Don’t Touch Me, I’m Trying to Be Spiritual!

Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim
Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah

I’m following a gentleman on Facebook who is visiting many faiths by “trying on” each one for a month (see Project Conversion) .  He has dipped into Bahai, Hinduism, and several other religions, and this month he is learning about Buddhism.  In his most recent blog post, he mentioned that his wife was having trouble with one of the aspects of being married to someone who was seeing what it was like to be a monk.  Celibacy.  He was practicing monkish aceticism for the day and she was a bit put out at not being able to be intimate with him.  He described his separation as a way of extinguishing desire so that he could be more able to focus on worship and his search for the divine.

Now, I’m all for taking a step back and evaluating one’s life.  We Muslims fast in the month of Ramadan (which this man will be experiencing along with us), during which time we abstain from food, drink, and, yes, marital intimacy during the daylight hours.  We are encouraged to fast other times during the year, and we are warned against overindulgence in any area of life.  Moderation is the key.  But giving up permanently the generous gifts that Allah has given us is not a part of our religion.  Just as we have an innate need to eat and drink, our sexuality is a part of us that needs to be nurtured and fulfilled, not whipped and beaten into submission. 

Narrated by Anas bin Malik:  “A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, “Where are we from the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven.” Then one of them said, “I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.” The other said, “I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.” The third said, “I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.” Allah’s Apostle came to them and said, “Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (not one of my followers).”  (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

A person who seeks to stamp out his sexual desire is stamping out a part of him that is part and parcel of his very nature.  It is a misguided attempt to purify, because there is nothing “base” or dirty about sexuality when it is practiced moderately within the bounds of marriage.  Why would God create us with this need and then tell us that we have to get rid of it in order to be truly faithful and close to Him?

We have another bodily function that is distinctly less clean than our sexuality.  Every human being urinates and defacates.  It is part of our physical nature.  So, can a person who truly seeks to find God cleanse himself of the filth of the body and train himself to extinguish the need to relieve himself?  It’s not possible, and God never would ask it of us.  It is a normal human function.  Yet even though dealing with our bodily wastes is necessary for the highest priest or the lowest acolyte, no one would be so foolish as to suggest that they have to stop pooping and peeing in order to be spiritual.  We accept this as part of our lives and then get on with our lives.

If you are hungry, don’t give up food (which is impossible anyway).  Go have a sandwich, and then you can return to your worship in a calm manner.  If sex is a distraction, don’t give up sex, get married and fulfill your desire in a permissible fashion with your spouse.  Then go and pray.  Enjoy the pure gifts that God gave us in moderation.  Don’t deprive yourself of something that God gave you.  That would be ungrateful, and being ungrateful to God will send you in the opposite direction from the one you want to go in.


  • Anonymous

    ….too much argument, I'm sure the 'culprit' is sex…..!Af_oak

  • Nancy Shehata

    I agree with Pagolesher. Go visit the site, which is why I put in TWO LINKS in my blog post, lol :). Thank you Pagolesher.

  • Pagolesher

    I think you all should go over to the Project Conversion blog site and read about what he is doing, rather than sit in judgement about it. It is a systematic exploration of different religions, within the boundaries of his real life. Project Conversion's writing is enlightening, in-depth, entertaining, and frequently heart-touching. He is a pretty smart guy, and seems capable of writing well. He also does intensive studying of each religion he delves into monthly. Not your average Joe "trying it on for size".I strongly encourage people to read his posts from the beginning.

  • Anonymous

    I think you guys are being judmental.. Wayyyy too judgmental. Yeah, he's not going to become a buddhist monk, he's just seeing what it's kind of like. You can't really get a feel from the article what exactly he practices, so who knows how far he's getting into it. Dress up? Smh.This is just my opinion… Also, let me say that there is a difference between trying out Buddhism, and trying out to be a Buddhist Monk. For example, that's like saying I want to be Catholic so I'm going to be a nun–A person doesn't need to be a nun to partake in Christianity. However, if that's the way the person wants to experience, so be it. I think it's great! Buddhism is about detaching one's self from others to avoid suffering. Also, this should be able to help them rekindle their love, because sex isn't the most important aspect in a relationship. I think the person that wrote this was really quick to judge, and seems there way is the right way.

  • Nancy Shehata

    Amy, I choose to look at his project in a positive light. He is going in respectfully and looking at different faiths. It is not something I would do, but I find it interesting and educational. I think he is doing it with respect and not as a publicity stunt. I am looking forward to his month learning about Islam and I will be making du'a for it to "stick". :).

  • The Black Jubah

    Assalamualaikum,Islam has the right balance for everyhting…Alhamdulillah…do not discourage one that is seeking religion. I have known one late American ex-NASA engineer. Became a Muslim after he seek and look into all the religion of the world, to find the right ones.

  • Amy Gardiner

    All you have stated is true. I hope that this man realizes that one cannot simply try on faiths like different garments in a closet. Practicing any level of a religious belief requires an opening of the heart to do so. In my opinion he is just playing dress up and will really not come away with a true understanding of what faith really is. A buddhist monk takes an oath of celibacy and is not a married man. This man is married so he in fact cannot truly come even close to experiencing a celibate life or understanding monkhood. This is a shameful thing to do to his wife. This man sounds like he should just read Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi' and get all his ya's ya's out relating to the main character.

  • The Stranger

    well said :) alhumdullah I am a Muslim.. what a gift!