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Ramadan: The perfect training ground to halt the roots of porn addiction

Porn addiction is becoming a growing problem in our society. Thanks to the widespread availability of internet pornography, it's easier than ever before to become hooked on internet pornography. Scientists in the field of neuroscience have found that internet porn can change the brain like drug addiction resulting in devastating effects.


According to The Telegraph, approximately 90% of children between the ages of eight and 16 have viewed pornography online. However, Ramadan can be the perfect training ground to instil new positive habits to eradicate the destructive habit of being consumed by pornography use online. Psychology tells us it typically takes 30 days to form the foundations of a new habit. The blessed month of Ramadan provides this opportunity to develop your willpower.


Self-discipline is a key virtue in Islam, and Ramadan is the time to practice or strengthen one’s own willpower. Abstaining from food and drink is the most obvious manifestation of Ramadan. However, during Ramadan fasting reminds us that all our habits can be broken at God’s command, which frees us from becoming slaves to our desires. By fasting for a whole month, a Muslim can experience their willpower being at their highest levels. Fasting has also been described by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as one of the ways to control one’s sexual desires. The purpose of fasting is to develop the quality of righteousness (taqwa), inwardly and outwardly, by abstaining from sinful deeds and training ourselves to control our thoughts and internal desires.


As with other behaviour addictions, porn addiction is cyclical in nature with one stage leading to the next leading the addict stuck in an endless downwardly spiralling loop. A common trigger for internet porn addicts can be described as “fantasy”. This is where the addict is triggered to seek out stimuli from a variety of sources to feel good about themselves. This can include watching sexually explicit video clips and visual imagery which then leads one to act upon those desires.



After acting upon these desires addicts often report feeling a sense of numbing and emptiness, as well as despair and utter hopelessness. This discomfort fuels them to seek out more porn to make them feel better and escape the emotional pain and to restart the addiction cycle.


Ramadan is the perfect training ground to halt the addiction cycle at the earliest stages. Ramadan is a time in which we hold our natural bodily compulsions and instincts under strict control, together with our thoughts and our mental states, our moods and desires. By resisting temptations for a month, we can cultivate that inner resilience to last us until next Ramadan.


Top tips for an addiction free Ramadan

1) Use Ramadan as an opportunity to start again even if you have failed to give up your addiction before.


2) Make a list of your fantasy triggers that starts the addiction cycle. Once you know what they are make a firm commitment to refrain from these during the month of Ramadan taking each day at a time.


3) Recognise that relapse is part of recovery. Even if you have slipped up and failed on your commitments you can always start again. The first two parts of Ramadan are about the mercy of Allah and his forgiveness. Keep this in the forefront of your mind when you relapse and remember every moment is an opportunity to seek Allah’s mercy and forgiveness and start again with even more resilience and determination.

4) Detach from technology. Consider significantly limiting the time that you spend online. We have become so dependent on our smartphones constantly checking social media and internet sites. Internet porn addiction thrives on keeping the user hooked on being online. By unplugging from the technology roots of this addiction we can begin to free our mind and regain balance.


5) Commit to new healthier habits. Consumption of pornography ultimately gives the user a flood of endorphins (the brains feel good chemicals) and provides the body sensations of pleasure, which is why the user keeps continuing this habit. However, there are hundreds of ways to naturally give your body endorphins without the negative consequences associated with pornography addiction. For example, exercising regularly, engaging in artistic creative work, volunteering and serving others are all examples of what can give us a boost of feel good chemicals. Explore some hobbies that you enjoy and commit to pursuing them regularly.


6) Stop drowning in shame: Two major factors keep people from seeking help for pornography addiction is guilt and shame. One can feel totally overwhelmed by feelings of shame that they have this addiction that they feel embarrassed to seek help. However, always remember there is no shame in seeking help whatever challenge you're facing. In the Islamic spiritual tradition, the believer never despairs in the hope of God’s mercy and forgiveness.


7) Get support in fighting this addiction. Addiction thrives in secrecy. You don’t have to fight this battle alone, speak to someone you trust and get professional support.

Hafiz Rahman (Therapist and Coach)

Hafiz Rahman is a therapist and personal development coach specialising in anxiety and additions. He has previously served as a volunteer helpline worker at Muslim Youth Helpline. He is also the founder of Pure Intentions, helping men break free from online addictive behaviour.