A Conversation With a Hooker: Adultery, Sex Addiction and Muslims
Posted by: Umm Reem
We are in a mess. We are in a moral and ethical meltdown. No, it’s not lying, cheating, gossiping or anything that is related to the tongue, it’s the other part that our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) asked us to safe guard—the part between the two legs.
“Whoever guarantees me (the chastity of) what is between his legs (i.e. his private parts), and what is between his jaws (i.e., his tongue), I guarantee him Paradise.” [Sahīh Bukhāri]
Ten years ago, when a very close friend called me crying, about her husband whom she’d caught watching porn while releasing himself, at first I couldn’t believe what she’d just said. Her husband isn’t just some ordinary Muslim, with his long beard and gazes lower; he’d been one of the most active members of the community, always at the mosque, always organizing lectures, raising his kids with high religious goals. I remember staying awake all night, tossing and turning trying to resolve the controversy in my mind of what was displayed of that brother and what I’d just discovered. These two characteristics couldn’t be combined in one person. I comforted myself, “If he is into porn then he is just not a good Muslim, no matter what he does outwardly.” That was my resolution, because I simply couldn’t fathom how a practicing Muslim man could enjoy the sight of naked women—not just one look—but to the point where he actually releases himself from the forbidden pleasure.
Fast-forward ten years, another sister called me, crying, bawling about her marital issues, confessing, “My husband sees prostitutes.” Her husband is, also, not only a well known young Muslim of the community but someone that practicing Muslim parents would desire for their daughter’s prospective husband. My reaction this time was vastly different; I responded to her matter-of-factly, “It happens sometimes.”
Why had I become so desensitized? What happened within the last ten years that my reaction changed so drastically? Why wasn’t the world coming to an end anymore? Why wasn’t I shocked, surprised, or even slightly moved by emotions? In fact, the minute she started crying and said she was having marital issues, I narrowed it down to two causes, porn or sex addiction.
How unfortunate of a reality check; I was exposed to several cases of devout Muslims suffering through porn addiction, which inevitably led to sexual exploration beyond monogamy. I don’t like to call it addiction because the level of illegitimate sexual activities varies from occasional slips to being a complete addict. I went from being shocked, to denying that this even existed amongst our communities, to accepting that pornography and sex addiction has now plagued us, leaving our Ummah in a deep sexual mess.
Once acknowledged, I had to understand why it happens and how it happens. That’s when I extended my research. Other than the fact that it is a trap of Shayṭān, I had to comprehend male sexual psychology. I read extensively about this topic, bought books, read articles, and even consulted a sex therapist who is also a good friend.
Consequently, I learned to accept the fact that a man may be devout in his dīn and, at the same time, he can be involved in the disturbing fitnah of sexual cravings, giving into his carnal desires in a way that doesn’t suit his apparent Muslim identity, yet his nafs agrees to obey his ultimate enemy.
One morning a few years ago, taking a break from my kids, I was enjoying a late breakfast alone at Denny’s when a woman from the next table started talking to me. She was younger, Caucasian, dressed in good ol’ jeans and a t-shirt, seemed like a person I could carry on a conversation with. In the middle of our talk, when I asked her what she does, she quietly said, “I’m a hooker.”
I almost choked on my coffee. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to continue talking to her or turn away. The irony of the situation didn’t escape me, her and me, on the same table, chit-chatting. I was seriously disturbed, and it took me a few minutes to remind myself that I had no right to judge her and I had absolutely no right to think of myself as superior.
Later during our talk, she asked me about our “multiple” prayers a day. Surprised, I asked how she knew, “Oh, I’ve a lot of Moozlim customers, [Most of my customers are Muslim].”
I was heartbroken, I wish she hadn’t said that, I wish she’d named some other religion’s followers to be her most common customers, but she didn’t. And I didn’t see any reason why she should be lying to me.
“Oh yeah I have plenty of men from your faith come to me, I can tell by their names… [sometimes, I’ve seen them pray] and sometimes they like to talk.” Shocked and ashamed I bombarded her with questions about the Muslim men who were her most common customers. She named a particular ethnicity among the Muslims being really rough.
What was I supposed to say to her? That while I want to tell you about my religion, I am ashamed that the men you have the worst experience with, are actually my brothers in faith? Should my brothers even be having any illegitimate relationships with her to begin with?
I felt sick in my stomach, completely grossed out, almost puking… not at her—the prostitute—but at my own brothers!
I don’t understand why I had to run into a prostitute, and why I learned that her common customers were Muslim men—but it happened, and I’m sure that there was a good reason it happened.
Perhaps it helped me realize the extent of this disease spread out in our Ummah, perhaps it made me see the other side or it helped me accept that many Muslim men have another controversial life.
Even if I assume that those brothers seeing that hooker were not practicing enough, I cannot turn a blind eye on those sisters who had shared their personal stories, married to some practicing Muslims, regular masjid attendees, with beards and high motivations of leading a good Islamic life while some even wake up for qiyām and memorize Qur’ān.
I could not close my ears when a respected shaykh highlighted the fact that we would be surprised to find some of the famous active da’ees inviting women into their hotel rooms. (This is not meant to make the reader doubt da’ees, Shuyūkh, and active personalities in the community, or worse, judge them. It’s to bring awareness that this is a growing problem about which we thought our communities are immune to, but unfortunately that is far from the truth.)
I asked myself, could this be happening because we are not raising our sons correctly? But many men suffering through this problem were raised in good Muslim families. A recent case of a hafidh-ul-Qur’ān left me flabbergasted and scared.
What about my son? Am I doing enough to protect him? What can I do to make sure he doesn’t fall prey to this corruption? If so many men in this fitan came from good families, were raised upon high moral values, received a good tarybiyyah at home, then what went wrong?
Desperately, I had a long conversation with my son, appropriate for his age omitting unnecessary details, about this rising fitan in our Muslim Ummah. I was heartbroken that at the tender age of 12, I had to address such an intense issue, but unfortunately that’s the world in which I am raising him. His schoolmates have brought up the juicy details of porn magazines and porn channels, but alḥamdulillāh he asked me about it instead of falling into anything wrong (Allāhu yafadhhu).
He didn’t understand why someone would resort to such disgusting actions. I had to be honest with him, “Girls that seem so icky and unbearable right now to you will turn into some amazing being once your hormones kick in, Shayṭān uses that attraction to make a person give into their desires, and men end up obeying Shayṭān.”
Confused, he asked, “How do I make sure that I don’t do any fahash (immoral/indecent)?”
Now that’s the million-dollar question isn’t it?
After seeing the struggle among practicing Muslims—torn between their faith and their carnal desires, struggling to get out yet slipping again and again, hurting themselves, destroying their marriages, making us lose trust, and the destruction that this sin causes for an individual, I can’t just cast it aside. How do we make sure that our loved ones and even ourselves don’t fall into this sin?
Then an answer dawned at me, alhamdulillāh. I was able to look back into his eyes with certainty and respond, “Make du’ā’ for yourself!” I said confidently. “From this day onwards, develop a habit of making du’ā’ in every sajdah of yours, ‘Oh Allāh please keep me chaste, pure, away from the lewdness, and amongst those who guarded their private parts.’ Start today and if your du’ā’ is accepted, inshā’Allāh you will be protected because it is only Allāh who can protect you from this evil.”
Allahumma ja’alni min at-tayyibeen, wal mutta-tahireen, wal muhsineen, wa ma’al ladheena yahfadhohum fooroojahum.