Ethics In Islam

Sexual Morality


            In the previous article under the heading of 'Good Character,' the purity of heart and mind - known as 'Taqwa' and the purification of the human body, known as 'Taharat', have been dealth with. In the present issue, the purity of sexual habits - known as 'Pakdamani', is being presented from the point of view of Islam.

            Before we delve into the details, it would not be out of place to observe that the views of various religions and groups of the world, on this subject, are dissimilar from each other and, in some cases, contrary to the one expressed by Islam. In order to assess the truth, it is always necessary to scrutinise the real purpose of what has been preached, and practised in accordance with it by various religions. It is not 'Conventional Morality' vis-à-vis sex we have to consider; it is the morals that are intended. Consequently, we would, first of all, present the Islamic point of view and then those of others. It will be possible for the reader then, to himself come to the right conclusion.

I. The purpose of life set out by Islam:-

  1. Man has been sent into this world in order that he may acquire the knowledge of Allaah as also to accept the authority of Prophets. This is known as 'Aqaed'.

  2. Man has been given various needs and desires. However limits have been set out for these needs and desires, although man has been given the power to observe or to reject these limits. This is known as 'Amal'.

  3. When a man has been given this power to exercise, he is to perforce assess his actions as also to see how far he can go and yet be within the limits set out by Islam. This is known as 'Ehtesab' - which literally means: 'To take account'. This is also related with 'Yom-ud-din', known to all as 'the Day of Judgment'.

  4. When accounting becomes inevitable, its natural outcome would be the reward and punishment (Jaza wa saza) for virtue and vice 'Hus-no-qubah'.

II. The purpose of life set out by religions other than Islam:-

            Here, first of all, we would like to state that we are not taking Christianity and Judaism as the other religions for comparison, since both of these are monotheistic, as much as Islam itself is. We would like to cite Hinduism - our immediate neighbour with whom Islam has now lived for a thousand years or more and has, in fact, made serious inroads into it - Buddhism, Taoism, Confuciunism and Shintoism - all of which are ancient religions.

  1. They have no answer to the question: Why has man come into this world?

  2. They have no dogma and, therefore, human life is almost utterly without any discipline or order.

  3. There is no Day of Judgment (Yom-ud-din) in any one of them. Some believe in reincarnation (Tanasukh) and, as much, continuity of time, while others believe in the stoppage of time as soon as life ceases to be.

  4. With most of them, hell and heaven do not exist. Hinduism, however, accepts the concept of both these without really believing in them, particularly because when the soul already suffers changing from one life to another, there is no need for hell and, vice versa, for heaven.

III. Morality vis-à-vis sex:-

            We now have a somewhat clear picture as to what some religions believe in relation to Islam. We would now like to define what is Islam's point of view about morality vis-à-vis sex. It is simply that man should use sexual desires entirely within the limits set out by Islam. The question now arises as to what is the purpose of God, by giving man the sexual desire? It cannot be anything but to generate and keep mankind preserved by perpetuation. Consequently, we should bear in mind, once and for all, that the purpose of sexual desire is not merely lust and orgies, to indulge in all its forms, as was done in the times of ancient Greeks and Hindus as has been revived again in our times, in certain quarters. It has now transpired in certain societies that woman is the axis of all activities.

IV. Purpose of woman in Islam:-

            The primary purpose of a woman in Islam is to become a mother - as indeed is the purpose of nature. Besides, she is also to be a faithful and dutiful wife. The orders of life, between Islam and other religions, in regard to sex are very different and, in some cases, completely and diabolically opposite. The reason for this is the different outlook between them, enumerated above. Since Islam ordains regimentation in sexual life, man is due to receive the rewards of this in life after death. Islam has forbidden its followers to practice any obscenity. In fact it stipulates such rigid conditions in this regard that lust, fornication and adultery are completely forbidden. Besides, God has endowed different communities and races with different qualities and abilities. If man were to proliferate as animals do, the qualities and abilities endowed to one or the other race or group, would be lost. Only if man is to accept the limitations imposed by Islam can mankind be preserved. Indeed, otherwise man would be no better than animals. Who would claim that man's purpose in life is to become an animal? Islam, alone, sets out such limits which help man to remain himself.

            We would now like to bring to the attention of our readers the fact that in all the desires man has been endowed with, sexual passion is the strongest and, consequently, the most difficult to control. Sexual passion often overwhelms the mind. It is quite true to say that in the desire for lust, man can become blind, although the purpose of sex by nature, and indeed by Islam, is no other than to generate life with a view to perpetuate.

            The Qur'aan says, time and again, that man should control the desire for extra-marital sex by the fear of God. There is indeed no doubt that desire for such sex, whenever man has opportunities, can be controlled by the fear of God. Consequently, it is evident that whoever gives vent to the desire for extra-martial sex, had no fear of God; without the fear of God, man can only continue to become no more than an animal.

            God has said in Qur'aan:

"Whosoever has feared God and has not defied him and has controlled his sexual passions is indeed worthy of entry to heaven." (S. 79: 40-41)

            The Kind Prophet has also said:

'Oh followers of Islam, if you should give me guarantee of the following six, I can guarantee you the entry into heaven:-

  1. Whenever you discourse, avoid telling lies.

  2. If somebody has left something with you in trust, do not betray the trust.

  3. If you have promised something, make sure that you do not contravene the promise.

  4. Keep your eyes below - meaning do not look at other women (Namehram) with lust.

  5. Prevent your hands from exercising oppression upon others.

  6. Preserve your fidelity and conceal your genitals."

The End





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