"Get into the Know"
For Muslim youth growing up in Western society it can be difficult to remain strong and avoid being led astray by the temptations that the society bombards them with. The temptations are of various types, including drugs, alcohol, crime and clubbing. However one of the main areas of temptation is undoubtedly the haram relationships between men and women.
For anyone who lives in the West it is obvious that the society promotes free mixing and illicit relationships between the sexes. Sex is promoted everywhere, from billboards, advertising commercials, magazines, and songs to television programs. It is no wonder that the estimates of how many times people think about the subject are so high.
Through primary, secondary education and beyond, boyfriend-girlfriend relationships are normalized to the extent that it is seen as strange if someone isn't ‘going out’ with a member of the opposite sex. Sex education in schools promotes this by explaining to the students the various forms of contraception instead of giving them the correct values related to the subject.
Walking down the street of any city on a Friday night makes one realize that Western society has become similar to a herd of wild animals that can’t control their desires. The West promotes notions of ‘finding true love’ or ‘following your heart’; in reality what people in Western society follow is their lust. The stark reality of ‘single parent’ mothers left by their partners to fend for themselves and the high rate of adulterous relationships is evidence for this.
A Muslim living in this type of environment needs to make sure that he or she has a strong linkage to the Islamic belief and the Islamic Shari’ah.
Realizing the magnitude of the haram actions
A Muslim must link his actions directly to the consequences: the rewards and punishments in the hereafter. He should visualize these even when thinking about performing any prohibited action. This consciousness of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala) and the afterlife should be a shield to protect us from sin and should encourage us to earn reward.
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has warned both men and women of the consequences of their actions.
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “When a person commits fornication there goes out of him the Iman (belief) and it hovers like a canopy over his head and when he quits this act the Iman reverts to him again” [Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud].
Shakl ibn Humayd went to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)and said, “Apostle of Allah, teach me a supplication (Du’a).” He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, “Say: O Allah, I seek refuge in you from the evil of what I hear, from the evil of what I see, from the evil of what I speak, from the evil of what I think, and from the evil of my semen" [Abu Dawud].
Ubadah ibn as-Samit narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "If you guarantee me six things on your part I shall guarantee you Paradise. Speak the truth when you talk, keep a promise when you make it, when you are trusted with something fulfill your trust, avoid sexual immorality, lower your eyes, and restrain your hands from injustice" [Ahmad and Baihaqi in Shu'ab al-Iman transmitted it].
In Western societies it is common for men to look at women who they are not even married to with lust. Islam has forbidden this –
the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "The adultery of the eyes is the sight, the adultery of the tongue is the talk, and the inner self wishes, desires and the private parts testify all this or deny it" [Bukhari]
Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala) said, "Tell the believing men to lower from their gaze and to protect their private parts. That is better for them, Allah knows the details of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower from their gaze and protect their private parts” [ An-Nur: 30-31].
Unlike in the West where it is abnormal for women to step out of their homes without layers of make-up, lipstick and wearing revealing clothes, Islam forbade this for its impact on society is devastating in spreading immorality.
It has been narrated by Abu Musa al-Ashari that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said,
“Any women that uses perfume and walks past men in order for them to smell her fragrance; she is a fornicator” [Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud].
He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) also said:
“Two categories of people I have not seen them (yet): some people who hold whips like the tails of the cows by which they lash the people. And women who wear (clothes) but (are) half-naked, bending (their bodies) and bending the sight of the men to them. Their heads are like the tilted humps of the camels. These women will not enter the paradise nor will they experience its smell (odor), though its odor is felt at a distance of so and so (days)” [Muslim].
The Shari’ah prevents khulwa (seclusion) between men and women. The reality of khulwa is that it makes the man and woman more sexually agitated. By prohibiting this solitary privacy a cause of corruption is eliminated, because the khulwa is one of the direct means to corruption.
Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day (Al-Yawm al-Akhir) let him not be alone with a woman who has not a Mahram (male relative who she cannot marry) with her. Indeed, the third (person) is al-Shaytan!” [Ahmad]
Avoiding unnecessary agitation
It is important to stay away from watching movies, TV programs, listening to music and reading magazines that encourage fornication and the actions that lead to it, as these are haram according to the Shari’ah principle, ‘The means to haram is itself haram’. These activities build corrupt inclinations within people to the extent that a woman is seen as an object rather than a person whose honor must be maintained. How can our feelings be more attached to corrupt films and TV programs than to the Qur’an, which is the source of guidance for the whole of humankind? Don’t people feel ashamed whilst they watch sex scenes or listen to lewd songs whilst Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala), the Creator of the universe is watching them? On the Day of Judgement even the limbs of our bodies will bear testimony to the actions that we performed.
Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala) says, “That Day shall We set a seal on their mouths. But their hands will speak to Us and their feet bear witness to all that they did” [ Ya-Sin:65].
Staying in the correct atmosphere
Maintaining a correct atmosphere is vital for a Muslim to be able to avoid the temptations. The type of atmosphere that exists among some of the youth is very corrupt, where the topic of discussion revolves around the opposite sex and ‘showing off’ to each other. This type of atmosphere only serves to agitate the instincts of people and potentially leads them further away from Islam.
Abu Musa narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said,
"The example of a good companion in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith's bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof" [Bukhari].
An obvious solution that aids in avoiding temptation from the opposite sex is to marry according to Islam. Islam doesn't deny the natural instincts of human beings; rather it channels them according to the rules revealed by Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala). It is encouraged to marry in Islam, and encouragement is given to those who are unable.
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“Oh you who are young. Whoever among you can afford to marry should marry, because it will help him refrain from looking at other women, and guard his modesty (i.e. private parts from unlawful sex). And whoever is not able to marry he should fast because it will protect him” [Muslim].
The recommendation to fast is not to suppress the procreation instinct but to build a reminder as to man’s objective in life, which is to worship Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala).
Abu Hurairah (ra) narrates that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: "Three (persons) have a right from Allah to be helped: the Mujahid in the way of Allah, the seeker for marriage who wishes to guard his chastity and the slave who seeks funds to free oneself."
Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala) says, "And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them of His Bounty" [ An- Nur: 33].
Marriage is based on companionship in Islam, unlike in Western society where it is based on competition. Companionship is where one finds repose and tranquility in the other - Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala) has made marriage a source of tranquility for both spouses.
He (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala) said:
"It is He Who has created you from a single person, and He has created from him his wife, in order that he might-enjoy the pleasure of living with her" [ Al-Araf: 189].
"And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between both of you affection and mercy" [ Ar- Rum: 21].