Rana Rais Khan dares us to discipline one of the most basic human instincts

While discussing the trials of a lewd sight, our teacher once questioned the class: “Do you know of any animal that invites other animals of its kind to group and watch the love making of a couple?” Crimson red, most of us shook our heads. “Well, I know,” she continued, “it’s us, human beings. How many of you have not watched pornography on TV, in movies or magazines deliberately alone or with friends?”

Feeling very uneasy, the class remained silent. Then, she recited from the Quran: “Verily, We created man in the best stature (mould). Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low. Save those who believe and do righteous deeds…” (At-Tin 95:4-6)

Truly, only human beings can stoop so low. Having said that sexual desire has been implanted by Allah (swt) in mankind for pleasure and pro-creation. Although natural, just like other desires it needs to be disciplined, too. Uwaymir Anjum, a writer, states the reasons: “Mainly because this is the greatest power of all other human instincts to sabotage and undermine the very purpose of human creation: the worship of Allah, profound realization of His presence, cultivation of His love and moral conduct on its basis.”

Some argue that we are merely viewers. How do we compare to those directly involved in the moral degeneration or the business of promoting it? They are the merchants of obscenity. Allah (swt) will surely question them! But it is consumer trends that create demand. If buyers of vulgarity boycott all these products (lewd websites, immoral books and magazines, porn movies and TV shows), there will be no market to float such products or services. The buyer is as guilty as the seller.

Even if you do muster the courage to stop viewing, buying or sponsoring lewdness, will it disappear? Unfortunately, it won’t. We live in a world, where soft porn is almost universal. It’s in your newspaper, e-mail account, the supermarket you shop at, on the billboard you drive by, etc. You just can’t escape it! So what do you do? Ask the expert – follow the Quran and stick to the Sunnah.

Is there really a means to restrain ones sexual desires? Yes, there is. Those, who strive to preserve their modesty, obey Allah (swt): “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah (swt) is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts)…And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur 24:30-31)

Kimberly Ben, another writer, calls lowering the gaze as dodging the Satan’s arrow. She explains: “The concept of lowering the gaze is a very important characteristic of Islam. It represents discipline and restraint. It is an effective method of halting the stirrings of certain urges and desires that may manifest into even more sinful acts. As human beings, we are visual by nature. Certain sights can evoke very powerful emotions.”

The Prophet (sa) said: “And the eyes commit Zina (adultery). Their Zina is gazing.” (Bukhari)

Now, when we are told to lower our gaze, it does not mean that we go around keeping our eyes glued to the ground. What it actually entails is that upon viewing any explicit scene or image, whether in person, on TV, on a website, in print or on any other media outlet, we should consciously turn our faces away. We underestimate the power of a simple glance. The Prophet (sa) has stated in another Hadeeth: “…the adultery of the eyes is looking at (that), which is not allowed…” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Along with lowering our gaze, we must learn to condition our heart and mind. Following are a few practical tips that can help to guard our purity:

Take a detour

There are some places, where you are expected to run into questionable images, such as music shops, video shops, lingerie outlets (opened up most recently), magazine racks, TV (both on shows and advertisements) and while surfing the web (porn website are flashed before you). Be selective to avoid sexual imagery. Allah’s (swt) advice is to stay as far away as possible from Fawahish (sexual indecency) and if encountered, to turn away right then and there.

Pray earnestly

In times of great difficulty, seek Allah’s (swt) refuge. You will be amazed, how He protects you. But you need to initiate that process. Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “And your Lord said: ‘Invoke Me, [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism) and as Me of anything] I will respond to your (invocation).’” (Ghafir 40:60) But remember – your prayers can only make a difference, if you truly resent obscenity and wish to keep yourself chaste.

Don’t give up

Determination is the key word. You will be pushed by peer pressure, enticed when the latest movie of your favourite actor is released, tempted to flip through beauty and fashion magazines. Just remember, what the Prophet (sa) said: “Who ever seeks to be chaste, Allah will make him chaste, and who ever seeks to be independent of means, Allah will make him independent of means, and who ever strives to be patient, Allah will make him patient.” (Bukhari)

Consider marriage

Kimberly Ben puts it nicely: “Many frown on the idea of couples marrying too young in our society. You are expected to live an independent life full of adventures, before finally settling down.” Addressing the assembly of youth, the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever can afford it, let him get married, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and in guarding one’s chastity. And whoever cannot afford it, let him fast, for it will be a shield for him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Know that Allah (swt) is watching

You can steal a quick peek or a lingering glance at the opposite gender. Nobody might even notice it, but can you hide anything from Allah (swt)? The Creator states: “Allah knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the breasts conceal.” (Ghafir 40:19)

A sage once said that looking is the start of sinning – the source of all evil. However, looking for the first time – the unintentional first look – can be forgiven; repeating it evokes rebuke. The Prophet (sa) stated: “The first gaze is forgiven, but the second is counted against you.” (Baihaqi)

On another occasion, he said: “Looking is one of Satan’s poisonous arrows. He, who abandons it out of fear of Allah, Allah will grant him faith, the sweetness of which he finds in his own heart.” (Tabarani)

Lastly, all those are dear to Allah (swt), who fight the whispers of Satan. He states: “Verily, those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious), when an evil thought comes to them from Shaitan (Satan), they remember (Allah) and (indeed) they then see (aright).” (Al-Araf 7:201)

The question is – do you have the guts to do it?