Many people ask the question, “Is masturbation good or bad?” Masturbation or sexual self-gratification is becoming an unfortunate habit in the world today. Doctors claim it is completely healthy and not having any physical or psychological harm. Is that so? In this article, you will learn about masturbation in Islam and whether it allows it or not.
Is Masturbation a Sin?
Masturbation in Islam is one of the major sins. First, let us mention what masturbation in Islam is. Any act performed either by self-stimulating the genitals and erogenous regions of the body or purposefully watching, hearing, or even thinking about anything that causes orgasm and ejaculation (in men) is considered masturbation in Islam. It is important to note that any activity done with one’s spouse that leads to orgasm and ejaculation is not considered masturbation. Masturbation is prohibited for both men and women. Islam prohibits masturbation because of the physical, mental, and psychological harm it does to the human body. As a result, anyone who masturbates must seek repentance in Allah and decide not to do it again.
What If Someone Masturbated?
If a person, God forbid, masturbates, they must take certain measures. First and foremost, they must repent of this deadly sin. When someone masturbates and ejaculates, they become junub, meaning the ritual impurity that must be removed through the ghusl (ritual bathing) of janabah. Therefore, if they want to pray, it is obligatory for them to perform the ghusl of janabah. The idea is that any form of junub, whether through lawful or unlawful ejaculation, must be removed through the ghusl of janabah.
It should be noted that if one has the ghusl of janabah, one must not make wudu if one wants to pray. They must perform salat with the ghusl unless their ghusl becomes void, where they must make wudu. Making wudu while one’s ghusl of janabah has not become void is haram (unlawful) because it is a bid‘ah (religious innovation).
Any form of masturbation or the acts leading to it for self-pleasure is haram. For example, edging, a practice where a person stimulates themself but stops right when they are about to climax, and repeats the process, is haram. Likewise, if a person orgasms through masturbation but does not ejaculate, it is still haram. Of course, because there was no ejaculation, the ghusl of janabah does not become necessary. Another issue is when it comes to women’s masturbation. They usually orgasm without ejaculation. So is masturbation haram for women too? The answer is yes. According to most, if not all jurists, female masturbation is also prohibited in Islam. However, if a woman does not ejaculate after orgasm, ghusl is not wajib for her. If she does, ghusl becomes wajib for her. Note that in sexual intercourse, both the man and woman become junub if penetration occurs, whether they orgasm or not.
Does the Quran Say Anything About Masturbation?
The Quran has implied that masturbation is forbidden in verses 5-7 of surah al-Mu’minun. The verses talk about the characteristics of believers. Allah says that believers have the following characteristics:
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ ﴿٥﴾ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ ﴿٦﴾ فَمَنِ ابْتَغَىٰ وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْعَادُونَ ﴿٧﴾
And those who guard their private parts, (5) (except from their spouses or their slave women, for then they are not blameworthy; (6) but whoever seeks [anything] beyond that—it is they who are transgressors), (7) [Translation by Qarai]
So according to verse seven, individuals who engage in sexual acts outside of those with their spouses have committed a sin. This includes fornication, adultery, incest, and masturbation.
What Do Our Hadiths Say About Masturbation?
Many narrations from the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a) speak of the prohibition of masturbation in Islam. Different terms have been used for masturbation in hadith, such as rubbing one’s genitals (dalk), marrying oneself, and marrying one’s palm. Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq (a) has said that masturbation is like fornication.
The Noble Prophet (s) has said:
نَاکِحُ الْکَفِّ مَلْعُونٌ
The one who marries their palm is cursed.
Why Masturbation Is Bad
Masturbation is bad for several reasons. First, when one is all alone, the kind of pleasure one gets is partial. Most people feel guilty after masturbating, even if they do not believe in any religion. Masturbation weakens one’s self-confidence and self-determination. The hormones the body releases after masturbation greatly differ from those that are released in sexual intercourse. Primarily, prolactin is released 400% more in real sex than in masturbation. This means that one is much more satisfied after intercourse. However, when one masturbates, one is not completely pleased and satisfied with the experience and becomes thirstier for more sessions of this despicable act.
The most detrimental effect of frequent masturbation, especially before marriage and when entering into an intimate relationship is impotence, aka erectile dysfunction (ED), as well as premature ejaculation (PE). A person who suffers from such an addiction is predisposed to certain stimuli that may not exist in real-life relationships. This results in an inability to engage in desirable and satisfying sexual intercourse.
The Link Between Pornography and Masturbation
Some youth in today’s world practice PMO, which stands for porn, masturbation, and orgasm. They watch sexually explicit content on the Internet and, at the same time, masturbate. This is because masturbating to pornographic images and videos seems to be much more stimulating and arousing for them and easier to climax than fantasizing about them. Unfortunately, porn, coupled with masturbation, has become a major addiction for today’s youth and even adults older than thirty and forty. It is seriously damaging their lives. People addicted to PMO are less motivated, socially detached, and cannot seem to get things done. In other words, they procrastinate very much.
While watching porn, they may become bored with one type of porn, so they seek more and more varieties of it and can only become aroused by more hardcore pornography. When they want to enter relationships, they will not be able to perform well because they have been programmed to like ridiculously aberrant and unconventional forms of sexual behavior. This is perhaps the greatest harm of being addicted to porn and masturbation. Everyone in the world should know that addiction to PMO is one of the worst addictions ever and one of the hardest to quit.
Altering of the Brain Chemistry With PMOing
There is an essential neurotransmitter in the brain known as dopamine. This neurotransmitter, sometimes known as the feel-good hormone, is released when one obtains a reward. For example, when we eat very delicious food, smell something very nice, or do fun and pleasurable activities (e.g., sex), our body releases dopamine. The activities leading to these rewards are reinforced and cause us to want to do them again. When someone watches porn, one gets what is called a dopamine rush, and when one masturbates and climaxes, there is an even greater release of dopamine. Therefore, the brain likes these series of events and reinforces them, ultimately leading to a habit and in most cases addiction. Getting rid of such an addiction proves to be quite a challenge. However, with the needed self-determination and willpower, one can quit such an addiction and acquire a healthy reward system.
Is Masturbation Healthy?
Most doctors nowadays say that masturbation is a healthy way to relieve stress. They even go as far as to say that it is good for the prostate gland and prevents prostate cancer. At least one study seeks to prove this claim. The biggest problem with this study is that it is not based on empirical data. Rather, several older adults are asked to complete a questionnaire asking whether they masturbated or not when they were younger, among other daily habits and routines.
Then they concluded that those who masturbated less had greater chances of having prostate cancer than those who did it more. This is in no way a true piece of scientific research. If anything, frequent masturbation could be harmful to the prostate. Even if it is healthy, one should try to have intercourse when married instead of masturbating. It is like alcohol, where they say it has some benefits, whereas the negative effects are much more.
Is Too Much Intercourse as Bad as Masturbation?
In Islam, our Prophet (s) and Imams (a) have criticized individuals who engage in excessive sexual intercourse. Therefore, when too much of a permissible form of sexual satisfaction has been condemned, the impermissible forms, such as masturbation, are even more reprehensible. In a narration from the Noble Prophet (s), we read:
مَنْ أَرَادَ اَلْبَقَاءَ وَ لاَ بَقَاءَ فَلْيُبَاكِرِ اَلْغَدَاءَ وَ لْيُجَوِّدِ اَلْحِذَاءَ وَ لْيُخَفِّفِ اَلرِّدَاءَ وَ لْيُقِلَّ مُجَامَعَةَ اَلنِّسَاءِ
Whoever wishes for a long life must eat breakfast early, wear comfortable shoes and light clothes, and have less intercourse with women.
People should realize the primary purpose of sexual intercourse: procreation. Becoming a sex addict could be just as bad as being addicted to masturbation. The only difference is that one may be permissible, and the other is always impermissible. Nevertheless, both have adverse psychological, mental, and physiological effects. Moderation is key in all things, including sex. Even if someone has a very high libido, they must sometimes have it under control and use that energy for doing other things. If they cannot control it, they must satisfy it through halal ways, meaning through their spouses.
Anti-Masturbation Movements and Trends
People addicted to masturbation and pornography all around the world are slowly figuring out the serious detriment of this nasty habit. Notably, a new movement has started on the Internet where its participants try their best not to masturbate and watch porn to reverse the damages they have done to their mental and physical health. This community’s anecdotal evidence suggests that cessation of masturbation and watching porn leads to many mental and physical benefits that were absent before starting their “no masturbation journey.” They report that they no longer have brain fog, become more confident, have more energy, and have many other so-called “superpowers.” Interestingly, the participants of this movement do not claim to be religious. This further shows that even those who are not followers of any religion are fully aware of the detriment of this bad habit.
Similar to the anti-masturbation movements, there is another practice that is recently gaining popularity, which is called semen retention. Those who practice semen retention do not masturbate or even ejaculate because they believe semen is a life force that has a great number of nutrients, protein, minerals, and vitamins that are all lost upon ejaculation, leading to many side effects including weakness. Dedicated semen retention practitioners only release their fluid for procreation. To know more about this interesting lifestyle and Islam’s view about it, please read the article titled Semen Retention in Islam: The Art of Preserving One’s Life Force.
Islam’s Solution to Stop Masturbating
Allah has created human beings, especially men, with a powerful sexual desire once they reach puberty. This desire has a good reason. It is there so that people go and find a person to marry and procreate. If people did not have this desire and drive, the human race would become extinct. As a result, Islam recommends the lawful and halal way of satisfying one’s sexual desire, namely marriage. Getting married has become a challenge for today’s youth. The preconditions for marriage have become so numerous that it is becoming extremely difficult for people to get married. However, youth should do their best and work hard to fulfill the requirements for their marriage. Additionally, it is the duty of other Muslims, especially their parents, to facilitate their marriage and do everything that is needed for them to get married. Allah has said in the Quran:
وَأَنكِحُوا الْأَيَامَىٰ مِنكُمْ وَالصَّالِحِينَ مِنْ عِبَادِكُمْ وَإِمَائِكُمْ ۚ إِن يَكُونُوا فُقَرَاءَ يُغْنِهِمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
Marry off those who are single among you, and the upright among your male and female slaves. If they are poor, Allah will enrich them out of His grace, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-knowing. (24:32 Translation by Qarai)
They should not worry about not having money. Allah has promised them that He will provide for them and sustain them. Of course, this does not mean they should sit idle and wait for Allah to shower them with His blessings. No, they should work hard to make a living and provide for their family. As they say, “God helps those who help themselves.” There is no excuse for someone to masturbate after getting married. Therefore, Islam considers marriage the best solution for letting go of the evil act of masturbation and other unlawful sexual practices.
Some Ways of Breaking the Habit of Masturbation
Now there may be many people who simply cannot get married for whatever reasons. What should they do? Here is a list of things these people could do to stop masturbating:
- Improve your relationship with God. Always consider Him present wherever you are, and know that if you masturbate, He will become upset with you.
- Try to be productive. Pursue your hobbies, such as reading exciting books. Reading the Quran is also a great way to divert your attention from sexual thoughts into something spiritual.
- Exercise is one of the best ways to stop masturbation. It serves as a good distraction and will improve your health.
- Fasting is a great way to quit masturbation. Either fasting the Islamic way or intermittent fasting will do the job. Fasting makes you disciplined and will curb your impulsive sexual desires.
- One of the best strategies to motivate you on your masturbation-free journey is counting the days you do not masturbate. If you do masturbate, restart your counter and go for another round. You can stop counting once you feel not masturbating has become a lifestyle for you.
- When you feel sexually excited, try transmuting that energy into another activity. For example, do a few push-ups, or go for a run. You can also do one of the five abovementioned activities.
- Think about all the benefits you will have if you do not masturbate. You will be more self-confident, you will become more sociable, your eye contact will improve, you will have a better posture, you won’t procrastinate, you will have a good purpose in life, and so on.
Masturbation is one of the worst sins that one can commit. It is likened to fornication and could become an addiction. Overcoming this addiction requires a great deal of self-determination and willpower. If one truly wants to quit masturbation, one must always remember Allah and ask Him to help them cure this addiction. If someone always sees Allah present before them wherever they are and wherever they go, refraining from sins such as masturbation becomes less difficult. Of course, the best way Islam recommends for breaking free from such a sin is by getting married as soon as possible.
 Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 20, p. 352.
 Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, vol. 14, p. 356.
 Man La Yahduruh al-Faqih, vol. 3, p. 555.
Masturbation is haram because it has many physical, psychological, and mental harms.
First, they must seek repentance in Allah. Second, they must perform the ghusl of janabah. Third, they must decide not to masturbate again.
|Masturbation||A major sin|
|Solution||Marriage, exercise, and reading the Quran|