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Newsletter for April 2013
Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 -Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12
Getting Serious About Boy-Girl Relationships in Islam
My very dear
young Muslim brothers and sisters I have something of extreme
importance to talk to you about. I want to tell you some things
about boy-girl relationships, sex and marriage. I know these are
very personal and delicate matters for discussion, but given how
essential they are to your life, to the whole Muslim Ummah, and
to the future of Islam as our way of life these are matters we
must discuss. In Islam it has been made very clear as to what is
acceptable and what is not acceptable between males and females
who are not married to each other, so if all was going well in
this critical area of life I wouldn't need to say anything; but,
all is not going well. Please know what I am going to say to you
I say only because I love Islam and I care so very much about
the future safety, happiness, and success in the lives of all of
you although we may have never met.
From what I have been reading, from what parents have been telling me, and from what has been confirmed in discussions with many young Muslim brothers and sisters from countries all across the world it has become clear that more and more young Muslims are not following the guidelines for relationships between boys and girls so clearly set out in Islam. What Islam says is right is easy to remember because we are told that before marriage there is to be virtually no contact at all between males and females. In today's world, while still a minority, an increasing number of young Muslims are having relationships with members of the opposite sex that are clearly outside the limits set by Islam. These relationships beyond the limits of Islam range from seemingly innocent friendships all the way to the complete sexual relationship that has been made right only for those who are married to each other.
Do you think Allah has said there should be virtually no relationship at all between unmarried males and females because He doesn't want you to have fun? No, Allah has set the rules for right relationships between males and females because He knows for sure what is best for you as an individual and what is best for His Ummah. Allah wants you to have a good time and enjoy the wonderful pleasures of male-female relationships, including the sexual relationship, but He knows you can only experience the greatest joy, and suffer no harm, if you keep your relationships, particularly the sexual relationship, within the necessary guidelines of the right way of life He has given us.
As you read this message I ask you to keep an open mind until you evaluate all I have to say. In all parts of our lives we must be sure that what we get is worth what we have to pay. In something so tempting as sexual pleasure there are few who objectively weigh the full costs against those brief moments of gratification. Allah has placed within both males and females an extremely strong desire to experience the sexual relationship. So the feelings you might be having are entirely natural as it is Allah's Will that you feel those desires so strongly. When we look at animal behavior we see that animals take their sexual pleasure whenever and wherever they can. This is how Allah ensures the continued survival of their species. Never forget that human beings are not animals, so although we have bodies quite similar to animal bodies, and basic needs quite similar to the needs of animals, we relate to our bodies and our needs as beings who have had a God consciousness breathed into us by Allah when we were still in our mother's womb. This special spiritual nature provides us with many wonderful benefits, but it also presents us with some very serious responsibilities.
These benefits and responsibilities show up quite clearly in relation to the desire for sexual pleasure placed within us by Allah. The benefit is that human beings can experience a level of sustained sexual pleasure far beyond the ability of any animal, but the responsibility is to direct our sexual desires only in the manner set out as the right way of life for us by Allah. Sexual pleasure is only to be experienced between a man and woman married to each other; sometimes this is for the purpose of bringing new human spiritual beings into the world and sometimes it is to allow the ecstasy and the intimacy of the sexual relationship to bond the married man and woman together so strongly as a family, who will be able to raise a new generation of good and right Muslim children within that family, that they become invulnerable to the forces of evil that might attempt to tear the family unit apart.
Most young Muslims in the world today have been heavily influenced by a highly sexualized society around them saying, "Look at the many Western teens or non-Muslim teens in Islamic nations who know no rules except to experience as much pleasure as possible and who don't worry about the consequences." It would be virtually impossible as a young Muslim teen to see the many hundreds of times when unmarried teens are portrayed enjoying the pleasures of sex in movies, songs, and stories from the entertainment of the Western world without having the thought cross your mind something like, "Hey, that looks like fun, if they are doing it why shouldn't I do it too." Well, I would like to make sure you know what comes along with what has been called "free sex," because it turns out that sex isn't free after all, and the cost is going to probably be much more than you would be willing to pay if you knew what the true cost was.
First, what are the benefits? Well, you might get a relationship with another person that could take away some of the personal loneliness so common in today's world; you might get to be seen by your peers (if they don't know better) as someone who is modern and cool; you might feel you are breaking out of restrictions imposed on you by a religion and culture that you didn't choose for yourself; you might feel not left out if many others are doing the same thing around you; it might make you feel better about yourself knowing someone likes you; and, of course there is the obvious fun and physical pleasure that naturally comes from experiencing the various aspects of the intimate and sexual relationship.
Some of those
benefits result in the fulfillment of natural human desires,
even if done wrongfully; but, some of those so-called benefits
have been conditioned into your thinking against your will by
the wrongful influences of the secular materialist society that
exists outside the Muslim Ummah. If you ever find yourself
experiencing envy of the 'freedom' and the lifestyle of the
American teens as portrayed in the media please ask yourself
question and answer it honestly. "Who do you think is better equipped to make decisions about what is a right way to live, the average American teen who has never even heard of Allah and Islam, or you who are a Muslim teen who have been Blessed with the opportunity to at least know of Allah's existence and to understand a little bit about the Islam He gave us as the right way of life? If you don't know that you are much better qualified than the average godless, pleasure seeking American teen to know right from wrong then you had better start using that wonderful brain Allah put in your head a little better.
Now let me list some of the costs of those early intimate and sometimes sexual relationships experienced before you are married and it all becomes lawful to you. The list might seem a bit long, but that's because the costs are many. Be honest in your judgment as you read of these costs and see if I am not being fair and truthful with you in all that I say. I will be presenting the costs of relationships that have gone as far as full sexual behavior, but even if you haven't gone that far, which I pray you haven't, many of these costs must be paid for the relationship whether there was sex or not. These costs are not being presented in any particular order I am just trying to not miss any costs because I don't want you, my very dear young Muslim brothers and sisters, to have to suffer the consequences of paying so much more in the future than you ever expected to pay for taking some forbidden but temporary pleasure now.
1. We will start with one of the really ugly costs, disease. Promiscuity (sleeping around) can lead to a wide range of very nasty diseases. The effects of these diseases can go from simple pain and discomfort, to disfigurement, to other lifelong diseases such as cancer, to the inability to have children, and even to painful lingering death. Did you know that females who have slept with three or more people over a lifetime are 15 times more likely to get cervical cancer than those who didn't? Weigh these facts highly as you make decisions about relationships before marriage.
2. Another cost is divorce. In Islam it is expected a married couple will stay married forever and enjoy their family life till they die. The reality is that couples who engage in sex before marriage are many times more likely to divorce.
3. This is a sad cost, adultery. The more relationships you have before marriage, the more likely you are to commit adultery after marriage, and so is the person you marry. No good marriage can tolerate adultery, adultery is certain to cause great unhappiness to the married couple and to destroy the good family life necessary for the development of a right society. But, isn't it logical that if you don't follow the rules about having sex before
marriage that you are not so likely to follow the rules about having sex after marriage.
4. Many young girls never expected such things as unwed motherhood, unwanted children, and abortion to enter their lives, but those terrible things do sometimes happen when you have wrong relationships; they happen much more often than anyone wants to admit. Unwed pregnancy, how would you like to tell your parents about this one? Even worse you would be bringing a child into the world and this child may be very unwanted, are you going to be able to care for this child and the soul Allah has placed within that child? Or what about an abortion, not only is it likely to be committing a great sin, but you would be killing that new human being growing within you. Does it make you feel sad to think about this? It makes me sad.
5. Here are some depressing statistics about suicide. Sexually active boys are more than twice as likely to have depression and almost ten times more likely to attempt suicide than boys who wait until marriage. Teenage girls who have premarital sex are three times more likely to have depression than girls who aren't sexually active. Also, teenage girls who are sexually active are about three times more likely to attempt suicide than those who aren't sexually active. See what I mean about being depressing?
6. You could end up being a (well I won't say that word), let's just say you could end up being very promiscuous. What did you expect? The decision to have sex the first time is probably the hardest, but once you have done it I'm sure it must get easier to do the second time, and third, and forth, and so on until you are no longer counting. Oh please don't get to that point. By the way, know for sure what I am saying here applies to boys just as much as to girls. Islam is about equality and boys and girls are most definitely equally responsible to keep themselves away from wrong relationships.
7. So you only did it because you were totally sure you were going to marry him or her, so why wait. Too bad; statistics show people who have sex with each other before marriage usually don't end up marrying each other.
8. Some people believe that you have to have lots of practice to get good at sex and if you are not already good at sex before you marry you will have a second rate love life when married. Well, contrary to popular belief, studies show those who do choose to wait for sex until marriage are not doomed to a second-class sex life at all. Instead they usually have significantly higher levels of sexual satisfaction and marital contentment.
I guess nothing is so romantic and erotic as having a marriage partner who has never experienced those most intimate moments with anyone but you. Seems reasonable to me!
9. Some people say sex isn't really a big deal; people just make a big deal about it. They would say that having a 'wrong' sexual relationship isn't a very wrong thing to do, if wrong at all it is just a tiny wrong. Well personally I trust the word of Allah not the opinion of some teen boy or girl with highly active hormones affecting their judgment. This is what Allah had to say about fornication (the technically correct name for illegal sexual intercourse). "Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred, except for just cause, nor commit fornication; and any that does this (not only) meets punishment (but) the Penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled to him, and he will dwell therein in ignominy." (Al-Furqan, 25:68-69). In this verse from
the Qur'an, the sin of fornication is given its seriousness by being ranked as follows: the first major sin is associating partners with Allah Most High (shirk); the second most major sin is murder; and the third most major sin is fornication. And if you are interested in what Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had to say about fornication we have this, "The one who commits illegal sexual intercourse is not a believer at the time of committing illegal sexual intercourse." I would say wrong sexual intercourse is not some small wrong, but is actually a very, very major wrong. Don't forget, the crime of zina (illegal sexual intercourse) is one of the very few offences that Allah has considered so important that He has prescribed a specific punishment, in this case it was, and still is, one hundred strokes of the cane.
10. Then there are those who want to say sex can't be wrong because it is so much fun, and anything that is as much fun as sex couldn't possibly be wrong. Well, I have to say that fun is most definitely not a good measure of what is right or wrong. Do you think that shaitan (Satan) is going to try to lead you away from the path of goodness and right by offering only things you don't like? No, of course he is going to make going against the
Will of Allah seem like fun. Shaitan tries to prevent people from knowing and accepting Allah's truth and gaining eternity in Paradise by distracting them with sin that is fun. For those who are Muslim, he will attempt to turn them away from Allah. One method shaitan uses quite successfully is to make people feel unworthy because of the sin they committed to have fun. Once you feel unworthy of Allah it is much easier to turn away from Him.
11. There are still others who want to claim sex can't be wrong because it is natural (and of course sex is natural, but for humans only when done rightly). To prove that all sex is natural, they give examples of wild animals, like monkeys, who have all kinds of sex all over the place with no inhibitions. They attempt to degrade human beings to the level of wild animals, and then justify their deeds by finding examples of free sexual behavior in the animal world. They are, in the Qur'anic expression, "like cattle, nay they are more astray; they are the heedless ones." (Al A'araf 7: 179). One of the purposes of Islam is to establish that we are not animals, and to put us on the right path so that we will not behave like animals. This certainly weakens the all sex is natural because animals do
it argument. And, wouldn't you rather act like a human being than an animal?
12. Sometimes young Muslims who sincerely do not intend to stray as far as having a sexual relationship justify their boyfriend/girlfriend relationships by this noble intention of abstinence. Unfortunately studies have shown that the more time a couple spends alone together, the more likely they are to wind up in bed! And that is true even if they begin with the firmest intention of abstinence. Best not to believe you can resist temptation if you are given too much opportunity.
13. Do you think you can be involved in a wrong boy and girl relationship, particularly if it includes sex, and keep being a good Muslim? Can you pray and fast with sincerity and carry on an unlawful sexual relationship? I think that might not be possible. Going against the Will of Allah in a matter so important as sex means that you will be more likely to go against the Will of Allah in other matters also, possibly eventually leaving Islam. How terrible for your life, how terrible for the whole Muslim Ummah, we could possibly lose the benefits of Islam for the whole world just because some could not wait for the pleasures of sex until it is made right for them after marriage. What a huge price to pay.
14. Then of course there is the price you could end up paying for eternity. What if on Judgment Day the price you must pay for your wrong relationships and unlawful sexual behavior is that you are sent to Hellfire instead of to Paradise? Some young Muslims give little thought to Judgment Day, but we know Judgment Day is certain and everything will happen exactly the way we have been told by Allah through revelation. Consider how you would feel then. It would indeed be an awesome mistake to not take this possibility with all the necessary seriousness.
15. This list could go on forever so I will make this the last, but it involves something so very special, so very precious, that even without all the other costs this one alone makes wrong relationships between boys and girls, young men and young women, far too high a price to pay. This cost involves the relationship between husband and wife in marriage. InshaAllah, you might be married for a very long time and of course you want that married relationship to be very special and very wonderful in every way.
But the reality
is that any relationships you have with members of the opposite
sex before marriage chips away some of what should make the
relationship between husband and wife so exquisitely special.
Allah wanted to make the marriage relationship so very special
that married couples would care so deeply for each other that
neither partner would ever want to stray through adultery or
separate through divorce. It should be the most wonderful
worldly relationship possible. The more a married couple has to
share exclusively between themselves, the more special and
unique the relationship, in particular the sexual relationship,
in a marriage becomes.
So the reason that relationships before marriage make your husband or wife less special to you is that to some degree whatever has been done with others before makes your marriage partner just one more in the line of persons who have shared in that part of the relationship with you which should have been held as a trust for the one you marry. By not waiting for that special moment when you first marry you make that special moment no longer special. This is true of all aspects of relationships before marriage, but it is of particular importance for that most special of all parts of the marriage relationship, the sexual part. Sex is a precious gift from Allah. This gift can only be given away for the first time once. Wouldn't this be a great gift for that one person who will be with you for the rest of your life?
I hope from this discussion of boy-girl relationships before marriage you are better able to weigh what you get objectively against how much you have to give. Be honest with yourself, can you really say it is worth it? It seems the benefits of waiting until marriage are so great that no other possible choice should be possible.
Because some of you who read this may have already gone beyond what is right in Islam, I don't want to scare you into believing that now you have no chance at all for a happy, successful marriage. A good marriage is still possible, but sadly, less likely. So if you have already lost the opportunity to make your marriage the most special it could possibly be by waiting to partake in the rights of marriage, then you should right now begin doing what ever you can to make your chances for a successful marriage as good as possible. You should of course, no matter what has happened so far, repent sincerely to Allah, and promise Him and yourself with total sincerity that you will do all you can from this point on to steal no more from the 'special' nature of your future marriage. And, you should be prepared after marriage to treat the one you marry with an extra degree of love, tenderness, and kindness far beyond anything you have ever experienced before.
Please know that I have absolutely no doubt that the limits of boy-girl relationships before marriage set by Allah are correct and offer by far the best way to ensure a happy and successful marriage. But, I understand very well the pressures of the modern world, and pressures from peers, upon young Muslims, so I am going to do something I wish I did not have to do. I am going to suggest, for those who for whatever reason can not or will not follow the way of life Allah has made right for you, an alternative that, while not right, will still protect you and your future marriage from the most severe effects of the harm that could come from wrong relationships.
First let me suggest a common pattern of how boy-girl relationships can get started and how then can go so wrong. In almost everything we do we don't jump right in at the behavior in its fullness, we move in a series of small steps. Possible likely steps in the development of a wrong relationship could be as follows: you see someone of the opposite sex in class that you feel some attraction to; one day you smile at that person;
next you might say hello to the one you like; then you might start talking regularly with that person; then you might let the person know you like them; then you might become sort of a couple; then you might arrange a date; then you might arrange to meet alone somewhere; you might hold hands; you might hug and kiss; the kissing might become more intimate; there might be some wrong touching, sexual but not intercourse; then you might end up going all the way to illegal sexual intercourse; then you might do it again and again, maybe changing partners; then you might begin to suffer the most harmful of consequences. It makes me very sad to think this could happen to any of my very dear young Muslim brothers and sisters, but I am sure you know it is happening to some.
I really badly don't want your lives ruined by this increasingly common pattern of behaviors that lead to the most wrong of boy-girl relationships. So I offer the following as a suggestion to those who cannot live according to the Will of Allah. To those wonderful young Muslims who have been, and are, able to follow rightly the commands of Allah I am indeed most pleased and may Allah give you extra Blessings. You do not need what I am about to suggest, just continue to live Islam in its purest form.
For those who still choose to stray from Allah's commands, I say this to you; take some of the pleasure of the boy-girl relationship, but do not take so much that it harms you in the worst ways. To do this you have to set some limit as to how far you will go in the wrong boy-girl relationship. As I look at the likely steps in the progression of relationships I see that there is a natural point where the risk of harm, particularly leading to the greatest harm, becomes clear. In that progressive sequence in the development of wrong relationships the point where you become at risk of greatest harm is when you agree to meet and be alone. Remember earlier in this discussion, "studies have shown that the more time a couple spends alone together, the more likely they are to wind up in bed."
So what I am suggesting is that if you cannot or are not willing to do what is right and best then at least keep to a limit that will minimize the harm to you and to your future marriage. If you set the absolute limit at only those parts of the boy-girl relationship that can take place if you are never ever to be alone together you can still have some of the fun and pleasure of having someone you like, talking to them, and even being some sort of couple. Actually this is a lot. Still you are stealing some part of what is special and should ideally be held only until after marriage, but you are retaining the most precious parts until they can be experienced rightly with the one you marry.
Remember this can only work if that limit of never being alone together is totally absolute. To make sure this limit is never passed it must be understood that no person in the relationship would ever even suggest in any manner at all to the other that they should meet in a way that allows them to be alone together. Make sure the person you like understands how strongly you feel about this matter, and that they feel the same. To even suggest meeting alone should be a sufficient cue that the person you liked is not a right person to have a relationship with; and, you should be willing to end a relationship with anyone who would care so little about harming you and your whole future just to satisfy their needs. For this to work it is critical that the Ummah around you, your Muslim peers, feel so deeply concerned about this matter that they would not only look down on those who chose to be alone together, but also on anyone who would ever
suggest being alone together. This has to become an unbreakably strong social taboo. All must understand that, "No, it is NOT cool!"
What I have suggested is clearly not right according to Islam, but I feel the circumstances of today's world require me to offer you an alternative that is outside the limits of Allah's command. I do this in hopes that by offering this alternative to a greater wrong you can be protected against the greatest harm, and that this can be an early step in the progression toward a future Muslim Ummah where no alternatives are needed and ALL young Muslims fully follow Islam, the way of life made right for us by Allah. So if you decide against the command of Allah to still have a boyfriend or girlfriend but never ever be alone together don't do it thinking what you are doing is right, do it knowing what you are doing is still wrong; and, plan to do what is the right Islamic way as soon as your iman (faith andpious desire to do what is right) is ready for that change. Do it because you know a small harm is better than a great harm.
It is my prayer that in this short, but quite insightful, discussion of boy-girl relationships, sexual behavior, and marriage that I have been able to help you make right decisions in this most important area of your life. Please do not ever do something that can hurt you in a way that you can never fully recover from. I love all of you and care about all of you so very much that any harm that comes to you or your life hurts me also. You very dear young Muslims are the future of the Ummah; you are the future of Islam in our world. Not only by following Allah's commands now can you help ensure a wonderful married life for yourself and your future family, but you can be part of a new generation of Muslims who refuse the worldly influences that take you from Islam and make right all the wrongs of the world. The world of the future can be a virtual Paradise on Earth. This is the destiny offered us by Allah.
Al-Mahdi, who is a converted Muslim and former professor of
Cosmology, now fulltime dedicated preacher of Islam.
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