The Prevalence of Pornography and its Effects on Muslim Students. How can Islamic Education handle this Topic?

Master's Thesis, 2019

79 Pages, Grade: 65


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Emergence of Pornography
1.2 Motivations, Aims, and Objectives
1.3 Research Questions and Hypothesis
1.4 General Methodology
1.5 Limitations

Chapter 2: Literature Review: Pornography in Classical and Modern Islamic Scholarship
2.1 Introduction
2. 1 Classical Scholars
2.1.1. Islamic Perspective on Chastity, Unlawful Sex, and Pornography
2.2 Terminology of Pornography: Fuhsha, Munkar, and Baghi
2.3 Fatawas of Modern Muslim Scholars
2.4 Pornography in the Digital Age
2.5 Conclusion

Chapter 3: Methodology and Methods
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research Methodology and Research Methods
3.3 Research Designs
3.4 Research Strategy
3.5 Sources of Data
3.6 Interviews and Questionnaires
3.7 Sampling
3.8 Data Analysis (procedure and analytical plan)
3.9 Ethics
3.10 Conclusion

Chapter 4: Interview Analysis
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Interview Analysis
4.2.1. Participant Profiling
4.3 Approaches in Dealing with Pornography
4.5 Staying Safe Online
4.6 Efforts in Making the Awareness of Negativities of Pornography
4.7 Effectiveness of Existing Methods in Tackling Pornography
4.8 Conclusion

Chapter 5: Questionnaire Analysis: Descriptive and Inferential Statistics 41
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The Demographic Profile
5.3 Awareness of Muslim Youth regarding Pornography
5.4 Conscious about Watching Pornography
5.5 Perception of Guidance on Pornography
5.6 Inferential Statistical Analysis: Cross Referencing amongst the Independent Variables
5.7 Conclusion

Chapter 6: Discussion of Findings
6.1. Introduction
6.2 Contextualisation of Findings from Literature Review and Empirical Chapters
6.3. Conclusion

Chapter 7: Summary and Conclusion
7.1 Summary and Reflections on Research Findings
7.2 New Way Forward with Pornography
7.3 Recommendation through Reflecting on the Results




I wish to express my sincere appreciation to those who have contributed to this dissertation and supported me throughout this journey. First of all, I am grateful to all lecturers and staff members for their helpful guidance, suggestions, brainstorming sessions, and providing me with numerous opportunities to learn.

A very special thanks to all my participants who have made efforts and taken their time to participate in my survey and interview. Without them, it would have been impossible to attain invaluable insights and useful discussions for this study.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge my parents and siblings, who have been a constant source of my strength and inspiration. Words cannot express the feelings I have for my loved ones for their constant unconditional emotional and intellectual support. Their constant encouragement is the reason that ultimately made it possible for me to see this project through to the end.


The classical scholarship (Qur’an and Hadith) offers an opportunity to speak about sex-related topics. Whereas in the contemporary era, modern Islamic scholarships (fatwas) mostly contains copied information from classical texts based on limited solutions. Shari’ah scholars and Muslim teachers use fatwas to tackle porn addiction whilst not being productive in spreading awareness of pornography that could fit within the Islamic educational studies. Failure in providing solid Islamic pornographic rehabilitations and disfavouring to speak openly on pornography does not stop the prevalence within Muslim communities. So, the purpose of this study was to explore the prevalence of pornography, its effect on Muslim students, and how this can be dealt with accordingly. The mix-methods research (interview: case study and survey: numerical data) shows that both male and female view pornography regardless being aware of the prohibitions, resulting Muslims to likely engage in maladaptive behaviours such as pornography that slowly affects their spirituality, religiosity, and wellbeing (Ademola,2017). The study, therefore, suggests alternative awareness curricula and an up-to-date Islamic therapy to support Muslims to overcome the struggles of the contemporary era that welcomes explicit sexual and pornographic practice that is often too tempting to resist. So, dealing with pornography in accordance with today’s context perhaps will diminish the statistical rate of Muslim pornographic consumers.

Keywords: fatwa; pornography; Muslim students; Islamic education; sexuality; nudity; Shari’ah scholars and teachers.

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Emergence of Pornography

The researcher’s preference of choosing to study pornography is much linked to the movement towards increasing nudity, promiscuity, erotic advertisements, and prostitution at the street corner that has degraded love into erotica and erotica into pornography. This modernisation of mass media takes a brutal approach, encouraging a new way of thinking and rejects traditional norms and contests Islamic principles. It is concerning progress that negates sexual prohibitions and emancipates women to the extent where Muslims often lose their dignity and morality. This is a sensitive matter that needs to be spoken about as Muslims are exposed to pornography.

Pornography is an explicit sexual depiction that tends the arouse the sexual interest of both men and women (Tarrant,2016). The first notion most Muslims have when they think of pornography is sex tapes or audios, however, pornography takes many forms and it is not just sexually explicit videos. In the ancient era, pornography was more depicted in arts, whereas today, the world of popular culture and pornography are linked together (Paul,2005;2007:4-6). This study will look more into the pornography that is depicted in popular culture due to the abolition of modesty through mass media and the technological advancement in the 21st Century.

Since the ancient civilisations, many people have created explicit depictions of human nudity in paintings, music, poetries, murals, artefacts, and sculptures. The nudity of human private parts in their artwork was often intertwined with ideas about sexuality or religion (Tarrant,2016). For example, during Egypt’s Ramesside (1292-1075bce), The Turin Erotic Papyrus depicted explicit erotic acts; the Kama Sutra, an ancient erotic Sanskrit literature includes illustration, poetry, prose, and advice as guidelines for sex; the existence of first lesbian erotic poetry, called Sappho's Hymn to Aphrodite in 600bc; and the Peruvian Moche pottery between 100ce–800ce (Tarrant,2016:11). Such expressions of sexuality were seen as human nature, enjoyable, and healthy fact of life with no indication or less muddled by shyness, regret, or repressive feelings towards themselves or others (Kendrick,1996:34).

During the Victorian age (1837-1909), pornography began to flourish despite the taboos on sexual matters that were characteristics of that time (Mackey,2002; Jenkins,2019). Years later, the people of the upper-class believed that the lower-class people would stop working productively through pornography. Henceforth, in 1857, England passed a law forbidden the distribution and sale of obscene products and many males and females were forced into chastity (Tarrant,2016:14). However, the distribution of obscene product did not stop but continues which is evident from the event in 1964, where the Supreme Court of United States faced controversies over a French movie The Lovers by Louis Malle’s that violated the First Amendment Prohibition Act (Tarrant,2016:3). This Act in the United States courts is derived from the Obscene Publication Act in British law adopted in 1857, also known as Lord Campbell’s Act – allowing police to search premises, seize any shipments or mailings, and prosecute of obscene publications kept for distribution or sale (Roberts,1985). However, the law was often criticised for reducing literary standards and prosecution against authors, filmmakers, actors, and booksellers (Mackey,2002:14-20).1

In 1870-80, a significant periodical epoch The Pearl arose, which contained graphic descriptions of sexual activity in poems, novels, books, crude jokes, and magazines. Also, an extensive amount of erotic literature where published, such as the famous anonymous autobiography called My Secret Life (1890), which described sexual experiences and development in Victorian England (Tarrant,2016). Since then the Obscene Publication Act was amended in 1959, few years before the golden era of porn (the 1960s) – the amended Act provides the following: (i) no prosecution if the publication was in interest of learning, literature, art, or science; (ii) opinion of experts as to the of scientific, artistic, or literary of publications may be accepted as evidence; (iii) work needs to be read as a whole; and (iv) authors and publishers may also speak in defence of the work (Gov.UK,1959-Chapter;66-8). Whereas, Kendrick argues that, “art cannot be classified as pornography and pornography is not art” (1996:188). However, the outcome of this change induced the Catholic Church to abolish the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1966 (Tarrant,2016:3-12). Likewise, in 1977, The Obscene Publication Act allowed distribution of pornographic films (Mackey,2002). Although, possession, distribution, and production of pornographic material are illegalised in many countries under statutes dealing with obscenity. Yet, many European countries legalised pornography, that was deemed as criminal act many centuries ago (Jenkins,2019).

Hitherto, there were several debates around what really defines pornography in courts like the Supreme Court of Ohio. After several debates, it is concluded that the general definition of pornography is visual depiction that intends to sexually arouse viewers through magazines, photos, adult Television channels, or VHS movies (Tarrant,2016:3). In today’s context, pornography refers to online sex videos as a source of masturbatory material or sexual arousal for both men and women. Depending on the individual perspective of pornography, some believe that songs, romantic novels, poems, fiction movies, or animal sex are pornographic (Tarrant,2016:4) as the earliest examples of pornography. The technological development and innovation in the future may alter how these pornographic depictions are delivered and perceived by consumers (Tarrant,2016). However, pornography is more than that and within different social context certain sexual depictions may not be considered as pornography and for others, like most Muslims, such erotic depictions may be objectionable (Jenkins,2019).

Ever since the rise of pornography through modern innovation and technology, such as playboy magazine’s first launched in 1953; first Victoria Secret catalogues in 1977; and the first-ever 24/7 MTV music video Television channel to satisfy acculturated or primal desires, while making sexuality as commodity and earnings (De Groot,2009:11). Furthermore, in the 1990s, when the internet (HTML) was discovered by Tim Berners-Lee, the use of the pornographic industry became more profitable on the internet using webcams and children’s online game websites to fascinate diverse range of people. After launching smartphones in the year 2000, the use of pornography (Pornhub) increased since it is easily accessible from any country. In modern days, pornographic movies, such as the Hollywood movie Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) can be easily viewed in UK cinemas, YouTube, Netflix, and other online free movie websites. Similar to, scandalous music videos that can be watched from every corner in the world via mobile phones, television channels (indoor and outdoor), and through watching videos on YouTube using personal or public laptops or computers. This all is very much part of the contemporary popular culture that is around one particular activity – sex – and it demonstrates the extraordinary and complexity of the past that has permeated the present (De Groot,2009:10-11). This demonstrates that morality slowly fades away as humans enter the new era – the contemporary phenomena is not only about selling sex but recording, sharing and selling nakedness. For this reason, according to Kendrick (1996:158), the history of pornography in the 21st Century has been a frustrating endeavour in separating the valuable from the worthless. This, unfortunately, increased the challenges around many cultural concepts of sex appeal and beauty among many people (Jenkins, 2019).

In short, the definition of pornography and its historical rise fits well into Lynn Hunt’s (1996) framework of pornography that consists of three main elements: (i) visual or written representation of sexualised body parts or sexual behaviour; (ii) intending to violate widely accepted taboos and morals; and (iii) objective to arouse sexual feelings. Although the existence of nudity was prevalent before Christ and characterised as a customary belief of the ancient civilisations – due to the gradual shift of the countries in the West and the civilizational positions, nudity is now part of selling morality, opposing religion, and way of making earnings.

1.2 Motivations, Aims, and Objectives

1.2.1. Motivations

This section discusses three main factors that motivate the research undertaken in this Master dissertation. First, there is a dearth of studies specifically on pornography during the classical Islamic era, which is further studied in the classical period section in the literature review. Prior to Islam and Christianity, access to global communication technology such as mobile phones, webcams, and the internet was not available. Hence, discussions were not around pornography rather issues around zinah (fornication or adultery) and nakedness was taken into account. Today we rarely find any classical scholarships on pornography resulting in awkward and uneasy feeling among several Muslims to deal and resolve with Muslim porn addiction.

Second, there is no known published record of pornographic consumption among Muslim students in Britain, even though it has become a widespread epidemic within many Muslim communities (Gulamhusein,2018:3). The porn industry is profiting on the ambivalence of pornographic viewers, who allow themselves to be manipulated to remain porn addicts and this feeds off the insecurities of both men and women. The world-system is often based on brainwashing people through consumerism and equally, Muslims are responsible for chasing desires that corrupt the mind and soul since humans are individually responsible for creating a life of dignity. Although the existence of Muslim porn viewers is visibly hidden, it is difficult for them to seek support as they feel that they would be judged by their own community members and never understood by someone who did not understand their religion or culture (Gulamhusein,2018:2). Hence, this study explores positions taken by modern Muslim scholars’ fatawas on pornography to recognise the permissible bounds in Islam, because some Muslim pornography viewer’s choice to remain silent and do not seek help.

Third, there is a need to enhance the relevance awareness of different forms of pornography among Muslim communities in Britain - previously discussed in the section on the emergence of pornography. It is necessary to understand that young Muslim generations do not spend a lot of time in their homes and integrate with people who hold different values, which is great. However, actions that may combat Islamic principles or good morality can be problematic for many Muslims. Therefore, Muslim scholars, teachers, and carers need to deliver sessions on pornography in the light of Islam to the Muslim youth. Currently, the exposure to nudity is explicit, which has changed ideas of many Muslim teenagers around sexuality, marital relationships, personal satisfaction, and many other factors that are further discussed in the section on efforts of Shari’ah scholars and teachers in creating awareness.

1.2.2. Aims

Since the motivation for this research comes from the need of the Muslim community to respond to their religious duties regarding pornography. The aims are directed to fulfil the following: (i) to critically analyse the development of pornography across centuries and the scholarly opinions on the issues of pornography; (ii) to conceptualise the impact of pornography on behaviours, and (iii) to propose the new discourse in Islamic education which will tackle the challenges of pornography among Muslims.

1.2.3. Objectives

In light of the provided aims, the following objectives are set up for this research: (i) providing the fiqhi understanding of pornography from both classical and modern Islamic scholarships; (ii) establishing new techniques for tackling impact of widely available pornography; and (iii) proposing the new comprehensive solutions for protection of Muslim youth from pornography.

1.3 Research Questions and Hypothesis

1.3.1. Research Questions

There is great importance in dealing with emerging problems such as pornography, determining its negative impact and its consequences on Muslims in their daily life. Based on this, the research investigates whether the classical texts of Islamic scholarship adequately respond to the emerging questions of the modern society with regards to pornography and whether the institute of Islamic education can more precisely tackle its impact on Muslims. In this regard, the research tries to answer the following direct questions:

i. What are the efforts of Sunni Shari’ah scholars and teachers to make awareness of the negative implications of pornography as articulated in classical and modern Islamic scholarships?
ii. What are the implications for Muslims by watching pornography?

1.3.2. Hypothesis

The proposed hypothesis aims to help disprove, explain, defend, support, or argue against the dissertation statement to predict the relationship between variables (Bryman and Bell,2011). There are various studies that show the positive and negative impact of pornography, but rarely focused or referred to the Muslim community. There is limited evidence on the use of pornography and its effects of sexual behaviours on Muslim students. Therefore, the suggested hypotheses of this research play a vital role during statistical procedures used to determine the probability of the given hypothesis being false or true and to address the research questions. Although many scholars like Zar (1984), Bryman (2008), and Good (2000) have varied explanations for the significance of hypothesis testing, they all agree that hypothesis testing is a crucial and inevitable stage of the study.

The hypotheses of this study taken from previous studies and researchers own initiatives are: (i) the Muslim community taught inadequate awareness on pornography to the Muslim youth in Britain; (ii) watching pornography helped Muslim males to understand sexuality more than it helped Muslim females; and (iii) the nakedness on cyberspace in the 21st Century equally damages the quality of life among Muslim males and females.

1.4 General Methodology

The general methodology of this study uses a mix-method methodology and phenomenological study to find out the impact pornography has on Muslim students in Britain, including the concerns of Islamic education. To this extent, the study produces an anonymous questionnaire using online Survey-Monkey and interview to encourage participation. The questionnaire included questions relating to the consumption of pornography and its implications on Muslim students by looking into different dimensions, such as piety and sexuality. Furthermore, the semi-structured interviews for five participants enabled them to share their perception of the possible consequences and effects of pornography on Muslim viewers and how to address pornographic related issues within the Muslim community. Finally, all participants of the questionnaires and interviews are asked to participate in Islamic centric questions, such as what Islam says about pornography; and are there any useful Islamic sources they found as a solution for porn addicts. The rest of the published questionnaires and interviews can be found in the appendix section of this study.

1.5 Limitations

There were a number of limitations to this research in terms of sample size and methodology applied, as it was a complex task to have relevant detail, issues and problems of collecting the data on a sensitive issue such as pornography. Culturally, Muslims are not very open to talking about their experience of watching pornography and its impact on their daily life. Therefore, there are possibilities of dishonest responses, because most Muslims do not expose their undisclosed matter of pornography due to societal norms around ayb (Arabic: dishonourable behaviour/disgrace). This allowed little flexibility by respondents, which may lead to incorrect inference.

Chapter 2: Literature Review: Pornography in Classical and Modern Islamic Scholarship

2.1 Introduction

This chapter explores the Islamic scholarly articulation of nudity, sexuality in classical text and pornography in modern fatawas. The classical scholarships view amongst the four famous schools of jurisprudence2 is primarily examined pertaining to the Shari’ah rulings on sexuality and nudity and their negativities.

The literature review also analyses the modern fatawas of some of the contemporary scholars to see whether Islamic scholarship has evolved from the time of the classical scholars to their time or is it a matter of copy and pasting from the works of the classical scholars. Furthermore, it discusses whether Shari’ah scholars and teachers delivered adequate lessons on pornography and its impact on health, mind, sexuality, and lifestyle.

2.1 Classical Scholars

2.1.1. Islamic Perspective on Chastity, Unlawful Sex, and Pornography

During the classical period, at the beginning of 7 A.H. a significant development had taken place were Muslim civilisations developed themselves in accordance with the Islamic principles. This shaped the lives of many Muslims through a mode of living, social behaviour, culture, dress code, and conversation (Saheeh International, p.96). The following Quranic verses and Hadith quotations reviews immorality, unlawful sex, and lowering gaze:

The unmarried woman or unmarried man found guilty of sexual intercourse – lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion (i.e. Law) of God, if you should believe in God and the Last. And let a group of believers witness their punishment (Qur’an,24:2).


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Qur’an and the Hadith does not specifically take pornography into account, but it does addresses concerns around zinah. Since pornography and the culture of pornography is a graphic representation of illegitimate sexual intercourse, it consists all the three elements which God has prohibited in the above verse of the Qur’an: Fuhsha, Munkar, and Baghi. These three terminologies will be clarified in the next section before we review the rest of the evidence prohibiting pornography.

2.2 Terminology of Pornography: Fuhsha, Munkar, and Baghi

Fuhsha/fahisha/fawahish, literally means obscenity, vulgarity, indecency, shamelessness, and something that is dirty, filthy, and foul (Al- Mawrid Arabic-English), whereas the Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic adds to its meaning monstrosity, abomination, vile deed and fornication. In Qur’an and Sunnah, it is referred for un-Islamic sexual behaviour. In Qur’an and Sunnah, it is referred to as for un-Islamic sexual behaviour. Modern scholars of the Qur’an have included every vice which is intrinsical of a highly reprehensible character into this category whether it be fornication, nudity, public foreplay as depicted in films and photos, pornography, hurling abuses and curse words, promiscuous mixing, or dresses designed to expose the body. At the highest level of Fuhsha, Allah has included adultery (Qur’an,17:32) and same gender sex (Qur’an,7:80-27:54). All scholars agree pornography is included in the term Fuhsha according to available fatawas.

As a major Qur’anic term, al-Munkar literally means gross, abominable, detestable, atrocious, outrageous, flagrant (Al-Mawrid Arabic-English,2019). It has been universally acknowledged as something bad and immoral. This category includes all evils which have been unanimously condemned by the human conscience and which have been forbidden by Divine Law in all ages. Those who are addicted to pornography try to watch it mostly discreetly. This indicates that it is a universally accepted immoral act which Qur’an calls al-Munkar.

Al-Baghi literally means wrong, injustice, outrage, and transgression (Al-Mawrid Arabic-English). In the Qur’anic terminology means transgression and trespassing into the space and the rights of others, whether those rights be of God or of a fellow human being. In that case, according to modern scholarship, pornography is a transgression towards God as well as towards human beings and animals. Hence, the pornographic industry trespasses on the rights of women and men by turning them into sex selling objects.

2.2.1. Issue of Sexuality and Nudity in Classical Texts

"Tell them (O Muhammad): My Lord has only forbidden indecent acts, whether overt or hidden?” (Qur’an,7:33). Based on this verse, watching pornography or other indecent acts in privacy at home or on the internet is also forbidden. Qur’an places a clear ban on the indecent acts, which also include pornography under the modern ijtihād.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) helped people to see that spiritual life and sexual life are connected. Early Muslim scholars spoke about sex in an ordinary and straight-forward mode, knowing it is a positive aspect of life. Even during the pre-modern world and after puritanical sentiments there was a high demand for erotology that became common among Muslim Arabs (Akande,2016:8). Al-Ghazali called sexual pleasure a blessing from God. Even the Qur’an describes heaven as a paradise of a physical kind. Heaven is described as containing “rewards”, such as rivers of milk and honey that make it appealing to the senses — including sexual desires.

Sexuality involves a lot more than desire or just lust. Sexuality includes thoughts, acts, and how one sees oneself and others. It is part of a person’s identity and it affects how people relate to each other. It is important to realise, too, that desire itself is not a bad thing in Islam. There is a well-known story about the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), in which the Prophet said: “Three things were made beloved to me in this world of yours: women, perfume, and prayer” (al-Nasai,3939). This Hadith indicates that sexual desire is something the Prophet cherished. Similarly, a beautiful story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), whose beauty was outstanding, as mentioned in the Qur’an, teaches mankind that romance is built on faith and not passion (Arifin,2017:960). Zulaykha the women, in whose house Prophet Yusuf lived, sought to seduce him. She locked all doors and said: “come here Yusuf” and Prophet Yusuf said: “I seek the refuge of God. Indeed, my master3, who has made good my residence. Indeed, wrongdoers will not succeed. However, can you4 not see that you are keeping the love of sin” (Qur’an,12:23-26). The story of Surah Yusuf taught that love ethics is built on norms and belief in Allah. This element does not show pornography, because it does not reflect the definitions of pornography, rather it shows how romance is placed correctly (Arifin,2017:961-966). From this, it is evident, that classical text discussed issues around zinah, awrah, and haaya (Arabic: shyness/shame) rather than pornography, although these three elements are partly part of pornography. Scholars today in discussion often refer to Islamic law. The law comes from many sources, not just the Qur’an. Some of those sources disagree with each other and most are based on the opinions of human beings. In some cultures, Islamic law follows the teachings of scholars with one viewpoint, while in other cultures Islamic law may follow different scholars with different views.

Within the Hanafi School, there are clear opinions concerning sexuality and nudity prohibition. According to Imām Abū Ḥanifah and Imām Muḥammad, they hold the opinion that a woman has to cover certain body part that can be the cause of fitnah (trial/temptation). In addition to this they say, any talks or even drawing, which may cause sexual destruction and immorality are classed as prohibitive, it is defined within the ijtihad. Thus, all the obligatory acts of modesty will be mandatory on the female as well as male (Al-Murghinani, p.106). For the Hanafi madhab there is a clear ban on any type of exposure of male and female body which is defined under the concept of awrah (Al-Abideen,1992, Vol.3, p.262). Imām Al-Shāfa’ī and Imām Aḥmad add into that even female touch of any part of the naked body will cause fasad (corruption) of ablution (Al-Ramlī,1984:421). On the other hand, according to Ibn Munthir and Al- Dāramī who belong to the Shāfa’ī school, their view is much stricter as they essentialise the more rigorous covering for the female which includes in the time of fitnah even veil (Al-Uthaymīn,2001:95). In the text of Imam al-Tamurthashi, it is necessary to cover the face of the female due to possible temptations. As Ibn Abidin says: “covering the face is not part of awrah rather it is in the fear of incitement and temptation” (Radd al-Muhtar,1/406). In addition to Ibn Munthir’s opinion and according to the Mālikī School, sexuality and nudity are fawahish which cause the curse on people who exposed what Allah has banned (Al- Zahīlī,1993, Vol 16, p.138). As Yahya related from Malik5 from Muslim ibn Abi Maryam from Abu Salih that Abu Hurayra said: “women who are naked even though they wearing clothes, go stray and make others go astray, and they will not enter the Garden nor will they experience its fragrance, and its fragrance can be experienced from as far as the distance travelled in five hundred years” (Anas,2014:386).

Furthermore, Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami (1503-1566), known as a prolific writer of the Shafi’i school said in his book Ath-Thawaajir: “it is sinful to look lustfully at a non- Mahram 6 woman with the fear of falling into a sinful act because it is a grave sin.” The Shāfa’ī school of thought views penal sanction for those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse after the prior ruling of imprisonment (Al-Shafi'i,2015:110). It is said in the Qur’an (4:16): “And the two who commit unlawful sexual intercourse among you – punish or dishonour them both. The characteristic of Islam is Haaya (Ibn Maajah), but many Muslims are now in boyfriends and girlfriend’s relationship, regardless of how they met, some among them started with an illegal look. According to the Salaf, illegal looking is like a poisoned arrow of Satan that damages the Iman.7 Therefore, based on the previous classical scholarships above, contemporary scholars derive several diseases as a result of watching pornography. For instance, pornographic scenes corrupt the brain of teenagers as well as adults; hardens the heart; creates confidence in committing sins, and audacity to commit unlawful sex. Looking lustfully at a woman is a fortiori major sin as most scholars agree because such obscene images display the awrah of non- Mahram women. Hence, watching pornography has evil repercussions, which often leads porn viewers to sin, such as fornication and masturbation (Islam-Web-English-Fatwa,2014). Pornography and masturbating, including adultery, are almost invariably linked (Akande,2015:154).

This shows that there are several boundaries of awrah8 – for some awrah is the whole female body except the face and palms, whilst others add that the feet are not awrah too. Others say everything about the female is awrah, differing to those who believe awrah only includes the female’s private part (Winkel,1997:90). According to Ibn Arabi (1165-1240) and Ibn Manzur (1232-1311), awrah are the two main private parts, because even when Prophet Adam and Eve were sent down to the earth, their two private parts became visible and they began to collect leaves to cover themselves (Qur’an,7:22). Although the classical fiqh books often discussed the awrah of men. In today’s context, awrah is described as the presence, smell, and voice of a woman (Winkel,1997:86). However, the last Shari’ah of Prophet Muhammad obligates women to cover more in today’s position, because nakedness if often regarded as a bad habit and dressing properly within the Muslim community is a good tradition (Faruqi,2007:116). It is often difficult for Muslims to adjust to Western life, where society welcomes sexual relationships prior to wedlock. The reign of nakedness, immorality, and shamelessness acts to humiliate the idea of human dignity.

The outcome of this lessens the potentials of protecting the sexuality of both genders and invokes sexual interest and attraction of opposite genders through modern displays of women in skimpy clothing (Sayfuddin and Muhametov,2004-2011:91). Hence, many ulema agrees that covering the awrah is obligatory with no objections (Winkel,1997:87-90).

2.3 Fatawas of Modern Muslim Scholars

2.3.1 Contemporary Sharī’ah Scholars on Nudity, Sexuality, and Pornography

This section will explore what the scholars have stamped as the prohibitive pornography and the condemns of its watching. Shaykh Al- Uthaymīn believes that women should cover their private parts, but it is fine to uncover her face and hands in front of non-Muslim women by referring to Qur’an, Surah An-Nur, Verse 30-31. He also adds in his fatwa that, if there is temptation involved, the women should cover more and ensure no part of her body is shown, whether it is in front of a Muslim or non-Muslim woman. In his fatwa, all responsibility is passed on female to perform covering, as classical scholarship also essentialise. Similarly, Shaykh Ibn Baz says: “it is not permissible for a female to expose her adornments for men unless it is her husband. If the woman decides to display her adornments, she will be a source of temptation for men and this gives Satan the opportunity to allure and tempt both men and women9.

Mufti Ismail Desai’s fatwa on pornography is that it is a major sin, as pornography is a technological form of fornication or adultery. Pornographic images are lifeless pictures that play the human mind and soul due to the eyes being polluted with evil on the screen. Desai further argues that pornography is worst then drug addiction, since rehabilitation is a form of cure for drug addicts, whereas porn addicts store pornographic images in their sight even if it is during a prayer – so the mental health is controlled by pornography10. Mufti Desai (2012) suggests referring from the Qur’an (29:69), that porn addicts should be invigilated whilst using the laptop; porn addicts should use computer in an open space where people are around; minimum usage of internet; remember the angel of death; remember the grave; remember Allah; control human desires; and make efforts to gain the love of Allah11.

Some scholars also ban married couples to take nude pictures of their partners as that might lead to evil consequences (The-Council-of-Senior-Scholars,2008:11-12). For instance, the husband’s belongings may be stolen or lost, and naked pictures may be spread far away and fall into the hands of fools who would misuse those pictures and cause corruption. Looking at naked pictures does not extinguish sexual desires rather it is the opposite. Therefore, the husband should protect his honour and his wife. Another contemporary scholar, Shaykh Hamdi Benaissa, sees pornography as a modern disease. He states if a person was to choose between two sins; fornication or watching porn. It is better to choose fornication over pornography, but Allah protect from both sins and Allah is merciful. By watching pornographic videos, a person is spreading such videos and these filthy porn videos become more famous. The more a person consumes pornographic videos, the more it is spread. Those pornographic images are stored in the human mind whilst making sujud (prostration to God). Hence, replacing such porn movies with Islamic movies is much better and the doors of tawbah (repentance) are always open (Benaissa,2016).

After analysing the various contemporary scholarly opinions, it is evident that their fatawas are based on a framework that was set by the earlier classical fiqh 12. Even though during the time of the earlier classical scholars, most of the modern developments in pornography were not available, hence the question is whether the previous rulings are adequate for accumulated problems. The answers for this are explored in empirical chapters of the dissertation.

The available modern fatawas are related to one of the ideological reasoning explained in the next section.

2.3.2. Ideological Approaches on Nudity, Sexuality and Pornography: Implications for Education

There have not been many major advancements in the traditional discipline of Islamic studies, unlike the West where modernity had an impact (Khir,2007:264). However, instead of a complete shift, there has been a slow expansion in the Islamic disciplines to incorporate modern Muslim religious thought to provide answers to the questions raised in modern society. Furthermore, the term ‘Islamic modernism’ approach is the new way to how Islamic scholarship is articulated. The gist of the modern Islamic interpretations all entails synthesising Islamic faith and modern values in meaningful rulings for the modern challenges in the Muslim community. Instead of listing scholars who incorporate the modernist movement, it is more suited to mention the various streams of modernism in order to depict a clear understanding of modernism as concisely as possible. According to Auda (2010:118), he categorises the contemporary approach for Islamic jurisprudence into three main tendencies, which are:

1. Fundamentalist/Traditionalist approach adopts the same trend as the traditional classical scholars from the past that support the legal opinions of the classical scholars within any madhab. This theory also supports a literal and strict Islamic teaching. However, they oppose the modern ideology and it resists the process of renewal and accepts the opinions of any scholars who adopt their sources from the traditional classical scholars. This approach does not tolerate the process of reinterpretation of religious scripts in order to implement changes in modern society (Auda,2010:184-185). Hence, modern pornography is articulated as old phenomena of nudity without engaging of the consequences that it makes by impacting society. Unfortunately, this theory has been adopted by the majority of contemporary scholars in their fatwas. Whereby they have implemented the same approach as the classical scholars in giving their opinions on awrah without introducing and applying more appropriate methodologies in when issuing legal rulings, fatwas. Finally, this approach mainly uses the classical means of minbar (Friday sermon), lectures in the mosque and classrooms in making the awareness.
2. Secularist/Modernist approach is characterised by their eagerness to make amendments in the classical interpretation of religious scripts and within Islamic teachings. Muḥammad Abduh (1905) developed the base of this theory (Imarah,1993:504). This trend is to reform the interpretation of the exegeses that hold the thematic method in interpreting the religious script. The modernist theory tries to revise the methodologies of usūl al-fiqh which is an attempt to re-read the Islamic law with an open mind. Apart from this attempt, revisionists also advocate the modification to some basic concept of usūl al-fiqh and suggest extensions of other key notions of usūl because the rulings are changeable according to changes in time and place. Furthermore, ‘Science’-Oriented re-interpretation is also included in this theory where the latest scientific discoveries are utilised in reinterpreting verses of the Qur’an and Hadith. In short, this approach is a blend of both reformist and apologetic method of interpretations (Auda,2010:186). Unfortunately, this is a prevailing approach among the Muslims who accept Islamic injunctions in the ibadat (worshipping) and secular understanding in practice. The followers of this ideological movement do not engage in the articulating the prohibitive postulates of Islam in the mosque neither in school as they believe Islamic rulings are irrelevant for modern civilisation.
3. Post-Modernist is a contemporary attempt to reform and integrate various cultural, artistic and intellectual traditional approaches. This is a new proposition of deconstructing elements of arbitrary and repressive hierarchies is a response to the modernist thought and its influence in natural and social sciences (Ramli et al.,2013:36). The post-modernist theory attempts to follow a middle course between the traditionalist theory and the modernist theory by implementing a critical and challenging approach to both theories. This method advocates a renewal of Islam that adopts modern advances without losing its original form (Nasr,1987:108). This research can be classified as post-modernist research as it is based on the post-modernist theory by looking on pornography issues from multiple perspectives beyond the classical texts, which could enhance the classical scholars’ opinions. Furthermore, due to sexuality being a biological issue it is more appropriate to investigate its consequences from multiple perspectives, than just investigating the classical bans across the school of thoughts.

2.4 Pornography in the Digital Age

2.4.1. Muslim Erotica Viewers in the 21st Century

Most of the Muslim population do watch pornography or have watched pornography unintentionally (Quadri,2013:101). According to the study of Top-Ten-Reviews (2016), at least 26 names of cartoon characters are linked to pornographic websites. It is unfortunate that many children are exposed to explicit erotic sites and images. The London School of Economics study (2018) shows that 6 out of 10 children are regularly exposed to pornography. This is an ongoing and unstoppable issue since the porn business is profitable and makes annual revenue of over £60 billion, which is more than Hollywood (BBC-News,2007). According to an article from the New York Times back in 2001, which was titled Naked Capitalists: ‘There is No Business-like Porn.’ The pornography business generates between 10-14 billion US dollars each year. This means that the porn industry “is a bigger business than professional football, basketball and baseball put together. People pay more money for pornography in America in a year than they do on movie tickets” (Rich,2019:1). Pornography is viewed across racial, economic, political, gender, and age lines, which is explored further.

Other statistics show that every 39 minutes pornographic videos have been created in the United States and every second 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography (Quadri,2013:100). According to the 2006 search engine request, United Kingdom has placed on number 4 for keyword search ‘pornography’. Pakistan one of the top 5 countries who search for the keyword ‘xxx’. The following top 10 countries who search request for keyword ‘sex’ are: (1) Pakistan, (2) India, (3) Egypt, (4) Turkey, (5) Algeria, (6) Morocco, (7) Indonesia, (8) Vietnam, (9) Iran, and (10) Croatia (Quadri,2013:102). Majority of these top 10 countries have a high number of Muslim residents, which is problematic since a large number of Muslims are apparently exposed to obscenity. It is not surprising that in the same year 2006, there has been a controversial debate around the anti-pornography bill in the Indonesian parliament, where Muslim leaders attempt to imply good Islamic ethics and safeguard the nation from the obscene business (Hoesterey,2013:6-8).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


1 Hence, in 1868, a significant case Regina v. Hicklin emerged were the test of literary morality was put forward – it focused more on susceptible people, which led to a suppression of much free expression (Mackey,2002:134).

2 Ḥanafī, Shāfa’ī, Mālikī, and Ḥanbalī.

3 Zulaykha’s spouse, Aziz the ruler.

4 Zulaykha.

5 Opinion of Maliki madhab: 48:4 In clothes disapproved for women to wear (7).

6 Non- Mahram: marriageable kin to whom sexual intercourse is permissible.

7 Source: Fatawa concerning looking, p.5.

8 Arabic term: the part of the body which is illegal to keep naked before others.

9 Fatawas regarding Women: Questions Related to Hijab, Dress, and Adornment (2019).

10 Fatwa approved by Mufti Ebrahim Desai (2012).

11 Source:

12 Source: The Memphis Da’wah Team.

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The Prevalence of Pornography and its Effects on Muslim Students. How can Islamic Education handle this Topic?
Newman University
Islamic Education
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pornography, muslim, students, islamic, education
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Heena Amir (Author), 2019, The Prevalence of Pornography and its Effects on Muslim Students. How can Islamic Education handle this Topic?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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