Pornography (porn) is abhorrent. It is degrading, not just for the one carrying out the act but also for those viewing it. Like every other sin, pornography is a violation against one’s own self and is displeasing to Allah SWT. Ulama describe it as “a technological form of adultery and fornication”.
It is an addiction and whether it is a major sin is not even questionable. The sin of allowing the eyes to fall upon anything pornographic leads one to undoubtedly become addicted to the sin of self gratification. To the extent that one need only recall from memory pornographic images to repeat the sin. That’s two sins for the price of one’s Imaan.
“It is even worse than fornicating with an animal or even worse than fornicating with a corpse,” the Ulama further describe how shameful the addiction is. Why? As an animal is a living creation, so too is a corpse also a creation, despite it being dead.
Pornography is the exhibition of pictures in the medium of film, photography, drawing and sculpture. These pictures are lifeless. When one indulges in pornography they are giving a lifeless object the power to play havoc with their heart, mind and soul, as explained by Moulana Ismail Desai and checked by Mufti Ebrahim Desai of Darul Iftaa.
“The eyes are polluted with the evil that’s on the screen. The mind and soul reacts to those lifeless pictures. If one engages in an illicit relationship with a corpse, what’s the difference between that and lifeless pictures? How low can we stoop to allow lifeless pictures to control and fulfill our passions?”
It is said that the addiction to pornography could be worse than drug addiction. While a drug addict could be rehabilitated and detoxified, over time ridding himself of the effects of drugs from his system, a porn addict opens his heart and mind to pictures that may remain there for a long time.
So strong is the medium of pictures that our recollection of them can happen at the most sacred of moments. Whilst in Salaah or during other forms of Ibadat. For married couples it can cause havoc with the intimacy, trust, respect and stability of the union. Husbands may demand of their wives to also view pornographic movies to “learn” Haraam sexual acts.
Pornography has many negative consequences, but the biggest is that “it robs one of true human values and spirituality. The real life and essence of Imaan is lost.”
It is narrated by Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) has said, “When an adulterer commits illegal sexual intercourse, then he is not a believer at the time he is doing it; the wine-drinker is not a believer at the moment when he is drinking wine; and when somebody steals, he is not a believer at the time he is stealing.” (Sahih Bukhari)
One has to leave their faith to indulge in sinful acts and it would be extremely grave if death were to visit a Muslim while they are engaged in the sin. Both the actor and viewer engaged in pornography have little or no respect for themselves and for the opposite sex.
In the times we live, there is a fixation with sexuality. In most cases women are exploited to be the object of a man’s desire – most pornography caters to heterosexual men – and in the vein of “equal” rights and feminism women are blind to this exploitation.
Pornographic images are prevalent everywhere from billboards, magazines, drawings, advertisements , the internet and literature. It is well known that television is one of the most pervasive tools of pornography. It’s a multibillion dollar industry “owning” over 30% of internet sites and it can be accessed at a tap of a button resulting in the slow degradation and corruption of millions.
There are many physical, spiritual and psychological harms linked to self gratification. Among those listed by the Ulama are that the blessings of good deeds are taken away, a person is deprived of knowledge, finds an aversion to people and the most dangerous is that the person will not be able to remain steadfast on Deen. A person satisfying themselves in this manner is cursed by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
Physical harms include the bladder becoming weak leading to problems in Wudhu, Salaah and other Ibaadah. It weakens the nerves and causes some limbs like the legs to shake and shiver. It causes pain in the vertebra column, the spinal column from which semen is ejaculated. This pain creates crookedness and twisting in the back. It creates weakness in the brain and weakness of memory. It weakens the sight and reduces the normal limit of vision and causes a person to become old before time. These are just a few. Self gratification also leads to agitation and irritation over trivial matters, lack of confidence, disinterest in studying and desire for isolation.
But anyone who admits to themselves that it is a sin and seeks help can rid themselves of the addiction with willpower, hard work and steadfastness. The first step is sincere repentance. One should not be despondent and never despair. Allah SWT commands us in the Quraan not to lose hope in Him and Allah SWT tells those who have transgressed not to lose hope in His Mercy. There is no doubt that it is only Allah who will cover up and forgive sins.
The following remedies are advised. Restrict internet usage to the bare minimum and use it only out of need and necessity and in the company of others. Request to be supervised by an elder, your parents, your wife or any other person when using the internet. Imagine the disgrace and shame that will overcome you when your loved ones and others learn of your secret.
“Before you sleep every night, think about death and how you will be buried in the grave with no-one to assist you and help you. Imagine Ghusl (pre-burial bathing)being done to you, you will then be enshrouded with the Kafn, people will be crying, the Janaza Salaah will be performed and then your body will be carried to the graveyard and then you will be buried in the depths of the ground. Who will be there to assist you on that day? Every day, take out some time before you go to sleep and think about death. Insha’Allah, this will remove the ghaflat (heedlessness) from your Nafs.”
Another remedy is to keep occupied in beneficial things at all times. Keep a Tasbeeh(rosary) to make Dhikr whenever you have time and aren’t doing anything. Remain firm and resolute in your quest. Never give up hope. Always, keep trying.
“Never give way to the subtle whisperings of Shaytaan. At first, refraining from sins might be extremely difficult, but after constant struggle and punishing of the Nafs, the Nafs will finally become tamed and then you will feel pleasure in refraining from sins. Insha’Allah, one day Allah (Ta’ala) will open up his treasures of guidance and love to you.”
And always, always lower your gaze.
The Problem With Porn
Porn. It’s the elephant in the room. In today’s state of overt sexuality, it is nearly impossible to avoid the barrage of erotic propaganda portrayed in all forms of media. Whether it’s the soft-core exposure of celebrities in film and television, or the hard-core pornography which dominates the myriad of internet tube sites today, it is easy to say that we’ve all been subjected, whether willingly or unwillingly, to pornography in some form or another. It seems as though porn has become more ‘mainstream’ in the last ten years, progressing away from the small corner in movie rental shops and making its way into almost every form of media today. Varying opinions peg gratuitous sexuality and pornography either as a ‘liberation of sexual expression’ or a ‘condemnation of a sacred monogamous practice’. The moral and ethical debate around porn is multifaceted, but one thing is for sure, the ubiquity of sexuality and pornography has definitely gone too far.
Illustrations of a sexual nature date back thousands of years; depictions such as the Venus figurines and rock art have existed since prehistoric times. However, the concept of pornography as understood today did not exist until the Victorian era. For example, the French Impressionism painting by Édouard Manet titled Olympia was a nude picture of a French courtesan, literally a “prostitute picture” – it was controversial at the time. Nineteenth-century legislation eventually outlawed the publication, retail, and trafficking of certain writings and images regarded as pornographic and would order the destruction of shop and warehouse stock meant for sale.
This took a turn in the late 19th-early 20th century, as pornographic film production commenced almost immediately after the invention of the motion picture in 1895. The 1896 film, Le Coucher de la Mariée showed Louise Willy performing a striptease. Pirou’s film inspired a genre of risqué French films showing women disrobing and other filmmakers realised profits could be made from such films. In 1970 a Federal study estimated the total retail value of pornography was around $10 million. Shockingly, by 2001, a study put the total (including video, pay-per-view, Internet and magazines) between $2.6 billion and $3.9 billion. That profit number should be a red flag for anyone trying to understand the morality behind pornography, as any corporate influenced industry usually leaves ethics and human wellness at the door when promoting their profit margins.
Brett and Kate Mckay from theartofmaniless.com, wrote in an article titled The Problem With Porn, “Pornography is such a polarizing issue, that it’s easy for people to take extreme sides when approaching it. Oftentimes, religious people, while very sincere in their beliefs, brand porn as vile filth that turns good men into sexual perverts and unclean lepers… The other extreme sees porn as just a healthy expression of sexuality. Pornography is heartily encouraged in order to help people discover what pleases them sexually, no matter how graphic or violent the material is. The people in this camp will argue that as long as consenting adults are involved and no one gets hurt, then anything goes. However, this approach fails to recognize the detrimental effects porn can have on an individual, on women, and on society.”
Pornography watching without a doubt can be a compulsive practice. It’s more like food to a compulsive over-eater. Once you make those pleasure connections in your brain they can be very hard to break. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that porn can ruin your life. The false standards and ideals established through porn affect men and women more so than you might think. Some might disagree to this notion, but pornography objectifies both women and men. For the longest time, the subject of objectification was based solely on women, and this held true for many years. However, one cannot deny that in our current culture men are objectified just as much in the media. In pornography especially (heterosexual and homosexual), men and women are looked at as sexually gratifying ‘things’, leaving out the need to connect spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually.
Another problem with watching porn is the support of the dirty industry behind it. People are getting paid to have sex, i.e., porn is glamorized prostitution. The density surrounding this concept is real. To attain a proper perspective on the matter, a question to ask yourself would be how would you feel if your brother, sister, mother, or father participated in these kinds of acts? If the answer is ‘uncomfortable’, then perhaps there needs to be the same standard applied to the people who engage in porn.
One of the largest issues with pornography is the false standards and expectations that exist as its entourage. The men usually have shredded bodies and large penises, the women are usually tiny with massive breast implants. When children see these types of images at a young age, insecurities arise due to erroneous definitions of what ‘men’ and ‘women’ are stated to be. There is no love associated with sex in porn, but instead sex is portrayed as an aggressive, animalistic type of practice that wants only to see the gratified ending. There is a massive mis-education done through pornography which creates unrealistic ideas of what ‘good’ sex is. In some cases this can create a big problem in the bedroom, with some people even having to revert to sexual fantasies while having sex in order to reach orgasm.
Furthermore, watching porn on a regular basis can diminish the need for sexual pleasure within a relationship. After repeated exposure to the stimuli, your pleasure plateaus. At this point, people often reach for more-more food, more sex, more porn, etc. in order to recover the initial pleasure they once took in the experience. But this only begins a vicious cycle in which you must seek ever greater and more intense stimulation to return to your initial pleasure level. Eventually you overwhelm and numb your pleasure receptors. Author Naomi Wolfe touched upon this in her New York Magazine article “The Porn Myth”,
“Pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros, but dilutes it. Other cultures know this. I am not advocating a return to the days of hiding female sexuality, but I am noting that the power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time.”