LILONGWE – Muslim leaders in Malawi have intensified efforts to fight rising levels of addiction to pornography among Muslim youths in the southern African nation, an initiative which has already earned itself wild applause from youth rights activists across the country.
“The emergence of the internet, much as it is celebrated for the significant contributions it’s made to our societies, it’s also regrettable for the devastating effects it’s made to the young people,” Sheikh Ahmed Chienda, Programs’ Officer of the Islamic Information Bureau (IIB) in the southern region of the country, told Onilsam.net.
“One of the harmful effects the new technology has brought on the youths is providing easy access to pornography, a worrisome trend, which is threatening to erode both moral and religious values of the society.”
“From what we are getting from the youths themselves, religious leaders and the parents, pornography is increasingly becoming an issue of grave concern among Muslim youths, just as it is the case with youths of other faith groups,” Chienda said.
“Pornography is fast becoming a way of life. Therefore, unless we intensify our efforts to fight this new wave of immorality, we will one day live in a society with eroded religious and moral values.”
Recently, the religious leaders have observed that there have been soaring levels of addiction to pornography among school going youths in secondary schools and colleges “who have turned it into a source of fun.”
“Youths in schools have taken up pornography as a source of sexual pleasure and mere fun, without realizing the ruin it is causing to their lives. They are getting addicted in the process and in the end; this would affect the family unit. We can’t let this problem to grow. If we do that we would be doing our nation and religion a great harm,” said Chienda.
“We can’t pride ourselves to be a God-fearing society, if a certain section is struggling to contain moral bankruptcy. It’s this situation which has compelled us to move in and guide the youths through a process of moral uprightness.”
Logging in and browsing pornographic sites is forbidden in Islam because a Muslim is always commanded to lower his/her gaze.
Wasting lives and times doing things which Allah forbade them to do, these acts cause psychological and social injury, Muslim scholars say.
A Muslim is always commanded to spend his time in useful things, cherish what benefits him in the present, plan for his coming days, and always make the reward of the Hereafter his/her top priority.
To get to the root of the problem, Chienda said Muslim leaders have been reaching out to the youths either through individual interactions, social gatherings, radio programmes and the mosques.
“Through these forms of interactions, we are able to listen to them and in turn we provide counseling. It’s during these meetings, that we are able to appreciate the magnitude of this problem.”
Through this approach, according to Chienda, the youths were now realizing that they have been going astray.
“We are getting very positive feedback from them about the impact our efforts are having on their lives. Most of them are confessing that they have been on the road to destruction. My advice to the youths is that they should use the internet to better their lives and not as a weapon that would spoil them and their religious beliefs,” he said.
Meanwhile, one of the country’s renowned social commentators and youth rights activists, Mcbain Mkandawire has hailed the initiative as a “step in the right direction towards rescuing the youths from the yoke of the new technology.”
“We highly commend the Muslim community for taking the lead in the fight against pornography among the youths. The internet has held our youths in bondage. It’s exacerbated social challenges, which are affecting our lives, thereby overburdening the society,” Mkandawire told OnIslam.net.
Mkandawire, whose organization, Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO) provides guidance and counseling to the youths on a wide range of issues affecting them, said his organization would work in close collaboration with the faith leaders in “saving the youths from further ruin.”
“Through this initiative, we would help to bring back sanity to the society. We need to reverse the current status quo, otherwise, we are in danger,” said Mkandawire.
“We need to cultivate a society, where its young people have strong and sound religious and moral values.
"Unless we attain such a society, we will continuously be victims of numerous challenges which would be derailing our progress in various spheres of development,” he added.
Malawi is considered a youthful nation. About 65% of the country’s 14 million population is the youth. And according to Chienda, “any damage that could be done to this group could be detrimental to the nation and to our religious values.”
“As Muslim leaders, we are telling the youths that with or without the new technology, the teachings of Islam can’t be compromised. Pornography is immoral and against Islam, therefore, we can’t bend our knees and watch, while the society is being destroyed by influences of modern life.”
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