Resisting a Grave Sin
by Asif Iftikhar

Question: By God’s grace, till this time I have resisted all the temptations, but I am scared that I may succumb to them if they get too great. What should I do to avoid temptation? My room-mate brings drunk girls every weekend to the room. What should I do? I don't want to tell him not to do that because it is his room too. The other day he brought a drunk girl and they went to sleep.

I woke up for the Fajr prayer and saw her half hanging from my room-mate's bunk bed. I pulled her down and carried her to my bed which is on the ground and not bunked. She (being drunk and thinking me to be my room-mate tried to do things with me). I left her on my bed and went to sleep on the couch of the kitchen in the hall. Was I in any way at fault?

Answer: The Prophet (sws) of Allah is reported to have said that on the scorching Day of Judgment seven people shall be under a shade. One of these will be a young man who had been tempted by a woman of beauty and position and had said to her: I fear Allah. (Muslim: Kitab al-Zakat)

I congratulate you from the depth of my heart on having achieved this position. The question now is how to maintain it. Contrary to the conception of Christians about morality, Islam wants us not only to ‘rejoice in being persecuted for righteousness sake’ when the occasion so demands but also to try not to be persecuted. Your immense trial at the moment is not only to refrain from succumbing to temptation but also to avoid situations in which one may be tempted. This is a great trial indeed. My heart goes out to you and my prayers are with you. Trees and plants also serve our Lord. But He wants us to serve Him not only with sincerity but also with wisdom. Careful planning is needed to tackle your problem. The possible solutions can be divided into two categories: short-term and long-term.

Short-term:

i. Try to avoid being in the room when something inappropriate is going on. Try to get yourself busy in your work or in socializing.

ii. Try to find good company and have regular meetings with your good and pious friends. Also, you might like to get in touch with your local Islamic Centre and with the American Muslim Council. You can write to them and explain your need for good friends. I am sure they’ll empathize.

iii. Also, you can promise yourself that when the temptation becomes intense you will always get in touch with your close friends before doing any thing to make your individual problem your collective problem. If you have good and pious friends, I am sure they’ll be able to put their heads together to work out some solution.

iv. Keep praying to God and offering your salah. Also keep reading the Qur’an regularly, especially the verses which remind us that fornication is a great sin. Also, you might want to fast two or three times a month on weekends or whenever you have the time. During fasting, remind yourself that you are abstaining from food for His sake, and after this manner pray to Him: ‘Lord for you I have abstained from this desire (for food). I could not have abstained without the strength you gave me. My Lord I am your humble and frail servant. Give me the strength to abstain from that desire as well, for I fear your wrath and seek your mercy.’

v. One way of sublimating the urge to have sex with a woman is masturbation. Although undesirable for many health reasons (both physical and psychological), there is no Divine directive which categorizes it as a sin.

vi. I know in that society people sometimes take offence on refusal. At times, they can become quite vindictive. First of all, try not to be alone with a girl, and try avoiding eye contact as much as possible. If someone makes fun of this behaviour, explain gently and solemnly that lowering your eyes is your way of showing respect to a lady as recommended by your religion. If you find yourself alone with a girl who invites you to sin, don’t try to offend her by saying anything bad. Instead, gently and firmly explain your reason and walk away to a safer environment where there are other people.

Long-term:

i. First of all, without making a great fuss, you should try to have your room changed. Ideally, a room with a like-minded fellow or, perhaps, an independent room. Furthermore, you should try to get in touch with your local Muslim organisation – you’ll probably have one in your college – and try to spend as much time as possible in the company of pious and like-minded people.

Also, when darkness prevails, `the heart that has light sings of the morn’. With wisdom and sagacity, and with courtesy and consideration, keep calling others to your faith. In the fervour of that call, you’ll gain strength, for that fervour will not let the light in your own heart fade away and shall make it brighter.

I know you realise that fornication is a grave sin. (See the Qur’an 3:24 and 17:32). Therefore, you must do everything possible to avoid it. If nothing else works, then, in the longer-run, the most effective thing in this regard would be marriage. Now, I know we are talking about something very serious. But so is the Hereafter – a very, very serious matter.

The most appropriate way, obviously, would be that you talk to your parents frankly. You might even tell them that you have taken such and such measures, but that you would not be able to hold on for very long. You can tell them that you are grateful for whatever they have done for you in life and for the excellent education they are giving you, but you need their help most in securing your success in the life Hereafter. You can tell them that your success in this regard will be their success and your failure (God forbid) will be their failure, and that there is nothing more important in life than that success.

If all this fails, that is if your parents do not listen, then I would very frankly suggest you to defy them. In that case, you should get in touch with one of these Muslim organisations in the U.S. (you’ll definitely have some organisation in your college as well) and marry a girl with similar ideas and conviction.

Perhaps the organisation will help you in meeting a family that is appreciative of your commitment to your religion and willing to support you in your efforts and in your married life.

I know either step would be a big one for you. But, please remember that life is a trial, and in the course of our life there comes a time when it tests our commitment to our claim: ‘I bear witness that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger’.

God has ordained that we be of service to our parents to the best of our ability and treat them well. But when this service leads to disobedience to God in matters as grave as fornication, we should disobey them instead*. We should remain sincere to them, keep on serving them and should continue to treat them well, but should remain – first and foremost – servants of our Lord Allah. God be with you.

*. Although in this verse the sin under discussion is shirk (associating someone with God) – the gravest of all sins –, yet by analogy we can say that our attitude should be the same in other sins of serious nature as fornication, adultery, murder, etc.

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