It goes without debate that family is the foundational building block of any given society; without the healthy family system the society, as we came to know it, is bound to disintegrate and wither away. Stable and sound family structure, naturally, translates into a healthy and balanced community. On the other hand, the social ills and chaos of a society lay at the doorstep of marriage and family deterioration. The strength and cohesiveness of the building block, or lack of it, leaves a distinctive mark, favourable or unfavourable, on the social and culture structure of a populace. There is a deep–rooted correlation between breakdown in the family system and warped society; family acts as a dynamic force in shaping the quintessential character of a community.
If it is an accepted axiom that families constitute the primary building blocks of human society and that it is the wholesome family system that gives birth and nurtures the harmonious and happy society, then it is imperative that the mores and morality that preserve family system must be guarded. If not, then the human society will face social disorder of freighting magnitude. In societies where mores and morality that protect and nurture healthy family systems are demonised and censured, we witness the epidemic of broken homes and broken families resulting in a large number of single and divorced mothers, high abortion rate, sexual promiscuity among teenagers, out of wedlock births, juvenile delinquency, and other related social ills – the social fabric of these communities coming apart at the seams.
There are many factors that lead to the weakening and eventual complete loss of bedrock moral principles upon which the healthy family structures are erected. Sexual permissiveness and sexual liberalization are among the most notorious contributors to family crisis; it stands out in bold relief. The Western sexual revolution that followed the 1948 report of Alfred Kinsey, father of the modern Western sexual revolution, set the new generation in the West to explore their sexuality in a free, unfettered, and uninhibited way. It gave way to sexual fulfillment with complete lack of any kind of moral and ethical responsibility. And, thus, the sexual indulgence came on par with any other private extravagance and consumer goods.
Kinsey’s studies on sex and a decade later Masters and Johnson’s reports were, at best, myopic and shortsighted in nature. In promoting liberal attitudes toward sexual relations, they effectively removed the taboo against the pre–marital sex and sexual relations outside marriage – regarded any inhibition on sex as undesirable. The authors either ignored or failed to comprehend the devastating consequences of liberal sexual behavior on the stability of the society and its threat to the family system. The new sexual morality that emerged as a result of preaching of Kinsey and others, undoubtedly, spelled disaster and aggravated social and family problems in the west.
When sex is free of the pledge of commitment between man and woman tied in a bond of sacred wedlock that establishes their mutual rights and responsibilities then, as a consequence, the human society, eventually, suffers from debilitatingsocial maladies – broken homes, high rate of marriage failures, teenage pregnancies, increased promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, epidemic of sexual and rape assaults – triumph of bestiality over humanity – a natural and predicted outcome of the free for all sex culture.
Now we come to the hard part, what is the answer to the wide-ranging problem that a good part of humanity is suffering with today? Where the solution lies that will put human sexuality in its right place and let man and woman enjoy togetherness and satisfy God created sexual desire without endangering the society? What precautionary steps are needed to protect young people from being led astray?
Actually, it is not hard to find the answer to the evil that has completely corrupted some nations and threatening the others.
We are creation of God. And God knows His creation best. He knows the intricacies, weaknesses, and strengths of human beings. He knows what is agreeable and what is disagreeable to humans as individuals and as a community. Therefore, divinely revealed laws are the best course for us to follow to ward off harm from our private and communal affairs; they are the best protocol for living a happy, and most importantly, righteous life. Whenever man enacts a law that does not respect and conform to divine laws in its spirit, forms and expressions, not only that it does not protect right order but tends toward chaos and dissolution.
Jean Rousseau, a French humanist, considers Divine dimension the imperative prerequisite for legislations that regulate human society. He says in his Social Contract, “In order to discover the rules of society that are best suited to nations, there would need to exist a superior intelligence, who could understand the passions of men without feeling any of them, who had no affinity with our nature but knew it to the full, whose happiness was independent of ours, but who would nevertheless make our happiness his concern; it would take gods to give men laws.” Sir William Blackstone was an English jurist in the 18th century, he believed that the fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom, and thus stated that God was the source of all laws.
In the community of religions in the world, Islam is the only religion that remains safe and true as divinely revealed, both, in word and spirit. It remains the only depository and vault of divine wisdom and divine laws and codes. Islam provides a comprehensive blueprint for society, and creates a social order in which reliable defences against the corrupting influence are built in.
We must turn to Islam for guidance and solution to the problem of promiscuity, premarital and adulterous relations that are tearing apart the social and family fabric and spelling disaster in society. The prescription prescribed in Islam, by the virtue of being transcendental and truly absolute in nature, is the only hope and remedy.
All religions frown upon fornication and adultery, but it is only the religion of Islam that stipulates essential rules and principles to eliminate all sources and causes of temptation between the sexes. Islam takes a proactive and diligent approach and utilizes preventive measures to thwart the problem before it is a day late. As a preventive measure, all paths, central or ancillary, that lead towards illicit sex are blocked. The Holy Quran says: “Do not even approach fornication for it is an outrageous act, and an evil way.” (17:32)
Sayyid Maududi in his exegesis of Quran explains the edict, “Do not even approach fornication”, in these words: “This commandment is meant both for individuals and society as a whole. It warns each individual not only to guard against adultery or fornication itself but against all those things that lead to or stimulate it. As regards society as a whole the commandment enjoins it to make such arrangements as prevent adultery and eradicate the means and stimulants that lead to adultery. Therefore, the society should employ all those legal and educative means that help develop such an environment as prevents and eradicates indecency.”
Maududi further elaborates the verse, “Finally, this article formed the basis of laws and regulations of the Islamic system of life. In order to fulfill its implications adultery and false accusation of adultery were made criminal offenses: regulations about ‘Purdah’ (Hijab) were promulgated: the publication of indecent things was banned and drinking of intoxicants was made unlawful: restrictions on music, dancing and pictures which are conducive to adultery were imposed. Then such laws were enacted as made marriage easy, and cut at the root of adultery.”
There are other verses in the Quran on the same subject and there are many authentic hadith of the Prophet Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam that supplement the theme. For example, in one hadith the Holy Prophet Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam mentioned, “The zina of the eyes is in lustful glances and zina of the ears is by listening (to evil) and zina of the tongue speaking (about evil) and zina of the hands is in touching (forbidden) and zina of feet is in walking (towards evil) and the heart desires and hopes (in evil) and thereafter the private parts accept that (act upon it) or reject it.”
The Bible attributes a similar saying to Jesus, in Gospel of Matthew we read: “You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” However, it is a mere abstract and scholastic teaching of moral propriety without providing the adherents with means requisite to protect the society from the ever–present danger of human weaknesses.
In contrast to Christianity, Islam not only enjoins the ideal to protect the integrity of family, but at the same time it also chalks out means and strategy to curb the potential undesirables that may lead to the violation of the ideal. Islam does not leave the believers unguided on crucial aspects that with small disruption could bring monstrous consequences on the stability of the entire society.
The sexual urge is a natural urge and desire of humans. Islam being a religion of fitrah recognizes the innate and natural desire and disposition of humans. However, human desires and urges cannot be allowed to run wild without any control. Without some form of control and limit, the desires and urges could prove very detrimental to society, as we are seeing in the modern western societies. Islam, through teaching and training, raises a society’s ability to restrict and regulate indecent things that are susceptible to temptation and conducive to illicit behaviour.
It is only Islam that presents a practical and viable solution to the ills of the modern day society. Only Islam offers the ray of hope and process that can once again reinforce the family that was central to nurture and develop healthy community and save the society from disintegration and decline.