Pornography is forbidden under Islamic law, which means devout Muslims cannot visit erotic web sites. Well, that is all changed now, thanks to a Dutch man who has launched a site that adheres to Muslim laws.
Abdelaziz Aouragh said his site is geared towards Muslim couples as an alternative to sites "that focus on pornography and the extravagant side of erotica."
So far, it has been successful. "We had about 70,000 hits in the first four days," Aouragh said of his site which he claims to be the world's first of its kind for Muslims.
You would know it was an erotic site at first glance. The home page of El Asira, which means "Society" in Arabic, is just a street with a line down the middle, inviting women to enter on the left and men on the right.
Once inside, people can buy more than a dozen products, mainly massage oils, lubricants and tablets that claim to act as aphrodisiacs. All items are "permissible under Islam," said Aouragh.
There are no sex toys or pornographic images on the site, which made choosing items a chore for Aouragh. "Most of the other products out there have pictures of naked people or foul language -- it was very difficult to find ones that I could use in my business," he said.
Aouragh said he hopes the site will help educate the population in general about sexuality in the Muslim world. "Muslims have to deal with stereotypical prejudices by some non-Muslims on the topic of sexuality within the Islam."
The website adds:
"We want to share with other Muslims in a positive way our contribution to a broader view of sexuality and eroticism within the Muslim community, for Muslims themselves, as for others."
Muslim clerics like Dutch Imam Abdul Jabbar see no harm in the site. "As long as he doesn't sell sex toys or those sorts of things there is no problem," he told the news agency AFP, adding: the Prophet Mohammad gave lots of advice about sex in marriage and "there need not be any shame."