.

I opened my mail box the previous evening, and surprise, surprise, I got the news we have been bestowed with a lovely “halal sex shop”! The newsletter was announcing the inauguration of a local sex shop compliant with Islamic rules, accompanied by the note, “You are always welcome to visit!” I hope I will, at my first opportunity. …

Having received the good news, I now claim my due. It was I who gave Turkey the good news when the world’s first establishment catering to the “ummah” in the said field debuted in the Netherlands. Back on April 13, 2010, I had discussed the launch of the online Dutch shop in an article on the T24 news website titled “Halal Sex Shop Most Welcome!”

Now we have a similar shop: www.helalsexshop.com. Since it is touted as the second in the world, it means that it was the Turks who got up the courage to follow the Dutch lead. That we are the pioneers in the Muslim world is quite thought provoking. Anyway, let it be for the best! Or, as my young friend Gaye Deniz commented when I shared the story on Twitter, “Enjoy it with a halal blessing!”

Like the shop I wrote about three years ago, our shop also shuns “hardcore” products, such as vibrators, sex dolls and artificial vaginas. It offers products such as massage lotions, performance-enhancing sprays, lubricants, aphrodisiac herbal coffees, vaginal tightening creams and female orgasm creams.

The last product drew my attention in particular because what is featured as a “female orgasm cream” in Turkish bears a much more striking original name in English: “Scream Orgasm Cream.” The “screaming” part, it seems, was too far over the line for us! Yet, one cannot help but wonder if — to preserve both the Islamic tone and the meaning — the cream could have been called “Vecdî İnzal Cream” (“Ecstatic Delivery Cream”). And those in the know would recognize that I’m not using the word “vecdî” (ecstatic) in the Sufi sense [of religious ecstasy] here.

I’m curious about two issues. First, what would Omer Tugrul Inancer, the “Sufi expert” fuming over TV ads for sanitary pads, say if he sees the website? Second, what would the Religious Affairs Directorate say? We know from the Dutch experience that opinion on the issue is diverse within the camp of “Sharia experts.”

If you ask what an anthropologist like me would say, I would have nothing to add to what I said three years ago. The phenomenon is based on both historic background and economic “pressures.”…

The central place that sex, eroticism and sensual pleasure have in Islam is historically substantiated. In this context, Sheikh Muhammad al-Nafzawi’s famous “Perfumed Garden” could be considered the first “sex shop,” [albeit] offered in print form in an era when modern electronic means did not exist. “Perfumed Garden” is the abridged title of the book. Let’s give the full, original title in the hope that we might perhaps help the managers of our local “sex shop” overcome their shyness in adapting the names of foreign products: “The Fragrant Fields of Pleasure Plays.” Nafzawi says he started writing the book with a plea to God to help him walk on the truest path.

Certainly, the issue also has a substantial “economic” aspect. It is another manifestation of the point Islam has reached in its dance with “capitalist civilization”. And this, too, has a long history.

Let’s skip Islamic banking and financial institutions and concentrate only on popular culture. Once the media began to occupy a central place in the modern (capitalist) order, Islamic newspapers and television channels emerged. Once fashion, apparel and catwalks become an attraction for modern people, Islamic fashion magazines and fashion shows of Islamic attire followed suit. Once holidaying became an integral part of modern life, the answer came in the form of sex-segregated resort hotels and Islamic swimwear. Once shows began to draw huge audiences, the “Halal Girls” (“De Meiden van Halal”) show about three veiled sisters — another Dutch enterprise — filled the gap. In Turkey, the program was successfully emulated by a pair of veiled twins in a show called “İkiz Aynası” (“Twin Mirror”). Once music became an integral part of youths' lives, Islamic pop, rock and rap flourished. Once reality shows gripped the world, “halal” reality shows followed — to select the best performers of Islamic hymns.

So, if Muslims have a reality show, why would they go without a sex shop? And now, they have it, too.

Found in: turkey, sex in the muslim world, muslims, muslim morality, muslim veil, islam

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