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Confronting Sex and Porn Addiction In Muslims

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By Abeda Ahmad

This brother in his 60s with a beard and jubbah sat in front of me with his head hung down and hands clasped firmly together while his knuckles were turning white due to the pressure. I could see that talking about his issue was draining and it was taking every ounce of courage and willpower. He said he knew it was wrong and he was totally devastated and guilt ridden after each episode. He had huge regrets for he had caused so much sadness in their marriage but he just couldn’t stop acting out. He was regular in his prayers, righteous in performing his other Islamic duties, volunteered at the local charitable causes and by all means was a law abiding and extremely humble and mellow mannered individual.

This brother had an addiction for watching pornography and he had along with his wife suffered for over 30 years in a cycle of compulsion, secrets, shame, frustration, guilt, hopelessness, worthlessness and inevitable isolation. With Allah’s mercy and guidance a year of regular therapy generated amazing results where he finally broke the cycle of addiction and managed to begin repairing his relationship with Allah, himself, his wife and his children. He was as a child sexually abused from the age of 6. He also witnessed a lot of physical abuse directed towards his mother by his father and was bullied throughout school.

This brother’s addiction was trauma and attachment induced and throughout his life his way of dealing with his painful memories and lack of assertiveness and confidence was to use porn as an anesthetizing tool. I worked with him by addressing his childhood issues and by giving those wounds a closure and slowly building his confidence and self-esteem. We used relapse prevention techniques and introduced a deeper understanding of triggers and how a sustainable sense of accountability to Allah, himself and family.

Sex and porn addiction is a real problem and just like drugs and alcohol this pandemic has secretly and slowly permeated the Muslim community too. In the United States an estimated 30 Million individuals are struggling with sex addiction. This includes out of control sexual behaviours like compulsive use of pornography, visiting sex workers, using adult hook-up apps or multiple affairs.

With an estimated 1.7 billion active users on Facebook alone, 90% of 16-24 year olds in the western world own a smartphone. In a recent study carried out by the NSPCC of 1,000 children aged 11-16, 94% admitted they had been exposed to pornography by the age of 14. Porn is a 97million dollar industry-more than Apple, Google, Netflix, yahoo combined.

Neuroscientists believe that the changes in the brain of the sex addict are the same which are seen in a drug addict. Dopamine is the common denominator in all addictions.

Although at presen, we don’t have any specific statistics for Muslims, it is an increasing presentation in in my therapy experience. It is a real problem and we cannot minimise it or just leave it to the individual’s spiritual growth and ability to abstain and refrain. Remember for a long time we Muslims had the same attitude towards mental health issues where we linked depression and anxiety to lack of imaan and lack of patience. This meant many people struggled and suffered in silence, not knowing that depression is an illness which needs treatment, at times medication and psychological intervention, or both. Alhumdulilah, we have made progress with mental health and I hope insha’Allah once we openly start talking of sex addiction as a real problem which is for many is not a choice but a compulsion, it will give people who are suffering the courage and permission to speak and to seek help.

My model of working with the individuals who struggle with sex addiction is to use the core therapeutic skills of being compassionate and non-judgemental, so that a neutral platform is provided where the addict can come for help.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) told his Beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) “so by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him] (3:159)

Spiritual, emotional and psychological healing comes hand in hand during therapy and as gradually the shame and hopelessness is reduced, the client begins to connect again with the true concept of Allah’s Mercy and instead of shame — which mocks and rebukes, making the person feel inadequate.

We work on connecting with self-reflection and remorse so gradually an inner accountability is developed. Treatment is based on developing new habits based on surrender, gratitude, renewed spiritual connection and establishing and re-establishing meaningful relationships.

Sex addiction festers in darkness. People can go about their “normal” everyday lives on the surface but in the claws of compulsion leaves them surrendering to the lure of desire coupled by the deep rooted belief that they are doomed destined for hell and they can’t be cured/ saved. This is of course only a trap from the Shaytan. A sex addict starts recovering when he or she moves from a place of darkness to light and hope. Healing comes when body, mind and heart are all seeking the same thing, so the focus of the therapy is to work on all three areas. Alhumdullilah.

Sex addiction is a sin. It may not be a crime by the law of the countries we reside in but it is a sin! But who said there is no hope for sinners? We all know the story of the prostitute who was given the glad tidings of Jannah because of her charitable act of kindness of giving water to a thirsty dog!

Like all sinners, the sex addict needs to painfully unlearn old habits, to dismantle old scenarios, to pay old debts, and then to move steadfastly along the road to recovery one small, secure step at a time. (Hall, 2016)

Our imaams and scholars need to use their platforms to talk about this issue to help raise awareness and to help us devise and set groups that can help people who are struggling. The treatment model is based on understanding where the issue stems from and giving strategies which work for the individual in recovery and to provide relapse prevention.

Abeda is a qualified therapist based in Birmingham who specialises in relationship issues and is also sex addiction therapist who works with Muslim clients. You can contact her on info@amanahcounselling.com 07846724568

www.Amanahcounselling.com.

Related articles:

What’s the Matter? Masturbation Addict

A Conversation With a Hooker: Adultery, Sex Addiction and Muslims

50 Shades of Sex Addiction

Pornography, Respect, and Responsibility: A Letter to the Hotel Industry

Source: muslimmatters/life

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