On the world wide web today, statistics show that 4.2 million or 12% of Internet websites are pornographic in nature. Every second of every day, more than 28,000 internet users are viewing pornography—and in total, $3k is spent to purchase pornography in that same second. A total 35% of all internet downloads are related to pornography. Statistics show that 70% of men aged 18-24 visit pornographic sites throughout the course of a typical month; furthermore, 1 in every 3 porn site visitors are women. And overall, over 200,000 Americans are classified as porn addicts.
The term Zina in Arabic linguistically translates to mean adultery, fornication or illicit sexual intercourse. Zina in Islam refers to the act of illegal sexual intercourse (any activity which takes place outside of marriage). Different forms of zina also include that which can lead one to commit fornication or that which is associated with illicit sexual practices. Zina violates the dignity of other human beings, as well as oneself, and is considered a grave sin in the Islamic faith.
The Holy Quran contains the word Fa’he’sha, which translates to mean vulgarity, shamelessness, obscenity, or indecency. Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said, ‘After me, I have not left any trial more severe to men than women.’ God the Almighty lists in the Holy Quran those things that men desire and are obsessed with, naming women first:
“Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world’s life; but Allah has the excellent return (Paradise with flowing rivers, etc.) with Him” (Quran 3:14)
Other forms of zina include the zina of the eyes, in which one sees that which is forbidden, and zina of the hand, in which one touches that which is forbidden. God the Almighty states:
“Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof…” (Quran 24:30-31)
God the Almighty connects the respectful lowering of one’s gaze with the protecting of one’s private parts. He mentions the gaze first, as what the eyes view influences the heart. Our prophet peace be upon him narrated: ‘The eyes commit adultery, the tongue commits adultery, the hands commit adultery, the feet commit adultery and then the private parts confirm it or deny it.’ The Holy Quran instructs one to not even approach the act of fornication, as certain acts can lead to the commission of this dire sin.
“And come not near adultery for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils)” (Quran 17:32)
Satan will approach you by tempting you first into minor sins, leading you step by step into the commission of bigger evils. Looking upon that which is forbidden is a classic tactic of Satan; one that sets you on a path that will lead you to commit a more serious evil. When one continues to look at that which is forbidden, one can get hooked and addicted to these illicit images. Satan can lay a firm grip on his victim, to the point that the individual will not be able to control him or herself.
“O you who have believed, do not follow the footsteps of Satan. And whoever follows the footsteps of Satan – indeed, he enjoins immorality and wrongdoing” (Quran 24:21)
The negative effects of pornography consumption are massive. Amongst the harms of watching pornographic images or videos are its negative effects and ultimate destroyer of one’s eman (faith), heart, and spirituality–all precious assets that should be treasured. Porn consumption weakens one’s connection with God, weakening one’s prayers and affecting one’s khushoo (one’s humility and mental presence during prayer). Under the influence of porn, one would not be able to recite the Holy Quran with emotion nor shed any tears.
The eyes are the most direct path to the heart. The act of seeing that which is prohibited violates and corrupts the soul. Do not stand amongst those who are enslaved by their desires, as the one who is controlled by his whims and desires is indeed a prisoner. God the Almighty states:
“Have you seen he who has taken as his god his [own] desires” (Quran 45:23)
According to Islamic scholars, one who does not lower his or her gaze and protect their private parts can be deprived of Islamic knowledge, blessings, assistance from God, a sense of modesty, and capabilities of accomplishing certain acts of worship.
The one that watches pornography will experience a dopamine rush, soon feeling the need to view more and more to capture that sensation. Pornography can wreck many negative effects on one’s marriage, mind, eyes, organs, and reproductive system. Pornography can lead to sexual dysfunctions, such as erectile dysfunction or delayed ejaculation. Watching pornography has devastating effects on the brain and will have one constantly checking out the people around them with a lustful gaze and intent, as opposed to treating the opposite gender with dignity and respect.
Pornography can also have a psychological impact on the user, lowering one’s self-esteem or confidence, shame, morals, and even motivation. Watching pornographic images and videos increase the risk of loneliness and depression and deplete valuable time that can be spent on more beneficial activities.
According to Islamic scholars, the one that does not lower his or her gaze and protect their private parts can experience physical weakness, anxiety, hardening of the heart, and an ongoing addiction that leads to other sins, punishment in the hereafter, and other destructive outcomes.
One needs to discover and cut the pornography problem at its root, doing so by uncovering as to exactly what is triggering one to view such images and videos. If one identifies his or her triggers, then one would be able to create strategies that would empower them to avoid such acts. Is watching movies or social media a trigger which inspires you to watch pornography? Is loneliness or some common emotion triggering or urging you to watch pornography? Is it boredom, sadness, stress, anxiety, or loneliness?
Realize that God the Almighty, the All-Knowing, All-Seeing, is watching you at all times, and you are not alone.
“He knows the stealthy looks and that which the breasts conceal’ (Quran 40:19)
Do not look at the smallness of the evil zeed, rather look at the Greatness of the One Whom you are disobeying. If you do fall back and commit such acts, always repent and follow your sin with a good dead, as good deeds compensate for bad deeds.
“…Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds…” (Quran 11:114)
Pray to God to seek forgiveness, also seeking help and guidance in the process. Perform and perfect your prayers with the utmost humility and concentration.
“…Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing…” (Quran 29:45)
To totally avoid pornography consumption, one will need to keep him or herself busy with productive activities such as reading, exercise, sports, school, going to the mosque, chores, or errands.
A pornography addict is characterized as one whose brain is marked by the compulsive use of pornography, which proves difficult to stop despite all its negative consequences and often worsens over time. It is said that addiction to pornography is more serious than the addiction to certain drugs; as narcotics like cocaine and crack can be detoxed and cleansed from the body, whereas pornographic images can be much harder to remove from the brain.
For those that watch pornography occasionally or are fully addicted, hope is not lost; as this addiction is reversible and God is All-Forgiving. Never give up hope and continue to seek forgiveness every time you slip regardless of the number of times you may have sinned in the past, and no matter how great the sin. Always remember that Allah’s Mercy is far Greater, and God loves to forgive. God states:
“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful’” (Quran 39:53)
On the other hand, also realize that much like a seed that grows into a large tree, one’s sin can grow bigger and turn into an addiction that will be far more difficult to conquer. So, start your resistance efforts now, and do not procrastinate.
A Muslim is one that realizes the oncoming approach of Judgment Day, and the fact that everyone on this day will be held accountable for the actions they committed throughout their lives. One’s own body parts can potentially testify against you, for using them to disobey the Creator. God the Almighty states, on the day of Judgment:
“Until, when they reach it, their hearing and their eyes and their skins will testify against them of what they used to do” (Quran 14:21)
Lowering one’s gaze comes with many benefits. When one lowers their gaze, they are in obedience to God’s command. Lowering one’s gaze purifies the eyes and the soul and illuminates the heart. It increases one’s wisdom, steadfastness, courage, and quality of intuition. The one that lowers his or her gaze will feel the sweetness and pleasure of his or her Iman (faith) in their heart.
Whereas little scientific research has been completed specifically regarding the effects and benefits of abstaining from pornography for addicts or heavy users, abstaining from such acts is reported to boost confidence, make one less anxious, especially if they suffer social anxiety, improve one’s social life, increase motivation, increase sensitivity, improve health and one’s sex life, improve stamina, increase clarity of the mind and lessen brain fog, improve self-control, and better one’s quality of sleep. The act of resisting urges also can help one develop discipline and willpower in their life, which is sure to help them in other aspects of their lives as well.
Realize, my dear brother or sister, that when you divert your eyes away for God’s sake, He will compensate you with that which is far better and beneficial than that which you averted your gaze from.