Posted by: Dawud Israel | March 27, 2010

Cultivating Himma: Guidance in Dealing with the ‘Sex Arcade Society,’ Porn and Related Fitnahs

Vincit qui se vincit
He who conquers himself, conquers all.
-Latin saying

A brother asked me to touch on some of these issues and so I thought I’d share some advice on these sorts of fitnahs that I have always found helpful in dealing with with the world, which is quickly turning into an arcade, both online and not online, of endless, lustful play.

One reason why these are such big problems is because our society has de-centered the human being. Our society reflects the attitude of Earth not being the centre of the universe, man being simply powerless against the currents of his unconscious and being nothing more than a descendant of an ape (Thanks Copernicus, Freud and Darwin!). This all undermines the sacredness of the human being and makes him feel powerless, bullied around by the world. Now, we are no longer human-beings but rather, human-doings, slaves to impulses brought on by societal influences.

Approaches

We need to remember Allah has empowered us and in fact the deen reflects an attitude of the world being flexible, where individual free will is paramount and societal influence negligible to the self-respecting individual. One of the righteous shaykhs mentioned in Kashf al-Mahjub is recorded as saying:

“There is no flame of lust that cannot be extinguished by strenuous effort, because what vice proceeds from yourself, you possess the instrument that will remove it, another is not necessary for that purpose.”

Now personally, I always hear of fasting as the best course of action. We tend to think fasting’s remedy is in making you restrain from something and in that way its a preventive- as an obstacle. But fasting is important for building willpower. It has its power in the fact, you are doing nothing, i.e. not eating or consuming. Rather you are passively building willpower therefore, making it easier for you to bring forth willpower from yourself (when you are fasting) just as easily as you abstain in fasting. It’s a way of gaining willpower through allowing sheer time to inculcate it into you,  so that it remains with your through time with ease. The difficulty turns into a form of autopilot after a long period of time. The story of Sulaiman alayhi salam, is that he made dua to Allah for  kingdom he rightly deserved as khalifa, the likes of which no one else will ever possess, and subsequently through the power of the seal of his ring, he was given mastery over the winds, the jinns and animals.

Many have wondered, “What was it on the seal of his ring that gave him such unparallel power?” Mawlana Rumi gives an answer in his poem, “Fasting!”

You should understand the fear of Allah. It is a very weighty thing and recalling death is also a very heavy thing- as if an anvil has been tied down around your legs, making you refrain from sins in worry. The best way of finding this is in seeking ‘ilm.

The best course for righteousness is to spend your time learning the knowledge of this deen. Pick up a big book of hadith or religious knowledge, and invest the time needed to complete it and you’ll see the difference. Porn and these sexual fitnas have much to do with how your brain is wired, and so it is no surprise that knowledge is one of the antidotes to this, because it changes the way your mind functions. The sexual arcade is a place for a weak mind. In a sense, this is a good application of doing muhasaba of your thoughts, and protecting your mind and ennobling it, making it leave harmful tendencies. It is crucial that you engage yourself with the ‘ilm, do not go about it mindlessly, but think, reflect, ask questions, and search for discoveries.

Now, I want to move into the psychological aspects associated with this topic. Marriage was thought to be the solution to the problems but this isn’t always the case, because the problems can continue even in marriage. Much of the problem is complicated by Facebook and other social media. It would not have been worth commenting had this not become the obsession it has become today. Much of this is connected with artwork- how one portrays oneself in images, the sexualization of those images, and how that connects with two things: egotism and the sex arcade. Egotism and self-pleasure are almost one in the same- narcissistic in nature and reflect both a way of glorifying oneself and victimizing of oneself. The idea that fuels this is that there is something more real about sexualized images, because they are experienced more intensely, than the drab all-too-human aspects of simple greetings or passing conversation, and they are certainly more preferable than sickness, STDs, hairiness, body odour, or old age and to the logical extension of death, among other signs of our frailty and humanity that contest images that glorify us.

The psychoanalytical interpretation (not one I always agree with) gives an insight into the delusion:

“Phantasy and the imaginary are merged so that it is no longer possible to know when masturbation begins or ends. The real blends with imagination, imagination with phantasy with the real.” – “Self and Others” by R.D. Laing p. 56

The danger here is one nearing a mental problem. The idea of every aspect of your life being a “spectacle” ties in with that, and therefore, makes the movements of men and women, acts in a sexual charade. Our society is critical of appearance, with the criteria not being one of refinement but rather one that implies, “Your appearance should be in such a way as I would not mind sleeping with you,” but whose reality is closer to, “or fantasize about or stalk.” The ease of this daily challenge is relaxed by simply putting up a steamy photo on Facebook, until people tire of it and then I change it and put up new photos. The common thread with a society stuck on the track of sexual experimentation is there is no end in sight- it is endless. I should mention there are many similarities in endless exertion to music addiction with self-glorification. Contentment (rida) is what is lacking. In the ocean of Islam, contentment is like the salt. Being content with Allah’s decree, makes powerless whatever holds power over you- greed, lust, even hunger or anger. To learn more on contentment see this earlier post.

And as mentioned earlier, the best way to break this is to delve into learning and wisdom. Most addicts, whether alcoholics or drug users, Muslims and non-Muslims, share the common trajectory of first discovering wisdom, which brings about a humility in realizing there is something greater, but at the same time musters in a bravery to face one’s problems, an honesty in confronting the problem and a respect for oneself- recognizing how you have degraded yourself. Islamic literature and online religious talks (bayans) will help foster this moral and emotional development and its essential in any sort of self-development, but it demands consistency!
And then when you find yourself succeeding, even for a little period of time then make shukr of Allah. Allah says in the Quran:

“La-in shakartum laazeed annakum
If you are grateful, I shall grant you an increase.” (14:7)

‘He who does not thank Allah for a blessing, has called for it’s annihiliation.’ So thank Allah when you find yourself persevering. And then you will find tawfeeq, ameen.

Related posts:

Practical Ideas on Gaze Guarding

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The Smart Way to Lower the Gaze

Lower Your Gaze Blog

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


Responses

  1. […] More resources on controlling lusts: Cultivating Himma: Guidance in Dealing with the ‘Sex Arcade Society,’ Porn and Related Fitnahs […]

  2. […] More resources on controlling lusts: Cultivating Himma: Guidance in Dealing with the ‘Sex Arcade Society,’ Porn and Related Fitnahs […]

  3. jazakAllah for this, such issues need to be dealt with more than others, this disease is most rampant among the youth.

  4. Really need help with this lust thing……

    I am victim of it need big time counseling on this matter.

    I feel like my Emaan is dying each day, if please anyone can help me please help me.

    Jazak’ALLAH khair

    (I did fasting but it really didn’t help me that much, after iftaar I begun feeling the same way as i was.


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