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I’m Religious, But I Can’t Stop Masturbating

12 May, 2022
Q I am a university student who is about to graduate. I have a secured job after graduation. I have found a girl whom I plan to marry after graduation.

I attend the Masjid regularly. I pray the 5 prayers. I help organize community events. I have good friend group. I eat halal. I exercise a few times a week. I visit parents on some weekends. I am memorizing Quran. Alhamdulillah.

Yet, despite these things, I’ve had trouble with porn and masturbation. I’ve consciously fought for over three years, yet to no avail. I’m ashamed. I feel guilty. I ask Allah for forgiveness. I try not to do it again. However, after a week or so, I fall again and repeat.

I’m tired of reading the same articles over and over again. I’m just tired in general. I don’t have social media, yet this remains a problem. I stay around good crowds, yet this remains a problem.

I’ve tried to purify my gaze but didn’t find it too helpful. I’ve tried to dedicate myself to good works, yet the bad always seems to sneak back, no matter how I change my situation/environment. The thoughts of attraction get too burdensome for me and I feel too weak to resist.

I will continue to struggle and ask Allah for help. I understand there is no other advice you can give me (if there was, I would have read it by now. If there is, please let me know).

Help me understand: why hasn’t Allah helped/guided me yet? I know He guides and wants to guide if we turn to Him. I’m wishing for something good, yet the bad remains.

Is it to show me I’m weak? I understand that by now, it’s been years. If I was cured by now, wouldn’t it have been better for me? Since I would have fewer sins.

My days are filled with depression, boredom, low self-esteem, and anxiety. All because of my failures with this.

I don’t get the point either. If Allah promises to forgive, then what’s the point of all the suffering/pain/guilt now?

Alhamdulillah I have someone to look forward to in marriage Insha’Allah in a few months. But I want to be cured/healthy before then.

How can I be cured when I am so weak? How can I be cured when the memories of my transgressions will haunt me for my whole life?

Why is life so miserable? Why can’t I feel joy? When will help come?

If help is so near, why has Allah waited so long to help me stop sinning? I pledge to stop again, but as you can tell, I am not very confident. I’m heartbroken at my situation.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

  • Your problem with porn and masturbation is a very common problem. You are not in a unique situation. Many struggles with this
  • Reading your question and looking at how you have expressed your feelings, it is obvious that you love Allah very much
  • The problem may be cyclic in that the more porn you watch, the more you masturbate
  • Porn can have a negative effect on your future performance by reducing sexual satisfaction.
  • Take steps to resolve any situations in which we seek help. This may include lowering your gaze, immediately imagining a big red stop sign in your mind when you begin to think about watching porn or masturbating.
  • I would encourage you to utilize intervention methods when you feel like watching porn.
  • For 30 days, tells yourself you can resist watching porn. In fact, insha’Allah, start a journal and write down your goals to stop watching porn.

As salamu Alaykum,

Thank you for trusting us with your most important issues, feelings and questions. May Allah bless you and guide us in our responses.

Your problem with porn and masturbation is a very common problem. You are not in a unique situation. Many struggles with this. Reading your question and looking at how you have expressed your feelings, it is obvious that you love Allah very much.

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You feel much shame, guilt, and self-disgust. You have tried to resolve this problem by educating yourself, staying around positive, good people, doing good works, and changing your environment and situation. Yet, the problem and habit persist.

The problem may be cyclic in that the more porn you watch, the more you masturbate. You state that despite trying to stop, you feel that you are too weak to resist.

Possible Consequences of Porn

Sexual feelings and urges are completely normal, as you know. As human beings, we were created with sexual desires. The problem comes when we cannot control these urges if we are not married.

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Addiction to porn as you know is Haram. Porn can have negative effects on your self-esteem and other areas of life. It can also be damaging to future marital relationships.

According to Psychology Today, porn can have a negative effect on your future performance by reducing sexual satisfaction. Porn is associated with loneliness. Porn can alter expectations and desires in marriage. Problems often come in when those who are addicted to porn expect their wives or husbands to resemble porn stars, which is a fantasy. Additionally, some find they are unable to perform sexually after habitually watching porn for a long time.

Seeking Allah’s Help to Stop Watching Porn

As a Muslim, you know that by watching porn you are transgressing the principles of piety and purity. You stated that you have struggled with this for a while and have been asking for Allah’s help. You wonder why Allah has not helped or guided you yet.

I’m Religious, But I Can't Stop Masturbating - About Islam

As you know, Allah is the most merciful and loves to forgive. Consider this “Except those who repent and believe and do righteous deeds; for those, God will change their sins into good deeds, and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 25:70).

And this hadith: “If you did not commit sins, God would replace you with other people who would commit sins and ask for God’s forgiveness, and He would forgive them.” (Saheeh Muslim).

Allah does guide and help us. However, we must take steps to resolve any situations in which we seek help. This may include lowering your gaze, immediately imagining a big red stop sign in your mind when you begin to think about watching porn or masturbating.

You can read the Qur’an when these thoughts come to your mind, too. After all, it is very difficult to remain in a sexually aroused state when one is reading the Qur’an.

Thinking about Porn through Worry, Anxiety, Guilt

You state that you are in a constant mindset of depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and guilt. I am wondering if your constant thinking about all of this keeps it fresh in your mind, and in a cycle that cannot stop. In other words, if you wake up every day feeling guilty, horrible, depressed, shameful, and filled with anxiety because of the pornography and masturbation, then your brain never has a chance to rewire itself. You are always thinking about it in one way or another. If you can get the pornography under control, meaning stop watching it, insha’Allah you may find that masturbation may decrease.

Tips to Stop Watching Porn

I would kindly suggest that you focus on decreasing your view on pornography first. In some opinions, this is the most sinful of the two behaviors. As stated earlier, pornography may have a negative effect on sexual relationships and marriage.

With that said, I would encourage you to utilize intervention methods when you feel like watching porn. This could be engaging in activity immediately, praying, reading Quran, exercising, or other interrupting activities.

You may wish to increase your exercise activities, as this may help to discharge sexual energy as well. The test will come regarding your will power to resist. As you already stated, you feel you are too weak to resist. This can be self-defeating. In order to stop, you must instead tell yourself that you are strong enough to resist.

Internal Messages

When we give ourselves internal messages such as „I am too weak to resist”, or „I cannot complete my homework”, or „I am not good enough to apply for this job and get it”, and so forth, it sets us up mentally for possible failure.

It has already been decided that it can’t be done. If you tell yourself that you can resist, or you can do whatever it is that the situation involves, then more than likely you will succeed.

30 Days

Insha’Allah, for 30 days, tells yourself you can resist watching porn. In fact, insha’Allah, start a journal and write down your goals to stop watching porn. You may wish to break this up into weekly segments.

Every day write the phrase ’I can stop and I can resist watching porn”. You may need to write this several times a day in your Journal. Each day that you resist watching porn, give yourself a small reward such as going out for a cup of coffee.

In your journal on each day that you refrain from watching porn, put a big red plus sign with a smiley face. I know it sounds rather elementary. However, this method of positive reinforcement with a visual signs such smiles and plus signs does usually work. They are visual reminders of success.

On days where you may fail, and you may because you are human, do not repeat negative thoughts in your head about feeling shameful, guilty, or bad. This will only reinforce the cycle again. Instead, tell yourself this was one mistake, tomorrow is a new day, and make repentance to Allah. Do not think any more about the incident because that gives it power.

If you can keep this journal for 30 days insha’Allah, you may see a decrease in your porn watching. Insha’Allah, you will find that your desire to watch porn is less and less. When you were successful, you were giving yourself positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement increases behavior.

Masturbation

By using positive reinforcement, positive self-talk, rewarding yourself for not engaging in the behaviors as well as substituting other activities, you will insha’Allah begin to break the habit.


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As far as masturbation, you should see this decrease as well as the porn-watching decreases. You will still have urges to masturbate even if you do not watch porn because as a human being, you have sexual desires.

While there are varying scholarly opinions on this, I am less concerned with someone who masturbates once in a while, as it is better than committing Zina. Allah Knows best and is the final judge.

Points on Tests, Trials & Suffering

In your question, you also discussed your concern about whether or not the point of suffering right now is worth it. You stated that if Allah promises to forgive, then what is the point of all this suffering and pain right now.

Possibly, pain and suffering, and tests and trials in this life are here to make us stronger, better people. Trials and tests teach us lessons. They give us wisdom. Without being tested, without suffering sometimes, we will never learn what is joy, or truth. If everything in life was easy, what would be the point of striving and looking forward to Jennah?

When we strive and struggle towards something and overcome it or get through it, it makes us feel good. It gives us confidence and makes us wiser in future moves. More than likely, just like everybody else in this life, you may face even harder obstacles to overcome.

Only you can decide whether you will have the strength to do it. I am fully confident that you do have the strength, the will to resist this habit as well as anything else that comes up in your life. However, the importance lies with what do you think. 

Relying on Allah

When you repent to Allah for your sins and are sincere, your sins are forgiven. Allah tells us this and that He loves to forgive. If you focus on this, you will be less likely to feel as if you cannot overcome this. If you stop thinking about your sinful behavior all the time after you have repented, you will likely reap the blessings from your repentance.

When we give our sins over to Allah and ask for forgiveness, we’re not supposed to hold on to them and think about them. Even though we may feel horribly guilty and bad about what we did, we are to let it go because Allah covers our sins.

If we keep thinking about it, it not only entices us to commit the sin again but it shows that we kind of doubt Allah as mercy and forgiveness, which as you know we should not do.

Stop Focusing on the Negative

I kindly suggest that in sha’Allah, you stop focusing on how bad you feel all the time. Replace these feelings of guilt, shame, depression, and anxiety with positive activities, thoughts, and continued prayers to Allah. Again, try to do this within the 30 days that you are doing your Journal. As your negative thoughts are decreasing, you may find more strength and the ability to resist temptation.

Low Self Esteem

You seem like a very good Muslim, and a very compassionate, striving individual. What may be at the root of your problems may not be the porn per se, but it may be what you think about yourself.

If you have developed a very deeply integrated negative self-image, that needs to be addressed. For resolution and healing of ’a self-hatred” or something such as that, counseling on a regular basis is needed.

Again, I do suggest that you seek out free or low-cost counseling options. You may find that once you begin your journey of healing and start to love yourself and see the good in yourself, you will be able to overcome anything.

Counseling

If after the above suggestions and tips do not help, I kindly suggest you do see a counselor and speak with them about your situation. An Islamic counselor would be best as you are Muslim. However, a good counselor should be able to adapt to your spiritual and cultural belief system.

I understand that you do not have the funds for a counselor right now. However, as you live in the US, there are community centers that do counseling for free or for a very low cost. There may be even counseling at your university for free.

Conclusion

As you stated you are getting married after graduation, I would kindly suggest that you think of your future spouse and know that these steps you are taking now will benefit not only you but your future spouse as well.

You want a healthy, happy marriage. This would include your being emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically stable.

I kindly suggest that you begin to address these issues first through learning to love yourself, imperfections and all.

List your strong and good points. List your points you need to work on. We all have these points.

Once you can stop self-loathing, you may find it easier to stop watching porn and reduce masturbation. High self-esteem and self-confidence are related to successful outcomes. This is not an arrogance, but rather a love for what/who Allah created-and that is you.

We all have flaws, shortcomings. We all sin. However changing, resisting sin, being a better Muslim may also depend on how much we believe that we can. Self-image and self-talk are a big influence!  By changing your self-perception, and working with the tips and suggestions, you can overcome this.

We wish you the best.

salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/youth-q-a/i-can-not-give-up-masturbation/

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.