Last time I was in Netherlands, I indulged in some serious blitzkrieg tourism, which was very exciting but did not leave me much time to actually notice the life in this little corner of the world. This time, my stay is for a much longer period so I do other mundane things like getting on a tram to go to work, buying grocery and cursing weather like locals do (have had just two and half sunny days in past few months). During this trip, I have more time to look around and see things as they are and among the things I noticed was the fact that for a population of 15 million people (that is less people than just the city of Karachi) they have an abnormally high number of sex shops.
Now, before you decide to pack your bags and move here, let me tell you that they don’t sell ‘sex’ in the shops per se (although that too is legalized here along with soft drugs), they do however sell everything else related to sex, be in performance enhancing drugs, risqué lingerie, toys, videos, fetish and bondage products and what not. It’s not just the big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam (my home for a few weeks) or Den Haag where you can find these sex shops; tiny places like Beverwijk and Haarlem also have their fair share of stores selling kinky products. Not only these shops are in every town and city, they are also everywhere. In Rotterdam, you can take your kids for their McDonald’s fix and can browse in the sex shop in the same alley while they are waiting for their fries & coke or you can hop in to a coffee shop for some Hollandse Appeltaart near the university and find a shop selling kinky inflated life sized dolls next door.
Last night when I heard out about the first online Islamic sex shop, two thoughts sprang up instantaneously. First was how will a Islamic sex shop be different from any other regular sex shops and the second was that somehow someone Dutch had to be involved in it and I was right. Abdelaziz Aouragh is a Dutch Muslim of Moroccan origins and his webshop, El Asira, will start selling stuff exclusively for Muslims from this weekend.
Aouragh is a smart businessman, even before he started his business, he turned to a local imam for approval who sought guidance from another scholar in Saudi Arabia and found out that as long as products are halal and are meant to help sex within marriage, it’s all good. Heck, there is even a fatwa supporting that. I personally have no issues with people using whatever they want as long as it is consensual, but how in the God’s good name do you find out about whether a sex product is halal or not. Who will you go to find that edible lingerie is halal and a red-hot puppy mask is not? Would the halal search engine devote a special section on Halal kink and tell you which kinky shit you do is halal and which one is not? How the person who is selling the stuff online will find out whether the product he is selling is for sex within marriage, outside the marriage, with humans or with goats. What makes this shop halal and the other shops haraam? Is it the Arabic name or the fact that it is owned by an Abdelaziz rather than a Rutherford or a Cohen?
I am all for innovative entrepreneurship but dragging religion into everything just makes it more of a laughing stock and I think we have had enough of it. Be as twisty and crazy as you want, just don’t seek validation form a religious scholar for being that way. Making it religiously acceptable only takes the kink out of kinky and makes it mainstream.