Advice On Overcoming Addiction to Pornography (and Related Addictions)
14 August, 2015
As those who have been following my blog posts will have noted, I'm making an effort to answer common questions that people ask, rather than writing the same thing to many people by email.
It pains me to say that one of the most common questions that I am asked relates to overcoming addiction to pornography and what I will politely term "related addictions". What pains me even more is that an increasing number of the people asking are women. This is something that I would never have expected - perhaps I am just very naïve.
Since it's a sensitive issue, and I really don't want to receive emails about this, I thought it best to share a few points on the blog. It's not a very nice topic, and if it doesn't apply to you, then praise Allāh that He has not tried you with that which He has tried so many of His servants.
I would suggest the following as a method to overcome these problems:
- Make du‘ā. I searched for a long time for a du‘ā to recommend from the Sunnah, and in the end the best that I can come up with is this one. All I did is to change the third person (because the Prophet ﷺ made this du‘ā for a boy who longed to commit zinā) to the first person (he -> I, him -> me), and that's as close as I can find for a du‘ā that is specific to this kind of problem. Update: I was also advised about this one.
- Realise the severity of sin in general, and the severity of this particular sin, and develop a hatred of it in your heart. Allāh has told us that the state of the rightly guided people is that they hate defiance and disobedience of Allāh. It is narrated that some of the salaf said that it is enough of a sin for a person to find pleasure in the disobedience of Allāh (I'll update this post when I find the actual quote). Reflect upon this hadeeth, and really develop a hatred of this disobedience that in time, will overcome whatever temporary pleasure that it gives. This, in itself, is a struggle, so don't expect it to be easy.
- Look at your prayer. Whenever you find yourself falling into sins that can be broadly termed as faḥshaa' - immorality - then you need to be asking yourself whether there is something missing in the prayer; missed prayers, delayed prayers, not responding to the adhaan, and prayers without concentration are all a problem. Prayer prevents immorality and wrongdoing, so if it isn't doing the job, then it's most likely not being done in the right way.
- Repent immediately upon falling into it, and try to make that repentance sincere: You are never going to do it again, and you beg Allāh to help you to achieve your aim. Yes, it is possible that you might slip and fall, but the stronger your determination is to stop it each time, the better your situation will be, and this is in accordance with that which is mentioned in this hadeeth.
- Cut off the things that lead you to falling into this sin, even if it means swapping your smart phone for an old phone, disconnecting your broadband, moving the computer into the living room, or anything else that you have to do. If you are serious about repenting, that means you're ready to take serious steps. Also consider whether you can 'opt-out' of adult content by changing settings on your computer, phoning your broadband provider, and so on. If you're worried about going back, try setting up software that blocks adult content, and paste a random password that you haven't written down. That way, you will not know the password to unlock the software. For sure, this is only a small measure, and a determined person can get past it, but the more you do, the harder it will be.
- Be around good people. These sins are sins that are almost exclusively committed alone. The less that you are alone, the better the chance of breaking the habit. Consider sharing your room, if that's an option; share your phone and computer with others, so that there is less privacy.
- Related to the previous point, if you are alone, and you fear that you will fall into sin, try to develop the habit of immediately getting out of whatever private place you are in - walk out of the room, go out of the house. It's not a substitute for fearing Allāh when you are alone, but it's a temporary measure that may just bring you back from the sin that you were intending to commit.
- Take to fasting regularly - at least twice per week, and even as much as once every other day, if required. The Prophet ﷺ described it as being something that cuts off desire, so it is well worth incorporating fasting into the overall solution.
- If you feel that this issue is connected to the jinn, start by implementing the 7 day programme, and then moving onto the full ruqyah programme. I rarely find that these issues are exclusively caused by the jinn, except in the most extreme cases. For most people, the jinn will be simply taking advantage of your own desires, so you will need to fight those desires, as well as treating the jinn problem.
- This video covers the issue in a lot more detail.
- If you fall down and slip, then get right back up again, go back to point number one, and persevere.
Some might say, 'Why didn't you mention marriage?' The answer is that for most of the people who ask me these questions, it's either not an option for them at this time, or they are already married and suffering with the addiction. I'm not sure that marriage is a one-stop cure, unless it is also accompanied by some or all of the points mentioned above.
Allāh knows best.