May 07, 2022
Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh sister,
It started with a show- mainly targeting kids, but was known for its romance. Accidentally I had clicked different websites and found “fan-fiction.” In the beginning it was filled with romance, but slowly it became inappropriate. Knowing this is haram, I hid this habit and have not prayed (on and off) for around two and a half years and left public high school and to attend the alimah program. Although this alimah program brought some stability in my life, I haven’t fully let go of this habit and feel its effects. There’s guiltiness for fooling my family and teachers, to hide this sin from people knowing Allah is there. And there’s fear in telling my parents because I’m afraid of the consequences and the embarrassment. I am willing to change and hope you’ll be able to answer my question.
How do I overcome this habit, and what steps are required for its effects to lessen, or in sha allah disappear?
Salam Alaikom wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu,
Thank you for writing to us regarding your struggle with fan-fiction. As you write in your letter, you have discovered fan-fiction and have gradually consumed more and more of these stories. While knowing that is haram, you ended up stopping regular prayer for around two years and a half. You also left public high-school and attended an alimah program. You also say that you would like to get rid of this habit and that you are feeling guilty for hiding this sin from your parents, and you fear their embarrassment.
I understand your struggle and your feelings, sister. Surely, the guilt you feel for committing something that you know is haram should be overwhelming. May Allah ease your distress.
Fan-fiction is a fictional story based on existing works for fans and about fans: novels, movies, anime, cartoons, etc. The author uses the original characters, settings, etc. to create his own version of him, and usually – but not only – fills it with a wide range of sexual content, from romance to pornography. This is just a brief definition of fan-fiction, but it is very obvious that consuming these types of content with zina (of the eye) harms the soul and imaan, therefore is not permitted in Islam. If you enjoy haram fantasies in your mind, you constantly distort your natural and healthy desires, and lead them towards potential transgression, even if you actually do not act upon them in the “real life”.
I understand that probably you were led by your curiosity and to satisfy your soul that is led by desires. In the Quran Allah says:
“Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 12:53)
The Stages of Nafs
In the original Arabic, the soul that is a “persistent enjoiner of evil” called nafs al-ammara, the Commanding Soul. In the Quran, Allah mentions three types of nafs: the Commanding Soul is the lowest level, and constantly urges us to engage in wrongdoing and enjoy sinning.
Only at the next stage, one would feel remorse for their actions. the nafs al-lawammah, the Reproachful Soul is aware of the wrong actions, and striving for pleasing Allah, although sometimes cannot resist desires. Probably most of us are at this stage, my sister, as we all commit mistakes, and we are not at the extent of sins, even if we try our best to please Allah.
If you are determined about change, you can take some firm steps towards it. I understand that it seems difficult for you to get rid of this habit. Sometimes it takes more effort, as some kind of reward – for example, pleasure – is associated with its practice. The desire to re-experience this pleasure can even lead to addiction in some cases, when the constant seeking of engaging in a certain activity actually interferes with normal daily functioning. At the same time, as you “have learned” to practice this habit (reading fun-fiction), you also can unlearn it and substitute with a halal alternative.
The first thing to start with would be sincere repentance and seeking forgiveness from Allah. Allah is the Most Forgiving and Most Merciful, and he loves to forgive:
“If you sincerely love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 3:31)
If you have decided to give up this habit, turn to Him and ask for His forgiveness. At the same time, you would need to forgive yourself as well. Being able to face the fact and accept that you were not strong enough to resist your desires and forgiving yourself would be the first step in the changing – process.
You mention in your letter that you gave up regular prayer. I do not know whether you still do not pray the daily prayers, but it would be very important to reestablish this obligatory act of worship. Sincere prayer also works as a shield that protects one from falling into sins in between two salats. If you regain your connection with Allah, it will be easier to notice His guidance from him in your life and stay away from wrong deeds.
Don’t Go with the Flow
I know that you are in your adolescence, and during these years many psychological and physiological changes take place until one reaches maturity. There is a natural increase of hormones related to libido and sexual desires. Also, frequent experience of emotional intensity and curiosity about “discover” feelings of love, passion, etc., that is even exaggerated by peer pressure, and the current mainstream of teenagers portray in TV shows, series, etc.
But as Muslims, we need to be aware that letting ourselves be exposed to these contents and permitting ourselves to follow the expectations other than Allah could lead us to alienation from the deen. You need to erase these images from your mind, and the most effective way is to completely turn away from them.
I would suggest completely cutting – off any access to fan-fiction sites: you can delete your account, or your email address to make sure you do not log in once again. Clear your browser, and delete the sites and files from your devices. If you have fan-fiction books-get rid of them. Make it hard for yourself to find any content again.
When you feel that you would like to engage in these stories, distract yourself with a completely different action: wake up, mix with your family members, make a phone call, start reading the Quran, etc. Try to visualize that with abstaining from sin you are leading your soul towards its last stage. the nafs-ul-mutmainnah, the Content Soul, that is only happy with actions that please Allah. If you are able to say no to temptation, and you experience your own strength, it will give you further motivation in Sha Allah.
Righteous Company and Good Deeds
I do not know whether you have shared your interest in fan-fiction with some of your friends. If yes, I encourage you to seek friendships somewhere else: maybe around righteous Muslims in the alimah program you attend, or in your surroundings. Also, you can start new habits and engage in good deeds: volunteer, help others, etc. If you love reading, you do not need to give it up completely, just give yourself a halal alternative: there are fiction available for Muslims or by Muslim authors. You even can organize a reading circle and support each other with halal tips and talks.
If you are stable in this path, in Sha Allah with time you can reverse the negative effects of fan-fiction in your life and regain healthy desires and habits. If you implement these steps, and you do not experience any success, you might need to seek addiction related counseling, where you will be provided with ongoing support until you completely recover.
I wish you success sister, may Allah bless you!