Even non-techies like me will find something interesting about the recent move by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to create a virtual ‘red-light district’ on the internet. The idea is to assign a special .xxx domain name for websites with pornographic content so that they can be easily marked and filtered out.
Sounds like the days of accidental exposure and subsequent addiction to pornography on the internet are numbered? Think again. According to industry analysts, “only 10 percent of the adult sites on the web would adopt an .xxx domain name […] for schools, parents, and anyone else who wants to regulate how much pornography kids see online: [the development boils down to] nothing. Even some large religious groups opposed the creation of the .xxx domain, suggesting that the creation of such a domain would actually encourage online pornography.”
Those of us who live in places where online adult and inappropriate content is filtered, tend to underestimate the magnitude of the pornography problem among Muslims. A tiny indication came when a recent Google Trends survey revealed “sex” is one of the most searched words the Internet, and that the world’s most frequent digital sex searchers come from a swathe of Muslim countries – North Africa, Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and the Middle East.
Other indicators are the undocumented crises in our communities: the stifled cries of help from the increasing number of pre-teens, teens, married adults and even the elderly who have fallen prey to this addiction and find themselves without recourse. With their family and friends either recoiling in horror or withdrawing in revulsion at the prospect of dealing with such a problem, addicts find themselves locked in a Catch-22 situation. Unless someone reaches out, they are resigned to fighting the demons on their own.
One such person, who decided to reach out and help people caught in the gridlock of pornography addiction is Br. Zeyad Ramadan, a certified NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) life coach and founder of imancipate.com – a website that aims at helping Muslim families struggling with pornography.Excerpts from an online Q-A session:
On his motivation to help people:
Br. Zeyad Ramadan: The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us to help our brothers whether they are the oppressed or the oppressors. Pornography addicts are both oppressors to themselves through decisions they have made and the far-reaching consequences of their behavior, and they are also oppressed by the cruel and vicious cycle of addiction and are usually alone in this struggle.
My goal is to use my experience working with men addicted to pornography and my training as a Life Coach to facilitate the recovery of other men and women from an Islamic perspective. Because of the nature of this topic many Muslims are too shy to talk about this, but we see in the Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) how the Companions were very comfortable approaching the Prophet (peace be upon him) about anything and he responded to them in a way that was spiritually uplifting for them.
We need a different model that goes beyond saying this is Haraam (unlawful) or just pray 2 Rak’ahs (units of prayer) when you feel these urges, or that these men and women should fear Allah more. Ironically, they know that already and are looking for practical solutions.
I was very inspired by the model of Bill W. the man who founded the 12-Step programs that have helped millions of recovering addicts around the world despite not having any formal training as a physician, or psychotherapist. This gave me the motivation to go out and reach as many people as I can. I am in the midst of preparing for the first online coaching program at www.SexaulUrgeControl.com where I will be working exclusively with men looking to break free in a more in-depth setting.
On his experiences with people seeking help for their addiction:
Br. Zeyad Ramadan: I’ll share an experience that brought me to tears and was very humbling for me that I’ve shared with others: A while back, I was coaching a brother struggling with pornography and at the beginning of the call I asked him for any news he has to share with me.
So he said, “I have some good news and some bad news...
The bad news is that I relapsed while at work...
The good news is that I decided I would not let Shaitan win this time and miss Dhuhr (afternoon) and Asr (late-afternoon) prayers like I usually do when I relapse...
I decided to use the work’s shower facility during the lunch break to make Ghusl (ritual bath). Of course I had no towel with me so all I could use were the ugly brown paper towels to dry myself off. I felt so humiliated but I know I did the right thing....”
The story brought me to tears because of the amount of sincerity this brother had in trying to change and improve despite how humiliated he felt. The experience shows the human side of these men and women who are addicted – we can’t dismiss them all as perverts or evil-hearted individuals.
Of course, I’ve also had many experiences with those who refused to open up during our time together. The hardest thing to establish is the trust with the addict so they put down their psychological self-defenses and move out of denial into truthfulness and recovery.
On practical tips to fight pornography addiction:
For those who are addicted and feel like they can stop, the best advice I can give them is to remember the acronym IQRA (I Quit Recovering Alone).
The word “IQRA”, recite or to read was the first word revealed to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was actually an unlettered man all his life.
The message that Angel Gabriel was sent with on his first meeting with the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was in essence: “Recite in the Name of Your Lord, let Him teach you and guide you and you will change the course of humanity forever.”
When you think about the situation of a man or woman addicted to pornography and how they want to stop so badly but don’t know how – remember this acronym for IQRA™ - I Quit Recovering Alone.
Freedom is not gained through sheer will power alone. When left to ourselves and solving things alone – things have actually become worse and more out of control. As the popular saying goes in the 12-Step recovery programs, “Let go and let God.”
Treat addiction to pornography as a disease and get help for it and support of others and communicate with those who are struggling with this as well or have recovered. As our Prophet (peace be upon him) said there is a cure for every disease except death. There is a cure for porn addiction and it is incumbent upon you to get informed about it and take the proper steps and support to attain sobriety.
For more information visit Imancipate.com and enter your email address where you can receive videos, articles and training on how to break free from addiction to pornography. – SG