Islamic Morality And Today’s World
;Alhamdulillah, and salaat and salaam upon Rasoolillah Muhammad and upon his family and followers until the end of time, ameen.
In case you hadn’t noticed, we live in very dangerous times. No doubt there are many areas where this statement applies. The proliferation of wars, civil strife, economic sanction, takeovers and forced expulsion, genocide, natural disaster, environmental pollution, political oppression, street crime, you name it. At this time however, we would like to offer a few words on a dangerous situation regarding one of the most fundamental aspects of human behavior that if abused can lead to an insidious form of genocide. Namely, the destruction of people through immoral sexual relationships.
This is a vast topic indeed, so we will not in any way attempt to give it a full treatment. We hope now only to make several points by looking at what the situation is today and how Islam and Muslims are viewed with regards to it. We pray that we will be able to academically deal with the Islamic morale code in detail in the future, in shaa Allah. It can neither be denied that any given society may undergo trends nor that these trends usually have an underlying cause or source and they don’t just suddenly “turn up” but rather develop over time.
In the west in particular, sexual relationships are generally viewed as the private preference of each individual. No one has the right to determine with whom, or how one conducts one’s sex life. What occurs between consenting adults, no matter what sex or how many, is usually condoned. We believe that these beliefs and principles (along with others) have chiefly contributed to the following realities of today's world.
The Current Reality
Premarital sex between heterosexuals is considered quite acceptable, normal, well within the bounds of morality, and indeed desirable. It has been this way for a long time and could honestly be said to be part of the "American Way". Dating begins at a very young age and every socially well-adjusted youngster is expected to have several girlfriends and boyfriends by a certain age. Couples are expected to live together and getting married has long ceased to be considered as a major aim in life. Those who grow up in the West are weaned on sex in both subtle and not so subtle ways. It is quickly learned through T.V. shows, commercials, movies, advertisements, songs, you name it, that being sexy is a desired goal and aim in life.
Even comic books abound with superheroes and heroines with fantastically well-proportioned bodies and they lead sexually active private lives where little is left to the imagination. Animated cartoon characters from Betty Boop to Jessica Rabbit make the message crystal clear about what makes a female desirable. The top selling video and computer games feature female characters with sexy bodies whose biggest audiences are adolescent boys and young men. Females are intensely focused on being sexually attractive and are conditioned to be so from the time they get their first Barbie. This is what makes the fashion, cosmetic and entertainment industries thrive.
Countless young girls admire and aspire to be 'superstar' beauty queens, models, singers, or actresses. There is a phenomenal proliferation of ‘fan’ or entertainment magazines that feature the hottest entertainment stars who are known precisely for their sex appeal. Romance novels (some affectionately termed "bodice rippers") are the number one sellers among young women around the world and have made many a writer rich even before they have sold the film rights. The most popular "rap artists" regularly feature sexually explicit 'lyrics' in their 'songs' that would disgust some of the crooners of love songs in the 'old days' (the 70's & 80's). The highest rated T.V. talk shows are those that commonly feature people who expose their most intimate and outlandish sexual behavior.
Fashion, health, and women's magazines must feature tips on how to be a sexual master of all things. An ideal of being a sexual "tigress" in bed is constantly reinforced. Nevertheless, while promiscuous men are often termed as 'studs' practically complementing their masculine virility, such women are most often derided as 'bimbos' or 'sluts'.
In Middle Eastern Muslim countries, including areas where most of the native women cover their entire bodies (face, hands…everything), newsstands and bookstores are filled with magazines with covers featuring the faces of gorgeous Arab (dare we say Muslim) women in the latest fashions, not to mention what is within the pages.
In the U.S. alone, pornography of all types and levels is a multi-billion dollar industry having increased in leaps and bounds within just the last decade. The amount of sexual activity that the average person, including children, may view on prime time national television is farabove that which one may have had to search for less than a decade or two ago. Sexual innuendo or titillating banter is ever present in situation comedies and other dramas and films. Daytime soap operas make their ratings on the number of affairs the characters are having and how sexually bold the beautiful, young and restless co-stars are on screen. Cable television is full of sexually explicit programming that can be seen at nearly all times. Video stores are stocked with plenty of films that anyone can rent to view in their own home what they were too embarrassed to go to the theater to see, or just missed the first time around, or who want to see their favorites over and over again. The latest compact disks are easily available, as are satellite dish transmissions of the same fare in the seemingly staunchest Islamic countries. Indeed, satellite broadcasts based in the heart of the Muslim world feature music videos, films, models and everything else from Hollywood to 'Bollywood' that sends a clear message that being desirable, attractive and sexy is of paramount importance.
Despite these realities, the entertainers and their producers, advertisers, writers and the like will claim that they don't adversely affect the habits of people at all. They insist that they don’t negatively influence society in any way. At the very same time most of them will say that one of the most gratifying rewards of their professions is the effect they have upon people!
The Destructive Consequences
After all that liberation, a woman's worth is still tied to her level of physical beauty which is still considered her greatest asset and one to be exploited in the worst way. Males are increasingly judged in this way but not to the degree as are females. Even the modern ‘super-woman power-executive’ who is supposed to be respected for her intellect and authority still wears a mid-thigh skirt. She expects... no demands, to be viewed as absolutely equal to her male counterpart, yet does she really believe that when dressed this way her worth is not at all being judged based on her looks by even the unemployed vagrant she passes by on the way to work? Indeed, it is commonplace, normal and in no way embarassing for a woman to wear the tightest and most revealing clothing in public and walk virtually nude at public beaches and swimming pools.
People are not at all embarassed or inhibited with public displays of sexual passion. It is not at all uncommon for couples to have intercourse in classic "make-out" spots like dark theaters, the beach, parks, their cars, and in one well-reported incident, on a commuter train in full view of the public who were more upset at the couple smoking afterwards than they were by their brazen display!
Prostitution in all its forms is increasingly open and given a "blind eye" by law enforcement who have their hands full with "real" crimes. It is even legal in some countries despite what would seem the relative easy availability of sex otherwise. There are places that are world famous for their open markets of female, male and child prostitutes. Legal statutes forbidding sex between minors, or certain other sexual practices are often not applied until and unless a formal complaint is brought against one party by another and may then even be found to be so outdated that they are wiped out completely. Adultery and fornication are no longer viewed as the deadly crimes and sins they really are and are in fact commonplace. Married men are expected to have several mistresses in some places.
It is the odd parent who does not expect their child to become sexually active at some point long before getting married or even before getting out of junior high school! Indeed, it is the odd person who values virginity until marriage even in these times of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are being handed out for free in several public school systems. A heavy price is being paid in unwanted unmarried teenage pregnancies, 'fatherless' children and resultant economic, health and psychological problems.
Homosexuality has now become accepted by a large number of people particularly in the West as well as in other circles that are "westernized". An indication of this changed attitude is the fact that homosexuals are no longer portrayed as they sterotypically were in past Hollywood films and television as ‘flaming faggots’ who were silly, lisping, cowardly weaklings or sexually promiscuous. That is and was considered offensive by homosexuals and is now ‘politically incorrect’ among the ‘mainstream’ heterosexual populace. Recent portrayals are now often of the homosexual as sensitive, level-headed and responsible members of society. Perhaps it could be accurately stated that homosexuality is accepted by a majority of Americans and Europeans even if they personally do not practice it. Accepted in so much as no one will report or condemn or discriminate against a homosexual in most areas unless they are flagrantly offensive in their mannerisms and behavior. This in no way implies that there aren't many people who still find homosexuality abhorrent and even react violently to it. However, it is considered absolutely politically incorrect in 'mainstream' circles to imply that homosexuals are any less moral and have any less right to practice what they practice than any heterosexual.
Even worse are reports in recent years that it has been statistically proven that a staggeringly high percentage of American females have been and can expect to be not only harassed but sexually assaulted in their lifetimes - even by family members! Violent sexual crimes are no longer shocking and rapists are given relatively light sentences if convicted. Child sexual abuse and "date rape" is a major problem and who knows how many incidences go unreported? "Stalking" is another type of crime that an amazingly high number of women have experienced and more can expect. Even wealthy and powerful men face being sexually assaulted or threatened (see Steven Spielberg).
Every man, no matter how rich or powerful faces a high risk of being accused of being a perpetrator of sexual harassment or even assault (see Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton). Literally millions of people, especially women, are victims each year of sexually related disasters from rape and assault to divorces and crimes of passion, and from sexually transmitted diseases to psychological and emotional disorders.
Refusal To Face The Need For Change
Even in the face of this staggering toll in human suffering and degradation, the disbelievers and doubters in Islam still incredulously ask: You Muslims say that Islam wants women to be all covered up?! They can't wear whatever they please shouldn't go out perfumed?! The opposite sex shouldn't even shake hands with those who are not their close relatives or spouses nor should an unrelated man and a woman be in a room alone together even if they are engaged?! You're not supposed to go out on dates? You shouldn't listen to music, especially the romantic, sexy, and sexually explicit songs!? No swimming or visiting the public beaches in the summer?! Not even the same sex should see each other in scanty, skin-tight, or see-through clothing or even shower together at the gym?! You're against co-educational institutions?! You're supposed to lower your gaze when the opposite sex comes along and if you must speak to them it should be in a no-nonsense tone?! You really place great value on chastity, modesty and virginit until marriage?! You encourage that men be jealous for and protective of their wives?! Premarital sex is a punishable crime and adultery is a capital offense?! No sex unless you are married to your partner?! You can marry up to four women?!!!
They call the genuine, devout, practicing Muslims extremists (equating them with terrorists in the mind of the average person), yet they don't (or refuse to) recognize the ugly realities described earlier as outrageous and extreme! They label Muslims fundamentalists, but they don’t admit that the present situation calls for a major and fundamental revision of their principles! They say we are strange but we don't mind. As the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam said:
Islam began as something strange and it will again become something strange. Therefore, may Allah bless the strangers!