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50 Shades of Sex Addiction

Disclaimer: Mature Audience only
Part 1: Conversation with a Hooker: Adultery, Sex Addiction, and Muslims

When it comes to the subject of sexual addiction, the question that arises in most minds is, “Why do men seek women other than their wives?” Unfortunately, the most common misconception is, “his wife must be insufficient that’s why he had to resort to other women.” While slightly more considerate people take the blame from the existing wife and blame it on the lack of multiple wives, “that’s why Muslim men are allowed to have four wives so they can assuage their sexual desires, impossible to be satisfied by one woman alone.”

Let me frankly ask all the readers: “Is there any ex-sex addict whose addiction was cured by adding more wives in his life?”

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and

“What solution do you offer to female sex addicts?!”

As for the “insufficient wife”, while I acknowledge that lack of an enthused, sexually active wife, or one who denies sex to her husband, is one of the many reasons why some Muslim men might indulge in illegitimate sexual intimacy, it is neither the only nor the main reason for their infidelity.

To better understand the question at hand, let me divide the reasons into 2 categories:

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  1. Legitimate Marital Discord
  2. Sexual Disorder/Addiction

Legitimate Marital Discord:

Since this category is not within the paradigm of the series, I will briefly summarize this group into two main legitimate marital issues causing infidelity.

Denial of Intimacy by Wife

When a wife denies sex to her husband, whether regularly or occasionally, he might seek his satisfaction elsewhere.
Briefly, the reasons why a woman may deny sex to her husband:

  • Husband’s failure of pleasing his wife with an orgasm
  • Lack of sexual interest due to improper introduction to sex, like ‘sex is bad’, ‘dirty women enjoy sex’ etc.
  • Some mishap associated with sexual intimacy, like childhood molestation, marital rape especially on the wedding night etc.
  • Sexual Anorexia
  • Channeling out anger related to other issues in the marriage through denying intimacy to her husband
  • Or there could be other reasons…

Lack of Emotional Attachment with the Wife

According to studies conducted by M. Gary Neuman, marriage counselor, 70 percent of men cheat because they were emotionally dissatisfied in their marriage.
Not to justify adultery or blame women but relaying actual reasons quoted by men on why they were emotionally distant from their wives:

    • Lack of appreciation by the wives
    • Husband felt he could never score high with his wife
    • Lack of wife’s interest in husband’s life, his job, or his interests
    • Lack of respect from the wife

Normally these legitimate marital issues cause a man to have an affair and not a one-night stand with some random woman. These men usually develop an affair with a colleague, or a family friend or an old school fellow where they feel physically satisfied and emotionally content. Whoever the other woman may be, these affairs can be physical or emotional affairs and may turn long term.
Since Legitimate Marital Discord is a separate topic of discussion, inshaAllah, MM will have a different series on this in the near future.

To seek other women outside of marriage due to a man’s sexual addiction problem, has little, if anything, to do with the success or happiness of the marriage. In fact, in many cases, an addict is happily married and the problems in the marriage are a result of his addiction not the other way around.

What is Sexual Addiction?

The best way to describe this is: When a healthy relationship with the spouse is substituted with a harmful and sinful relationship. It is an “adaptive attempt to regulate mood and tolerate stressors through the abuse of intensely stimulating sexual fantasy and behavior… It is a dysfunctional adult response to innate personality, character or emotional regulatory deficits, as well as a reaction to early attachment disorders, abuse and trauma.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, “…a pattern of repeated sexual relationships involving a succession of lovers who are experienced by the individual only as things to be used.”

Also, “compulsive searching for multiple partners, compulsive fixation on an unattainable partner, compulsive masturbation, compulsive love relationships and compulsive sexuality in a relationship.”

Depending on a Muslim’s spiritual level—who might avoid falling into complete zina—this sexual disorder can vary from being a complete addict to occasionally falling into forbidden sexual activities which may include:

      • Pornography
      • Cyber sex (chat rooms, video sex etc.)
      • Phone Sex
      • Massage Parlors (receive a sensual massage with or without sex—again depending on a man’s level of faith)
      • In/Out Calls for sexual favors e.g. oral sex, hand job, massage etc. (with or without the actual act of penetration)

Excuses & Justifications*:

Of the excuses used to justify their behavior, sex addicts often say:

    • If I don’t do this, the pressure builds up
    • I am oversexed and have to meet my needs
    • What she [wife] doesn’t know, won’t hurt her
    • If only my wife would be more [sexually] responsive
    • Men are like animals
    • Men are more sexual than females
    • Cybersex is not “real”
    • With the stress I am under, I needed a “release”
    • I didn’t want to “make love” to my wife, I just needed to lay a woman
    • I can’t help it, we live in a hypersexual society
    • Internet chat rooms/emails don’t hurt anyone, it’s just a “mind game”
    • Women are the greatest fitnah for men, what can I do? I’m just a man!
    • If only I had a second wife…
    • I need a variety of women
    • I avoid falling into the major act [major sin] and I repent every time…For a detail study of this, please refer to: Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes, PhD Pg 17

What makes someone a hypersexual?

This, indeed, is a complex subject and unfortunately there isn’t any established “scientific” reason attributing to a single cause. It is more likely a combination of a build-up of conditions over time. The following are some common causes of sex addiction, but this list cannot be all-inclusive:

a. Wrong Introduction to Sex:

During childhood, they were introduced to sex in a very lewd, ethically wrong and morally corrupt way. Hence the very conception of sex was originated in a very degraded fashion causing their brain to link sexual desires with immoral actions from the very beginning.
Top that with a complete lack of “Islamic” sex education from the parents and/or from the community leaders, their concept of sex never gets rectified. Hence, they may always link sex or sexual desires to something being vulgar. Since a spouse is someone not only bonded through “holy” bond of marriage, but one who is pure and respected, an addict may mentally separate the intimacy with the spouse and the need of having an illegitimate sexual activities with “indecent” people to satisfy “impure” sexual desires [though almost all addicts have confessed that there is never any satisfaction through the illegitimate intimacy, in fact it always back fires with the sense of shame and disappointment].
b. Family Dysfunction:
Research has shown that majority of sex addicts have complained about growing up in an emotionally distant family.
Dr. Patrick Carnes’ research indicates that 87 percent of the families of sex addicts included more than one addict in the home and a majority of them grew up in a rigid family system or a disengaged family system or both rigid and disengaged family systems. This study implies that a lot of sexual addicts come from families where their emotional needs were not met.

Of all the cases I’ve dealt with, husbands had grown up in a very distant and emotionally cut-off families. They all complained of having a very strict and rigid father whose only function was to provide for the family while the mother took care of the kitchen and the house but never tried to communicate with children about their issues and problems.
c. Power Struggle:
Growing up, getting involved in inappropriate sexual activities was their way of releasing stress or showing power over other people [women] esp. when encountered with a difficult situation at school or among friends.

In one incident, a man grew up seeing prostitutes to receive oral sex every time he felt the need to empower another person. Later, in his married life he couldn’t have his wife satisfy him through oral sex since it was “symbolic” for him and he was emotionally attached to his wife. Hence, he continued to see prostitutes for oral sex just to satisfy his need of empowering women.

Females may use their charms/bodies to seduce other men and feel empowered upon receiving the attention from men.

d. Objectifying Women:
Once introduced to sex in a morally corrupted way, these adolescents were introduced to using women as objects of pleasure, not human beings, without any emotional attachment.

It is essential to note that, in our times, those who were not necessarily introduced to sex through prostitution or porn, can still learn to objectify women through TV, Magazines, Songs, Internet etc.

It’s a way for addicts to escape physical, emotional or sexual abuse. “Emotionally for the sex addicts, sex is not really about sex but a vehicle to provide an illusion of affirmation, a veneer of control and connection in a safe environment. The sexual “fix” has become the source of pleasure and avoids unpleasant feelings, a coping mechanism to fight stress, work difficulties, interpersonal psychological and emotional problems.”

f. Thrill & Excitement:
“Experts say there is a strong link between sexual addiction and risk-taking. Even though the risk of danger is clear…”
The excitement of being discreet and leading a secret life may appeal to some individuals and may continue through their adult life, except that at first they had to be discreet from their parents and now from their spouses.
“The riskier it gets, the more adrenaline they get. Like all addictions, the more they get, the more they need.”

g. The Chemical Imbalance:
Studies show that food, abused drugs and sexual interests share a common pathway within the brains’ survival and reward systems.An addict may have conditioned his/her brain with the pleasure of illicit sex as being same as satisfying one with food when hungry, especially when growing up parents neglected to explicitly teach their children the seriousness of indulging in forbidden sexual activities.

“When people have sex, their bodies release dopamine, and this chemical tends to make the person feel happy, warm and powerful. Some people find this dopamine response simply fascinating, and they will do anything to achieve that feeling again. Over time, their bodies adjust to these high levels of dopamine, and it takes more of the chemical to bring on the positive feeling. The addict may need to have more sex, or different types of sex, in order to feel a dopamine response. The addiction begins to escalate. It’s important to remember that this dopamine pathway is also activated in other forms of addiction, including heroin addiction. It’s a strong and powerful chemical, and it can make people do things they wouldn’t normally do.”

True Addiction or Not?

However, it must be noted that there is a huge debate amongst psychologists as to whether sexual addiction is a true addiction or not. I will discuss that more in detail in next part inshaAllah when we cover the cures and treatments.

 Raise your Children Wisely

Before I end this part, I sincerely want to advise all the parents to please take a moment and evaluate your parenting methods.

In far majority cases, sex addicts (apart from legitimate marital discords) draw the root of their problem to their childhood or adolescent years. Parent please:

  • Build communication with your children
  • Understand the environment our kids are growing up in
  • Be friendly even if you have to sacrifice some level of respect you receive from your kids.
  • Be wise and be patient
  • Be gentle, and be understanding
  • Talk, Talk and Talk to them about anything and everything
  • Make lots and lots of du’a for your kids

In my parenting series, I have advised parents to build an open and extremely frank communication with their children. I’ve also emphasized the importance of providing sexual education at home with the help of Qur’anic verses offering a pure and uncorrupted concept of sex and sexuality.

Though we can never guarantee a sin-proof life even with best parenting, we can for sure minimize the “slip-factors” for our children and, most importantly, we can fulfill our obligations as parents. The rest we leave with Allah azza wa jall while supplicating for our children’s protection and for their guidance.

To be continued in next part:

  • Cybersex Revolution
  • True Addiction or Not
  • Role of Shaytaan and Sex Addiction
  • Cures and Treatment

Additional Resources

http://www.sexualrecovery.com/blog/sexual-addiction-sexual-objectification.php

http://billherring.info/atlanta_counseling/sexual-addiction-and-the-3-second-rule

[1] http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Why-Men-Cheat_2/1

[1] http://psychcentral.com/lib/hypersexuality-symptoms-of-sexual-addiction/00011488

[1] For a detail study of this, please refer to: Our of the Shadows by Partick Carnes. Pg 17

[1] http://freelanceatwork.hubpages.com/hub/What-Causes-Sexual-Addiction

[1] http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Truth-About-Cheating-Book

[1] http://www.sexualrecovery.com/blog/sexual-addiction-sexual-objectification.php

http://billherring.info/atlanta_counseling/sexual-addiction-and-the-3-second-rule

[1] http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-sexual-addiction/000748

[1] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182473.php

[1] http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/09/01/another-kind-of-addict.html

[1] http://www.interventionsupport.com/sex-addiction/

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Saba Syed (aka Umm Reem) is the author of International award winning novel, "An Acquaintance."Saba has a BA degree in Islamic Studies. She studied Arabic Language & Literature at Qatar University and at Cairo Institute in Egypt. She also received her Ijaazah in Quranic Hafs recitation in Egypt from Shaikh Muhammad al-Hamazawi.She had been actively involved with Islamic community since 1995 through her MSA, and then as a founding member of TDC, and other community organizations. in 2002, she organized and hosted the very first "Musim Women's Conference" in Houston, TX. Since then, she's been passionately working towards empowering Muslim women through the correct and untainted teachings of Islam.She is a pastoral counselor for marriage & family, women and youth issues. She has hosted several Islamic lectures and weekly halaqas in different communities all over U.S and overseas, also hosted special workshops regarding parenting, Islamic sex-ed, female sexuality, and marital intimacy.

58 Comments

58 Comments

  1. Avatar

    The Salafi Feminist

    October 11, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    Glad to see an Islamic response to the serious topic of sex addiction amongst Muslims… especially since you’re pointing out and focusing on issues that many Muslims prefer to ignore, or myths that they cling to in a sad attempt to justify these sins.
    Can’t wait for the rest of the series, inshaAllah.

  2. Avatar

    Aryel Lanes

    October 11, 2013 at 7:38 AM

    I’m not married yet (I’m only 19), but at least to me, there are NO excuses for cheating on your wife. NONE! This is disgunting. If a man does that, he lives in a fake marriage, with a FAKE LOVE. One who truly loves his wife will NEVER do it, no matter how the situation may be. You’re not satisfied with your wife? Better the divorce ! At least you won’t be cheating on someone who really loves you. It’s so sad to play with people’s emotions… It should be a crime!

    • Avatar

      johny wasagoodman

      October 11, 2013 at 1:26 PM

      When you do get married then talk …

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      October 12, 2013 at 1:23 AM

      Someone who has never dealt with issues like these will obviously think black and white like you…
      unfortunately the reality is a bit different. THere are people who love their spouses and yet fall into this grave mistake for several reasons, men and women.
      The good news is that it is curable but the challenge in the marriage is whether or not one is capable of forgiving his/her spouse.

  3. Avatar

    Hayat

    October 11, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Great ! MashaAllah lots of lesson may Allah reward you for bringing this important subject for Umma .

  4. Avatar

    Muslim Comments (@muslimcomments)

    October 11, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    The idea that there is such a thing as sex addiction is highly contestable.

  5. Avatar

    Zaheer

    October 11, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    Salaam,

    It’s interesting that the article starts off with a tone of gender neutrality, hinting that sexual addiction can be prevalent amongst females as well as males, and maybe more often than we think,

    However, when the cause of sexual addiction are discussed – suddenly all the “Excuses & Justifications” are from the male perspective. And then, when one takes the article as a whole, it’s biased towards the view that men are generally the ones who cheat on their wives, and of those who have adulterous relationships, men are likelier to do so due to sexual addiction.

    Of course, the truth is that it’s 50-50, roughly speaking, because for a man to be adulterous he needs a woman with whom to be adulterous with. Sure, often married men will have adulterous relationships with unmarried women – however, besides the reverse being the case at times, there’s still the fact that the unmarried women are full partners in the infidelity, and their motivations for partaking in the relationship are left unanalyzed. We’re excluding non-heterosexual infidelity here as it makes up a very small amount.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m under no illusions as to the differing nature of men and women, in almost every regard. Sometimes I wonder how it’s possible we belong to the same species:-) Allah knows best, and he has indicated in His Qur’an that “..the male is not like the female” [3:36]{http://quran.com/3/36}

    I realize that large parts of the article are based on the studies quoted – and the author is not really “pushing” for any particular take on the matter; just presenting facts. Insha-Allah the next installment can provide a more balanced picture.

    May Allah instill within all of us the sanctity of marriage, Insha-Allah. Ameen

  6. Avatar

    Hyde Head Down

    October 11, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Well a lot has happened to me since the the first article came out. Most of it haarm and probably put a check on on one or two of the above bullet points. Can’t wait for this damnation to finish once and for all….

    Can’t wait for you to write Role of Shaytaan and Sex Addiction since I am so sure the the occult plays a big role in this.

  7. Avatar

    Fatima Ariadne

    October 11, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Masha Allah the article, can’t wait for the continuation! I read in book Women Limbo, something with title like that. There’s a research by the author that women are equally sexually responsive like their men counterpart. I think it’s the “sins” of our ummah perhaps due to culture, we just conveniently give false stereotype like “only dirty women enjoy sex”, “men are men, it’s their thing”. It’s like men are easily “forgiven” when it comes to sex addiction, but women? They’ll be blamed and shamed. While in Islam itself, guarding chastity is commanded to both men and women,not just one of them. So both genders need to be addressed too! [OK Sorry for ranting! :p]

  8. Avatar

    Abdullah

    October 11, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    Alright. I grew up in an emotionally distant family. We don’t look at eachother while talking. Sometimes my mom/dad talk to me with their backs towards me or facing in some other direction.

    Does this mean im going to be a sex addict ?
    (Im not married but ive been a porn addict for many years …Not anymore inshaAllah)

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      October 12, 2013 at 3:50 AM

      Abdullah, not *every* person who grew up in an emotionally distant family becomes a sex addict.

      May Allah protect you. Maybe you can share with us how you controlled your addiction.

      • Avatar

        Abdullah

        October 14, 2013 at 6:37 PM

        I was first exposed to it when I was 14 and it was by accident (I was randomly changing channels). It always bothered me and I tried to quit and failed several times.
        Im 23 now.

        …..I really don’t know how I got off it . Maybe because I made sincere dua last Ramadan…lots and lots of dua.

        ….Also I take extra care to not look at anything that would stimulate my desires.
        …..I stopped being alone with any device that has internet access.
        (Im still afraid ill go back to that filth , that’s why I don’t have internet on my cell phone)
        ……I rarely watch TV.
        …… Ive programmed my mind to believe theres no way im going back to it except if im alone ……so Im never alone with any access to pornographic material.

        From my previous failed attempts to quit , I had learned that once im off pornography for couple of months ….My strength to fight my nafs becomes stronger and stronger …. And even if I relapsed ….I never gave in without a fight ….

        Please make dua that Allah keeps me and all the young brothers/sisters
        steadfast and patient.

        • Avatar

          Abdullah

          October 14, 2013 at 6:44 PM

          Ive also tried joining the “purify your gaze” program by brother zain Ramadan to help people quit porn addiction. But they charged a lot and I was only a student. <<could be useful for anyone who wishes to quit.

  9. Avatar

    Roberto

    October 11, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Congratulation for the article. It’s the very first time that I’ve found several well-treated psychology topics by muslims. Usually it isn’t rooted in islamic culture and I ever felt the lack! Alhamdollilah, well done!

  10. Avatar

    M.G.H

    October 11, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    Interesting !! I have learned a new term : Sexual Anorexia , not really sure what it means.
    People use Sexual Addiction as a way to escape from having a real relationship with someone because real relationships get messy and stressful.

    Also sex is used as a way to escape from dealing with your own true feelings. Many people who engage in this type of behavior have been raped and or molested.

    Also for men the need to perform can be overwhelming, they find quickies with a prostitute less stressful.

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      October 12, 2013 at 3:38 AM

      I am traveling at the moment but once I get home (in 2 weeks inshaAllah), I can better explain Sexual Anorexia as my books are at home and I don’t want to misquote Dr. Carnes…

  11. Avatar

    Siraaj

    October 11, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Also, can you comment on the difference between an addict and a “recreational” user? Meaning, in the same way there are people addicted to cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, there are also recreational users, social users, and so on. There are gambling addicts and there are people who gamble occasionally.

    Likewise, where is the line drawn for sexual / porn addiction vs the “recreational” user (which we still acknowledge is a problem). Sometimes I feel as I read material and discussion from Muslim authors, every problem of a sexual nature is an addiction. When we talk about pornography, we always seem to talk about it as an addiction rather mentioning the possibility that it is a bad habit that happens to not be an addiction.

    Siraaj

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      October 12, 2013 at 3:48 AM

      it is a very good question br. siraaj. I was planning to discuss this in the part of “True Addiction or Not” in the next series.

      But in a nutshell a habit is frequent repetition of something to the point that one’s brain becomes programmed to perform it automatically. An addiction is a compulsive need of a certain thing or substance to the body. A habit is easier to control and change without any professional help but addiction needs a lot more effort and commitment to control and, in most cases, requires professional help.
      However, a habit can easily turn into an addiction.

    • Avatar

      Megan Wyatt

      October 29, 2013 at 4:00 AM

      The distinction is that an addiction is something that is having a detrimental effect on your life, and continues to take over having major consequences.

      A man is looking at pornography at work even though if caught he can get fired, has gotten caught even, and has a warning..

      A man plans much of his day around a ritual related to pornography and it’s an ingrained pattern he cannot quit no matter how many times he has tried.

      A woman is losing sleep staying up extremely late in chat rooms, and it’s affecting her focus in school, but she keeps going back over and over. Her grades are suffering, she might fail exams, but she cannot quit even though she told herself she would…

      A man is married, but instead of being intimate with his wife, says he has work to do, stays up late, waits until she sleeps, and then acts out looking at pornography. He has lost interest in his wife….

      These are all real examples, and the difference is the consequence in life.

      Unfortunately, pornography is such a slippery slope, that so many people are unable to maintain it as just a “bad habit” as you mentioned, and it continues to spiral downwards over time.

      And some people think it’s just a bad habit, and in fact, have other things that make it an addiction – so until someone speaks with someone regarding why it’s not out of their life one hundred percent, as it should be, they may not know the difference.

      Lots of Muslims are in denial how bad things really are – until things get to intense, everything starts falling apart. I hope more people don’t wait that long.

  12. Avatar

    ZAI

    October 11, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Good article…
    I dunno if sex addiction is an actual disease,or more a symptom of another
    underlying disease…like perhaps Obessive Compulsive Disorder. Whatever, the
    cause it’s definitely a problem though.

    One thing I’d like to add though, is that sometimes…or often…it IS the fact
    that a person is dissatisfied with a partners physical appearance. This is something
    that cannot be totally denied. I wouldn’t say it’s the case in the majority of cases,
    but it is a factor for some people.

    In fact in the Muslim community w/ our arranged
    marriages and the priorities that are pushed, it might be MORE of a problem than
    in the general population. A lot of Muslims might be trying to live the ideal of “marrying for
    deen”, or pleasing their parents choices or their culture giving disproportionate importance
    to money as opposed to other things when searching for a spouse. This can backfire in
    the marriage if there is no sexual attraction as a result. There HAS to be a minimum level
    of physical attraction…or it is a great temptation outside of marriage and that unfulfilled desire
    will be sought out with the haraam.

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      October 12, 2013 at 3:28 AM

      This is something that cannot be totally denied. I wouldn’t say it’s the case in the majority of cases,
      but it is a factor for some people.

      when you study the pattern of the addicts, it is usually *them* who have issues. When I was attending the sessions with the sex therapist, she emphasized this again and again that an addict could be married to the most beautiful looking person in the world, and will still look for other sexual partners.
      IN addition, she also emphasized that almost all her clients, esp. those who see prostitutes, have always described as the prostitutes ugly or less attractive than their spouses…

      I’m sure there are minority cases like this but we usually look at the majority. Besides, the pattern of struggle and shame that an addict goes through, they would rather divorce and marry someone else than go through the pain they do in their lives if it could solve their problem. And Allah knows best…

      As I said before, when the interest in others occur because of a legit marital problem (and not being physically attracted to the spouse is a legit problem), it usually turn into a long term affairs with colleague/friends/family rather than a one-night-stand with a total stranger.

      • Avatar

        ZAI

        October 12, 2013 at 8:11 AM

        Salaam Umm Reem,
        I do not doubt the overall statistics you’ve cited or arguments you’ve presented concerning addicts or people with compulsive behavior. The question is whether all or most people engaged in these activities are addicts or simply immoral. The actual percentage given to the number of legitimate addicts amongst people who engage in these activities over-all would be interesting to ascertain. As siraaj alluded to above, a person might simply form a habit which is seen as an addiction, but is just a preference that’s become frequent as a choice.

        Regarding the rest of my comments, they apply to that group that isn’t addicted but simply doing these things out of choice. I bring up Muslims specifically because the arranged marriage system results in certain unique contexts and paradigms not present in so-called loved marriages. Family involvement, socio-cultural pressure/norms and even religious priorities shift the playing-field as it were. There are for example many Muslim women who are NOT attracted to certain proposals at the physical level, but pressured by families to consent for status, money, etc. Likewise for men. There are also other issues such as men losing attraction for wives who’ve had children or have become out of shape, and vice versa.

        I would not say these are “majority” issues, but they’re definitely an issue for much more than a fringe minority that can be dismissed. I also wouldn’t say there is a “problem” with the partner with whom fault is being found. It’s a matter of perspective.

        My dad tells a funny story about a man in Qandahar in the 60’s when he was growing up: He was known as Hassan e Baqaal(Hassan the Grocer). He was getting married and at the wedding they got to the part of the Afghan ceremony where the bride and groom sit under a cloth canopy held up by the elder women of the family, with a Qur’an held over their heads as well. The bride and groom then get their first look at each other through a mirror shown to each of them. It’s called aine mushaf. Anyways…Hassan e Baqaal looked in the mirror and let out a scream that even the jinn probably heard and ran at the speed of light outta there…lol. He was never seen again though…because his family had wanted that marriage and he’d shamed them by fleeing, and if he ever showed his face again his own family would have punished him for it.

        Now, this story is of course not the norm in the States. It has a rural and pre-modern context. But the point is a lot of our young people are pressured into marriages they don’t find ideal. I cannot discount that when I look at issues of marriages going badly, including those where adultery, sexual promiscuity, etc. are taking place. Getting out of marriages is not necessarily so easy in our immigrant communities either…

        • Umm Reem

          Umm Reem

          October 12, 2013 at 9:10 AM

          wa alaikum assaalm ZAI,

          Yes there is a different between someone simply giving into the temptations of shaytaan and one suffering through an addiction. And as I said, I will discuss this in the next part of ‘real addiction or not’.
          however, you must understand that it is not an easy discussion, even the psychologists differ whether or not sex addiction is truly an addiction or not…

          As for this issue among the Muslims, I agree with you. I wish we could do a survey among the Muslims but we are still trying to get the suffering Muslims to open up and seek help. The intense sense of shame and the guilt of sin keep them from seeking help and as a consequence they keep drowning deeper and in many cases either their marriages break or their spouses suffer along with them.

      • Avatar

        Aisha

        December 2, 2013 at 3:23 AM

        “not being physically attracted to the spouse is a legit problem”

        Oh my God. That makes me scared because I am a 23 yro girl who’s gonna get married soon, and I’m…not very pretty. I’m ugly. I don’t think any man would be attracted to my physical appearance. Even with makeup it’s not much better. I’m really scared he won’t like me, even if I try to be nice. Because men value beauty in a woman, so I’m screwed here :(

        • Avatar

          HonestMale

          February 22, 2014 at 1:36 PM

          @Aisha: I was about to post something very mean. I had it figured out and all. But then I felt bad. I felt something. My cynicism should not be shared. At the end of the day, marriage is about watching each other’s back and walking carefully — together — towards the grave. There’s nothing else to it. How you look has no bearing when the lights of life go out. In life, during those moments of darkness, can we see anything but moonlit eyes?

        • Avatar

          Z ebrahim

          February 26, 2014 at 3:14 PM

          @Aisha
          Dearest sister, Alaah created you. He is the best Fashioner. Can we doubt the design of the Most Wise? Trust in Allah and read O Allah beautify my character just as You have beautified me.good character makes brown look gold. Uhibbuki fill ah.

  13. Avatar

    grace

    October 11, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    The usage of the term” Sexual Anorexia “bothered me as the parent of an anorexic, it is a very serious issue, sometimes life or death.
    Something I did not see mentioned is the idea that people are using Sexual Addiction as way to avoid dealing with their feelings,Gary Zukav’s book Heart of the Soul gives a lot of insight into Sexual Addiction and many other types of addictions.

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      October 12, 2013 at 3:09 AM

      Dr. Partrick Carnes uses the term “Sexual Anorexia” in his book “Facing the Shadows” which is basically a 12-step recovery workbook. I didn’t discuss the details of it because it was out of the scope of this article.

    • Avatar

      Marina

      October 16, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      @Aisha. this makes me so sad. you are not ugly, for one thing, and you don’t even need to get married if no one is good enough to see your beauty. It’s okay to be single. God will still love you and you can still be an amazing Muslim. Look people, this is the ugliness we CAUSE in our community when we make people think it’s all about physical beauty and when we put a stamp of approval on men’s shopping around and consumption of women’s physicality – as if they are objects. Attraction to mate comes from bonding activity, not from the actual looks of the person: http://www.reuniting.info/content/attraction-karezza-and-neuroplasticity
      and this is why the Prophet peace be upon him insisted that there be foreplay along with intercourse. not just for the woman, but for the man too.

  14. Avatar

    AM

    October 12, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Like Yasir Qadhi said in one lecture, there is a good reason why it is prohibited for a woman to withhold sexual intimacy. Additionally, there is nothing worse than a woman who is carrying a baby from extra-marital adultery.

    • Avatar

      Fritz

      October 15, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      In the West this concept is alien; a woman has no responsibility towards her husband in this regard. Women are free to use intimacy as a bargaining tool within a marriage to try and control the other partner. The emotional disconnect and disastrous results which follow are plain to see. (of course there are other reasons and this does not excuse the other side)

      • Avatar

        J Camp

        December 31, 2015 at 11:32 AM

        As a Westerner, I have to disagree that Muslim concepts on marriage are alien. I am intrigued by this site seeing that sex addiction is also an issue for Muslims.
        I am an American woman, married to a sex addict. I have never used sex against my husband in any way. I want to please him as much as I want to be pleased. He is my chosen partner to walk to the grave with…as one of you commenters so beautifully phrased it.
        I have been a good wife. My husband tells me this too. But due to emotional issues and sexual trauma growing up, he became a sex addict at a young age and hid it from me during our entire relationship. If I brought it up, it would be denied and covered up. I trusted him, so I let it go.
        It was during my pregnancy with our first child that I noticed I was getting more attention from other men than my own husband. I was carrying his child, which is a very beautiful act. Still, he was turning to his sex chat sites and ignored me. I felt ashamed of my body and if the life I was carrying. I felt that I was no longer attractive. After our daughter was born, I waited 5 months to see if he would touch me again. I lost weight and took care of myself and our daughter. Still nothing.
        I confronted him about his resorting to porn instead of me. I told him I felt unloved and I had to leave the marriage and hoped he would find happiness with someone else. He told me it wasn’t like that and went to work. When he returned he sat me down and told me that he had an addiction and would seek help. I am proud of him for admitting to the addiction. It couldn’t have been easy. Now we’re in couples therapy and he’s also seeing a sex addiction therapist. I’m trying to learn to trust and live him again, but it’s a painful course that well take time to heal.
        Not once in our marriage did I ever withhold sex, use it as a bargaining tool or make him feel that sex was dirty. So this isn’t a concept lost amongst Westerners. Some couples, sure; and our media portrays it a lot. But the concept stems from ancient Greek comedies of women withholding sex to keep the men from going to war.
        I am a good wife and mother. I did not deserve to be lied to for so many years. I hope he repents. I hope he follows through with treatment. It has done a number on my trust issues, so I don’t know if I will continue to be by him. We will continue therapy and see where it goes.
        Westerners and Muslims can have common issues. When it comes to addiction, there is no discrimination. Thank you for reading and understanding.

    • Avatar

      The Salafi Feminist

      October 16, 2013 at 4:39 AM

      Actually, there *is* something worse than a woman pregnant from zina. Riba. Backbiting. Shirk. Or a man who commits zina not just once or twice, but numerous times, who fathers many children from the zina, and yet never repents from it.

      Al-Ghaamidiyyah was a sahabiyyah who was married, who committed zina, who became pregnant from that zina… yet Allah revealed that her repentance was so great that it was sufficient for 70 of the people of Madinah – people such as Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali, Khalid ibn Waleed, Usamah ibn Zaid… etc.

      The stereotypical narrative that women are solely responsible for the sexual behavior of men is not only tired, but incorrect. There are numerous reasons for which men (and women) alike commit zina, and for the most part, the blame falls not on their spouses, but on themselves. I pray that we can soon come to the enlightened realization that Allah holds us all to account individually for our sins, and that therefore there is really no benefit in constantly accusing women of being the reason for which zina is committed.

  15. Avatar

    amuslim

    October 12, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    It is true some men have high sex drive and that’s ok. The Prophet Muhammad SAW himself saw all of his wives in a single night. It is important for the wife to meet her husband’s needs as it is prohibited not to do that and she must stay chaste when he is not around.

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  17. Avatar

    Brenna

    October 17, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Men reject their wives just as much, if not more than wives reject their husbands.

    People need to quit acting like its just the men. A lot of men reject their wives for sex, hugs and kisses and will turn around and screw everything BUT their wives and then lie about it.

  18. Avatar

    Sumaira

    October 17, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    I recently found out my husband was calling escorts. He denies going but I found the address in his phones sat nav as well. He said it was a habit to check where things were. I’m not stupid.
    Anyway I also recently found out I was pregnant the day before I saw the escorts number on husbands phone. Only been married 11 months and totally confused. I thought my husband was madly attracted to me and in love with me. I don’t know how to get over this. I keep visiting the escort sites and looking at these filthy women and what they offer and cry on the realisation I have married a man who from he religious devoted husband I thought he was.

  19. Avatar

    Raheel

    October 19, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    The key to conquering this problem for men consists of a physical part and a mental part. The physical part is to lower the gaze and maintain a high degree of formality in dealing with women. Only after that, then the mental part is that one has to keep track of where his mind is wandering off to and if he finds that its even approching questionable areas, then immediately stop it in its tracks. One has to continually do this until death approches.

  20. Avatar

    Aisha

    December 2, 2013 at 3:33 AM

    Also, I agree with some posters here. Most of this article is blaming the wife. Where is the self-restraint of the man? Where are his MORALS? I understand that physical temptation is hard, but I truly believe that if a man has a strong level in spirituality, he can (with dua) overcome them. Obviously his wife and his relationship with his wife plays a huge factor, but I’m just saying that the self-restraint on the part of the man is completely lacking from this article. There’s only so much a woman can do.

    Also – men tend to have affairs with women from work/school (as mentioned in the article). Like the poster above said – men need to keep themselves from becoming too emotionally attached and overly friendly with these women (esp in the West). It’s always best if the man is not working in an environment near women – attractions will become inevitable. Unfortunately this is impossible here in the West.

  21. Avatar

    Parvez

    December 4, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    It was an interesting article and its related articles are somewhat beneficial for me.

    However i as a 21 yr old have some problems.
    I’m too embarassed to talk about marriage to my family. And my parents will not let me marry till when i’m abt 30.

    i do have problem with this delay since i am struggling for self restraint and have commited too many sins.
    I ask for forgivness from Allah (swt) but i still fall to this related sin and have sinful thoughts.

    I have fasted but i’m still stumbling and i lack that strong determination for self control.

    i dont know what to do. Plz help

  22. Avatar

    Ammena Tarannum

    December 11, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    MashaAllah! Such a good educative series. JazakAllah!

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  24. Avatar

    Dan

    January 30, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    This piece assumes that a man’s attraction to anyone/thing other than his wife is pathological. Men just aren’t built that way (women are, at least some of them). A man can love his wife, be committed to her, and screw prostitutes right and left. Or masturbate to porn. Why is this a surprise? In what time in history have men been different?

    • Avatar

      Parvez Khan

      February 5, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      loyalty is important in a marriage.
      the attraction alone is not a sin.
      but ofcourse adultery is a sin.

  25. Avatar

    Halima

    June 19, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    what if you are not attracted to your husband…and you have to force yourself to do your wifey duties? he is not financially able but wants to take a second wife…..you are not entirely asexual just not attracted to you husband…any solutions?

  26. Avatar

    G.Mariam

    November 6, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    ASA,
    Thanks for an excellent article and comments..I am a single muslimah struggling with online porn (not doing any real life zina) but very ashamed and angry at how this has taken over my life.

    I would like to get support in the form on an online buddy to I can install porn blocking software and have someone else have the password so I am not tempted.

    Any advice, support much appreciated as I want this filth out of my life. Only serious replies please.. Thank you

    • Avatar

      confused

      April 15, 2015 at 7:16 PM

      Salam alykum g. Mariam. My Allah make this easy for you. I really hope your no longer going through this problem inshallah but if you are I’m more than happy to help you InshaAllah and be your online buddy.

  27. Avatar

    confused

    April 15, 2015 at 7:13 PM

    Assalam alykum,

    JazakAllahu khair for your informative post!! Most other muslim website just suggest repenting and don’t really understand the core issues surrounding sex addiction.

    I have been married to my husband for 5 years. Prior to marrying me he came across as pious but everything changed once we got married. I found out that my husband suffers from mental health problems, we didnt consumate our marriage for 2 years and still intimacy is a very bad. He smokes, drinks and call chat lines, watches porn and goes out partying. Everytime I find out what he done he has blamed his mental health issues. After finding him watching porn during ramadhan and researching stds and escort services and buying viagra online; I’ve come to the conclusion that he is a sex addict. I’m at my wits ends. I don’t know what to do anymore. I have no support and i cant tell my family or his because they don’t understand and I don’t want to embarrass him. I have 2 children and 1 divorce left. I don’t know what to do.. just being with him has caused me to suffer from depression and really bad self worth and self esteem issues. I don’t trust him and I believe he would have committed zina. I know if it’s an addiction it’s out of his control but is it fair that I have to suffer like this also? Am I meant to live my whole life depressed and always searching through his things to make sure he hasn’t relapsed or isn’t engaging in more haram and thinking about what girl he’s touched or how I am not enough. I don’t know what to do

    • Avatar

      Ir...

      September 1, 2016 at 3:32 AM

      W/salam sister. I am also suffering some sort of sexual addiction which is different from your husband. However, the more you keep it to yourselves, the more it damages your life/kids/whole family. May Allah give happiness to your family. I know the pain. Coz I am also a sufferer hence my family yoo.. Probably your husband must be going through those mentioned mental illness. I believe he must be suffering some sort of issues since childhood due to some reasons. End of the day sexual addiction is not really a sexual need. It is due to underlying core issues – like childhood trauma/depression/loneliness/anxiety/low self esteem/hopelessness/boredem & etc. . Unless he is trying to change, the change will not happen. Then only Allah’s help will come. I also relapse and getting better – then again relapes and getting better. This is my vicious cycle. Pls listen to lectures like Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan & etc whose lectures are quite motivating for people like me/your husband. He gives the Positive side of Allah and Islam which gives us hope. Please request your husband to listen to his lectures on Youtube if possible. Handle him kindly. I believe & pray he might change Insha Allah. Every Muslims husband/or wife who is going through this problem should change. May Allah accept this Dua… !!.. Also, there is a good Muslim website I suggest you that you can request your husband to try. which is “http://purifyyourgaze.com/”. Just try out that and subscribe if possible. Speak out to someone in the family/some counsellors -for sure .Dont keep it for yourself. Think of your children. The more we keep inside the more we struggle and more the damages. End of the day yours/mine/all muslim families children should become good human beings on this face of earth.. Specially those who are being brought up in such families need special supplication.. And last one thing.. Women should avoid feel self-esteem or worthless, coz this issue is not because of
      you, but because of him..it is brought up in his mind since childhood in some way.

      Please go through below sites :

      http://www.straightpathtorecovery.com/?tag=muslims-sex-addiction
      http://mentalhealth4muslims.com/ask-us/#&panel1-9

      Br. Nouman Ali Khan lecture on Porn :
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzFcwmtTR_0

      May Allah cure us all who are suffering from this problem.

  28. Avatar

    ameena

    June 24, 2015 at 12:57 AM

    Assalamu alaikum, this is a great article. I just want to ask for some help, I know somebody who is very close to who is trying to beat the sex addiction, is there any resources that I can recommend to help the person. Hoping for your response. Jazaakallahu khair.

  29. Avatar

    Rima

    September 16, 2015 at 11:08 PM

    V. Informative.
    Thanks

  30. Pingback: Comment on 50 Shades of Sex Addiction by Rima | Souqhub | Blog

  31. Avatar

    Anonymous

    March 16, 2016 at 12:44 AM

    I found this very insightful. But not extremely useful. Living in Australia, what can a Muslim actually do about such addictions?

    In my case I’m not married and don’t have a girlfriend obviously. Though I am at the age where I probably should. For me I guess porn and other places are my main struggle. I sometimes contemplate whether finding a partner will solve all my problems. But I can’t imagine it would. I feel like making the claim that ‘having a wife to calm my sexual urges will stop me from becoming a sex addict’ is kind of like saying ‘watching porn to vent out my feelings will keep me out of other places’… which it doesn’t. I feel like if I ever do have a wife and children, its my responsibility to get a good handle of this issue beforehand or else I would be stupid to think things will just work themselves out when the time comes.

    The problem is I don’t know what the heck to do. This post helped me understand a little better the things that might be causing my behaviours (a, b and g, under what causes the hypersexual). But I’m not sure what I’m meant to do about it now.

    And please no feminist responses. I want a helpful reply, not annoying commentary explaining basic social concepts effecting modern societies. This, although interesting, is not very helpful to me. And I am also not sure how this post became a chatroom for feminist discussions. Even if sexual addiction was a majority male issue (which is doubtful to say the least), how does it help society to make it a female only discussion?

    • Avatar

      Lebanese

      July 10, 2016 at 7:15 PM

      I’m sorry bro for hearing your sufferings, I can vouch about it too, I also suffer from sexual addiction having bad childhood, fragile family, bad friends when I was a teen and many encounters that leads to this addiction, I’m not lying here but the thing is to start in the right direction you need someone who u trust to tell him what’s going with ur life and hopefully he will help u. What people don’t understand is that sex addicts binge and don’t do it like every hour, we build up the urge and when we just can’t take it anymore we go do it. Islam was taught in my childhood black and white concept, and not a lifestyle concept and how to actually use the wisdom from it and apply it in my life so all in all not very good start to life and not good start to adulthood I may say. About getting a wife, well tbh I won’t be able to answer ur question but I can tell u this that islam teaches to not cheat on other people, today we are single yes we are doing haram but no one but us are suffering from the concequence , when u get married its completely different case because u have fused ur heart, mind, and soul with another human.

  32. Avatar

    Anonymous sinner

    July 8, 2016 at 2:17 PM

    Salam,

    first of all I apologize for my bad English…
    I’m a 25yo dude from SEA, I’m still single and not married yet…
    I have really major problem in my life that is the sex addiction…Let me be honest with you guys…
    I’ve been raised good by my parents…with islamic knowledge, quran reading and praying 5 times a day..
    as I grew up my desire to have sex has been totally out of control…no matter how many times I tried to control it..
    It will only last not more than 2 months…and with the easy access for prostitutes in my country it’s almost impossible to get rid of it…I’ve tried everything, from fasting to read the quran and many more….there’s always this sex drive that trigger me to commit sins…and every time things have been done I felt so guilty…I need to get back on track…
    This is not normal man….I really messed up my life…I pray 5 times a day…and still commit the same sins over and over again…
    I read most of the comments and nobody confessed things like this…
    To be honest with you guys, nobody knows about my wrong doings…Only Allah Azza Wa Jal knows it..I have been reminded by Him so many times…the only problem is I never took it as a reminder…I took it as a punishment…
    I know there’re alot of you will be mad at me because I’m pretender or a Munafiq..but please I need to get back on my feet and face this…

    Regards,
    Anonymous Sinner

  33. Avatar

    Kathy

    October 27, 2016 at 2:58 AM

    My husband cheats on me because now he only wants sex in a way which is forbidden …this desire has made him stop praying and go to hotels and have relationships with many women because they please his needs. Now he has become more violent and agressive, neglecting his 5 children and me. I take care of myself and my home. We have always lived a very exciting and fulfilled sexual life, but he has strayed so far now and explored so much into this dark world that my good is no longer good enough. I am beyond disgusted by his actions and kafir behavior. He has destroyed his family and will deprive himself from barakah on his way to being fuel in jahanam.

    *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

  34. Avatar

    Thayub

    May 5, 2019 at 7:09 AM

    Where is the second part? please reply

  35. Avatar

    Khaalidah

    December 12, 2019 at 10:20 PM

    I find this article to be very upsetting, I do not disagree with it because to some cases it’s TRUE and it fits a particular profile, but I feel like all the responsibility and blame falls on the woman. The article does not NOT cover all aspects regarding sex. It also does not take on the view of the female nor does it speak to female sexual addiction. Did you know that a Islamically a woman is allowed to divorce her husband if he does not satisfy her sexually and emotionally? I feel like this article does not provide enough information for both Male and female it focuses on the male and why a man will cheat and it kinda looks like its justification on behalf of the man. But what about a female? I know I’m repeating myself but as a Muslim woman I’m deeply dissatisfied and disappointed with the article. It does have good points but at the same time, I feel like the female is blamed and the male is justified in his actions. Adultery is haraam for both man and woman. Nothing justifies it, the punishment is severe and somewhat the same for both men and women, there are also conditions to a man taking more than one wife and the first is that he has to have his first wife’s permission and without it and if she is forced it is not recognized not solely because of a man’s sexual addiction is the taking on of additional wives allowed. MY MAIN THING IS THOUGH, what about the female that struggles with sexual addiction?

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Coronavirus

Alternative Eid Celebrations In The Midst Of A Pandemic

“Eid-al-Quarantine” is what my sister has so fondly dubbed our upcoming Eid al Fitr this year. I find myself asking, “How are we going to make Eid a fun and special celebration this year in the midst of a dangerous pandemic?” With a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness, this Eid can be fun–no matter the current circumstances. This post will provide you with some inspiration to get your alternative Eid preparations underway! 

Special note: Shelter-in-place restrictions are lessening in many places in the United States, but this does not give us the green light to go back to life as normal and celebrate Eid in the ways we usually would have in the past. I am no health expert, but my sincerest wish for all Muslims throughout the world is that we all err on the side of caution and maintain rigorous precautions.

In-person gatherings are going to be much riskier in light of public health safety concerns. I do not recommend that people get together this Eid. Keep in mind, as well, that this is a big weekend for all Americans, as it is Memorial Day Weekend and crowds may be expected in places like parks and beaches. 

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Eid Day Must’s

Just because you are staying in, doesn’t mean that all of the Eid traditions have to go. Some may be exactly the same, some may be slightly adjusted this year. 

  • Get dressed up, even if it’s just for an hour or two. This might be a good chance to do hair and make up for sisters who normally don’t on Eid because of hijab or other modesty concerns. 
  • Take your family pictures, as usual. 
  • Decorate your house, even if it’s just with some fresh flowers in a vase or hanging up some string lights. (This time, I think sharing pictures of your setup may  have some more wiggle room.)
  • Find a way to pray Eid salah at home, if your local imam mentions a way to adapt for the current situation or check out this MM article
  • Eat some good food, and make sure to feast. 
  • Take that infamous Eid nap. 
  • Greet loved ones (phone calls, video calls, text messages, voice/video messages, make and send Eid cards).
  • Give and receive gifts. (Electronic ways to transfer money/checks in the mail, dropping off gifts to homes/sending gifts in the mail/having an online order pick-up in-store. You may also choose to do a gift exchange, if not this weekend, next). 

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Virtual Parties

Virtual celebrations are a great, safe, option. The best thing about virtual hangouts is that people from all over the world can “come together” to celebrate Eid. This can be as simple as talking and catching up, or can be as orchestrated as a full-out party including games. Keep in mind, the games and virtual parties aren’t only for the kids–everyone should have fun this Eid! We recently threw a virtual birthday party for our one-year-old and it was quite the experience. 

  • Split guests into different calls (kids’ call, adults’ call; men’s call, women’s call)
  • Party agenda for a rigorously planned party so everyone knows what to expect
  • Party games, either with certain items that everyone has (or can easily and quickly purchase) or games that do not require much else besides an internet connection 
    • Games requiring physical items (think of items that everyone is likely to have and think of carnival-type games):
      • Soccer ball juggling or basketball shooting competition
      • Water balloon toss
      • Timed races (three-legged, holding an egg in a spoon, etc.)
    • Games with little to no special equipment
      • Online Pictionary https://skribbl.io/
      • Online Scrabble
      • Video games
      • Charades
      • Taboo (we do this for our cousin game nights with pictures of cards that one person sends to people from the opposite team)
      • Scattergories
      • Bingo
      • Mad libs
      • Speaking games that take turns going around a circle (going through the alphabet saying names of animals or colors or foods, rhyming words [we played the last two lines of “Down by the Bay” for our son’s birthday party])
      • Movement game (Simon says, dancing if you’re into that [“Cha Cha Slide,” dance-off, passing along dance moves as was a TikTok trend I heard of, simply dancing…])
      • Games like in Whose Line is it Anyway? or like the “Olympics” (specifically the “middle games”) that I wrote about way back
  • Performances
    • Skits prepared by one family or even across households
    • Reciting a poem or surah or singing
    • Other showcases of talent, by individuals or not
  • Gift Exchanges (I’ve been doing this virtually since 2013 with friends/distant family members.)

Alternative Virtual/Group Celebrations

Being “together” isn’t always gathering for a party, and that’s what I think most people miss during the forced isolation caused by the pandemic. There are many things you can do to get ready for or celebrate Eid with loved ones even if you’re not together. 

  • Share special recipes with each other or plan to serve the same meals.
  • Coordinate Eid outfits or attempt to do matching henna designs.
  • Send Eid pictures to family and friends.
  • Prepare and cook meals or clean or decorate while on a video call (you don’t have to be talking the entire time).
  • Watch the same movie or show (whether that’s something everyone does as separate households or you do concurrently/even with a video or phone call running. This might be a good time to watch Hasan Minhaj’s “Homecoming King” and do the 10 things it invites us to do.)
  • Go through family pictures or old videos together. Maybe even create a short slideshow/video of your favorites. 
  • Story time full of family legends and epic moments (the best Eid, a difficult time of sickness, immigration or moving story, new baby in the family, etc.). Someone build the fire and get the s’mores going.

Alternative “Outings”

In the same breath, it’s so refreshing to go out and do something fun, not just stay cooped up in your house, right? Seriously. 

  • Check out a virtual museum tour
  • Go on a nice drive to some place you love or miss going to, like drive by the masjid or school or a beautiful area (but stay in your car if there are other people around)
  • Watch an Eid Khutbah (or a regular one) on Eid day (make it special by listening outside in your yard or as a family where you pray).
  • Create a movie theater experience inside the home (that might just mean some popcorn and homemade slushies).
  • Get carry out from a favorite restaurant (if it’s open), and finally have the motivation to take a longer drive if needed
  • Make fruit or gift baskets for friends and family and drop them off at their homes
  • A “paint night,” or some other craft, that everyone in the family participates in
  • Decorate your car and drive around to show it off to friends (I’ve heard there’s an actual Eid car parade at various masaajid in Chicago

Interesting Alternative Community Celebrations I’ve Heard About

Some communities are getting super creative. As I mentioned above, a handful of masaajid in Chicago (Orland Park Prayer Center, Mosque Foundation, and Islamic Center of Wheaton as well as Dar Al Taqwa in Maryland) are putting together Eid drive-thru car parades. I’ve heard of different communities, whether officially sponsored by the masjid or just put together by groups of individuals, having a drive-in Eid salah, in which families pray in their cars in a rented drive-in theater or parking lot (Champaign, Illinois and a community in Maryland). I’m  definitely impressed with that last option, and I’m waiting to hear about more creative ways to get together and worship and celebrate.

So, what am I doing for Eid (weekend) this year? All the must’s, inshaAllah, including getting extra dolled up and making donuts from biscuit dough. A “game night” (virtual party) with alumni from my MSA. A gift exchange party with my cousins as well as another gift exchange party with classmates from my Arabic program (we’ll send unboxing videos out instead of meeting at the same time.) Check out a local college campus we’ve been dying to drive around. Binge a few episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender newly released on Netflix and do some online Memorial Day sale shopping. Le’s put a tentative on all of those, haha.

At the end of the day, Eid al Fitr is about acknowledging the month of worship we engaged in during Ramadan and spending quality time with loved ones. It doesn’t really matter what that quality time looks like–as long as it is intentional, this Eid will be special no matter what, inshaAllah. Who knows, this might be one of the best, most memorable holidays ever!

Eid Mubarak!

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#Society

COVID-19: A Muslim Perspective on Incarceration and Emancipation During A Public Health Crisis

prison

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has brought new challenges to society that demand solutions.  One such dilemma that has emerged is the spread of the novel coronavirus amongst prison populations and staff.

In Maryland, for example, there are over 200 coronavirus cases reported in the Maryland Prison system.  In New York, according to the Wall Street Journal, more than 800 city correction employees have tested positive for Covid-19, and eight have died.  Also, 1,200 inmates have tested positive and there have been at least 10 deaths from COVID-19.

Alarming reports such as these across the nation have sparked a response by the government to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the prison population and among correctional employees.

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In Washington, for example, the governor has commuted approximately 300 sentences, and over 40 prisoners have received work release furloughs.  Around the country, many low-level and non-violent offenders have been released.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, around 300 prisoners have been released in Orange County, Florida. Over 100 inmates have been released from prisons in Nevada and Alabama; 531 people have been released in Philadelphia, PA, and 1,000 prisoners are slated to be released from New Jersey prisons. Similar efforts underway in most states across the country.

In Maryland, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has been at the forefront of the effort to reduce the prison population at-risk for coronavirus, and on Sunday, April 19th, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order granting early release to hundreds of inmates to reduce the spread of the disease.

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The ripple effect of such efforts are having an impact globally. According to reports, Poland has announced plans to release up to 12,000 convicts, and Iran has already released close to 80,000 prisoners.

UN experts have urged action, including Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who stated,

“In many countries, detention facilities are overcrowded, in some cases dangerously so.  The consequences of neglecting them are potentially catastrophic.”

What should inform the Muslim community’s position?

This Ramadan, as we seek to uphold these principles in our daily activities, Muslims cannot neglect prisoners’ rights.Click To Tweet

Following in the example of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the noble qualities of justice, mercy and compassion must be factored into the equation.

He said: “The merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.” (Tirmidhi 1924).

According to a different hadith, or recorded narration of Prophetic sayings, he said: “Allah does not show mercy to those who do not show mercy to people.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

As Imam Omar Suleiman, founder of Yaqeen Institute, stated in part on the Poor People’s Campaign Appeal on Twitter on April 20, 2020:

“Ramadan is a time of fasting and sacrifice to clarify what is necessary and just. It is right and just that protections are enacted for people in mental health facilities, prisons and juvenile detention centers, especially supplies, personnel, testing and treatment. This includes the release of all at risk populations and non-violent offenders and detainees. There are 2.3 million incarcerated people and over 52,000 people in detention centers.”

Conditions in most prisons today clearly create an unsafe environment with regards to the elevated risk of infection with the novel coronavirus.  Releasing low-level, non-violent offenders who are most at risk is an act of Prophetic mercy.

As stated in the Holy Quran: if anyone saves one life, it’s as if they had saved all of mankind. (Surah Ma’idah 5:32).  Saving one non-violent offender from the contagion of Covid-19 in prison may not seem significant in the grand scheme of things, but that act of mercy and compassion reverberates and impacts on greater society.   

In Islamic law, or shariah, maqasid (aims or purposes) and maslaha (welfare or public interest) are two doctrines that inform rulings by jurists.

Maslahah “consist of the five essential values (al-daruriyyat al-khamsah) namely religion, life, intellect, lineage and property.  In this case, it serves the public interest to attempt to reduce the spread of novel coronavirus, thereby furthering preservation of life.

Our country’s broken criminal justice system is in desperate need of restorative measures. Prison is not a place where a civilized society can stow away prisoners, discard the key, and forget about them. Click To Tweet

Prisoners are entitled to basic human rights. To this effect, it is documented that as Caliph, the beloved cousin of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Ali ibn Abi Talib raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), used to inspect the prisons, meet the prisoners in them and inquire about their circumstances.

The urgency of the principles of mercy and preservation of life need to be a priority for those entrusted with the authority to make a difference in the lives of the many low-level, non-violent offenders that find themselves caught in the sinuous vice grip of the penal system.

This Ramadan, as we seek to uphold these principles in our daily activities, Muslims cannot neglect prisoners’ rights.

We must make a difference where we can.

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#Islam

Cultivating Spirituality in a COVID-19 Ramadan

“One of the seven given shade on the Day of Judgment is the man who remembered Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in private and so his eyes shed tears” [Sahih Bukhari]

Ramadan has arrived, and this year, along with a lot of uncertainty for many of us. The Family & Youth Institute (FYI) conducted a survey to better understand the spiritual and community needs of Muslim Americans during this Ramadan. Based on these findings, the primary concerns of American Muslims were found to center around the spiritual growth and connection we associate so much with the community/masjid.

Many of us will miss the social gatherings at iftar time. Men and women who regularly pray at the masjid in congregation will now pray in their homes, alone, or with their families. Youth who find their spiritual high at youth iftars and qiyams with their mentors must find another way to meet this need. Revert Muslims who may not have Muslim families to celebrate with, and as a result rely on the greater Muslim community to experience Ramadan, will need another way to fulfill the feeling of togetherness and seeking knowledge.

We need to recognize that we can take steps to reduce our anxiety and take control of this new Ramadan so that we can enjoy and benefit from it! The tips we’ve outlined below can be found in much greater detail in The Family and Youth Institute’s (The FYI) Covid-19 Ramadan Toolkit!

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The central place of spiritual connection and growth has shifted from the masjid back to the home. So how can we motivate ourselves to feel the spiritual high of Ramadan from our homes? Here are some ways to make the best of our Ramadan that we can benefit from:

 

Know that the masjid misses us as much as we miss it.

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It is missing Quranic recitation, people giving sadaqah, the barakah of people worshipping Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and more. For more on this topic, check out this webinar by The FYI’s Community Educator, Duaa Haggag, about how to keep the masjid alive in our hearts during this month.

Bring the Ramadan feel to your home. 

Now, more than ever, is a time to create a Ramadan home environment that appeals to all of our senses. Many of us do this already if we have children, but now is the time to also do this for ourselves, as adults. This can be done by putting up Islamic visuals (books, decorations), light traditional fragrances you associate with Ramadan, playing your favorite nasheeds, eating traditional foods for Iftar, and so on. These smells, sounds, tastes, and sights will reactivate the feeling you associate with Ramadan, even when you can’t be connected with your community.

Create a spiritual or masjid atmosphere within your home by trying some of the following: 

  • Make a space in your home for yourself where you will pray, read Quran, make du’a, and/or reflect. Have a Quran, dhikr beads, du’a journal/book, and prayer rug easily available for use. Take pictures of your spaces and share them with your friends to encourage each other
  • Mimic the masjid feel by ensuring that the adhan can be heard aloud in the house at all five times of the day
  • If you typically go to the masjid to pray the obligatory prayers, continue to pray at the time of congregation according to your local masjid’s congregation schedule. Lead your family in prayer at these specific times. This encourages you and your family to pray on time while feeling connected to your masjid. If you long to hear the Quran being recited, set that up in your space
  • If you have children, family togetherness will be even more important during this time. Check out the Family Bonding section of The FYI’s Covid-19 Ramadan Toolkit for many more practical tips and strategies

Create a special routine for Jumu’ah within the home.

Take the time to research the sunnah practices of Rasulullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and find creative ways to do them. Here are some other things to try:

  • Use this as an opportunity to learn the etiquettes of and practice giving khutbahs
  • Have a post-Jumu’ah halaqa or listen to one of the many online lectures being shared to maintain the connection
  • While you may not be able to physically go to the masjid for Jumu’ah, you CAN complete the other sunnahs that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) practiced
  • After Jumu’ah is a time when many of us would meet up and catch up with our family and friends. Host a post-Jumu’ah virtual session and share with your family and friends so you can still catch up and meet with them after Jumu’ah
  • Remind yourselves of the blessings and rewards Jumu’ah brings, even if it can’t be done as a community

Revive the Sunnah of praying Taraweeh in the home.

Learn about how praying taraweeh at home was how our beloved Rasulullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Sahabis prayed it. Remind yourself that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is still waiting to reward you and listen to your supplications; that hasn’t changed. Set up virtual connections with friends or family during taraweeh time. You may not be able to pray together but this will help you connect to the same feeling you had in past Ramadans. Re-frame how we feel about a taraweeh at home. Consider our situation as an invitation to spend alone time (khalwa) with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Structure your Day

Now that we are in quarantine, it’s the perfect opportunity to slow down and focus on making the best of the month of Ramadan. Making a schedule allows you to keep a consistent routine while ensuring that your spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and social needs are all being met each day. There will be days when it is hard to follow the schedule, so be gentle with yourself and allow those days to happen.

  • Start your day with a morning virtual group that recites morning du’a and surahs
  • Designate times to recite your favorite dhikr, du’a, and recitation of the Quran
  • Start a gratitude journal writing at least 3 things you are grateful for each day.  Then when supplicating to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), thank Him for these blessings
  • Plan to listen to a weekly lecture/talk that is live, either with organizations or with your local mosque. Set it up on your TV for the whole family to watch together
  • Celebrate iftar preparation; make it a family affair! Challenge the children to set the table based on different themes and take pictures of it
  • Pick the days you will call a family member, neighbor, or elderly person during the week.
  • Make sure to set time for physical activity: Take a walk outside with the family or let your kids pick a sport to play with you after work hours are over
  • If you have children, refer to the Family Bonding section of The FYI’s Covid-19 Ramadan Toolkit to create a schedule with them

Minimize technology

Disengage with technology in order to engage with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

  • Be intentional with how you are using technology and how much you are using it; use it to connect with others, not just to scroll through feeds
  • Set and enforce a Ramadan Family Media contract
  • Monitoring how much we use technology is just as important as monitoring our children’s usage. Refer to The FYI’s Digital Parenting Toolkit for much more resources on properly engaging with media

Quran

We know the month of Ramadan is the month of Quran; though how can we live this during the times we are facing now? Prophethood began when the first revelation came to our beloved Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) when he was in a state of khalwa, or isolation. While we will miss listening to the Quran being recited by the qari every night in taraweeh, we can still keep the Quran wet on our tongues and ears. Try these strategies:

  • Make time for reading and reflecting on the meaning of the Quran– set SMART goals
  • If you have young children and find it challenging to find the time to sit and read the Quran, consider playing it while preparing iftar or taking care of the kids
  • Have a Quran competition within your family or with friends to see who can read the most pages by the end of the month
  • Engage children with the Quran by teaching them stories of the Prophets, reading Surat ul-Qadr, or Al-Alaq
  • Join or start a Quran recitation group where the Quran is being recited
  • Gather some friends that keep you accountable for your Quran goal.  Do a daily check in on a group text when you meet your goal

Du’a

During this unpredictable time, the power of du’a can bring hope by supplicating to our Creator.  It is also a chance for healing and developing good habits. This Ramadan, be intentional about the du’a you choose to recite considering your current circumstances.

  • Make a du’a journal with a list of important du’as to recite during Ramadan. Choose from the common du’as recited by the previous prophets, including Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and your personalized du’a
  • Choose specific times of the day that you will read these du’a such as during tahajjud, right before iftar, or after a salah
  • Involve your children by asking them to make a list of the important people in their lives they want to pray for and share the list with each other. This not only encourages you to be reflective of your physical and emotional needs, but also reminds us of the One who can meet those needs.
  • Start a text group where each person types in one du’a per day on the group and everyone makes the same du’a for each other

It is an understatement that this Ramadan will be an entirely new experience for the Ummah.  While we will miss the spiritual traditions we enjoy every Ramadan, this year is an opportunity to cultivate new traditions.  The opportunities to catch the blessings of Ramadan are not lost; it just looks different this year. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is so Merciful that he will accept our worship for Him wherever we are.  Ask yourself what spiritual acts draw you closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and structure it in your day whether you are working inside or outside of the home.

For much more information on other ways to take advantage of a Covid-19 Ramadan, be sure to explore The FYI’s COVID-19 Ramadan Toolkit

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