- The Role of Sex in Our Life
- Fornication and Adultery in Islam
- The 7 Shields Against Fornication and Adultery
- #1: The Shield of Vision Reduction
- #2: The Shield of Marriage
- #3: The Shield of Fasting
- #4: The Shield of the Powerful Du‘a from the Prophet
- #5: The Shield of a Righteous Company
- #6: The Shield of Thinking and Reflection
- #7: The Shield of Steadfastness
Alhamdulillah… All perfect thanks and praises are due to the Almighty Allah. I send perfect peace and blessings upon the purest and the most modest man who ever walked on earth, Sayyindinā Muḥammad, his household, his companions and all those who follow his guided path till end of time.
This article supplements my previous one, 15 Dangers of Zina which the Muslim must know. It presents 7 ways you can protect yourself, as a Muslim, from falling to fornication and adultery. It also discusses the role of sexual desires in our life as humans. Also highlighted is the difference between fornication and adultery, as compared to zinā.
Sexual desires are natural feelings that are embedded in some creatures of God. Entertaining those feelings is necessary for these creatures, of which man is one. Therefore, every matured, healthy, and emotionally sound man needs it, as much as he needs food and water to sustain a balanced life. Perhaps, the only necessity to man ahead of food, water and sex is his need for oxygen.
One of the wisdoms behind it is to bring balance to human’s emotional and physical wellbeing. It’s also for the continuation of the reproduction of humankind. Human’s inclination to sex is observed when he reaches puberty. Although the desire is natural, it’s motivated by having contact with the opposite gender, observing his or her moves, exchanging romantic words with him or her, and watching sexual materials.
However, in order to enjoy such a natural gift and attain the benefits that come with it, marriage is prescribed. This means, in addition to its other benefits, sexual intercourse within matrimony is rewarding. Insisting on having it unlawfully makes one a fornicator or an adulterer. All religions prohibit sex outside wedlock, and they’ve prescribed punishment for its committers. In Islam, sex outside a lawful marriage is a major sin, that has many implications.
As much as we are encouraged to get married, so to attain the satisfaction, joy and peace of mind that come with an accomplishing intercourse, and so to ensure the continuation of the reproduction of humankind, we are discouraged from having any form of intercourse outside marriage. In fact, even in matrimony, fulfilling one’s sexual needs is religiously guided, for the good of both man and woman, and for the benefit of children that may result from the romantic activities.
In my previous article, 15 Dangers of Zina the Muslim Should Know, I highlighted the difference between fornication and adultery. Also highlighted there is the Arabic term zinā, and how it relates to bother terms; fornication and adultery. The ruling of fornication and adultery in Islam was also addressed.
Here, it’s worth indicating, that the need for avoiding fornication and adultery is not to stay away from been physically punished (cane or stoning) as highlighted in the previous article. No. The need to avoid fornication and adultery is to abide by the commands of Allah, attain His Mercy and closeness and avoid His Wrath as possible. One may commit fornication and adultery and manage to escape its punishment in this dunyā. But can he escape its punishment in the next life? Thus, the need for the 7 shields against fornication and adultery should be realized comprehensively.
This section outlines seven shields that a Muslim needs in order to minimize the chances of him or her falling for fornication and adultery. This is if he or she is not totally protected from it. It’s important to indicate that both man and woman bear the same degree of responsibility when it comes to the subject matter. Unless it’s a rape case, regardless of who initiated and convinced whom, once they mutually voluntarily engage in it, they share the same responsibility. And their respective marital status (as discussed in the previous article) will determine the punishment they deserve.
I believe you’ll agree with me, that fornication and adultery are usually triggered, first, by eyes contact. And that necessitates that we start with the shield of vision reduction.
‘Vision reduction’ or ‘reducing our vision’ is used interchangeably with “lowering our gaze”. I prefer using the former as it best translates the Qur’anic command with regards to our eyes/gaze. In my article, 10 Habits We Must Avoid in Ramadhan, I mentioned that the eye is one of the greatest blessings Allah has bestowed upon His Creatures. It’s therefore entrusted upon us as an Amānah. With the blessings of the eyes, we are able to appreciate other blessings of Allah in a better way. And the better we appreciate Allah’s blessings, the better focused we are in worshiping Him.
Furthermore, besides the tongue, eyes are (two in) one of the most critical organs in the human body. It determines what we choose and how we react to happenings around us. (The mind only decides after the eyes (or any of the other senses) has drew its attention to something.) Also, we appreciate what we see more than what we just hear or read about.
Since, both man and woman are blessed with eyes at an equal degree, the requirement for the Muslim man and woman to reduce their vision (gaze) is not only applicable to only one gender without the other. It’s equally applicable to both man and woman. This is because, males and females share the same desires (shahawāt), which perhaps, in most cases, the eyes are the first organs used to achieve. For that Allah warns them, both, in Surah Al-Nūr, 24:30-31:
“Tell the Believing Men to lower their gaze and remain chaste. That is purer for them. Allah is aware of what they do. Also, tell the Believing Women that they should lower their gaze and remain chaste…”
The two verses above, evidence that both man and woman are held great responsibility in keeping our communities clean from immoralities, that arise from eye contact. We are not instructed to close our eyes… remember that! Similar to our minds, we should walk with our eyes open, but we must be mindful of what and where we focus them at.
As Muslim communities and as individuals in any majority non-Muslim community, to help ourselves in reducing our visions and remaining chaste, we should be responsible towards the way we dress. We must adhere to dressing modestly. Each of us should tell himself or herself, when he dresses: I am responsible to dress modestly, so not to cause any kind of fitnah to any Muslim or Muslimah outside there.
That being said, we should remember that we’re responsible for our own behaviour and attitudes. We are not responsible for others’ behaviour and attitudes, except that of our minor children. In other words, just because the opposite gender (male of female) has chosen to dress immodestly doesn’t give me the green light to focus my gaze at him or her. When he or she does, he or she’s committed a wrongdoing. And I, too, have committed a wrongdoing when I do. May Allah forgive our shortcomings!
By achieving that, even when we bounce into someone who fails to dress modestly, the fact that we are conscious of modesty and chastity, will remind us of constantly checking on the focus of our gaze.
Vision Reduction is Required Online, As Well
It’s important for the Muslim to note, that reducing our vision is not only applicable in the street, at our workplace and schools. As much as it is applicable offline, it’s applicable online as well. As much as it’s applicable in the Men’s Health Magazine, it’s applicable in the Women’s Health Magazine and the Reader’s Digest. It’s also applicable on Twitter, Facebook and more so on Instagram.
Extending our vision offline could lead to a physical zinā. Extending our vision online leads to pornography and, perhaps, masturbation, both of which could lead to a physical zinā. This means, the danger of extending our vision online is not less dangerous than extending it offline.
So, your first shield against fornication and adultery starts with reducing your vision. To some of us, it’s not easy, but I’m sure it’s achievable. It may not be easy because it’s a test, and tests are not passed with ease. The sweetness of overcoming it (any difficulty) lies at the end of overcoming it. Never expect it in the middle of the journey. Also, it’s easy for one to reduce his vision for once or for a few times, a few days, or a few weeks. But determination, patience, and hope in Allah’s rewards are strongly needed for us to attain steadfastness in that.
Lowering our gaze, remains an obligation upon Muslims, whether we’re married or singles. But for the single (or bachelor) who strives to lower his vision, so to control his desires for sex against fornication and adultery, I’ll advise you to go and get married. 🙂
Certainly, when the chemicals boil and the sexual desires erupt, the best solution to cool the boiling chemicals and bring down the erupting desires is to have a satisfying intercourse. Really?! Yes! But… A satisfying intercourse is only attained through a righteous means.
A righteous sexual intercourse is achieved through a lawful marriage. A lawful marriage is that, that is contracted with good and righteous intentions. Righteous intentions, as far as marriage is concerned, can be anything from ‘wanting to safeguard oneself from the fitnah of fornication and adultery’, passing by ‘wanting to start a righteous Muslim family’, to ‘wanting to reproduce righteous children, who may one day inherit you, and represent you in being a good ambassador of Islam and to make the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam proud.’
Getting married safeguards the Muslim from extending his vision, and that deters him from watching pornography, which in most cases, if not all, is associated with another sinful act; the secret habit (masturbation). Getting married is also effective in reducing one’s urge for zinā which is an unlawful fulfilment of his sexual needs. This is understood from the ḥadīth of the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam, which was reported by Imām al-Bukhārī from the narration of Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu:
O young people! Whoever among you can marry, should marry, because it helps him reduce his vision and safeguard his modesty. And whoever is not able to marry, should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power.”
Parents Role in their Children’s Marriage
Here, I appeal to parents whose children have reached marriage age, and need to get married. Please do your children one last small favour. You are responsible on getting them married. When you can’t afford big weddings to please everybody, please allow them to opt for budget marriage, where there will be no big and fancy wedding receptions. We, as well as our children should get married to please Allah, not to please the society.
The society will talk about the budget marriage of your child. The same society will talk about your unmarried child’s involvement in zinā. Either way, the society will talk. And the victim is your child.
We must remember that, if Allah does not reward you for allowing your child to opt for a budget marriage, He will not punish you for doing so. But… surely, He shall hold you responsible for pushing your child to choose the path of zinā.
Moreover, history has proven that marriages that cost less have had more blessings and given more satisfying marriage life. They’ve also produced more responsible children to the society. Just think of any great man in history, whom you know of, including the Prophets, and see how humble their family lives started.
A parent who makes it difficult for his son or daughter to get married, and the child ends up in fornication or adultery will bear the responsibility of committing a major sin. Not only you encourage your child to commit zinā, you’ve pushed him to the extent of thinking that his parent has being a selfish parent, who only cares for his image and perhaps social status, and cares not about the emotional and physical wellbeing of his son or daughter.
As for a child, who strives to safeguard yourself form fornication and adultery, but unfortunately, circumstances make it difficult for you to get married, remember that fasting is one of your solid shields against fornication and adultery. And when the time comes for you to get married, just ensure you do it the Prophet’s way! Also, remember, that getting married is undoubtedly a protection against fornication for the single, but that alone doesn’t necessarily safeguard one from adultery until he’s developed consciousness of Allah’s look over him.
The shield of fasting is helpful for the single and the married alike. Whether on weekly, monthly or annual basis, fasting is one of the most challenging activities we endeavour. It’s, however, one of the most effective ways to attain humility, suppress any form of urge that leads to evil, such as ego, arrogance, injustice, cruelty, and, of course, unlawful sex. Fasting stabilizes one’s emotions and desires, and then creates a balanced human being in him. This is in addition to its health benefits and the sympathy it creates in the heart of the rich in favour of the poor and the needy.
Fasting is also one of the most effective means for cure from many forms of physical (internal and external) illness. It resets and adjusts your digestion. It also burns your fats and calories. All that, provided we control our intake of food during breakfast at sunset.
Annual fasting during the month of Ramaḍan is an obligation upon every matured Muslim. Whether he’s married or single. And whether he’s having difficult times controlling his sexual desires or not. It’s therefore not our focus point in this part of the section. The fasting we are referring to is the monthly or the weekly supererogatory.
We are encouraged to fast three days, on the 13th, 14th and 15th of every lunar month. We can also opt for fasting every Monday and Thursday. Let’s remember, that without any valid reason, we’re discouraged from fasting a frequency faster than that of Mondays and Thursdays per week. This is to say, a Muslim can fast on alternate days, but that is not encouraged, as it has negative implications on one, at his old age.
In addition to keeping us in the mood of Ramaḍan until the next Ramaḍān, fasting three days a month or every Monday and Thursday safeguards the non-married Muslim from falling for fornication and adultery. This is what is understood from the above-mentioned ḥadīth of the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam from the narration of Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu, as reported by Imām al-Bukhārī:
…And whoever is not able to marry, should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power.”
By now, it’s clear that reducing our vision, getting married for the righteous purpose, and fasting are all acts of worship (‘ibādah) depending on the intentions behind them. All these acts of worship are strengthened with another solid shield for protection against fornication and adultery. That is du‘ā’. And there’s a du‘a’ from the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarding this.
Falling for one’s weakness as a result of inability to control his sexual desires can be a trial to the extent of addiction. The married and the single may be equal in such a trial. And whether one is infected with such a weakness or not, du‘ā’ is always a helpful and powerful weapon for the believer.
According a ḥadīth reported in the Musnad of Imām Aḥmad, Abū Umāmah raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu narrates, that a young man came to the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam seeking for permission to commit fornication and adultery. When the companions of the Merciful Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam tried to shut him up, The Prophet allowed him in and asked him if he ‘would like that for his mother?’ The young man politely said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you”. The Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam then repeatedly asked him if he ‘would like that for his daughter, his sister, or his aunts?’ All that and the man politely said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you.” The Merciful Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to him, “People would not like it for their daughters, for their sisters, or for their aunts.” He then placed his noble hand on the young man and said,
“O Allah, forgive his sins, purify his heart, and safeguard his chastity.”
After that, according to Abū Umāmah, raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu, the young man never again turned to anything sinful.
Today, the Prophet is not physically amongst us to place his noble on one of us and pray for him. But the blessed du‘a’ he has supplicated for the man remains till end of time. We can endlessly supplicate with it, whether or not we are afflicted with greater desire for unlawful sex. You can simply say:
“O Allah, forgive my sins, purify my heart, and safeguard my chastity.”
If you want it in Arabic, you can use the following:
اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ ذَنْبِي، وَطَهِّرْ قَلْبِي، وَحَصِّنْ فَرْجِي
When one’ sins are forgiven and his heart is purified and cleansed, he’ll not only hate (or be protected from) falling for fornication or adultery, he’ll also be protected from all sorts of spiritually heart-related illness. In fact, he’ll be safeguarded from hypocrisy, jealousy, and he’ll hate injustice and oppression as well. Furthermore, with constant du‘ā’ and steadfastness, Allah will not let you down. Trust me on this!
Similar Incident in the 21st Century
The above story happened in the 6th century, more than 1400 years ago. In the 21st century, it’s said that a young man went to a religious teacher in the West, and sought for permission to commit fornication. The teacher asked him the same questions the Prophet asked that companion. Ironically, his response differed. When asked “would you like it for your mother?” his response was, “why not?!”
Comparing the fitnah of the time of the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam to that of our time, the response of the young man in the ḥadīth is not much surprising. In other words, the urge for fulfilling our sexual desires has been strong since the creation of man. But man has been modest in his ways of handling it. Even the lawfully married couples would ensure high privacy for their point of intimacy. What more of couples who might be in wrongdoing?
However, today, sinful acts and immorality have been normalized and human modesty and dignity have been compromised and degraded. For that matter one can easily lose his personal dignity, let alone the dignity of his mother, sister, daughter or female relatives. He doesn’t see it wrong, seeing his parents, children or siblings committing wrongdoings that invite Allah’s wrath, so long as they attain the pleasure they perceive in that, no matter how temporal that pleasure may be. He therefore, finds that as an excuse to indulge in such wrongdoings, under the pretence of “if everyone is doing it, why not me?” In order to avoid developing lack of sense towards our dignity, our choice of company is crucial.
The above du‘ā which we extracted from the teaching of the Prophet, the Teacher ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is crucial. It can be practiced by observing all the acts that were fore mentioned, and by reviewing our surroundings and circles of friends. Sayyidunā Abū Mūsā al-Ash‘arī raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu said in a ḥadīth reported by Imām al-Bukhārī and Muslim that he heard the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying:
“The similitude of a good company and that of a bad company is that of the owner of musk and of the one blowing the bellows. The owner of musk would either offer you for free, or you would buy it from him, or you smell its pleasant fragrance; and as for the one who blows the bellows (i.e., the blacksmith), he either burns your clothes or you smell a repugnant smell”.
The above ḥadīth summarizes the extent to which the influence, which our choice of company and friends can make in us. It also emphasizes the importance of ensuring that we opt for a righteous company at all times. A righteous company is not the one who will only give you money, food or drink when you’re in need. You may never need that from your friend. Also, the money may be from a ḥarām source. The food and drink may be non-permissible in Islam. A righteous company is the one who will enjoin you to that which pleases Allah, and warns you against that which angers Allah, even if he can’t afford to offer you money, food or water.
You may agree with me that smokers are among the most generous people. Based on my personal observation, a smoking person does not think twice before offering a stick of cigarette to his smoking friend. In the contrary, a person who has quitted smoking finds it more difficult to help his friends quit smoking. It’s easy to offer the forbidden fruit that avoid someone from consuming it.
This is also needless to say, that smokers are, mostly, friends with each other. Similarly, mosque goers are friends with other mosque goers. Disco goers are fellows with other disco goers. Shopaholics usually have other shopaholics as their good, if not close friends. Soccer fans always feel comfortable talking (or arguing with) to other soccer fans. They become friends automatically. For, “birds of a feather flock together.” This is to say, fornicators and adulterers are likewise friends with fornicators and adulterers. Thus, you can’t be good friends with a person, who boastfully commits a major sin of that kind, and yet, expect to be immune, from falling prey to that sinful act. The Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said in a ḥadīth reported by Imām Muslim, from the narration of Sayyidinā al-Nu‘mān ibn Bashīr raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu:
And he who indulges in these doubtful things is like a shepherd who pastures (his animals) near the Ḥima (private pasture) of someone else and at any moment he is liable to get in it.
This is being said, it’s worth emphasizing that, when a friend of ours is tested with the fitnah of fornication and adultery, and he or she feels guilty about it, it becomes our default responsibility to lend him or her moral and emotional support, and hold his or her hands, back to the doors of Allah, the All-Forgiving. A friend who commits it secretly has the right upon us to advise him or her, regarding it.
The Muslim can be tested in many ways. But a person who is engaged during his or her youth age in fornication and adultery is likely to be tied to a person who is, or has been in fornication in his or her past. This life is not always fair, but sometimes, it gives back fairness to those who uphold fairness. And that endorses “what goes around comes around.” So, it’s important for the Muslim to ensure his circle of close friends is the least to fall for fornication and adultery. With a righteous company, you’re likely to remain righteous. And the righteous are always in Allah’s company.
May Allah safeguard you and your loved ones from the fitnah of fornication and adultery. Before the Muslim allows himself or herself to fall for fornication and adultery, I suggest that he or she thinks of the perceived benefits of the act he or she is about to commit, and then reflect on the possible implications of it.
Any good attained has something to be sacrificed in return. Likewise, any evil committed has something to be sacrificed in return. The benefits one can attain from fornication or adultery is nothing but a deluded excitement. Note that I said, ‘excitement’, but not ‘satisfaction’. Although excitement, it’s very temporal and carries a very short lifespan. The negative side effect of it, is the regret and guiltiness, which you will develop from it. That regret and guiltiness are permanent, even if Allah forgives you regarding it.
The possible implications of it, is that many people will be affected by your action, directly and indirectly. The victim of your act will be directly affected. Your spouse, parents, and or children will be affected in many ways.
These are among the possible dangers fornication and adultery can tie you to. Think about them, and then reflect, and you’ll likely come to the decision to refrain from it, once and for all, inshā Allah. Thinking and reflecting always remind us of the possible implication of our intended actions. Thinking and reflection, which are done with good intention save us from the embarrassment of this dunyā and the disgrace and torment of the Hereafter.
The shield of steadfastness is, perhaps, the most neglected shield. One should be determined for a higher and noble goal in his life. Anything that could hinder him from achieving that should be handled with caution and suspicion.
While handling the distractive factors, that pose as obstacles in his way to achieving his goals, the Muslim needs to exercise a ‘big deal’ of patience. Nothing is achieved without patience being the motivating factor.
Perseverance and patience should be observed, with much hope in attaining Allah pleasure, acceptance and greater rewards. With that, you’re guided, and protected, even in the most immodest and sinful environments. Think of how Sayyidunā Yūsuf ‘alayhi al-salām was made to escape the harassment of the wife of his lord.
I can comfortably say striving to seek protection from fornication and adultery is one of the greatest challenge the Muslim of the 21st century may face. But then again, challenges, tests and trials are not expected to be passed with ease. And its sweetness lies in the end, not along the journey.
We will surely guide in Our ways those who strive hard for Our cause, Allah is surely with the righteous (Sūrah al-‘Ankabūt, 29:69).
In Islam, we can’t have sex before marriage or outside wedlock. This is no matter how safe we’re told it is to do so. Safety lies in what Allah has told us. Sexual intercourse outside matrimony is fornication and adultery. And its spread is one of the signs of end of time. In a ḥadith reported by Imām al-Bukhārī and Muslim, from the narration of Anas ibn Mālik raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu, the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“From among the portents of the Hour are that religious knowledge will be taken away (by the death of religious learned men), ignorance will prevail. drinking of Alcoholic drinks, and there will be prevalence of zinā (fornication and adultery).”
We can all testify, that fornication and adultery have already emerged to be a widespread calamity, that every conservative community or family men find as a challenge and threat to the family institution. It’s even worse with the emergence of technology and social media. Perhaps, the worst is yet to come. The truth is, we may not be able to stop it from spreading. I mean we may not be able to stop others from involving in it. But we can safeguard ourselves and possibly a few of our loved ones and our circle of influence from it, inshā Allah.
O Allah! Forgive our sins… Purify our hearts… and safeguard our chastity. Amīn!
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Allah knows best.
Allahu Hafiz 🙂