“Struggling in Pakistan” April 3, 2007Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Advice, Responses, StraightWay.
There’s another answer on Islam Online’s Cyber Counselling service, following some we’ve highlighted here before. The answer is useful, but it’s sad that once again they have only suggested NARTH as a resource for this struggling Muslim to access: while an interesting site, it won’t provide the answers or support needed from our own religious framework.
The StraightWay Foundation runs a support group for this purpose, where brothers and sisters can share their feelings and experience in a safe environment, and benefit from advice from others in the same situation, plus advisors specialising in the religious and/or psychological aspects of resisting and overcoming same-sex attractions.
First of all thank you very much for the wonderful service you have to help us out. May God give you the reward for that.
I’m male and in my mid-twenties. My story is a bit complex, but I hope sharing you with guys can help.
I have been very depressed and stressed for many years, and I’m finding no way out. From my childhood, I was sexually abused by a neighbor who left such a bad impact on my personality. I don’t really remember what was really wrong with me, but as far as I’m concern I ended up being shy of men. At school, I could not cope with peer pressure as I wouldn’t play with guys of my age, but with girls and I would listen to all the funny taunts I would get from guys the same age.
I ended up having a sexual relationship with a guy in my adolescence at school. It was quite a long term relationship. I found myself addicted to sex and through some bad experiences, and I lost all my confidence in sex. I had premature ejaculation problems. I compared myself to my partner and I found myself quite weak in my performance. This trouble led me to be a passive boy.
Time after time I had other sexual relationships as well, and I found out that I am gay, as I didn’t like girls at all. To give myself some pleasure, I would masturbate a lot. I started masturbating from the beginning of my adolescence. I still can’t cope with such a habit. Time passed by and I thought:
- Who am I?
- Where am I going?
- What do I want?
Most importantly I found out that have lost my faith and I asked myself what does this mean to have faith. Am I Muslim? I always had doubts as I don’t want to be a Muslim. I see many other Muslims who abuse children as well. I want to be a good Muslim.
The definition of God always confused me, as I was raised as a Muslim. I’m still quite panicky about hell and the anger of Allah. I started reading about Islam a lot. And I think I fell in love with this religion. Every time I read something about Allah, His messenger, or Qur’an, I couldn’t stop my tears. I love all the feelings from thinking about messengers and their stories. I know I can’t see God, but still, something inside of me questions me: “Oh you still have doubts? Are you going to die being a non believer?
I still do not go to the mosque as something is stopping me. Sometimes I think there is no space for me as I’m gay and Islam is very strict about gay people. At my age I started re-considering my choices and reasons why and how I became like this. I read about homosexuality a lot on your website as well. I had such a terrible relationship with my father from the start and I was much closer to my mother. I was also addicted to watching porn and masturbating a lot. Now if I want to awaken myself – try to be a Muslim, get married, have kids etc., but this all looks impossible.
I feel like a passive boy and maybe I’m not ready as I have premature ejaculation. I feel like I’m not going to do any good with my wife and she will leave. It’s ruining my confidence. I’m even trying to rebuild my confidence in studies as I have had the lowest grades throughout, but I m trying to stand up. But it’s not easy at all. I don’t understand how much I need to change.
- I have religious problems.
- Gay issues.
- Premature ejaculation.
- Passive boy issues.
- What else is left?
I’m in the capital and I don’t want to go to any psychologist as they are going to say I’m fine, and that I must be happy and enjoying myself. Many of my Muslim friends call themselves Muslims, but they are gay as well and they seem quite happy. Then why not me? Can I never be happy? Or I don’t want to be happy? Or I shouldn’t even think about all those issues and I should not change myself?
Please, please, please help. You are my last hope. Otherwise I’m getting tired. May Allah give you the reward.
Answer by `Abdul-Lateef Abdullah:
In the name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. May He bestow His peace and blessings on His messenger, Muhammad, his family, Companions, and all of those who follow them sincerely.
As salamu ‘alaykum,
Dear brother, I greatly admire your honesty and genuine concern for yourself. It is a great blessing that you are coming forward and seeking help for what is going on in your life. That sincerity is always the first and most important step in any healing process. Unfortunately, your situation is not a simple one and requires as much a need to understand yourself and your life as it does to find a solution to your ‘problem’. However, you must be clear and up front with yourself. Understanding what you are going through is not that uncommon as this is part of the process towards self realization, harmony of the different aspects of yourself.
As you mentioned, many young people who are victims of sexual abuse at an early age and who have had cold and unattached relations with parents suffer the same things you are going through. Unfortunately, many are too ashamed or scared to deal with them openly, and suffer in silence their whole lives.
Al hamdu lillah, you have made the decision to seek help. Since you have taken this first step, however, I urge you to follow up with your question here by doing whatever is possible for you to further address this issue. There is only so much that we can do for you on a forum such as this to help. For what you need is not simply advice or counseling, you need regular, ongoing assistance in order to address the root issue through understanding and knowledge and by allowing Allah’s mercy and assistance to heal your heart. That is going to require time, effort and sacrifice, most likely with a professional therapist and/or religious/spiritual healer who sees Allah (SWT) as the true healer and not themselves.
From my understanding of your situation as you have described it, your homosexual tendencies are most probably the result of a number of factors, foremost among them being the experiences of sexual abuse you had as a youngster. As young people who have difficulty discerning between healthy and unhealthy behaviors, sexual encounters with other males at a very young age can cause a disruption in one’s normal development. As children learn about the world with innocence and openness, the relationships we develop with others – particularly our parents — form the basis for the rest of our lives. For some people, not all of course, but for many who experience sexual abuse and the like, these traumatic experiences have sub-consciously become the basis for what is deemed normal or desired, and they therefore cause a sort of cross-wiring within the self.
In your case, what was an inherent developmental need for male intimacy was sexualized at an early age, and now sub-consciously you long for it, even though it is not the sex that is desired but rather the intimacy as in a healthy father and son relationship. The sexualization of the normal yearning for male intimacy, when mixed with a variety of external factors such as exposure to pornography, social chastisement, belief that one is born gay, etc., causes many to believe that the desires they have are normal and define who they are. The desire for male intimacy is a completely normal impulse and need and is usually met developmentally through close relationships with first and foremost our fathers, followed by brothers, uncles, male friends and the like. However, if a boy experiences sexual abuse at a very young age or sexual relations with another male, the natural desire for male intimacy becomes sexualized. It is an experience of intimacy, albeit a perverted one, which causes ‘our wires to get crossed’, so to speak. As a boy, however, when it is happening, you of course don’t know that there is anything wrong with it. Only later in life, you realize it, but by that time the damage has already been done. If the natural longing for male intimacy in a normal (fatherly figure), non-sexual way is not met, one of the ways it will be sought after is through intimacy in a sexualized way. The other extreme reaction is to develop and reinforce male negative stereotypes, and finding oppressive ways to assert this false image . It is often not only the fact that the longing for intimacy has been perverted and sexualized, but that usually the individual missed out on an intimate, caring relationship with one’s father (or other significant male figure); so naturally, they long for that intimacy elsewhere. Thus, a natural longing has become perverted, in a sense, due to the early sexual experiences and to the innocence of childhood. When puberty sets in especially, sexual urges – which can attach themselves to any object, especially in males – rise to the surface and combine with your already intense need for masculine intimacy and warmth. You then begin to develop homosexual crushes and the like.
This situation can become exasperated if the individual is not able to form close relationships with important male adults in his life, such as fathers, uncles or older brothers. The lack of male intimacy with these people can further contribute to the ‘longing’ for homosexual relations with other males.
“As he matures (especially in our culture where early, extramarital sexual experiences are sanctioned and even encouraged), the youngster, now a teen, begins to experiment with homosexual activity. Or alternatively his needs for same-sex closeness may already have been taken advantage of by an older boy or man, who preyed upon him sexually when he was still a child. (Recall the studies that demonstrate the high incidence of sexual abuse in the childhood histories of homosexual men.) Or oppositely, he may avoid such activities out of fear and shame in spite of his attraction to them. In any event, his now-sexualized longings cannot merely be denied, however much he may struggle against them.” (How Might Homosexuality Develop? Putting the Pieces Together, the National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality)
So now you have given into your desires and crossed that line of engaging in sexual relations with other males. Naturally, you are looking for relief from your nagging desires. You just want them to ‘go away’ and you think that by giving in to them, this will provide some relief. The problem with that, however, is that giving in to desires only makes the desire stronger. The reason is that what you perceive as the desire for male sex is not the REAL desire. It is like being starved and only having the opportunity to eat the wrong food, in order to compensate for what you need to re-balance yourself. It’s your nafs/lower self telling you that is what you seek. In reality, you merely seek male intimacy and love, but your very normal desires have been sexualized due to your earlier life experiences, your beliefs that you are gay and your lifestyle. Giving in to the desire at this point will – most likely – only make the desire stronger until before you know it your nafs has convinced you that you are a homosexual and this is just the reality of who you are.
“At some point, he gives in to his deep longings for love and begins to have voluntary homosexual experiences. He finds – possibly to his horror – that these old, deep, painful longings are at least temporarily, and for the first time ever, assuaged. Although he may also therefore feel intense conflict, he cannot help admit that the relief is immense. This temporary feeling of comfort is so profound – going well beyond the simple sexual pleasure that anyone feels in a less fraught situation – that the experience is powerfully reinforced. However much he may struggle, he finds himself powerfully driven to repeat the experience. And the more he does, the more it is reinforced and the more likely it is he will repeat it yet again, though often with a sense of diminishing returns” (From: How Might Homosexuality (How Might Homosexuality Develop? Putting the Pieces Together, the National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality)
This is the nature of our nafs. It tricks us into thinking that by giving in to our base desires, the desire will go away and peace will result. However, the only thing that can make the desire go away is by purifying the nafs itself through remembrance of Allah and truth – i.e. getting to the root of the problem and bringing it into the light of Truth, ‘dealing with it’ so to speak. This is true of all desires. The more we try to meet our desires by giving in to them, the stronger they grow and the harder it becomes to address them.
Only when we realize the true nature of the desire itself as the soul’s longing for intimacy with its Lord/Allah will we be able to truly address the problem. In developmental terms, a young person’s longing for Allah begins with adult men, usually the father. Through normal, functional intimacy with adult men, often one’s father, we can then transfer this desire for intimacy to Allah when we mature spiritually. However, if our initial relationships with men are perverted or sexualized, it can cause tremendous conflict and stress such as what you are experiencing now, and will undoubtedly affect our ability to have normal relationships with men later on, and I would imagine also impact our ability to develop spiritually as well.
I am sure that there are countless young men in your society that are as confused as you are, but because of the cultural taboos and intense fear of actually dealing with their past and their feelings, they choose not to do anything and suffer. They are unable to form normal relationships, they feel as if they are evil or sick, and essentially live in hell. They are constantly having to fight these sexual urges, not realizing why they feel the way they do.
Remember, however, that there is nothing wrong with you. You experienced things in your childhood that have crossed your wires, and now you are coming to an age where you are trying to figure out what is happening to you and how to heal past wounds. Based on your early experiences in life and other factors as well, the things you are feeling are not abnormal. The important thing is you must not give up or convince yourself that there is no hope, but do your best to seek self-understanding and knowledge so that you can realign yourself and discover your true Self. Being honest with yourself and sincere in the spirit of truth is the best possible start you can make to addressing this, so be grateful that you have that and go from there. Allah has brought you to this crossroads for a very important reason, which – like in all things in life – is for the purpose of knowing Him and turning back to Him.
Whatever it is, you have choices even if you may not see them at the moment. Allah always provides a way for those who have taqwa of Him (At-Talaq 65:2-3). So the first step is for you to realize this, dedicate yourself to Him and to getting to the truth of the matter. In sha ‘Allah if you are sincere in devoting yourself and surrendering to Allah first and foremost, He will open doors for you that you never dreamed existed.
When temptation claims your reason,
Allah is the Most Merciful and the sooner we realize that everything in creation is a manifestation of this mercy and love, the sooner we will start seeing our life’s events as manifestations of that mercy, despite what might appear outwardly. This requires an inner certainty, understanding and trust that we must focus on developing. When we start to live in this reality, we will begin to see our lives and what goes on in them from a new perspective. This requires the guidance, however, of one that knows and has walked this path him or herself. It is said among our sages and saints that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. This means that we must first focus on purifying our intentions, then Allah will send the guide to help us along at the appropriate time and place.
In your case, the key is self-understanding, self-realization and reliance and trust in Allah and the direction in which He is taking you. Make Allah your goal and His pleasure your occupation, and ask Him to grant you understanding and peace with yourself and the healing you need to make a change in your life. Along these lines, you might want to seek professional support to help you to better understand your past and how you got to where you are now. You are obviously in tuned to some degree to your own past and it would be great if you could increase your self-awareness. A good resource along these lines is the NARTH website – the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which offers both research findings and counseling insights from professionals who specialize in this area.
We are getting more and more questions on this forum it seems about homosexuality. From what objective scientific, psychological research on homosexuality tells us, homosexuality, though complicated as a phenomenon, often has much to do with parenting and early failures at achieving healthy, appropriate and necessary forms of intimacy. As we continue to see the breakdown in functional, loving and nurturing relationships, particularly among parents and their children, the phenomenon of homosexuality will continue to grow. I urge you to read the above websites and learn more about this very important issue.
[Answered by `Abdul-Lateef Abdullah]