Battling Temptation - Part I
August 8, 2022
You know Ahmad, right? He’s that bro you always saw running around the masjid, coordinating events, making way for sisters, and cleaning up after everyone left. He was a prominent activist in the community, and was loved by everyone he met. The youth, especially, bonded with him, and they often sought his help with their problems—from parental control to dating or even sex and drug addictions.
At work, people knew Ahmad as the only “practicing” Muslim. He prayed openly and tried not to shake hands with women—most of them knew to keep their distance. He was quite the handsome fella though; when he’d arrive to work some of the younger ladies would nudge each other and whisper and giggle almost childishly. A few of them even wore revealing clothes and acted flirtatiously with him just to tease him. But his faith kept him resistant; he’d often explain to them the etiquettes of interaction between men and women in Islam, trying all-the-while to lower his gaze and then mind his own business.
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That worked for a while, but before he knew it, Satan had gotten the best of him; he slowly began stealing glances at them secretly every now and then. He’d catch himself and remember Allah’s words: “He sees the betrayal of the eyes, and what the hearts conceal.” He’d force himself to focus on his work again. Bit by bit, though, he started convincing himself that it’s only a glance, and at least he’s not actually doing anything wrong with them. He got comfortable with his glances, which became longer stares and full-blown visual examinations after some time.
Soon enough, he looked so frequently that even when he’d leave from work, their contours and gestures would replay in his mind. He started having lustful thoughts many times throughout the day. These feelings became stronger and stronger, until his heart became inflamed with desire, and severe longing to be with one of them. But he had enough faith and taqwa(God-consciousness) left in his heart to know that such an act would be out of the question; he would just feel too ashamed of himself before Allah to fall into such a situation.
To satisfy himself without harming anyone else or his reputation, he began spending his nights looking at porn, which eventually led him to masturbation. He’d feel so utterly disgusted and ashamed of himself afterwards, but his desires had become too intense. Soon he became addicted to the very same things he counselled the youth about! The feeling of hypocrisy ate at his heart, and he decided to isolate himself from the brothers who needed him.
After some time, he decreased much of his activism, which led him to spend more hours at work—until one day, he stayed overtime, found one of his female co-workers lingering and making advances; he froze, temptation ignited, and all hell broke loose…
You might not be “Ahmad”—or maybe you are. It might go down differently with each person, but the reality is that the temptations brothers and sisters are bombarded with at work, in the street, at the gym, on billboards, or on TV can make even the strongest and most Islamically active of them fall. If their work or activism isn’t coupled with intense spiritual fortification, they have trouble taming their desires and end up following the footsteps of Satan—who gladly traverses with them the spectrum of minor sins to the major sin of adultery, once, twice or habitually. If their heart is not hardened with sin yet, they most likely experience feelings of extreme guilt, disgust, and depression.
Some leave the jama`ah (community) out of feelings of hypocrisy, failing to see that this is Satan’s tactic to bury them in their sin even more. If they are married, their sex life with their spouses takes a hit and their wives notice that they no longer need them as much to satisfy their desires. The wives might think something is wrong with their appeal, and they might change their dress and approaches to entice their husbands, but without avail. They become pained and sad because they can’t please their husbands, not realizing that their husband’s desires are being fulfilled elsewhere.
How Do I Stop?!
Whether your struggle is at the initial stages of guarding your gaze and thoughts, or at the level of looking at porn, masturbation, or actual adultery (may Allah protect us all), these are some suggestions and tips to help in battling the temptation:
Also, when Abu Bakr (my Allah be pleased with him) asked the Prophet ﷺ for dhikr to recite in the morning and evening, he ﷺ told him to say this (learn this supplication, and say it often):
Allahumma `ālim al-ghaybi wa’l-shahādati fātir al-samāwāti wa’l-ardi rabba kulli shay’in wa malīkah; ash-hadu an lā ilāha illa ant, a`ūdhu bika min sharri nafsī, wa min sharri’l-shaytāni wa shirkih (sharakih), wa ‘an aqtarifa `ala nafsī sū’an aw ajurrahu ilā Muslim.
“O Allah, Knower of the unseen and the evident, Maker of the heavens and the earth, Lord of everything and its Possessor, I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but You. I seek refuge in You from the evil of my soul and from the evil of Satan and his helpers (or traps); and from bringing evil upon my soul and from harming any Muslim.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi)
Insha’Allah (God willing) the readers can also share their thoughts and suggestions.
May Allah purify the heart of every struggling soul and keep us all firm on the straight path. Amin!
By Hamdi Safwan