Pornography consumption is not something that can easily be stopped. Once the appetite for it has developed, it actually increases.
In his 1988 study Pornography Effects: Empirical and Clinical Evidence, Victor Cline, then with the University of Utah's Department of Psychology noted that studies show pornography is progressive and addictive for many. It often leads to the user acting out his fantasy - often on children.
For those who have been trained from a young age to lower their gaze and practice Islamic principles of modesty, this may not even be an issue.
But for those who have sadly fallen into pornography addiction, there is a way out.
Alcoholics' Anonymous is an organization that has fought the battle against alcohol addiction since 1935. Its "Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous" provides a clear, general guide on how to get out of the addiction of alcohol, which has killed people, ruined families and led to health problems.
Sound Vision has adapted the 12 steps from this guide to offer some guidance on how those addicted to pornography can get out of it.
Step One-Admit that you can't give up
Admit that you are unable to get a grip on your consumption of pornography. It is uncontrollable. Every time you turn on the internet, go to the video store, turn on the television, you cannot say NO to yourself. You cannot NOT surf porn sites, or stop watching. You are no longer in control of your life.
Step Two-Admit only God can get you out of this
You know, after trying using so many different ways to control your addiction and subsequently failing, that only Allah can help you out of this. You may have known it before, but you are convinced of it now without a shadow of a doubt.
Step Three-Your life and death are all in Allah's control
You have decided to put your complete trust in Allah, who is in control of all aspects of your life and your death. You have chosen to seek His Help first and foremost.
Step Four-You have completed a self-analysis
You have done an honest, sincere, but often painful self-evaluation of your good points and bad points, analyzed your addiction, and tried to understand how you reached this point.
Step Five-Made a specific repentance to Allah
You have admitted to Allah, to yourself, and to another trusted Muslim (if possible) exactly where you went wrong. You did not make a general request for repentance. You specifically listed your mistakes, and in particular, your addiction to pornography.
Step Six-You were open and ready to receive Allah's help to change
You know that your Tawbah (repentence to God) and being sincere, must be followed by action. You are ready to do what is necessary to change, no matter how difficult or painful. Even if it means not even watching television for the news or never surfing the internet alone.
Step Seven- You have asked for the removal of faults
You have asked Allah, with sincerity, humility and regret, to help you never repeat this action (i.e. looking at pornography) again and to help you avoid repeating sins committed in the past again.
Step Eight-You have decided to seek others' forgiveness
You have made a list of everyone you had hurt through your addiction, whether it was your spouse, children or parents, and made the intention to approach them seeking forgiveness. You must not, however, disclose your addiction since whatever Allah has kept hidden must remain hidden. You just seek forgiveness for any possible act of harm and hurt. Allah does not like a sin to be advertised.
Step Nine-Seek forgiveness of God
Seek the forgiveness and protection of Allah. Do sadaqah (charity) and fast as kaffarah if possible.
Step Ten-You have completed nightly self-evaluations
You continually, every night, have done an honest self-evaluation of your behavior, and were ready to admit your mistakes and thank Allah for the good you did that day.
Step Eleven-You have prayed for greater God-consciousness
You prayed and continue to pray five times a day, seeking closeness to Allah, and a consciousness of Him (Taqwa) wherever you are. You increase your reliance on Him to help you with this addiction to pornography and with all other matters in your life.
Step Twelve-You preached and practiced
You have not just "moved on" after Allah blessed you to get out of this addiction. You helped others you knew with this problem with regular contact and sincere advice. By the grace of Allah, helping others helped you maintain control over your addiction and you helped another person get out of this destruction and misery.