When Doing Islamic Work Turns To Relapsing Back To Your Unwanted Sexual Behaviors

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Ever volunteered in a weekend Islamic seminar, only to find yourself accessing pornography later that night?

During one of our coaching calls, br. Abdullah uncovered the main reason why he kept himself busy all the time. He feared to be alone by himself because he was afraid he would sexually act out if he had free time.

Over years of conditioning, he subconsciously associated ‘idle time’ with a fear of accessing pornography.

So what he did to solve this was occupying himself with as many Islamic activities as he could:

“I tend to be one those guys who tend to be extremely active in the community. I probably got three organizations that I am currently working for. In addition to that, there are three different hobbies I’m really involved in at the moment, be it horse riding, be it martial arts, or doing my own physical activities, as well as my religious commitments I have.

In my final year study, I was president of the MSA. At the same time, I’d be trying to organize activities such as weekly Arabic classes at the center. In addition to that, I was leading Taraweeh, and doing my final year study. And obviously, on the side, I’d be doing kickboxing and horse riding on weekends.” – br. Abdullah.

The irony is despite all of these activities he would increasingly find himself relapsing back to his unwanted sexual behaviors. A lot of our members are activists in their communities like this brother. They are giving khutbahs, running youth groups, and volunteering for Islamic organizations. Many even travel for hours to seek sacred knowledge or even go overseas.

Like Abdullah, in hopes of doing these Islamic activities that will bring them closer to God, there is prevailing belief that keeping themselves busy will help them avoid relapsing. The eman rush will prevent them from engaging in their unwanted sexual behaviors.

While all of these are great acts of worship in of themselves, they are not dealing with the root issues that are causing the unwanted sexual behaviors to occur in the first place.

There is also a belief that engaging in these Islamic activities will make them a better Muslim because deep down they believe they are a bad Muslim due to their unwanted sexual behaviors.

While all of these are great acts of worship in of themselves, they are not dealing with the root issues that are causing the unwanted sexual behaviors to occur in the first place. They are addicted and they have not recognized that yet.

The danger of not addressing these issues is that the addiction becomes worse and worse over time.

Another danger is that falling back to their unwanted sexual behaviors confirms to them their deep-rooted feelings that they are a bad Muslim. It puts doubts in their Islam, that “I am doing all these Islamic things but Allah is not helping me.”

Ironically, those activities themselves are contributing to the increased relapses because of one major problem: burn out.

In the case of br. Abdullah, it is very telling that even individuals in his own community would often say to him that he was overburdening himself doing so many things.

And when you are overburdened and stressed out you are going to want to find an escape or an opportunity to experience a momentary pleasure, which leads you back to your unwanted sexual behaviors.

Addictions often stem from emotional, spiritual and psychological challenges that have been left unaddressed for years or even decades of a person’s life.

The inability to become vulnerable before Allah, to appear as you are, with your wounds and problems that are weighing you down, takes a toll on you mentally and emotionally contributing to the burnout.

When you are burned out, the likelihood of you relapsing is much greater.

We want to work THROUGH our challenges rather than run away from them.

“We’re doing these Islamic activities for the sake of not being alone with ourselves. But are we giving out to Islamic work to run away from our most personal problems?” –Abdullah.

And for him, this realization was a turning point in realizing that he can only run away from his problems for so long and he actually needed to make the time to work through them and face them directly in the right way.

If the intentions behind doing any kind of Islamic work, is that you’re afraid of being alone because that would mean you are going to access pornography, then it is a sign there is a real problem that needs to be addressed.

  • Abdul Ghafoor says:

    The wording in my picture Avatar is as follows:
    “Motivation is what gets you started.
    Habit is what keeps you going”!

    May we all push ourselves when tired / exhausted to read Quran or perform other acts of Ibadah, so that it becomes a habit we really enjoy, makes us feel relaxed and something we can continue to do effortlessly. Ameen

    I know this is possible, because I went to Mecca & Madina in February where I was constantly performing acts of Ibadah for 10 days. I was also constantly tired and yet I never even entertained the thought of sexually addictive behaviours…!

    Why is it after returning home and getting tired after a hard days work I find the sexually addictive thoughts come back to me again when I’m tired? Is it because I haven’t been remembering Allah swt enough or performing enough acts of Ibadah while I was at work??
    Any comments on this insha’Allah would be appreciated.

    N.B. I noticed I couldn’t post on this forum using the Safari browser, so I changed to Google Chrome and it worked fine.

  • Abdul Ghafoor says:

    Assalamualaikum all
    I can really relate to everyone’s comments in this forum. Being alone when exhausted is definitely a major trigger.

    I have come to realise that all acts of Ibadah require motivation and effort, which makes us truly happy provided we keep up these acts of Ibadah. However, sexually addictive behaviours require absolutely no motivation or effort and the haraam pleasure is experienced instantly.

    This means that when we feel alert and we use our alertness in the remembrance of Allah swt and in acts of Ibadah, life is great!
    However when we are tired / exhausted and just cannot find the motivation & effort necessary for the acts of Ibadah. This is when it becomes so easy to fall into sexually addictive behaviours.

    Sometimes I can travel to an Islamic event, learn so much and feel really close to Allah swt Alhamdulillah! But when I get back home after a tiring journey I feel very tired & exhausted, which is then my main trigger for sexually addictive behaviours! This is because I find it is so much harder to remember Allah swt when tired compared to when alert.

    The only solution I have found to this is when I’m tired and exhausted I MUST either find the motivation / effort for the acts of Ibadah or I simply sleep. I try to avoid the grey area in between where the shaytan or our nuffs can get in.
    This is not always easy, but has to be done insha’Allah.
    May Allah swt make this easy for us. Ameen.
    Wassalamu’alaikum

  • Isselmou says:

    Ameen ya Rubb!

  • Isselmou says:

    Subhana’Allah! This is what happened to me back in 2012 and 2013. By mid 2013, I realized that I can’t run away from my problems by just doing volunteering work in my community and university. In addition, as Zeyad pointed out “Addictions often stem from emotional, spiritual and psychological challenges that have been left unaddressed for years or even decades of a person’s life.” Coming from a broken family, I believe that my addiction stems from emotional challenges I had with my adoptive father and step-sister. They always gave me a hard time in the house. I greatly suffered emotional abuse from my adoptive father and step-sister. As for the spiritual challenges, I lived in jaahiliya (ignorance) for many years in the United States. When I was in high school, I wasn’t practicing Islam. I had bad company around me. All of this contributed to my porn and masturbation addiction. But, al hamdulillah, in April 2010, I met a brother in my neighborhood who was able to give me dawa. Since then, I have been practicing. But, I still need to address my addiction. I ask Allah SWT to grant me means to pay for my recovery, and to give me tawfeeq (success) in healing from this addiction.

  • KP says:

    I found PYG through Yasmin Mogahed’s site. Thank you for doing this.

  • SOMEBODY says:

    Assalamualaikum,

    I believe what Zeyad said is true. Whenever we make ourself overburden with activities, our mental and physical will exhausted. This would lead to relapse as we want to find ourself even a momentary moment to make ourself relax.And that would be no other than what we had been doing more than years, watching porn, masturbates, and other sexual behaviour
    I would say that there are many factors that would make you want to relapse. But the major point for us to want to relapse is because we want to feel the INSTANT PLEASURE!.
    The only way to stop this is to bring yourself to Allah. When you don’t feel Allah in you heart, you will not feel guilty when doing sins, and thus you think its okay since you think you have time to taubah. But this totally wrong, To think whatever sins you make is small is a big mistake.We don’T KNOW HOW Allah treat our sins. Maybe its small for us but big in the side of Allah, That’S why, whenever we make sins, big or small, quickly taubah. This will bring us near to Allah. And never leave zikrullah, at any time, place, and circumstances. This small thing will is actually the best in making us to always remember Allah. Prevent ourself from even the tiny thing that bring us to relapse, such as seeing people aurat, like hair or body figure, or even foreign artist that don’t close aurat. This overtime will greatly induce us to relapse. To make it better, follow what Rasulullah teach, fill 1/3 of our stomach with food, 1/3 with water, and 1/3 with water. Why? because when we hungry, other body parts and nafs will be full, when our stomach full, other parts will start hungry. As prove, try to think how many times you relapse with your stomach compared when you hungry. Next, stop fantasizing if you don’t want to do something wrong. The more you fantasize the more you find yourself nearer to relapsing. Don’T ever lose hope to Allah when doing sins, since its our nature to keep doing mistake. what the important is to never leave taubah whenever doing sins. The longer you waiting to taubah just because you might afraid to do repeat the mistake, the harder for you to feel Allah’s presence in your heart. Be sincere when you want to change. For who do you want to change and why? Is it for Allah alone or was it because of human or other trivial matter….. ALWAYS BELIEVE that Allah always love us more than any human being. Maybe what we planned is not becoming truth or that we have addiction that no ordinary people have or that we feel different than others, but BELIEVE what Allah plan for us is the best. Maybe by having sex addiction we can become a more proper and better muslim compared when we not have it.. or maybe by having sex addiction Allah has prevent us from commit larger sins like fosnicate(zina). We don’t know what the future, and what will happen to us, but Allah know all about us. Allah is our creator, THE GREATEST OF ALL. So don’t ever lose hope to change for benefits of us. maybe the relapse that we had do today is the last that Allah had plan for us… I as a muslim reassure that I had doing what I had written in here and ITS WORK! and also i had leave it, the thing that i advised, and it give my heart pain , i feel far from Allah. That why right know I am trying to leave all the pleasure of this world and work toward nearing myself with Allah. and I hope everyone too.

  • hitmebreeze says:

    Salaams
    One of the things i like about Zeyad is there’s a lot to take from his insights. Personally i can speak for myself and say i have i learnt a lot from PYG and Zeyad and continue to learn more each day. I Like the idea of a blog and congrats Zeyad on the baby.

  • T1 says:

    Bismillah.

    Long days at conferences, classes, Dawa work etc.
    Late night reaching home
    Watching movies or browsing (telling myself to relax) to fall asleep
    Wanting to look up on that beautiful actress in the movie ( telling myself I only wanna read up on her)
    Then to browsing photos, videos and the downward spiral star leading to sin
    Times wasted
    Wake up guilty, perhaps miss Fajr cause went to bed late or did not wanna wake up in the cold to shower and pray
    Ya Rabb, forgive your slave for debasing the gifts you have given, allow us to make up for the time, health , life wasted
    Let our sins not affect our loved ones and forgive us, for without your help we will be certainly among the losers.
    Make this step the one that makes it easy to leave this sin.
    Give the people trying to help us Jannat ul Firdaus with the Prophet (SAW) and let us be with him .
    We rest our hope in your mercy and ask you for guidance.
    Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah

  • Shahbaz says:

    Assalam Alekum!

    This post perfectly defines my current status. I have been trying to keep myself busy through different activities and have also been measuring my progress in addiction recovery, but I just relapsed. It is clear that I am running away from my problems and not being man enough to face them directly. The greatest realization for me has been that my addiction is in fact a symptom of many other problems in my life and to heal I have got to work on those causes.

    I had previously asked for a free membership, but was denied one. I hope this one gets me one, inshallah 🙂

  • Abu Ahmad says:

    It made me just more scared what I just read. I am engaging my self in more Islamic things and I keep relapsing. it got less. I do not know what is needed more..

  • Ahmad says:

    Asalam o alykom to all the brothers and sisters,

    I liked the first article written in the blog and it is direct to the point. It is now a proven fact that pornography and unwanted sexual behavior is an addiction, we can’t beat ourselves around the bushes anymore. Truly, Allah(swt) helps those who help themselves by taking the first practical step toward healing. So this is a good initiative by brother Zeyaad Ramadan. However, I do have a small suggestion for brother Zeyaad , as we all know that this addiction is different then other addiction in its nature. It is very hard to disclose it with others. Even some brothers and sisters might be aware of your efforts and how good Purify Your Gaze program is , but still may feel reluctant to enroll in the program. My suggestion is to find a way to make this program completely anonymous. If someone want to heal without disclosing their identity then why not helping them out, ultimately our aim is to seek the pleasure of Allah(swt). Can we look in to this suggestion ? Is there a way to help brothers/sisters pay the program fees in a way that there identity is not known to anyone and they can continue their healing program with a nick name which they prefer.

    Jazakallah if you look in to this suggestion as it is very important.

  • AlbBrother says:

    Assalamu alaikum.
    SubhanAllah, its really weird , the more i read from br. Zeyad’s articles, the more i think he is talking to me. First sentence i’ve read and said subhanAllah, it happened to me and it happened alot of times.
    I used to go home at the weekends and i have very bad repotation when im at home at weekends, and ussually i try hard to stay with brothers till late, or go and listen a lecture, anything anything just to go late at home. but it was that day, especially that day i’ve relapsed.
    I just have an advice to all the brothers and sisters out there.
    This is something serious, and you have to act seriously about it, otherwise he(addiction) acts very seriously and fast, and it eats your brain very fast subhanAllah that you cant imagine.
    Do not leave it for tomorrow, cause tomorrow maybe it wont exist for you.
    The community i’ve found at purifyyourgaze was with no deal great, and it helped me achieve my first two month of sobriety.

    I just hope this community will expand more and more, so brothers and sisters find out with what they dealing with.
    It may be good maybe to translate articles in other languages two in sha Allah.
    Do not forget your brother and sisters in your dua’s in sha Allah because the Resulullah sal-Allahi alejhi we selem said in one hadith that if a muslim makes dua for his brother(sister) in his own, Angels will make same dua for him.
    Imagine, Angels making dua for you. subhanAllah.
    Together we can get away from this.
    May Allah heal every muslim from this and others dissease too.

  • ibn Arif says:

    Great article – it’s an interesting paradox and I remember being there myself. For anyone reading this, I just wanted to let you know you’re not alone. There are many, many Muslim sisters and brothers struggling with this problem. And Brother Zeyad Ramadan is the person you need. Please believe me when I say he didn’t ask me to post. In the meantime, I’ll give you a little background about myself. I grew up in the states and am married with a child, alhamdulillah. I’ve been struggling with this issue for almost 20 years and I’m in my 30s. I’m a working professional with a successful career alhamdulillah. I searched far and wide, talked with many counselors, Imams, and others seeking help. But the one place where I have seen a tangible difference in my life is from Brother Zeyad Ramadan. There is a whole community of us and we post on an anonymous forum daily (the PYG Community). Coaching with Brother Zeyad Ramadan has changed my life. I pray for the collective success of each addict!

  • Justice says:

    Whole concept of doing thing because you want to run away from this addiction is wrong. Because, when you are in that kind of mindset, you’re always having those thoughts of acting out in the back of your mind and that can be draining.
    Also, one should actualy focus on developing his values, and healthy life habits that satisfy his human needs. In the beginning you have to do them mechanicaly, until they become a part of who you are.
    The main problem of this addiction is not the addiction itself, but a lack of healthy emotional management strategies and emotional immaturity.

  • Shehzeb says:

    Assalam Alaikum brother,

    I can relate to this article in the sense that I feel guilt everytime I give in to the nafs. The recurring lapses feed into my doubts of ever ridding myself of this sinful habit and even makes me wonder if I’m a bonafide hypocrite! You see over the last few years I’ve grown in Deen consciousness and the obligation of da’wah and so this habit certainly is an impediment and it’s as if I’m leading two lives … Part of me wants to eliminate it while the other wants to cling to it. It just doesn’t bode well since I’m trying to become a sincere Muslim. Alhamdulillah it’s great to see someone tackling this issue as a lot of us are afflicted with it but due to the nature of it are too scared & embarrassed of even discussing with family etc.

  • Ameen says:

    Assalaamualaikum. ..

    everytime I read ur article or mails, I feel as if u are talking about me! the problems are so real… now I feel dat this can b eradicated through allahs help from u guyz.. keep up the good work, may allahh put barakah on ur work.

  • saad says:

    (y)