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50 Shades of Sex Addiction

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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?”

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:

  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/

Umm Reem (Saba Syed) has a bachelors degree in Islamic Studies from American Open University. 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 was one of the founders of Daughters of Adam magazine and remained the publishing director until 2007. She had been actively involved with MSA, TDC, and other community activities. She has also been actively involved with the Muslim women of her community spiritually counseling with marital and mother-daughter issues. She has hosted several Islamic lectures and weekly halaqas in different communities, including special workshops regarding parenting and issues related to women.

57 Comments

57 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 …

    • Avatar

      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)

    • Avatar

      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.

    • Avatar

      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

    • Avatar

      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.

    • Avatar

      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…

        • Avatar

          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.

    • Avatar

      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

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  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

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#Life

How Do Muslims Plan for Disability

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Families with children with disability have an extraordinary set of challenges and blessings.  Disability (or special needs) is a broad term.

Many disabilities will prevent what we often think of as “normal.”  It may hinder or prevent educational opportunities, and employment. Many people with “special needs” can get educated, get married and live long and productive lives.  The problem for many parents of younger children with special needs is that they typically have no certainty about their children’s future needs. Even if the situation looks dire, it may not stay that way.  

How do parents plan for a world where they may not be around to see how things will end up for their special needs children?  What can they do to help their children in a way that does not violate Islamic Inheritance rules?

Certain types of disability, especially the loss of executive decision-making ability, could also happen well into adulthood.  This can be a threat to a family’s wealth and be the cause of internal conflicts. This is the kind of thing every adult needs to think about before it happens.  

The Problem

The issues are not just that parents believe their special needs child will need more inheritance than other children. Muslim parents usually don’t think that. Some parents don’t want their special needs child to get any inheritance at all.  Not because of any ill-will against their special needs child; just the opposite, but because they are afraid inheritance will result in sabotaging their child’s needs-based government benefits.    

Many, perhaps most special needs children do not have any use for needs-based benefits (benefits for the poor).  But many do, or many parents might figure that it is a distinct possibility. This article is a brief explanation of some of the options available for parents of special needs children.  It won’t go over every option, but rather those that are usually incorporated as part of any Islamic Estate Planning.

Please Stand By

Example:  Salma has three daughters and two sons.  One of her children, Khalida, 3, has Down Syndrome.  At this point, Salma knows that raising Khalida is going to be an immense challenge for herself, her husband Rashid and all the older siblings.  What she does not know, however, is what specific care Khalida is going to need through her life or how her disability will continue to be relevant. She does not know a lot about Khalida’s future marriage prospects, ability to be employed and be independent, though obviously like any parent she has nothing but positive hopes for her child’s life.   

In the event of her death, Salma wants to make sure her daughter gets her Islamic right to inheritance.  However, if Khalida needs public benefits, Salma does not want her daughter disqualified because she has her own money.

Her solution is something called a “stand-by special needs trust.” This type of trust is done in conjunction with an Islamic Inheritance Plan and is typically part of a living trust, though it could also be a trust drafted into the last will.  I will describe more about what a special needs trust is below. For Salma, she is the Trustee of her trust. After she dies, she names her husband (or someone else) the successor Trustee. The trust is drafted to prevent it from becoming an “available resource” used to determine eligibility for public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other benefits that go with that.

If it turns out that Salma passes away when Khalida is 5, and her assets are held in trust for her until she is 18 and her Trustee determines she does not need a special needs trust, she will get her inheritance precisely like everyone else based on their Islamic right.  If she does need benefits, the Trustee will only make distributions to Khalida that would not harm her eligibility.

This way, there is no need to deny Khalida her inheritance because of her disability, and she is also making sure giving her daughter inheritance would not harm her daughter’s healthcare or other necessary support.  

Munir Vohra is a special needs advocate and an athlete

The Shape of Special Needs Trusts

A stand-alone Special needs trusts, which is sometimes called a “supplemental needs trust” the kind without the “stand-by” variation I described above, are a standard device for families that have children with special needs. A trust is a property ownership device. A Grantor gives the property to a Trustee, who manages the property for the benefit of a beneficiary. In a revocable living trust, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary are typically the same person.  

When the trust is irrevocable, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary may all be different people. In a special needs trust, the person with a disability is the beneficiary. Sometimes, the person with a disability is also the Grantor, the person who created the trust.  This might happen if there is a settlement from a lawsuit for example and the person with special needs wants it to be paid to the trust.  

In many if not most cases, the goal may not be to protect the beneficiary’s ability to get public benefits at all. Many people with a disability don’t get special government benefits.  But they do want to protect the beneficiaries from having to manage the assets. Some people are just more susceptible to abuse.

The structure of the arrangement typically reflects the complexity of the family, the desire of siblings and extended family to continue to be involved in the care and attending to the needs of the person with a disability, even if they are not the person directly writing checks.   

Example: Care for Zayna

Example: Zayna is a 24-year-old woman with limited ability to communicate, take care of her needs and requires 24-hour care.  Zayna has three healthy siblings, many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her father, Elias, earns about $70,000 per year and is divorced. Zayna’s mother Sameena cannot contribute, as she is on social security disability. However, Zayna’s adult brother and sisters, brother in laws, sister in law and several aunts, uncles want to help Zayna meet her needs E.lyas creates a third party special needs trust that would ensure Zayna has what she needs in the years to come.

Zayna receives need-based public benefits that are vital to her in living with her various disabilities and her struggle to gain increasing independence, knowledge and dignity.  So the trust needs to be set up and professionally administered to make sure that when Zayna gets any benefit from her trust, it does not end up disqualifying her ability to get any needs-based benefit.  

Contributions to the special needs trust will not go against Islamic Inheritance rules unless made after the death of the donor.

If Zayna dies, her assets from the special needs trust will be distributed based on the Islamic rules of inheritance as it applies to her.

When disability planning is not about Public Benefits

Perhaps most families with special needs children do not use any needs-based public assistance.  They are still concerned about special needs and planning for it.

Example:  Khadija, 16, is on the autism spectrum. For those familiar with the autism spectrum, that could mean a lot of things.  For her parents, Sarah and Yacoob, other than certain habits that are harmless and easy to get used to, it means Khadija is very trusting of people. Otherwise, she does well in school, and her parents don’t think she needs way more help than her siblings and she has just as good a chance of leading a healthy and productive life as any 16-year-old girl.  

The downside of being too trusting is that the outside world can exploit her.  If she ends up getting inheritance or gifts, she may lose it. The parents decide that when she gets her inheritance, it will be in a trust that would continue through her life.  There will be a trustee who will make sure she has what she needs from her trust, but that nobody can exploit her.

In some ways, what Khadija’s parents Sarah and Yacoob are doing is not so different from what parents might do if they have a child with a substance abuse problem.  They want to give their child her rights, but they don’t want to allow for exploitation and abuse.

Considering your own needs

There are many people who are easy marks for scammers, yet you would be unlikely to know this unless you are either a close friend or family member, or a scammer yourself.  While this often happens to the elderly, it can happen at just about any age. Everyone should consider developing an “incapacity plan” to preserve their wealth even if they lose their executive decision-making ability.   

There is this process in state courts known as “conservatorship.” Indeed, entire courtrooms dedicate themselves to conservatorships and other mental health-related issues.  It is a legal process that causes an individual to lose their financial or personal freedom because a court has essentially declared them not competent to handle their affairs. Conservatorships are a public process.  They can cause a lot of pain embarrassment and internal family strife.

One of the benefits of a well-drafted living trust is to protect privacy and dignity during difficult times.

Example: Haris Investing in Cambodian Rice Farms

Haris, 63, was eating lunch at a diner.  In the waiting area, he became fast friends with Mellissa; a thirty-something woman who was interested in talking about Haris’s grandchildren.  The conversation then turned Melissa and her desire to start a business selling long distance calling cards. Haris was fascinated by this and thought it made good business sense. Haris gave Mellissa $20,000.00. The two exchanged numbers. The next day, Mellissa’s number was disconnected.

Haris’s wife, Julie became alarmed by this.  It was out of character for her husband to just fork over $20,000 to anyone on the spur of the moment.  What was worse is that the business failed immediately.  

Three months later,  Haris meets Mellissa at the diner again.  She then convinces Haris to invest $50,000 in a Cambodian rice farm, which he does right away.   His wife Julie was pretty upset.

How living trusts helps

As it happened though, Haris, a few years before, created a living trust.  It has a provision that includes incapacity planning. There are two essential parts to this:  The first is a system to decide if someone has lost their executive decision-making ability. The second is to have a successor Trustee to look over the estate when the individual has lost this capacity.  This question is about Haris’s fundamental freedom: his ability to spend his own money.

If you asked Haris, he would say nothing is wrong with him.  He looks and sounds excellent. Tells the best dad jokes. He goes to the gym five times a week and can probably beat you at arm wrestling. Haris made some financial mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.

Julie, and his adult children Haroon, Kulsum, Abdullah, and Rasheeda are not so sure it’s just a mistake.  The living trust created a “disability panel.” This panel gets to vote, privately, in if Haris should continue to act as Trustee of his own money.  If they vote that he should not manage his own money, his wife does it for him.

The family has a way to decide an important and sensitive issue while maintaining Haris’ dignity, privacy and wealth.   Haris’s friends don’t know anything about long distance calling cards or a Cambodian rice farm; they don’t know he lost his ability to act as Trustee of his trust.  Indeed the rest of the world is oblivious to all of this.

Planning for everyone

Islamic inheritance is fard and every Muslim should endeavor to incorporate it into their lives.  As it happens it is an obligation Muslims, at least those in the United States, routinely ignore or deal with inadequately.  However, there is more to planning than just what shares go to whom after death. Every family needs to create a system. There may or may not be problems with children or even with yourself (other than death, which will happen), but you should do whatever you can to protect your family’s wealth and dignity while also fulfilling your obligations to both yourself and your family.

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Cleaning Out Our Own Closets This Ramadan: Bigotry

Why Eliminating Hate Begins with Us

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Before Muslims take a stand against xenophobia in the U.S., we really need to eradicate it from our own community.

There. I said it.

There is no nice way to put it. Muslims can be very intolerant of those outside their circles, particularly our Latino neighbors. How do I know? I am a Latina who came into Islam almost two decades ago, and I have experienced my fair share of stereotypes, prejudice, and just outright ignorance coming from my very own Muslim brethren.

And I am not alone.

My own family and Latino Muslim friends have also dealt with their daily doses of bigotry. Most of the time, it is not ill-intentioned, however, the fact that our community is so out of touch with Latin Americans says a lot about why we are often at the receiving end of discrimination and hate.

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…” (The Qur’an, 13:11)

Recently, Fox News came under fire for airing a graphic that stated, “Trump cuts aid to 3 Mexican countries,” on their show, “Fox and Friends Weekend.” The network apologized for the embarrassing error, but not before criticism of their geographical mishap went viral on social media. The reactions were of disbelief, humor, and repugnance for the controversial news channel that has become the archenemy of everything Islamic. People flooded the internet with memes, tweets, and comments regarding the ridiculous headline, Muslims included. American Muslim leaders quickly released statements condemning the lack of knowledge about the difference between Mexico and the nations of Central and South America.

Ironically, however, just about two months ago, my eldest son wrote an essay about the bullying he experienced in an Islamic school, which included insults about him being Mexican and “eating tacos” even though he is half Ecuadorian (South America) and Puerto Rican (Caribbean), not Mexican. I include the regions in parentheses because, in fact, many Muslims are just as geographically-challenged as the staff at Fox News. When a group of Hispanic workers came to replace the windows at his former school, my son approached them and spoke to them in Spanish as a means of dawah – teaching them that there are Latin American and Spanish-speaking Muslims. His classmates immediately taunted him saying that the laborers were “his cousins.” Although my son tried countless times to explain to his peers the difference between his origins and Mexico and defended both, they continued to mock Latinos.

On another occasion, a local masjid invited a famous Imam from the Midwest to speak about a topic. My family and I attended the event because we were fans of the shaykh and admired his work. A few minutes into his talk, he made a derogatory remark about Mexicans, and then added with a smile, “I hope there aren’t any Mexicans in the room!” A gentleman from the community stood up behind my husband, who is Ecuadorian, and pointed at him saying, “We have one right here!” Some people chuckled as his face turned red. The shaykh apologized for his comment and quickly moved on. We looked at each other and rolled our eyes. This was nothing new.

Imam Mohamed Alhayek (Jordanian Palestinian) and Imam Yusuf Rios (Puerto Rican) share an intimate moment during the 16th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day. Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

Once, I visited a Pakistani sister, and as I enjoyed a cup of warm chai on her patio, she turned to me earnestly and said, “You and (another Latina Muslim) are the only educated Hispanics I know.” She then asked me why Latinos did not have “goals and ambitions” because supposedly, all the Hispanic students in her daughters’ school only aspired to work in their parents’ businesses as laborers. She went on to tell me about her Hispanic maid’s broken family and how unfortunate it was that they had no guidance or moral values. I was shocked by her assumptions, but I realized that this was the sentiment of a lot of Muslims who simply do not know a thing about our culture or have not taken the time to really get to know us.

When I accepted Islam back in 2000, I never expected to hear some of the narrow-minded comments and questions I received from those people who had become my brothers and sisters in faith. After all, I came to Islam through the help of an Egyptian family, I declared the Shahada for the first time in the presence of people from Pakistan, and I was embraced in the masjid by worshippers from places like Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, India, Turkey, and Afghanistan. A white American convert gifted me with my first Ramadan guide and an Indian sister supported me during my first fast. I expected to be treated equally by everyone because Islam was for everyone and Muslims have been hearing this their whole lives and they preach it incessantly. I do the same now. As a Muslim Latina, I tell my people that Islam is open to all and that racism, colorism, classism, and xenophobia have no place in Islam.

Nevertheless, it did not take long for me to hear some very ugly things from my new multi-cultural community. I was questioned about whether I was a virgin or not by well-meaning sisters who wanted to find me a Muslim husband. My faith was scrutinized when my friend’s family introduced me to an imam who doubted I had converted on my own, without the persuasion of a Muslim boyfriend or husband. I was pressured about changing my name because it was not “Islamic” enough. I was lectured about things that I had already learned because foreign-born Muslims assumed I had no knowledge. I was even told I could not be a Muslim because I was Puerto Rican; that I was too “out there,” too loud, or that my people were not morally upright.

I know about good practicing Muslim men who have been turned down for marriage because they are Hispanic. On the other hand, I have seen sisters taken for marriage by immigrant Muslims to achieve citizenship status and later abandoned, despite having children. I have been approached by Muslim men searching for their “J-Lo,” who want to marry a “hot” Latina because of the disgusting exploitation of Latina women they have been exposed to from television, movies, and music videos. I have made the mistake of introducing this type of person to one of my sisters and witnessed their disappointment because she did not fit the image of the fantasy girl they expected. I have felt the heartbreak of my sister who was turned down for not living up to those unrealistic expectations, and who continues to wait for a Muslim man who will honor her as she deserves. An older “aunty” once said to my face that she would never let her children marry a Latino/a.

I met a brother named José who was told that he had to change his un-Islamic Spanish name so that he would be better received in the Muslim community, even though his name, when translated to Arabic, is Yusuf! I have been asked if I know any Hispanic who could work at a Muslim’s store for less than minimum wage 12 hours a day or a “Spanish lady” who can clean a Muslim’s house for cheap. I have spoken to Latino men and women who work at masajid doing landscaping or janitorial services who have never heard anything about Islam. When I approached the Muslim groundskeeper at one of these mosques with Spanish literature to give them, he looked at me bewildered and said, “Oh, they are just contractors,” as if they did not deserve to learn about our faith! I have heard that the child of a Latina convert was expelled and banned from returning to an Islamic school for making a mistake, once. I have been told about fellow Hispanics who dislike going to the masjid because they feel rejected and, worse of all, some of them have even left Islam altogether.

Latina Muslims share a laugh during the 16th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day.
Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

A few weeks ago, news was released about the sentencing of Darwin Martinez Torres, who viciously raped and murdered Northern Virginia teen, Nabra Hassanen during Ramadan in June 2017. The story made national headlines and left her family and the entire Muslim community devastated. Although the sentence of eight life terms in prison for the killer provided some closure to the public, the senseless and heinous act still leaves sentiments of anger and frustration in the hearts of those who loved Nabra Hassanen. Muslims began sharing the news on social media and soon, remarks about the murderer’s Central American origin flooded the comments sections. One said, “An illegal immigrant from El Salvador will now spend the rest of his life in a U.S. prison where all his needs will be met, and his rights will be protected… When we attack efforts to stop illegal immigration and to deal with the criminals coming across the border every day, remember Sr. Nabra… we should all be united in supporting common-sense measures to ensure that our sisters do not walk in fear of attacks. (And no, this is not an ‘isolated case’…).”

Although I was just as relieved about receiving the news that there was finally justice for our young martyred sister, I was saddened to see that the anti-Hispanic immigrant sentiment within our own community was exposed: To assume that Latino immigrants are “criminals coming across the border every day” is to echo the very words that came from current US President Donald Trump’s mouth about immigrants prior to his election to the presidency. To blame all Latinos for a crime committed against one and claim it is not an “isolated case” is to do the same thing that Fox News and anti-Muslim bigots do when they blame all Muslims for a terror attack.

Why are we guilty of the same behavior that we loathe?

I do not like to air out our dirty laundry. I have always felt that it is counterproductive for our collective dawah efforts. It is embarrassing and shameful that we, who claim to be so tolerant and peaceful, still suffer from the very attitudes for which we blame others. As I write this piece, I have been sharing my thoughts with my close friend, a Pakistani-American, who agreed with me and said, “Just like a recovering alcoholic, our first step is to admit there is a problem.” We cannot demand our civil rights and expect to be treated with dignity while we mistreat another minority group, and this includes Latinos and also other indigenous Muslims like Black Americans and Native Americans. I say this, not just for converts, but for my loud and proud, half Puerto Rican and half Ecuadorian children and nephews and others like them who were born Muslims: we need a community that welcomes all of us.

Latinos and Muslims share countless cultural similarities. Our paths are the same. Our history is intertwined, whether we know it or not; and if you don’t know it, then it is time you do your research. How can we visit Islamic Spain and North Africa and marvel at its magnificence, and travel to the Caribbean for vacation and notice the Andalusian architecture present in the colonial era structures, yet choose to ignore our shared past? How can you be proud of Mansa Musa, and not know that it is said his brother sailed with other Malians to the Americas prior to Columbus, making contact with the indigenous people of South America (even before it was “America”)? How can you turn your back on people from the countries which sheltered thousands of Muslim immigrants from places like Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey after the collapse of the Uthmani Empire, many of which carry that blood in their veins?

Latino Muslim panelists during “Hispanic Muslim Day” at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center, Union City, NJ Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

We need to do a better job of reaching out and getting to know our neighbors. In recent years, the Muslim ban has brought Latinos and Muslims together in solidarity to oppose discriminatory immigration laws. The time is now to establish lasting partnerships.

Use this Ramadan to reach out to the Latino community; host a Spanish open house or an interfaith/intercultural community iftar. Reach out to Latino Muslims in your area for support, or to organizations like ICNA’s WhyIslam (Por qué Islam) for Spanish materials. A language barrier is not an issue when there are plenty of resources available in the Spanish language, and we have the universal language that has been declared a charity by our Prophet, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and that is a welcoming smile.

There is no excuse.

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How to Teach Your Kids About Easter

Don’t tell my dad this, but growing up, I was sure I wanted to be a Christian. It had nothing to do with the theology though, it was – really and truly – all about the chocolate.

Zeba Khan

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Don’t tell my dad this, but growing up, I was sure I wanted to be a Christian. It had nothing to do with the theology though, it was – really and truly – all about the chocolate.

Don’t get me wrong, I did not grow up in any sort of conservative, chocolate-deprived bubble. My mother was – and still is – a Christian. My father was – and still is – Muslim, and our home was a place where two faiths co-existed in unapologetic splendor.

My mother put up her Christmas tree every year.  We children, though Muslim, received Easter baskets every year. The only reason why I wished I was Christian too, even though I had no less chocolate in my life than other children my age, was because of the confusing guilt that I felt around holiday time.

I knew that the holidays were my mother’s, and we participated to honor and respect her, not to honor and respect what she celebrated. As a child though, I really didn’t understand why we couldn’t celebrate them too, even if it was just for the chocolate.

As an adult I’ve learned that I’m not alone in this conflicted enthusiasm for the holidays of others. Really, who doesn’t like treats and parties and any excuse to celebrate? As a parent though, I’ve decided that the best policy to use with my children is respectful honesty about where we stand with regard to other religions.

That’s why when my children asked me about Easter, this is what I told them:

  1. The holidays of every religion are the right of the people who follow them. They are as precious to them as Eid and Ramadan are to us.
  2. Part of being a good Muslim is protecting the rights of everyone around us, no matter what their religion is. There is nothing wrong with non-Muslims celebrating their religious non-Muslim holidays.
  3. We don’t need to pretend they’re not happening. Respectful recognition of the rights of others is part of our religion and our history. We don’t have to accept what other people celebrate in order to be respectful of their celebrations.
  4. The problem with Muslims celebrating non-Muslim religious holidays is that we simply don’t believe them to be true.

So when it comes to Easter specifically, we break it down to its smaller elements.

There is nothing wrong with chocolate. There is nothing wrong with eggs. There is nothing wrong with rabbits, and no, they don’t lay eggs.

There is nothing wrong with Easter, but we do not celebrate it because:

Easter is a celebration based on the idea the Prophet Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was Allah’s son, who Allah allowed to be killed for our sins. Easter is a celebration of him coming back to life again.

Depending on how old your child is, you may need to break it down further.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Created the sun, Allah is not a person whose eyes can’t even look directly at the sun. Allah Created space, Allah is not a person who can’t survive in space. Allah Created fire, Allah is not a person who cannot even touch fire. Allah is not a person, He does not have children as people do. Prophet Jesus [alayis] was a messenger of Allah, not a child of Allah.

Allah is also the Most-Merciful, Most-Forgiving, and All-Powerful. When we make mistakes by ourselves, we say sorry to Allah and try our best to do better. If we make mistakes all together, we do not take the best-behaved person from among us and then punish him or her in our place.

Allah is Justice Himself. He is The Kindest, Most Merciful, Most Forgiving Being in the entire universe. He always was, and always will be capable of forgiving us. No one needed to die in order for Allah to forgive anyone.

If your teacher failed the best student in the class so that the rest of the students could pass, that would not be fair, even if that student had offered that. When people say that Allah sacrificed his own son so that we could be forgiven, they are accusing Allah of really unfair things, even if they seem to think it’s a good thing.

Even if they’re celebrating it with chocolate.

We simply do not believe what is celebrated on Easter. That is why we do not celebrate Easter.

So what do we believe?

Walk your child through Surah Ikhlas, there are four lines and you can use four of their fingers.

  1. Allah is One.
  2. Allah doesn’t need anything from anyone.
  3. He was not born, and nor was anyone born of Him. Allah is no one’s child, and no one is Allah’s child
  4. There is nothing like Allah in the universe

Focus on what we know about Allah, and then move on to other truths as well.

  1. Christians should absolutely celebrate Christian holidays. We are happy for them.
  2. We do not celebrate Christian holidays, because we do not accept what they’re celebrating.
  3. We are very happy for our neighbors and hope they have a nice time.

When your child asks you about things like Christmas, Easter, Valentines, and Halloween, they’re not asking you to change religions. They’re asking you for the chance to participate in the joy of treats, decorations, parties, and doing things with their peers.

You can provide them these things when you up your halal holiday game. Make Ramadan in your home a whole month of lights, people, and happy prayer. Make every Friday special. Make Eid amazing – buy gifts, give charity, decorate every decorat-able surface if you need to – because our children have no cause to feel deprived by being Muslim.

If your holidays tend to be boring, that’s a cultural limitation, not a religious one. And if you feel like it’s not fair because other religions just have more holidays than we do, remember this:

  • Your child starting the Quran can be a celebration
  • Your child finishing the Quran can be a celebration
  • Your child’s first fast can be a celebration
  • Your child wearing hijab can be a celebration
  • Your child starting to pray salah can be a celebration
  • Your children can sleep over for supervised qiyaam nights
  • You can celebrate whatever you want, whenever you want, in ways that are fun and halal and pleasing to Allah.

We have a set number of religious celebrations, but there is no limit on how many personal celebrations we choose to have in our lives and families. Every cause we have for gratitude can be an opportunity to see family, eat together, dress up, and hang shiny things from other things, and I’m not talking about throwing money at the problem – I’m talking about making the effort for its solution.

It is easy to celebrate something when your friends, neighbors, and local grocery stores are doing it too. That’s probably why people of many religions – and even no religion – celebrate holidays they don’t believe in. That’s not actually an excuse for it though, and as parents, it’s our responsibility to set the right example for our children.

Making and upholding our own standards is how we live, not only in terms of our holidays, but in how we eat, what we wear, and the way we swim upstream for the sake of Allah.  We don’t go with the flow, and teaching our children not to celebrate the religious holidays of other religions just to fit in is only one part of the lesson.

The other part is to extend the right to religious freedom – and religious celebration – to Muslims too. When you teach your children that everyone has a right to their religious holidays, include Muslims too. When you make a big deal out of Ramadan include your non-Muslim friends and neighbors too, not just because it’s good dawah, but because being able to share your joy with others helps make it feel more mainstream.

Your Muslim children can give their non-Muslim friends Eid gifts. You can take Eid cookies to your non-Muslim office, make Ramadan jars. You can have Iftar parties for people who don’t fast.   Decorate your house for Ramadan, and send holiday cards out on your holidays.

You can enjoy the elements of celebration that are common to us all without compromising on your aqeedah, and by doing so, you can teach your children that they don’t have to hide their religious holidays from the people who don’t celebrate them.  No one has to. And you can teach your children to respect the religions of others, even while disagreeing with them.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are bound by a common thread, and there is much we come together on. Where the threads separate though, is still a cause for celebration. Religious tolerance is part of our faith, and recognizing the rights of others to celebrate – or abstain from celebration – is how we celebrate our differences.

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