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Pornography & Muslim Youth: Preliminary Research Findings

Pornography & Muslim Youth: Preliminary Research Findings

The latest findings on porn consumption in Muslim American communities.


      • What does pornography look like among Muslims?

      • Why are Muslim youth watching pornography?

      • How can we correct misconceptions about pornography?

    Are American Muslims immune from pornography consumption? Who is it impacting, when are they starting, and what are the challenges and barriers faced by those consuming pornography? These are just some of the questions The Family & Youth Institute and its partners, Young Muslims, NASEEHA, and Zakat Foundation are teaming up to address.   

    Guided by the principles of community-based participatory research (Wallerstein & Duran, 2010), The FYI conducted a three-pronged needs assessment of pornography use among American Muslim youth.

        • First, we conducted a review of current research on pornography amongst both American-Muslim and other-religion youth.

        • Second, we interviewed individuals from diverse professional backgrounds (e.g., clinicians, imams, social workers) who served individuals struggling with pornography. Interviews were coded for common ideas and concepts.

        • Third, an online survey was created and disseminated by Young Muslims. The data was cleaned and analyzed by The FYI team.

        • The research is ongoing and we are continuing our research efforts by interviewing individuals struggling with pornography. If you would like to participate in this study please email us at: info@thefyi.org

        • The research findings were then used to guide the solution-seeking process. In collaboration with NASEEHA, resources have been gathered together in The FYI Porn Addiction Toolkit.

      Below, we present preliminary findings from the online survey. A detailed analysis will be provided in the upcoming Pornography Report. To be the first to receive this report, click the button to sign up.

      Pornography Report

      Research Collaboration

      Young Muslims (YM) is a national organization serving young Muslims across the country to seek the pleasure of Allah (SWT) by empowering Muslim youth through companionship, mentorship, education, and service. With more young people reporting struggles with pornography, YM launched an online survey. The online survey was conducted during the COVID-10 pandemic (2020-2021) and 350 Muslim American youth participated in the study. The FYI then cleaned and. analyzed the data.The FYI was then contacted to analyze the data, as well as provide resources for those struggling with pornography.

      *The findings presented below are based on data generously shared by Young Muslims. All responses are confidential and information regarding IRB and consent will be presented in the upcoming Report*


      The survey respondents were predominantly between 16 to 22 years of age (85%), mostly males (69%), mostly single (85%), and primarily South Asians and Arabs (67% and 16%).

      Limitations to the dataset include religiosity, race/ethnicity, age, gender, voices of revert Muslims, and those of varied socioeconomic backgrounds. Due to the use of convenience sampling, the survey is not representative of all Muslim Americans and is a snapshot that is meant to provide a preliminary understanding of pornography among Muslims. The dataset was cleaned to remove inconsistent responses (i.e. individuals who marked no to viewing pornography but responded to follow-up questions or vice versa). The final dataset (n = 336) was used for the remaining analyses presented below. If you are a researcher and would like more detailed information regarding the data, please contact The FYI at info@thefyi.org.

      What does the data tell us about pornography among Muslims?

      Do young Muslims watch porn?

      Yes, many young Muslims (59.23%) view pornography; of these, 83% were males and 17% were females. We talk more about gender differences further below in the Breaking Down Myths section.

      porn needs assessment

      How frequently do young Muslims watch porn?

      The majority of young Muslims in this sample report watching pornography monthly and/or weekly. A small portion watch it daily (16.08%).

      Why do young people watch pornography?

      In this section, youth respond to questions about why they view porn. Participants responded on a scale of 1 = Never to 5 = Very Often. Overall, Muslim youth consume pornography primarily to cope with boredom, and to a lesser extent, to process negative emotions.

      Pornography & Muslim Youth: Preliminary Research Findings

      To access free resources on reducing, preventing, and addressing the impact of pornography, click the button to get the Porn Addiction Toolkit.

      Porn Addiction Toolkit

      Can Muslim youth turn to their families or communities for support?

      Youth responded to questions about turning to parents or the community for support as they struggle with pornography. They responded on a scale of 1 = Strongly Disagree to 5 = Strongly Agree.

      Muslim youth believe they can not turn to their families or the Muslim community for support.

      Pornography & Muslim Youth: Preliminary Research Findings

      Breaking Down Myths

      In this section, common myths about pornography in the Muslim community are presented. We compared behaviors and beliefs between youth who reported that they view pornography and related questions to those who said they do not view pornography.  Here’s what we found:

      Do those who watch pornography think it is less immoral?

      Youth in both groups agreed that watching pornography is immoral. There was no statistically significant difference in their beliefs. This finding suggests that holding a belief that something is immoral is not sufficient, by itself, to prevent individuals from engaging in that behavior.

      This finding suggests that holding a belief is immoral is not enough to prevent individuals from engaging in behaviors that go against their beliefs. Pornography & Muslim Youth: Preliminary Research Findings

      Are those who watch pornography less religious?

      There is no statistical difference in religiosity, between youth who consume pornography and those who do not. Both groups of youth also attend the masjid (mosque) at similar rates.  Of those who reported viewing pornography (N=199), 70% describe themselves as regularly or very practicing and believe that viewing pornography is immoral.

      Pornography & Muslim Youth: Preliminary Research FindingsPornography & Muslim Youth: Preliminary Research Findings

      Do women watch pornography?

      Compared to men, women do not consume as much pornography. Of all the participants who reported viewing pornography, 83% were men, and only 17% were women. However, when you compare the study to the female respondents (n=105), 31% reported they viewed pornography, compared to 69% of women who did not. This means about a third of young Muslim women consumed pornography in this survey.

      When do youth first get exposed to pornography?

      It is commonly assumed that youth are exposed to pornography in high school and college. With the ease of access to pornographic material online, individuals are being exposed at earlier ages. A majority (61%) of Muslim young adults were exposed to pornography between 11 to 14 years old.Pornography & Muslim Youth: Preliminary Research Findings

      In conclusion, the preliminary findings from this survey suggest that consuming pornography is a prevalent issue among young Muslims. Both young men and women engage in this behavior, even if they are religiously practicing. Most importantly, youth do not feel that they can turn to the Muslim community or their families for support. Due to this rising struggle and the lack of support for it, The FYI has created a host of resources on pornography. 

      Please check out the upcoming FYI Report for additional analyses digging into the findings presented here, and additional analyses about the addictive nature of this behavior. If you are interested in participating in our upcoming research study, please contact us at info@thefyi.org.

      This data analysis was conducted with generous support from The Zakat Foundation. 

      Blog Author:

      Madiha Tahseen

      Dr. Madiha Tahseen is the Research Director and a Community Educator at The Family and Youth Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research expertise is in positive youth development amongst Muslim-American youth, particularly focusing on the role of cultural and religious contexts in character development among minority populations.

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      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).