Salam Alaikom wa Rahmatullah wa Baraktuhu Dear Brother
Thank you for writing to us with your worries. I can understand your fears, and as you are quite young, masallah, I think, taking this step shows that you are brave and have willingness to change.
The Effects of Puberty
Actually, I would like to start by pointing out that according to your letter, you are just in the middle of puberty, a natural transitional stage where huge hormonal and physiological changes take place in your body. On the one hand, I think your sexual thoughts have to do quite a lot with these normal changes.
Puberty is the time when adolescents reach sexual maturity and the capability to reproduce. This means the gradual increment of hormones – testosterone, among others – in your body. Testosterone has various roles, but one important role is the regulation of sex drive.
So, to put it simple my dear brother: as you grow, the more testosterone is produced in your body, the more intense your sexual desire will be. And desires manifest also through your thoughts. This is a completely normal, natural and healthy process, and the vast majority of teenagers would experience the effects of it somehow.
On the other hand, I think there are some practical ways which could help you to regulate these thoughts, as you also have to understand, that exposure to sexual content could influence the nature of your desires.
Limit and Filter Content On Screen
Even in Muslim countries, there is constant flow of images, videos, with sexual and provocative elements through social media, and movies. Research shows that TV displays more and more sexual content, even in programs designed for teenagers. Being exposed to sexual content would definitely affect your thoughts and desires, making them more frequent and intense.
I do not know how much time you spend on social media or watching films and videos, but I kindly advise you to limit your screen time to Islamically acceptable content. If you are with other family members, try to avoid love stories and romantic dramas. The same applies to your friends when you are together with your devices: make sure you skip inappropriate videos, or even ads on FB, YT, etc.
Channel your energies
As a teenager you need time for recreation and physical activity as well, so I encourage you to spend enough time outdoors with your friends. Creative and spiritual activities will also help to channel your energies. The Islamic recommendation for controlling your desires is fasting, so you can try to fast some days and or spend time in the local masjid.
Controlling Your Thoughts
Let’s speak about your disturbing and repetitive thoughts as well. First of all, I would like you to understand that from an Islamic perspective we are not accountable for our thoughts, as we cannot control them. If you want to learn more about this, please check or write to our Ask the Scholar section to receive a more detailed explanation.
So, while in Islam we are not accountable for our thoughts, we are accountable for our actions. My dear brother, I understand that you feel guilty for these disturbing thoughts but I want to reassure you that you are not accountable for them in front of Allah (STW) as long as you do not commit acts upon them that are not permissible in Islam.
Controlling Your Response
At the same time, while you are not in control of your thoughts, you can learn to respond to them in a way that would reduce your distress and guilt. In other words, do not get overwhelmed by the feelings of guilt, as you are not guilty for your disturbing thoughts. Rather, concentrate on the thing you can control: your response to them.
Next time you experience disturbing thoughts try to stop them: start with Bismillah, take a slow, deep breath and imagine a big red STOP sign. Repeat this action slowly, at least 7-8 times. You can also distract yourself: change your position, and engage yourself in some activity. Try to spend less time alone when you have time to daydream. Furthermore, you can try the Prophetic recommendation and fast to control your desires.
Insha Allah, understanding the normal nature of physiological changes in your body; avoiding inappropriate content on screen; accepting that you are not accountable for your thoughts, and practicing some techniques to distract yourself will make you feel better.
However, if you try to implement these steps but you still experience repetitive thoughts and constant guilt, you need to consult a psychotherapist who would make the necessary tests to determine whether OCD (obsessive – compulsive disorder) or other mental illness could be the reason for your concern. Also, in my response I assumed that you have not experienced any form of abuse or trauma that could seriously affect your mental health. If this is the case, please also try to seek immediate help: try to speak with a family member or doctor you trust to be able to start treatment and healing.
May Allah bless you, I wish you the best!
Views expressed by hosts/guests on this program (live dialogue, Facebook sessions, etc.) are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent.