A spiritual perspective on overcoming sexual desire

(This is the third in a series of blogs. You can find part one and part two here) 

In our war against evil, we may lose some battles. But in those lost, Allah can redeem each defeat by revealing to us the cause of each failure and uplift our spirit to attain His pleasure and closeness if we turn to Him. I will highly recommend some books related to our topic, the first is ‘The Lantern of the Path‘ by the Imam Ja’far al Sadiq, and also two books by Imam Al Ghazali, the first is ‘Disciplining the Soul‘ and the second is ‘Breaking the Two Desires‘ both from his tour de force ‘Ihya ulum al din’.

Make a covenant with your eyes

The eyes are the lamp of the heart, what and how our eyes see can affect us physically, mentally and spiritually.

In the Holy Quran we have been commended to “lower our gaze and to be modest” (24:30). I believe this injunction has been poorly understood and reduced by many Muslims to simply “look on the ground or your shoes while walking in the street”. Honestly this isn’t really working in a sex-saturated world we live in right now. In the world we live in, if you are a man, educate your mind and work to shift your mindset from seeing a woman like an object of sensual lust as the global secular culture teaches us, but rather as someone’s daughter, wife, mother and sister in humanity. In the Gospel of Isa peace upon him, we read that:

“Anyone who looks on a woman to lust for her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

(Matthew 5:28)

Moreover, we have all become very well acquainted with the internet, and our lives are mostly spend online, therefore it becomes imperative that we also find a way to “lower our gaze” online. Lowering our gaze online will be to shun all immodest and immoral activities, pictures and videos online such as pornography, and illicit music videos on YouTube.

So let’s try these three ways to avoid lusting with our eyes:

Realise the difference between seeing, looking and staring

‘See’, ‘look’ and ‘stare’ are 3 distinct words, let’s judge their realities. When you see, that’s okay, that’s why you got eyes. If you look, that’s also okay as you can still assume it wasn’t deliberate. But brother when you’re take a minute to stare, you are just becoming part of the problem! If you look too long you look wrong!

Remember this is our test

I always hear so many Muslims lament about lust and how visual distraction are all around us especially in summer time (which is true) but the Noble Quran reminds us “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘we believe,’ and will not be tested?”(29:2). I believe this situation of ours is the test of our generation and we ought to find a way to succeed and keep a dry skin in the water.

Lust is a choice

Thirdly, let’s keep the following truths in mind: lust is letting your mind wander to sexual thought AFTER you look. Lust doesn’t just happen; it’s cultivated. Lust is not inevitable, it is a choice. The battle against lust begins where it dies… in our minds! So brothers and sisters, let’s be mindful! Thanks to Carl Thomas for this truths.

Finally to effectively lower our gaze online and to protect the future generation, let’s come together in unity and stand against pornography and soft porn online to halt the objectification and the degradation of the value of women and that will be our ADDED VALUE to humanity in this 21st Century.

Replace the secret pictures that exist in the gallery of your mind or subconscious with good ones. At the heart of our impure thoughts are secret, dirty pictures in our subconscious due to immoral Hollywood movies, TV shows and ads that we are being bombarded with daily. During time of temptation, they tend to come back and haunt us and fuel the temptation.

To replace them, we should try in our spare time to find a quiet place where we can sit and try to picture and meditate about some of the tragic events that happened in the history of Islam. We should try often to picture and meditate about the battle of Badr, Uhud and the martyrdom of our brave Sahabas, the humiliation and stoning of our Beloved Rasul peace be upon him, while delivering the message of Islam. And inshAllah with practice, the picturing of the suffering of the pioneers of our religion will weaken and replace all the wicked pictures in the gallery of our mind and increase our love for Islam.

To be continued…