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Ask the Counselor (Counseling Live Session)

Dear Brother/Sisters,

Due to the counselor’s limited capacity of answering questions, here are the 4 questions that our counselor has provided an answer for. We apologize for not answering all the other questions.

If you have not received an answer below at this time, please submit your question to one of our upcoming Live Sessions. Thank you for your understanding.

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in these responses are very general. They are 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.

Question 1.  Pedophilia

What does Islam say about a person who is a pedhophile?

What is the punishment in Islam for a pedhophile?

What should a woman do, when she finds out that her husband has molested her kids?

Salam Alaikom Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu Dear Sister, 

Thank you for turning to us with your questions. I acknowledge your strength for making the decision to open up. The topic you raise is a very serious matter, and although it just partly relates to counseling, I am including it in the answers due to its severity and importance to take action as soon as possible.  While you do not reveal any details about the age/ gender of your child(ren), the context and the details, there are clear cut boundaries regarding sexual abuse that should not be crossed. I would address this in my answer inShaAllah.  

Regarding the first two questions about pedophilia and Islam, I kindly ask you to write to our sections Ask About Islam and Ask the Scholar for more precise answer on Islamic stances and rulings. However, I can reassure you that pedophilia and sexual abuse of children have absolutely no place in Islam and it is a very serious crime both morally and legally. 

First, I would start with some definitions, because your last question is rather related to sexual abuse of one’s own children.

According to the American Psychological Association pedophilia – a subcategory of paraphilia – means “sexual acts or fantasies involving prepubertal children are the persistently preferred or exclusive method of achieving sexual excitement. The children are usually many years younger than the pedophile (or pedophiliac). Sexual activity may consist of looking and touching but may include intercourse, even with very young children.”

So, with other words, sexual attraction and behavior towards children who haven’t reached puberty yet. 

The psychological terminology also describes hebephilia (adult sexual attraction preference of early adolescents (11-14 years old) and ephebophilia (of late adolescents, 15-19). These two do not fall under the category of paraphilia and are not considered mental disorders, however could lead to legal consequences and punishment, depending on the rulings of each country. 

In Islam the only permitted sexual relationship is within the boundaries of marriage between a man and a woman. Everything else falls into the category of prohibitions. And although technically speaking, in Islam adulthood starts after passing puberty, being in sexual relationship is only permitted in the marriage and with explicit ruling on who one can marry. Allah says in the Quran: 

“Also˺ forbidden to you for marriage are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your paternal and maternal aunts, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your foster-mothers, your foster-sisters, your mothers-in-law, your stepdaughters under your guardianship if you have consummated marriage with their mothers—but if you have not, then you can marry them—nor the wives of your own sons, nor two sisters together at the same time—except what was done previously. Surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 4:23)

The Quran is very clear about the prohibition of marrying one’s own daughter, therefore being in any kind of sexual relationship with her (and obviously with his son).

My dear Sister, what your last question refers, by no means is permitted in Islam. Sexual abuse is a crime, and unacceptable both legally and morally. It is indeed a very traumatic experience and has serious consequences on the physical and mental health of the child. 

So, I strongly recommend you take urgent steps to stop his behavior and to protect your children from further harm. Your child(ren) needs to be removed from the place where is at risk of future harm and needs immediate professional support to start recovery.

I know and completely understand that it could be very hard to face the fact that your husband is involved in such a wrong act. You may also need further counseling and professional help to cope with this situation and prepare yourself for conflicts that could arise from discovering the abuse and wanting to prevent it in the future. 

You do not say more about the context and the situation you are in, but you have to be prepared for any kind of reaction, and you have to stay strong on your children’s side. You will probably be threatened by your husband or by family members who prefer to hide this behavior, fearing the loss of reputation and respect in your local community. You may hear promises and words of repentance in order to change your mind. 

But I would like you to understand that your responsibility is to protect your children from any harm possible, even when the harm is coming from their own father who transgress the boundaries of Islam and morality. 

So, if you are certain that sexual abuse has taken place – i.e., you have witnessed it -, please do not hesitate and ask for legal help. If you are not 100% sure, but you have the confession of your children, it is very recommended to trust in their words, as usually children do not invent stories including sexual elements they have not experienced before somehow. This can manifest through games, stories, movements and unusual, not age-appropriate behavior.  Sometimes the opposite happens, and they try to negate that they are victims fearing some consequences promised by the abuser, or because of their perception of what normal intimacy and boundaries mean has been distorted. 

If you are experiencing the following symptoms you need to take legal action immediately:

  • changes in behavior and mood that could not be explained by other reasons
  • unusual crying, nightmares, clinginess and physical symptoms that could not be related to normal activity or other causes: stomach pain, swelling or redness in the genital area,

pain when going to the toilet, difficulty walking or sitting, bruises on soft parts of their body, like buttocks or thighs, symptoms of a urinary tract infection, like burning while going to the toilet, symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection, like discharge from the penis or vagina.

  • strange questions about keeping secrets, telling secrets and its consequences.

You also need to understand, that not only sexual intercourse is sexual abuse, but touching, kissing, verbal assault or abuse, or trying to involve the child in sexual behavior

When you talk to your child about what happened, try to be calm, neutral while supportive and non-judgmental. Please, try to avoid strong emotional reactions and slander, as it might frighten her and cause withdrawn. You need to reassure her that it is safe to talk to you and you are going to support her, despite disclosing uncomfortable details. 

Please, ask for help, as sexual abuse is considered a crime. Furthermore, both you and the victim need therapy and support to overcome this situation. Even your husband, as pedophilia is a mental disorder; so beside that he has to bear the legal consequences and punishment for his actions, he needs to undergo therapy to recover from this condition. Here is a helpline for parents, and another one for Muslim women.

My sister, I know that this situation is a big test for all of you. You need to stay strong and keep in mind the safety and health of your child. I wish you perseverance and determination to take action, may Allah help you!

Question 2. Is it allowed to refuse any marriage proposal because I’ve committed zina in the past?

Salam Aleykoum,

I’m a young woman and I have shamefully committed zina in the past.

I’ve made sincere tawba, never did it again, and still seek for forgiveness today.

Now, I’m at an age where I should probably marry, but I don’t feel worthy of mans that are asking for my hand.

Also, I really don’t want my parents to find out, because they will never be able to forgive me.

Marrying or even telling the man before marriage that I’m not a virgin is a risk I’m not ready to take. 

Staying single is not something I want, but I feel stuck between the fear of being revealed and have my parents’ wrath, And the fear of being divorced if I don’t talk about it before marriage.

So, my question is, is this a valid reason to not get married? Because I’ve read that it is mandatory to marry if we have a good proposal. Am I doing something haram?

Salam Alaikom wa Rahamtullah wa Barakatuhu Dear Sister,

Thank you for sharing your concern with us. As you wrote, you committed zina in the past, and although you repented it, you are afraid of getting married as this would reveal the fact that you are not a virgin. You also mention that you fear the wrath of your parents and that you might end up divorcing if you enter the marriage without disclosing your past. 

Dear sister, I understand your conflicting feelings, and also the frustration that arise from experiencing the consequences of a wrong decision in the past. However, as you told, you have already repented your behavior and asked for forgiveness from Allah. Masallah, repenting our wrongdoing and asking for forgiveness from Allah is one of the most important things we can do for change. Allah is the most Forgiving and Most Merciful, so as long as you are sincere in your repentance you can trust in His forgiveness. 

I would say that the same ability of forgiveness should apply to human beings, for example to you and to your parents. You might think that they would not forgive you for what you have done, but remember, they are also humans and commit mistakes and surely have committed errors as well. We need to model the ultimate mercy and forgiveness of Allah, the Almighty when it is about forgiving our loved ones and other human beings. That is why is also important to forgive yourself as well, as you cannot change what happened, but you can do a lot for your future with your present actions.

I understand that you feel ashamed and guilty and you feel that you deserve their anger. And probably you can expect intense reaction from them if you reveal this matter, because they need to face a different reality about your past. Probably there would be some feelings of disappointment and shame in their reaction due to this sudden clash. And sometimes the fact that you were not telling the truth is more disappointing than what you have actually done.

But I am sure that they love you and want to protect you and the best for you: a happy and successful marriage. If you are sincere with them and try to explain them what happened and why were you not strong enough to resist zina; how you realized that is a wrong path, how you repented, and now why you would like to marry and be in a relationship according to Islam; they would inSha Allah understand that we are all going to be tested somehow. Some of us with their self – control and desires, others with their children, etc. The goal is to get closer to Allah, to be more mindful of Him and to live a life according to Islam.

Maybe you were too young, maybe you had little understanding of why zina is not permitted in Islam. Maybe the peer pressure was too strong, or probably you were not able to control your desires and feelings. I am not trying to excuse your behavior, just trying to highlight that we all have weaknesses and our all life is about gaining more and more consciousness of Allah and His guidance. Until the last moment of our life we can repent our sins and hope Allah, The All-Forgivingꞌs forgiveness for all sins: “O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins.1 He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 39:53). 

So, I encourage you to ponder upon the possibility of speaking to your parents in case they do not understand what is the reason behind resisting marriage and rejecting seemingly good proposals. Kindness, sincerity and clear signs of repentance would soften their hearts in Sha Allah.

And I would advise the same sincere approach with your potential partners. Your letter reflects that you are aware of the importance of sincerity in a relationship and the negative consequences of hiding things, as that would harm the trust in the marriage. I think both you and your future spouse deserve mutual trust, confidence and open communication, and it is definitely more desirable not to hide things that one day could destroy all of these at once. 

I also believe that the one meant to you would accept you for who you are, including past mistakes you committed. Probably he has gone through struggles as well.  You know, Allah changes the heart of who He wishes, and can turn towards or away from the deen. We need to look our potential spouse at the present moment when we are dealing with a proposal, neither the past nor the -still uncertain -future.

The important question is what is your attitude towards these mistakes now? Have you repented and left those moments behind? You need to focus on what you can offer now as a wife. As long as now you are committed to the deen, have willingness to practice the faith according to your best abilities, and stay away from impermissible actions, you do not need to “not feel worthy of men that are asking for my hand”, as you stated above.

Furthermore, being a virgin is not a condition of marriage in Islam. Among the Prophet’s wives we find widows and formerly divorced one as well. I understand that your past relationship would alienate some spouses, but I am sure that there would be others who would understand your struggle and would appreciate your sincerity and strength to overcome and repent wrong actions.

Regarding the last question: “is this a valid reason to not get married?”, I would say to turn to the Ask the Scholar section of the site if you would like to have an answer on legal rulings about zina and accepting marriage proposals.

I wish you the best outcome possible, may Allah make it easy for you! Ramadan Mubarak

Question 3. Do I listen to my heart or my family?

Assalamualaikum,

I have been in a relationship with my partner for over a year now and my family does not approve of it. My relationship has been halal but I wasn’t ready to tell my family but they found out soon enough. I am half Pakistani and half Fijian. My mother is Muslim and my father is Hindu. My partner is latino and wants to convert to islam but my family still doesn’t approve. They think he is going to use me for money or sexual relations but that is not true. When I told my family I love him and that when he converts we will marry they called me bad names and said I am stupid that it is infatuation and they beat me up. Both my older and younger brother beat me up, both my parents beat me up, my older sister beat me up, and my little sister called me names. He is a good hearted man but they don’t see that, they see his race. I thought my parents would understand because they have an interracial marriage but they don’t. They plan to get me married and don’t tell me who they talk to. They don’t let me work or have a phone, they have passcodes on all devices. They just want me to sit home until they find me a suitable husband. I want to run away from home but I am scared to do that. Do I listen to my family and leave my partner or should I still pursue this relationship with him and help him convert and get married? Please help

Salam Alaikom wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu Dear Sister, 

Thank you for writing to us with your concern regarding your willingness to marry that caused rejection from your family. I am sorry for your troubles; I will reflect on the main points you raised in your letter.

So, you are writing that you would like to marry a Latino man, who is ready to convert to Islam, alhamdulillah. However, your parents – their marriage is both interfaith and interracial – do not approve this proposal, and they plan to find you a suitable partner instead, while you are restricted from work and phone calls. 

Your question was: “Do I listen to my heart or my family?” Well, my dear Sister, to answer it with a simple answer: you need to listen to the guidance of Allah, and what Islam says about halal marriages.

You write that your relationship until now is “halal” – you do not exactly explain what does this mean for you, so I assume that you have met someone and you are both ready to get married, your partner is ready to convert to Islam, so you can start to establish a Muslim family.

In Islam, there are certain conditions both husband and wife need to fulfill in order to be able to get married; furthermore, they have certain duties and rights in the marriage. It is very recommendable to both gain enough knowledge on these conditions, rights and duties, especially if he is only coming to the deen now, and make sure that you have a mutual consensus and willingness to fulfill them. He also needs to fulfill the financial conditions of the marriage: he has to be able to provide for you after marriage, and give you mahr -dowry when the marriage contract takes place. 

A Muslim Wali 

There are other two very important conditions that in your case have a special significance: the approval of both of you – the bride and the groom – and the consent of the wali – male guardian – of the bride. The wali is usually the father, in case of his absence could be a brother or other male family member, or a trustful member from the community. But first and foremost, he has to be a Muslim in order to approve your willingness to marry. In case of non-Muslim relatives, a trustful Muslim is assigned by Muslim authorities (for ex. the imam) to conclude this role during the nikah. My dear Sister, as you state, your father is a Hindu, so technically speaking he cannot be your wali and consent your Islamic marriage (nikah). Yes, the consent of the wali is a condition in Islam, but what if he is from another faith? If you want to know more about this topic, please write to our section: Ask the Scholar.

Interfaith marriage 

While focusing on your concern, I need to mention that Islamically speaking, marriage only can be valid when both spouses are Muslims, or the bride is from the “People of the Book” (i.e., practicing, believing Christian or Jew), but not the opposite – Muslim woman with non-Muslim man – and never with someone from polytheistic religions: “Do not marry polytheistic women until they believe; for a believing slave-woman is better than a free polytheist, even though she may look pleasant to you. And do not marry your women to polytheistic men until they believe, for a believing slave-man is better than a free polytheist, even though he may look pleasant to you.” (Al – Baqarah 2:221)

Why is this important in your case? Because if your father practices Hinduism, he might be unaware and uninterested in the Islamic beliefs and rulings on his role as a father, and probably he prefers to follow the traditions of his own religion, also when it is about marrying his daughter. So, even if you make sure that your future husband is ready to fulfill the conditions of an Islamic marriage, you still could face obstacles as your father holds himself accountable to a different belief than the principles of the Abrahamic faiths. He may have a different stance on his role to find you a spouse or to have your consent for the marriage.

At the same time, your future spouse’s willingness to convert to Islam is very positive, as you will avoid similar conflicts due to Islamically invalid union between husband and wife. If you both sure and agree that you want to follow Islam in your life as spouses and form a Muslim family, that would bring a firmer ground due to the similarity of values. 

Interracial marriage 

Beside the interfaith aspect of your question, there is an interracial one as well: that your future husband is Latino. Again, Islamically speaking, racial differences are not valid reasons for rejecting a marriage proposal, rather the God- consciousness of the spouses: “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.” These are the words of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), reminding mankind that no race or nationality is superior than another. Sometimes, cultural norms distort this beautiful message giving preference of certain race or nationality over religion and piety. 

Obedience to Parents

Finally, I arrive at your last question regarding obedience to your parents in this matter. Well, in Islam our parents have very special role, and after Allah they are the second ones mentioned who deserve our honor and obedience: “For your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And honor your parents.” (Quran 17:23) This obedience however has one limit: the righteousness of the parents. As long as your parents trying to conduct you according to Islam, you have to obey them, even in case of marriage, as their advises would base on the wisdom and guidance of Islam. At the same time, if they wish would cause you alienation from your faith, or has other basis that contradicts or not found in Islam, you do not need to follow your parents’ wish. Just remember the example of Prophet Ibrahim (SWT), who followed Islamic monotheism despite the rejection and willingness of his father.

To conclude, what I would suggest first is a kind approach towards your parents and the involvement of a trustful, knowledgeable Muslim family or community member who could have positive influence on your father. Explaining the benefits of Islamic marriage and the blessings of mutual consent of bride and groom by someone who he – your father – respects might change his stance on this matter. You also could ask for further advice from the local imam on what your possibilities legally are and how to proceed in this case with your marriage.

May Allah make it easy for you, I wish you the best outcome possible.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Question 4: Fan-fiction

 As salamualikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

It started with a show- mainly targeting kids, but was known for it’s romance. Accidentally I had clicked different websites and found “fan-fiction.” In the beginning it was filled with romance, but slowly the became inappropriate. Knowing this is haram, I hid this habit and have not prayed ( on and off ) for around two and a half years and left public high school and to attend alimah program. Although this alimah program brought some stability in my life, I haven’t fully let gone of this habit and feel it’s effects. There’s guiltiness for fooling my family and teachers, to hide this sin from people knowing Allah is there.  And there’s fear in telling my parents because I’m afraid of the consequences and the embarrassment . I am willing to change and hope you’ll be able to answer my question.

 How do I overcome this habit, and what steps are required for it’s effects to lessen, or in sha allah dissappear?

Salam Alaikom wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu,

Thank you for writing to us regarding your struggle with fan-fiction. As you write in your letter, you have discovered fan -fiction and have gradually consumed more and more of these stories. While knowing that is haram, you ended up stopping regular prayer for around two years and a half. You also left public high – school and attended an alimah program. You also say that you would like to get rid of this habit and that you are feeling guilty for hiding this sin from your parents and you fear their embarrassment. 

I understand your struggle and your feelings Sister. Surely, the guilt you are feeling because you are falling into the error again and again of committing something that you know is haram should be overwhelming. May Allah ease your distress.

Fanfiction is a fictional story based on existing works for fans and about fans: novels, movies, anime, cartoons, etc. The author uses the original characters, settings, etc. to create his own version, and usually – but not only – fills it with wide range of sexual content, from romance until pornography. This is just a brief definition of fan – fiction but it is very obvious that consuming these types of content with zina (of the eye) harms the soul and imaan, therefore is not permitted in Islam. If you are enjoying haram fantasies in your mind, you are constantly distorting your natural and healthy desires, and leading them towards potential transgression, even if you actually do not act upon them in the “real life”. 

I understand that probably you were led by your curiosity and to satisfy your soul that is led by desires. In the Quran Allah says: “Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 12:53)

In the original Arabic the soul that is a “persistent enjoiner of evil” called Nafs al-Ammara, the Commanding Soul. In the Quran Allah mentions three types of nafs: the Commanding Soul is the lowest level, and constantly urges us to engage in wrongdoing and enjoy sinning.

Only at the next stage one would feel remorse for their actions. The Nafs al -Lawammah, the Reproachful Soul is conscious of the wrong actions, and striving for pleasing Allah, although sometimes cannot resist desires. Probably most of us are at this stage, my sister, as we all commit mistakes and we are not at the extent of sins, even if we try our best to please Allah. 

If you are determined about change, you can take some firm steps towards it. I understand that it seems difficult for you to get rid of this habit. Sometimes it takes more effort, as some kind of reward – for example, pleasure – is associated with its practice. The desire to re-experience this pleasure can even lead to addiction in some cases, when the constant seeking of engaging in a certain activity actually interferes with normal daily functioning. At the same time, as you “have learnt” to practice this habit (reading fun-fiction), you also can unlearn it and substitute with a halal alternative. 

Forgive Yourself

The first thing to start with would be sincere repentance and seeking forgiveness from Allah. Allah is the Most Forgiving and Most Merciful, and loves to forgive: “If you ˹sincerely˺ love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 3:31) If you have decided to give up this habit, turn to Him and ask for His forgiveness. At the same time, you would need to forgive yourself as well. Being able to face the fact and accept that you were not strong enough to resist your desires and forgiving yourself would be the first step in the changing – process. 

Reestablish Prayer

You mention in your letter that you gave up regular prayer. I do not know whether you still do not pray the daily prayers, but it would be very important to reestablish this obligatory act of worship. Sincere prayer also works as a shield that protects one from falling into sins in between two salats. If you regain your connection with Allah, it will be easier to notice His guidance in your life and stay away from wrong deeds. 

Don’t Go with the Flow

I know that you are in your adolescence and during these years many psychological and physiological changes take place until one reaches maturity. There is a natural increase of hormones related to libido and sexual desires, also frequent experience of emotional intensity and curiosity about “discover” feelings of love, passion, etc., that is even exaggerated by peer pressure and the actual mainstream portray of teenagers in TV shows, series, etc. 

But as Muslims we need to be aware that letting ourselves be exposed to these contents and permitting ourselves to follow the expectations other than Allah could lead us to alienation from the deen. You need to erase these images from your mind, and the more effective way is to completely turn away from them. 

I would suggest completely cutting – off any access to fan -fiction sites: you can delete your account, or your email address to make sure you do not log in once again. Clear your browser, and delete the sites and archives from your devices. If you have fan -fiction books -get rid of them. Make it hard for yourself to find any content again. 

Use distraction

When you feel that you would like to engage in these stories, distract yourself with a completely different action: wake up, mix with your family members, make a phone call, start reading the Quran, etc. Try to visualize that with abstaining from sin you are leading your soul towards its last stage: the Nafs-ul-mutmainnah, the Content Soul, that is only happy with actions that please Allah. If you are able to say no to temptation, and you experience your own strength, it will give you further motivation in Sha Allah.

Righteous company and good deeds 

I do not know whether you have shared your interest in fan -fiction with some of your friends. If yes, I encourage you to seek friendships somewhere else: maybe around righteous Muslims in the alimiyah program you attend, or in your surroundings. Also, you can start new habits and engage in good deeds: volunteer, help others, etc. If you love reading, you do not need to give it up completely, just give yourself a halal alternative: there are fiction available for Muslims or by Muslim authors. You even can organize a reading circle and support each other with halal tips and talks. 

If you are stable in this path, in Sha Allah with time you can reverse the negative effects of fan – fiction in your life and regain healthy desires and habits. If you implement these steps and you do not experience any success, you might need to seek addiction related counseling where you will be provided with ongoing support until you completely recover. 

I wish you success sister, may Allah bless you!

Ramadan Mubarak!

Friday, Apr. 22, 2022 | 10:00 - 11:00 GMT

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