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3 Things You Should Know About Porn Addiction

3 Things You Should Know About Porn Addiction
Check out this article to learn more about:

  • Porn is highly addictive and very accessible.
  • Stigma makes it hard to get help.
  • With support, recovery is possible.

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This article was written by Shakil Mirza*, MPH, and Issra Killawi, B.A.

*Shakil Mirza is a guest writer for The FYI, and is currently a helpline counselor at Naseeha.

 

“We do not watch pornography–it’s haram (forbidden).”

Many of us in religious communities mistakenly assume that upholding a religious belief (pornography is forbidden) is enough to protect us from engaging in immoral behavior. Although we may assume that pornography addiction is not a struggle faced by Muslims, reality tells us differently.

Preliminary research findings shared by The FYI point to the prevalence of pornography consumption–59% of immigrant-origin Muslim youth indicated that they viewed pornography (many of them doing so weekly or monthly). At the Naseeha Helpline, about 20-30 calls monthly are related to pornography addiction. When looking for help, callers say that it’s difficult to find resources for Muslims trying to overcome an addiction to porn.

Despite the fact that this issue is becoming prevalent in our communities, there is much work to be done in helping people overcome addiction. As a community, we must create a pathway to recovery for those seeking it. The first step in providing support is recognizing that pornography addiction is a mental health challenge and understanding the stigma associated with it.

Here are three things everyone should know about pornography addiction:

1. Porn is highly addictive and very accessible.

It’s important to see this issue as more than just a choice to sin. When viewing porn persists to the point of addiction, it needs to be treated as such. Viewing porn literally changes the brain. It does so in the same way that addictive substances like tobacco and other drugs do.

  • With continued use, porn disrupts the part of the brain that helps a person make healthy decisions. This makes it difficult for someone to avoid watching porn even when they want to stop.
  • What makes this addiction even more challenging is how accessible the “drug” e.g. porn is. Anyone can view porn for free with an internet connection.
  • Exposure to porn has become very common, even at a young age. Among Muslim young adults, 61% were exposed to explicit material between 11 to 14 years old. [1]
  • Many people are exposed to porn unintentionally. In 2010, approximately 1 in 4 youth Internet users reported an unwanted exposure to sexual material. [2] For many people, accidental exposure can eventually turn into addiction.
  • Teenagers are especially vulnerable to developing an addiction to porn. As they are physically developing and learning about their bodies, many come across pornography either intentionally or accidentally. They continue watching out of curiosity and – with time and a developing brain- find themselves struggling to quit.

3 Things You Should Know About Porn Addiction

2. Stigma makes it hard to get help.

Muslims who struggle with porn addiction may not reach out for help for various reasons:

  • Shame. Some people are overwhelmed with shame and keep their addiction undisclosed from anyone else. They assume that they are the only ones struggling with this issue.
  • “Sins are private.” Some people avoid getting help out of concern that they should keep their sins private from others. This concern overlooks the fact that addiction is difficult to overcome without support and that reaching out for help is not the same as publicly sharing your wrongdoings.
  • “Religious people don’t watch porn.” The misconception that “religious people should not struggle with porn addiction” prevents many from reaching out for help. These individuals feel that being a good Muslim and having a pornography addiction just don’t go together and that they shouldn’t be struggling with this issue in the first place. Despite trying to uphold their religious responsibilities, they still struggle with the addiction. For them, this is to make sense of, let alone share with anyone else.
  • Where to get help? Lastly, for many, they simply don’t know where to turn for confidential help with a porn addiction. For Muslim youth specifically, many felt that they could not turn to their families or the Muslim community for support. [3]

3 Things You Should Know About Porn Addiction

3. With support, recovery is possible.

“Say, Oh my servants who have transgressed against themselves by sinning, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Az-Zumar:53)

Most individuals stuck in the cycle of addiction feel as if they wronged their souls beyond redemption through this addiction. But we have hope in Allah’s Mercy, which is necessary for healing and recovery. As a community, we must embody hope and support for our brothers and sisters who struggle with pornography addiction. We must encourage each other through each step of the recovery process, no matter how many setbacks happen.

  • Create a safe space. Shame is one of the biggest reasons that people get stuck in the cycle of addiction. They begin to believe that they’re unworthy of help from others. Providing a safe space in our own social circles, online spaces, and personal conversations can disrupt the cycle of addiction and shame. Learn what to say and what not to say.
  • Guide them to the right place. Recovery from porn requires a treatment plan, support from trusted allies, and many times, help from a trained therapist. With so many people in our communities struggling, we must know this and direct people to the right resources.
  • Increase awareness. As a community, we can use different platforms in the community (i.e. Jummah Khutba, programs at the masjid, youth groups, and camps) to bring awareness to the issue, to make people feel less alone in their struggle, and to encourage them to get help. Share resources on your social media pages–you never know who is watching and needs them.

We can also spread the word about resources that support porn addiction recovery for Muslims, including The FYI Porn Addiction Toolkit and the NASEEHA Mental Health Helpline.

Pornography addiction, among many others, is a challenge for many men and women in our communities. By providing more pathways to support and recovery, we can lift a great deal of hardship and shame from the shoulders of those struggling. Let’s remember the words of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, when he said:

“If anyone relieves a Muslim believer from one of the hardships of this worldly life, Allah will relieve him of one of the hardships of the Day of Resurrection. If anyone makes it easy for the one who is indebted to him (while finding it difficult to repay), Allah will make it easy for him in this worldly life and in the Hereafter, and if anyone conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah helps His slave as long as he helps his brother.” (Muslim)

References:

1:The FYI’s Porn Toolkit – Needs Assessment 

2:http://unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/Unwanted%20Exposure%203%20of%204%20YISS%20Bulletins%20Feb%202014.pdf

3:The FYI’s Porn Toolkit – Needs Assessment 

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The Prophet (SAS) said, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days”
(Bukhari).

Guarantee your blessings!

Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).