Can I Join a Seminary to Avoid the Sin of Pornography?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

I’ve struggled with pornography since I was 12 and am in my early 20s. I’ve tried everything, including Purify Your Gaze, mostly generic self-help (which isn’t that effective if you want to stay away from your computer), 12 Step (SAA), Counseling, Shuyukh and dua, and tahajjud. I always make tawba, give sadaqa, and pray two raka, but sometimes I want to give up. One shuyukh suggested I masturbate because it’s makruh, so I’ve been trying that instead. My questions are:

Would group counseling be allowed, or would it be wrong to reveal one’s sins?

I love studying Islam and Seekers Guidance courses. Is it right for me to study in a seminary if I have this problem?

Multiple shuyukh and religious figures recommended masturbating instead. I don’t like it, but should I try that as an alternative?

Also, I wish more shuyukh took an active effort with counselors to create and try programs to help us, I know you all are very busy, but anything helps.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

I am sorry to hear of your difficulty and pray that Allah Most High grants you strength through this difficulty.

Group Counselling

In normal circumstances, one is obliged to conceal their sins. The exception is if one is seeking help in leaving that sin.

If one does find themselves in need of such assistance, it is permissible to the extent of the need. Therefore if one can get help while remaining anonymous, they must.

However, I am aware that some situations are more pressing.

If you are reasonably sure that group counseling will help you through this difficulty, it is permissible for you to do so.

Islamic Seminary

It is permissible for one to enroll in an Islamic seminary even though they have a pornography addiction.

However, if this means living in a dorm with other students, one should be careful not to introduce such sinful acts to others.

The environment of most Islamic seminaries may facilitate you leaving this sin. As faith strengthens one’s physical desires, sinful propensities tend to diminish and subside.

Masturbating as an Alternative to Pornography

Although masturbating is less of a sin than watching pornography, it is in no way a solution. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

Some scholars have mentioned some dispensations that ‘it is hoped that no punishment is upon the unmarried person with overwhelming desires to masturbate; that is if one’s intention in masturbating is to relieve the burden of their desires, not to enjoy their fulfillment.’ [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

“If one’s desire becomes overwhelming, so they masturbate intending to calm the desire,  it is hoped that they won’t receive any punishment.” [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar citing Fath al-Qadir]

Here is a reader on pornography:
A Reader on Pornography and Masturbation

Alternatives to Masturbating

You must seek alternatives to masturbating. Take precautionary means to subvert the urge to watch pornography. For example, do not allow yourself to use the internet in private.

Marriage

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever amongst you can, they should marry. It is more effective in guarding the gaze and preserving one’s chastity.” [Bukhari]

“If one cannot stop themselves from an impermissible gaze or masturbating, it is obligatory to marry…” [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

Taking On Religious Means

I would encourage you to pray the prayer of need. See the following links.

Hope this helps.
And Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.