Guarding Chastity and Staying away from adultery (Zina)

 

      عن أبي هُريْرةَ رضي اللَّه عنْهُ عنِ النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قَال: « كُتِبَ على ابْنِ آدَمَ نَصِيبُهُ مِنَ الزِّنَا مُدْرِكٌ ذَلِكَ لا مَحَالَةَ: العَيْنَانِ زِنَاهُمَا النَّظَرُ، والأُذُنَانِ زِنَاهُما الاسْتِماعُ، واللِّسَانُ زِنَاهُ الكَلامُ، وَاليَدُ زِنَاهَا البَطْشُ، والرِّجْلُ زِنَاهَا الخُطَا، والقَلْب يَهْوَى وَيَتَمنَّى، ويُصَدِّقُ ذَلِكَ الفَرْجُ أوْ يُكَذِّبُهُ» .  متفقٌ عليه.

       Narrated Abu Hurairah -may God be pleased with him- that the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “God has written for the son of Adam his share of adultery which he commits inevitably. The adultery of the eye is looking (at something which is sinful to look at), the adultery of the ear is listening (to something which is forbidden), the adultery of the tongue is speaking (to an unrelated woman unnecessarily), the adultery of the hand is the lustful grip, and the adultery of the feet is walking (to a place where he intends to commit adultery). The heart or inner-self wishes and desires, while the private parts fulfill that wish or refrain from it.”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim.

 

In the above narration, the two main types of adultery or fornication (Zina) are mentioned: I) The major adultery (of private parts), and II) the smaller adultery (of other limbs), including: adultery of the eye, the mouth, the ears, the hand, and the feet.  The major type is worse and has the most severe punishment.  The smaller types of adultery have negative consequences and may lead to the major type and therefore are forbidden as well.

The question then is: How can a Muslim guard himself against any form of adultery? How can the Muslim guard his chastity (iffah) during these times of trials and tribulations?

There are thirteen ways to guard chastity and keep away from all types of Zina (adultery or fornication).  They are:

First, Strengthen your Faith (Iman):

The believer must have strong faith to resist temptations and Satan.  Faith (Iman) is firm belief in God, His word and commandments in Divine books, His angels, His Messengers, His Decree and Destiny, and the Day of Judgment.

When the Muslim realizes that this life is temporary and there is another permanent life  to come after death, his heart attains a strong sense of faith in God and His promise.  Thus, the Muslim starts preparing for the final day and the Promised Hour by trying his best to obey God’s commands. The Muslim gets ready for the life to come by obeying God and doing righteous.

The Muslim performs all the orders commanded by God such as praying, fasting, giving the obligatory charity (zakah), performing Hajj, being kind to parents and to people, and all kinds of good.  The Muslim also tries to avoid everything forbidden by God, so the Muslim refrains from all sins including adultery, stealing, murder, backbiting, harming others in any way, and any other sins.

These acts of worship in turn strengthen the Muslim’s faith and create in him an inner spiritual strength with which he can resist temptation and fight off Satan’s enticement.

Second, Mention God when Satan Whispers to you: 

Whenever you conceive of an evil idea, know that it is from Satan or the Evil-Tempting Self.  Satan wants to mislead the son of Adam and takes him to Hell-fire where Satan will reside eternally. Therefore, Satan looks for every opportunity to whisper and suggest to man to do all kinds of evil, hoping he will follow his path of damnation and bad ending.  But the Almighty God has warned us that Satan is our enemy, so we should treat him as such.  And whenever Satan suggests something to us, we should seek refuge with God, by praying Him to protect us against Satan and the evil-inclined Self or by reading Qur’an.  God -the Exalted- says:

 {وَقُلْ رَبِّ أَعُوَذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ رَبِّ أَنْ يَحْضُرُونِ}

(And say: “My Lord, I seek refuge with You from the whisperings of the Satan. And I seek refuge with You, My Lord, lest they should come near me”) (surah 23, verse 97).

Third, Ponder upon the Reality of Sinful Pleasures:

Sinful pleasures are temporary things that one enjoys for one hour, but regrets and may suffer negative consequences for days and weeks afterwards–sometimes even years. The wise Muslim considers the consequences of actions before he does anything, while the ignorant does things and then suffers the bad consequences.

Thus, the sensible Muslim must think of the bad effects of all types of zina (adultery) and how they lead to family disunity, health problems and collapse of morality and spread of evil in society, and thus he tries to avoid them.

Fourth, Strengthen your Sense of Shyness and Shamefulness (Haya’):

The Muslim must feel shy of God, the Lord of the Universe.  The Muslim must realize that God the Almighty is watching him all the time. Then let the Muslim pay attention to that, and respect and glorify God as He should. The Muslim should avoid any unnecessary interaction with unrelated people and consider it unlawful or haram. And the Muslim woman should look after her hijab and should guard herself.

The Muslim should not allow Satan a chance to mislead him by indulging in the smaller types of adultery (zina) and thinking that the zina of the other limbs is not as bad as the major type (of the private parts).  Rather, Satan is looking for any chance to attack, and will lead him/her there eventually, if not in action then in effect and bad consequences!  May God protect us.

Fifth, Early Marriage:

Islam has encouraged early marriage for both men and women.  Marriage is the best way to overcome the urges of the self.  Now, we see many people not following this Sunnah and delaying marriage until a late age.  If someone is married, he should ensure that he continues to interact with his spouse, for example by arranging for a dinner with his wife or taking his family for a picnic, in order to overcome any bad thoughts he may have.

Sixth, Fasting:

Those who cannot afford marriage should fast and keep busy with Din. When the Muslim fasts and stops eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, his desires weaken and he then stays away from adultery.

Moreover, fasting is a discipline or religious training for the Muslim to hold himself and refrain from eating and drinking first, and in the process learns to hold himself and refrain from temptations and from any form of adultery.

Seventh, Stay in the company of Righteous People:

God the Almighty says:

{يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ} سورة التوبة، 119.

{O you who believe, fear God and be with the truthful} surah 9, verse 119.

Thus the Muslim must select good company just like he selects good food.  The Muslim should know that good company has good effects on him, just like bad company has bad effects on him.  The Muslim should associate only with righteous people, and should avoid the company of evil people who may lead him astray.

Eighth, Restrict your Time on the Internet and Social Media:

Only use the internet and mobile phone when you need something in particular.  Don’t spend your free time on the internet.  This is a door for Satan, and the more time you spend there, the more opportunity you give Satan and the Evil-Tempting Self to attack.

The main reason for many types of zina (adultery) is the free access to the internet and mobile phones 24 hours and aimless free time. Thus the Muslim must restrict his access to the internet and only use it when he needs something in particular.

Ninth, Watch your Children:

Children should never be allowed to use the internet without supervision.  The parents are responsible for their children and will be asked about them on the Day of Judgment.  Thus the parents should be careful and never let their children use the internet alone. The parents should always make sure the children use the internet in the same room with them. Also periodically check their emails and other communication.

As their guardian, on the Day of Judgment, parents will be asked about their children’s actions.  If they go astray and do bad things because of the internet, then the parents share in the sin too!  Therefore, the parents should be careful and watch out for this emerging evil.

Tenth, Think of the Punishment of All Types of adultery (Zina):

The purpose of this life is to worship God and please Him, and then get His reward and Paradise.  The Muslim should avoid anything that leads to the anger of God or His displeasure.  God the Almighty has described adultery or fornication (zina) as an ugly, indecent and hateful act, so the Muslim must dislike all forms of zina and stay away from them.  The Muslim should think of the consequences of adultery or fornication (zina) in this life and the Hereafter.  It is observed that all types of zina (adultery) lead to poverty, loss of health, wealth, family, and friends.  All types of zina lead to anxiety, depression, and darkening of face and heart.  And severe punishment in the grave and Hell is promised to those who engage in zina, and less severe for those who engage in the other types of zina.

Eleventh, Think of the Reward of Avoiding All Types of adultery (Zina): 

As mentioned in the hadith, any Muslim who declines the seduction of a beautiful woman (or a woman who declines the call of a handsome man) will rest under the Shade of the Throne on the Day of Judgment when the sun will be one mile away and people will be in distress because of the heat.

In Qur’an, God the Almighty has promised great reward both in this life and the Hereafter for those who guard their chastity and stay away from all types of zina.  May God keep us safe.

The Prophet has guaranteed Paradise for those who preserve their tongues and guard their chastity:

    عن سَهْلِ بنِ سعْدٍ رضي الله عنه قَال: قَال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « مَنْ يَضْمَنْ لِي مَا بَيْنَ لَحْيَيْهِ وَمَا بَيْنَ رِجْلَيْهِ أَضْمَنْ لَهُ الجَنَّة» . متفقٌ عليهِ.

    Narrated Sahl Ibn Sa’d -may Allah be pleased with him- that Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “Whoever can guarantee me (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him.”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Twelveth, Repentance and Asking God for Forgiveness (Tawba and Istighfar): 

As the hadith above mentions, all people may commit some form of zina (adultery).  But the Muslim must repent as soon as possible and ask God for forgiveness.  Let the Muslim never despair of the mercy of God, but let him also seek God’s pleasure and resolve to stay away from all forms of zina, indecent acts and all sins.

The Muslim must frequently ask God for forgiveness (Istighfar).  Every time the Muslim man or woman comes across something haram, then s/he should make Istighfar immediately.

And if the Muslim slipped and committed any of these sins, then let him repent soon and do good deeds in repentance, as God the Almighty says: {Verily, good deeds do away with the misdeeds. That is a reminder for the mindful} (Surah 11, verse 114).  Then let him/her read Qur’an, give in charity, make Dhikr, serve his parents, help his Muslim brothers, or do any other good deed.

Finally, Thirteenth, Pray and Supplicate to God (Du’a):

The Muslim should always pray God the Almighty to keep him/her safe and away from all forms of zina (adultery).  The Muslim should pray God to keep him firm during the times of fitan.  The Muslim should also pray God to keep the Muslim nation safe and preserve it from all types of zina.

     قال الله تعالى: { وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ}، البقرة 186.

      God the Almighty says in Qur’an: {And when My servants ask you (O Muhammad, concerning Me, then answer them), I am indeed near (to them). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me (by obedience) and believe in Me, so that they may be guided} (Surah 2, verse 186).

 

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True Shyness: Haya’

 

In today’s world, the term ‘shyness’ sounds almost strange and invokes negative connotations for many people.  A shy person is seen as socially deficient and is encouraged to shed that shyness away. But in Islam, moral shyness is a commendable trait and a sought after characteristic. This is shown in the following hadith:

عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما أن رسولَ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم مَرَّ عَلَى رَجُلٍ مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُ أَخَاهُ في الحَيَاءِ، فَقَالَ رسُولُ اللَّه صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « دَعْهُ فإِنَّ الحَيَاءَ مِنَ الإِيمانِ».  رواه البخاري ومسلم.

Narrated Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him and his father: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ passed by a man of the Ansar who was admonishing his brother regarding shyness (haya’) [discouraging him from being excessively shy].  So the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

‘Leave him, for shyness (haya’) is part of Faith.’ ”

(Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Let us consider this moral shyness (as opposed to social shyness) and the reasons for its high regard in Islam.

The celebrated hadith scholar Ibn Hajr Al-‘Asqalani mentioned in his book Fath al-Bari (Grant of the Creator: A Commentary on Sahih Al-Bukhari):

“Shyness in linguistic terms is a change and embarrassment that comes over the person for fear of being criticized or exposed.

In religious terms, shyness is a characteristic that prompts one to avoid bad deeds and prevents him from neglecting the rights of others.  Shyness is part of faith because it induces righteous deeds and prevents misdeeds.”

Thus, Allama Ibn Hajr explained the reasons that Islam places such emphasis on this trait. Moral shyness is a trait that prompts one to stay away from shameful acts by him or herself, let alone in front of others.  And committing such acts before others leads to an even greater level of shamefulness.  Such a trait only leads to increased Iman, because moral shyness in this case prevents the Muslim from committing shameful acts and encourages him or her to avoid sins and misdeeds. Therefore, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ described shyness as being part of Faith.

The Prophet ﷺ further explained the meaning of shyness in this Hadith:

عن عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « اسْتَحْيُوا مِنَ اللَّهِ حَقَّ الْحَيَاءِ»، قال قلنا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّا ‏نَسْتَحْيِي وَالحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، قال: « لَيْسَ ذَاكَ، وَلَكِنَّ الإِسْتِحْيَاءَ مِنَ اللَّهِ حَقَّ الحَيَاءِ أَنْ تَحْفَظَ الرَّأْسَ وَمَا وَعَى، وَالبَطْنَ وَمَا حَوَى، ‏وَلْتَذْكُرِ المَوْتَ وَالبِلَى وَمَنْ أَرَادَ الآخِرَةَ تَرَكَ زِينَةَ الدُّنْيَا فَمَنْ فَعَلَ ذَلِكَ فَقَدِ اسْتَحْيَا مِنَ اللَّهِ حَقَّ الحَيَاءِ» .  رواه الترمذي وأحمد والحاكم والبيهقي.

Narrated Abdullah bin Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Feel shy of Allah as is His due.’  We replied: ‘O Messenger of Allah, Praise be to Allah, we do feel shy.’  He said: ‘Not that, but it is to guard the head and what it holds and the belly and what it contains, and to remember the graves and the decay.  Whoever seeks the Hereafter, then he should leave the adornment of the worldly life.  Whoever does all of that, then he has fulfilled the shyness that is due to Allah.’ ”  (Related by Al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Al-Hakim, and Al-Bayhaqi)

Thus, the concept of shyness in Islam is deep and involves other aspects as well.  Shyness is not only a trait that makes the Muslim loathe shameful acts and stay away from them, but it also involves observing Allah’s obligations and limits in everything and feeling conscious and guilty when any of them are violated or broken.

The Muslim should have a sense of shyness before his Lord who is observing him at all times. Just like a child who acts in the best terms under the supervision of a disciplinary father, the Muslim should have this sense of being watched by Allah all the time and should feel shy of breaking His rules or violating His rights. This sense of shyness then leads the Muslim to the obedience of his Lord and to an increase in piety and faith.  Therefore, the Prophet  described shyness as being part of faith.

Finally, we can see great examples of true shyness in the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and his companions. Among his companions, Uthman Ibn Affan was especially well-known for his shyness, to the extent that even the angels felt shy of him!

Uthman Ibn Affan’s moral shyness contributed to his level of Iman and high status in this nation, as shown in the following hadith:

عن عائشة رضي اللَّه عنها ‏قالت: كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم مُضْطَجِعًا في بيتي كاشِفًا عن فَخِذَيْهِ ‏أو ساقَيْهِ، فاستأذنَ أبو بكرٍ ‏فَأَذِنَ له وهو على تلك الحالِ فَتَحَدَّثَ، ثم اسْتَأْذنَ عمرُ ‏فَأَذِنَ لَهُ وهو كذلكَ فَتَحَدَّثَ، ثم استأذنَ عثمانُ فَجَلَسَ رسولُ اللَّهِ ‏صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم ‏وسَوَّى ثِيَابَهُ -‏ قَال ‏محمَّد: ولا أقولُ ذلكَ في يومٍ واحدٍ- ‏فدخلَ فَتَحَدَّثَ، فلمَّا خَرَجَ قالتْ ‏عائشةُ: ‏دخلَ أبو بكرٍ ‏فلمْ ‏تَهْتَشَّ ‏لهُ ولم تُبَالِهِ، ‏ثم دخلَ عمرُ فلم ‏تَهْتَشَّ ‏له ولم تُبَالِهِ، ‏ثم دخلَ ‏عثمانُ ‏فَجَلَسْتَ وسَوَّيْتَ ثِيَابَكَ؟ فقالَ: ‏« ‏أَلَا أَسْتَحِي مِنْ رَجُلٍ تَسْتَحِي مِنْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ». رواه مسلم.

Narrated Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was lying in bed in my house with his thigh or his legs uncovered.  Abu Bakr sought permission to come in. The Prophet ﷺ gave him permission to enter, and conversed with him while he was in the same state (the Prophet’s thigh or leg uncovered). Then Umar sought permission to come in and it was given to him and he conversed in the same state. Then Uthman sought permission to come in; the Messenger of Allah ﷺ sat down and set right his clothes.  [Muhammad (one of the narrators) said: I do not say that it happened only once]. Uthman then entered and conversed.  After Uthman left, Aisha inquired from the Prophet ﷺ: ‘Abu Bakr entered and you did not stir and did not observe much care (in arranging your clothes), then Umar entered and you did not stir and did not arrange your clothes, then Uthman entered and you sat down and set your clothes right?’  Thereupon the Prophet ﷺ said:

‘Indeed, should I not feel shy of a person of whom even the angels feel shy.’ ”

(Related by Muslim)

In our day and age, we face serious challenges in preserving our Din and the Din of our children. Knowing the strong link between haya’ and Iman should instill in us the importance of actively preserving our haya’: keeping our haya’ is among the most important keys to maintaining our Faith.