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Friday, March 25, 2005

15 Tips for Teens on How To Handle Pornography

It's hard, especially when you're a teenager and bombarded with images of sexuality: that hot-looking scantily clad guy or gal in the magazine, grinning at you and luring you; or the persistent emphasis on sex in the movies (even Toy Story!); or the pervasive links to pornography and ad banners that pop up while you may simply be checking your e-mail or researching something for school. How does a young Muslim protect him or herself from all of this?

Below are some tips that can help:

Tip #1: Know what is Halal and what's not
We may think only hard core pornography is Islamically unacceptable. This is not true.
Improperly dressed men and women, sexual situations, foreplay, kissing, touching, dirty jokes: none of these are Islamically acceptable.
Talk to a trusted Muslim friend, family member of the same gender or an Imam about this. Bring it up and ask them to give you the Islamic perspective.

Tip #2: Remember your accountability to Allah
In America and some other countries, you're fully responsible for your actions when you turn 18. In Islam, you're fully accountable as soon as you understand these things. So that means that from that point onwards, you cannot assume looking at this stuff is no big deal. Your eyes will testify about what you looked at on the Day of Judgment. Remember that Allah is always watching. He is Most Just and Merciful, and He rewards us for the good and punishes us for the bad we do.

Tip #3: Become conscious of the Haram
Too often, it's easy to dismiss that billboard with the spandex-and-bikini-top-clad blonde girl advertising gum, or the guy in tight leather pants and no shirt advertising perfume. When you see it, remember the Islamic perspective, your accountability to Allah, and lower your gaze. Do the same for television and the internet. If you keep doing this, Insha Allah, it'll become a habit, and eventually an automatic reaction.

Tip #4: If feeling overwhelmed, remember Allah
In situations where you feel overwhelmed and can't get yourself to switch the channel, close the browser window or turn your eyes away from the billboard, ask Allah's help. You don't necessarily need any heavy duty, long Duas. La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah (there is no power or ability except with Allah) is short, simple, and reminds you who is really in control and can help you out of this.

Tip #5: Seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan
Shaytan lured you into this mess. Seeking refuge in Allah (saying Aoutho billahi minash Shaytan ir Rajeem), will help you resist him and his whisperings to continue looking at the material, Insha Allah.

Tip #6: Get up and leave
If you feel unable to control looking at the screen or the magazine, leave the situation. Get out of the living room, your bedroom where the internet is, or where you've been reading the magazine. Take a walk. Just do something to physically get out of the situation.

Tip #7: Avoid those involved in pornography
If one of your friends is into pornographic magazines, websites, dirty jokes etc. either help him or her change through gentle and sincere advice or abandon frequent contact with them. Their compulsion will affect you, so it's best to stay as far away as possible, by remembering the danger to yourself, your Deen, and your relationship with Allah.

Tip #8: Stay away from places where it's found
Sometimes it's on a billboard on a highway and you can't miss it. But often times, you'll notice certain parts of your city (the seedier ones) tend to be filled with this kind of material (where there are usually strip joints, for example). Avoid these places as much as you can. If it's on your way to school, try to change your route. Also, in summer, stay away from the beach.

Tip #9: Surf or watch T.V. when others are around
The temptation to sneak a look at dirty pictures or that bikini-clad babe is heightened when you're alone in your room watching television or surfing the internet. Try to avoid late night T.V. and internet surfing. Instead, watch or surf when others are around so you can resist the urge to sneak a peek, thinking no one's watching (and remember Allah is ALWAYS watching). It is a good idea not to have TV or computer in the bedroom anyway. Living room or study room are better place for this stuff.

Tip #10: Remember your example
If you have younger brothers and sisters, think of the bad example you're setting for them. What message will they get if they barge into your room and catch you watching Baywatch or flipping through Playboy.

Tip #11: For brothers-remember your mom and sister
Disgusting right? Exactly. No one in his right mind would look at his mom or sister the way many of us look at the Baywatch babes or the girls on the internet or in magazines. Remember mom and your sister, and that should sicken you enough to stop, Insha Allah.

Tip #12: Have someone watch over you
If you really feel you're becoming addicted (see http://www.soundvision.com) to this kind of material, try to watch TV, surf the internet with someone else. You don't have to tell them why you're doing this, but this method can perhaps keep you in check and help you avoid looking at pornography or other similar material. After all, Shaytan tempts us most easily when we're alone. Sitting in the company of a family member or good Muslim friend will Insha Allah, help.

Tip #13: Fast
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised us to fast to cool passions. This should be a method we use to handle the desire aroused by pornography and similar material.

Tip #14: Tauba: Return to Allah
If you do end up watching the bad stuff, repent to Allah. Seek His forgiveness, reaffirm your faith in Him, and do good deed to compensate for that sin. He is All-Forgiven as long as you are sincere.

Tip #15: Repent Again and Fine Yourself
If you lapse, do tauba again. Allah is All-Forgiving as long as we mean it. But then you need to discipline yourself by promising to yourself that if I did it again, I will pay this much in charity or fast for a day.
The message is that don't give up on yourself. Keep trying. Struggle is life. Shaitan could be creative. And with the help of Allah, you will be the winner insha Allah.
do end up watching the bad stuff, repent to Allah. Seek His forgiveness, reaffirm your faith in Him, and do good deed to compensate for that sin. He is All-Forgiven as long as you are sincere.

The message is that don't give up on yourself. Keep trying. Struggle is life. Shaitan could be creative. And with the help of Allah, you will be the winner insha Allah.

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