Appearance over the essence

Some years ago a friend asked,

“When we start telling our youth “haraam, haraam” you wonder why they aren’t responding. I have learned through behavioral psychology, “if you want to diminish a behavior, you better replace it with a different one.” When we tell our children dating is haraam, you can’t marry right now, you just can’t do anything. Why are we surprised when we find out the youth has been dating, sleeping around and is serious about this non-halal relationship? There must be a halal replacement, any suggestions? We can’t condemn the natural feelings Allah has given to humans as haraam, we can help channel these feelings into the halal Godly way. Let’s start with being honest with our youth, let’s talk it over without the “just believe statements,” shall we?”

A similar question was asked by Saudi psychologist Samira Al Ghamadi,

“Instead of becoming upset that such images (of naked Saudi women) are being broadcast, we should ask why such things happen in our homes. Why do our children enter these sites? Out of curiosity. They seek answers to things we never explain to them. We tell them that this is forbidden, and shameful, shameful, shameful, shameful… We never answer them. We always say: “They will learn in the future.” But they learn the wrong things, I am very sorry to say. We do not give them a sense of security. We do not give them enough room to express themselves, so they go to chat rooms. Many women might be upset with me for saying so, but there are married women whose husbands constantly pressure them, while they themselves go out at night and hang out. So the wife withdraws into the Internet and meet many people. She chooses an imaginary name, and meets guys who value her and treat her properly, while on the other hand, her husband humiliates her. Why wouldn’t she go there?”

This video clip was aired on LBC TV and is a TV Monitor Project of The Middle East Media Research Institute. The video illustrates how young Saudi women (who are allegedly oppressed by their husbands) turn to stripping in Internet chat rooms. The reporter begins the clip by saying:

“Behind closed doors and far from any supervising eyes, they remove their shame and turn their backs on all customs and traditions. Girls display their bodies in chat rooms on the Internet, in most cases, free of charge. As soon as one of these girls places the camera in front of her, she begins to strip, displaying her seductive charms to more than 300 young men of different ages. Some believe that the phenomenon of stripping over the Internet may be understood within the framework of social hypocrisy, especially since they believe that our religious and educational discourse does not attribute importance to the strengthening of self-restraint, and prefers the appearance over the essence. This drives some people to play several roles and wear several masks.”

What is the solution? Where are we going wrong? What is it that we are doing that isn’t quite right? Do we, as Muslims, think that “our religious and educational discourse does not attribute importance to the strengthening of self-restraint, and prefers the appearance over the essence”?

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7 thoughts on “Appearance over the essence

  1. rant says:

    as always, extreme behaviour begetting extreme behaviour.

    any kind of repression/ oppression makes u poisonous. eventually it’ll infect your brain and make u act out in self destructive and rebellious ways.

    why are we, muslims in particular, so ashamed of acknowledging our complete nature? we’re always lying to ourselves and pretending we’re above any kind of superficiality. the truth is all women like to feel pretty. we want to look cute, we feel fuzzy and warm on the inside when our girlfriends compliment us. and the high u get when the guy u fancy looks at u admiringly, is better than any drug. we want our parents to love us. we want our husbands to be romantic and passionate. humans need/want positive attention! u deprive people of it and u see all kinds of extreme consequences; introverted, socially awkward people who freak out at human contact, promiscuous/ sadistic and masochistic behaviour, bullies, etc. most of these kinds of cases can be traced to not being kissed or cuddled enough, or that ever single sexual feeling they had was filthy or that their ankle, elbow, hair was too sexy to be seen.

  2. Zeina says:

    What’s incredibly ironic is that dating does exist in Islam.. Helloo, engagement!
    They aren’t allowed to touch, both parents meet the suitor, and then they go out, like any other couple.
    What people don’t see is that you don’t need to have a ring around your finger to do that. YES, your ‘fiancé’ is your boyfriend, whether you like to admit it or not.
    And you can meet my boyfriend, and approve of him as a possible future suitor, and then we can go out, we don’t need to be all over each other.
    But no, it’s the ring that makes it ok. Always the ring. Otherwise you’re a sinner.

  3. susanne430 says:

    The solution: it’s God who changes hearts and when we fear Him, we seek to please Him by our actions and words and thoughts. Maybe these women are keeping up appearances in front of society because it’s expected of them. But they maybe don’t fear God or don’t believe He sees them/cares what they do, so they feel fine stripping in front of men.

    Husbands shouldn’t leave their wives at home all the time so they can go out with friends. But that whole thing about men dividing time between up to 4 households leaves many women (or those in these marriages) alone for possibly 3/4 of the time so why not look for true love elsewhere? If my husband were off spending time with wives 2,3 and 4 and I had no fear of God, I might do the same.

    Any family where you don’t feel valued or loved in that your own husband doesn’t want to spend time with you .. what a message this sends to wives. If instead husbands loved, honored and cherished their wives and wanted to spend time with them NOT demanding sex all the time, but just to be with her as a person… that would speak volumes on how valuable she is. But instead if all she’s good for is breeding babies and the occasional meal (if you don’t have a maid to cook for you) then I would also feel rather worthless. And start looking for value elsewhere.

  4. Lat says:

    For the first qoute on haram relationships,do you think delaying marriage for the young,meaning teens, is one factor in them going exploring and finding about it elsewhere? For halal relationship,one needs to be married or at least be confirmed for marriage?

    Sex education is important and knowing about our bodies help to prevent,safeguard and value them.It’s about respecting our bodies,man and woman,and thru’ these the same result is reflected by the other person as well.How people treat you is important too as it helps you to value yourself.

    “..since they believe that our religious and educational discourse does not attribute importance to the strengthening of self-restraint, and prefers the appearance over the essence. This drives some people to play several roles and wear several masks.”

    I think a lack of spiritual awareness can be attributed to this.If we believe our bodies are a ‘medium’ thru’ which we connect to Allah,then our bodies will be treated as sacred and therefore not violated.Men should also have such awareness and be responsible for what they do and not let the appearance deceive the essence.

  5. Sara says:

    This is a big issue. At the time of the Prophet, people were getting married very young and so there was never the issue of dating/pre-marital sex, since they would marry by the time their hormones kicked in. Today this isn’t the case anymore. It’s a bit unfair to tell kids “don’t do ANYTHING” before marriage, when marriage can happen as late as 40! The thing is, there isn’t really a solution. What can replace dating and pre-marital sex? Can we ask a person to not date or have sex until they are 35 and married? I don’t think that’s reasonable anymore…

    • Nusaiba says:

      It’s like the south in the US. Abstinence only is the only thing taught (yay conservative ideology) but then people freak out when they realize the pregnancy rates are the highest here.

      How will youth know what happens or how to protect themselves if they are not educated?

      In Islam, we’re usually told “don’ do it, it’s haram” and then it never comes up again.

      Without dialogue between parents or guardians and the children they are to lead in life, how will we (since I’m only 17) know how to approach anything?

      My mother was in what we would call the most strict of arranged marriages. (She had met my dad once or twice before, and found she was marrying him the night before.) But like Zeina said, dating is allowed. No one wants to talk about it though because it might give kids ideas.
      well, kids already have ideas because we have so much at our fingertips, especially in the technological age.

      My brothers and I are lucky our parents speak to us and explain why we’ve been told things are haram, and insh’allah we will follow the best path. Others aren’t as lucky and bam, experimentation leads to confusion to feelings of “oh god I sinned” or “well I already have, so I will continue to do so”.

      Communication can change so much.

  6. […] were an integral part of the male society. This vacuum for Muslim women has continued and today women are pointing out that “It’s a bit unfair to tell kids “don’t do ANYTHING” before marriage, when marriage […]

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