What Exactly Is Zina?

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Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I have been struggling with masturbation. I just wanted to know what exactly zina is, what are some ways to avoid it, and if masturbation falls under this category.

Answer: Assalam alaykum. Jazakum Allah khayr for your question. May Allah reward you for striving to correct your religious practice.

While masturbation is prohibited, it does not fall under the legal definition of Zina.

The legal definition of Zina

Linguistically, zina means adultery or fornification i.e. illicit sexual intercourse.

The basic legal definition of Zina is more specific, which is, ‘The act of a legally responsible person entering the head of the male organ in a genital orifice that is forbidden.’ [edited from Al Yaqut al Nafis]

From this, we can see that masturbation cannot legally be considered zina.

Zina as a general concept and its prohibition

There is a more general concept of zina which is also prohibited, and which is described in the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ,
‘Allah has decreed for every son of Adam his share of zina, which he will inevitably commit. The zina of the eyes is looking, the zina of the tongue is speaking, one may wish and desire, and the private parts confirm that or deny it.’ [al Bukhari, Muslim]

So here we have a wider concept of zina, in which the Prophet ﷺ describes those things that lead to zina, or acts which are associated to illicit sexual practices, and are themselves a form of zina. While these practices may go unpunished in this life, they will be taken to task in the next life, if forgiveness is not sought.

Masturbation

Masturbation is prohibited in Islam, for both men and women, as stated in all the major works of law. This is alluded to in the words of Allah Most High, ‘And those who guard their chastity [i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts], except from their wives’ … ‘They are free from blame. But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.’ [23:5-7]

Other than being prohibited and having a negative spiritual affect, masturbation can cause many physical weaknesses.

Repentance

Repentance can be made by praying two cycles of prayer and making du’a to Allah for forgiveness, and a firm determination not to return to it in the future.

Steps to take

By the sounds of it, you seem to be doing the right things in avoiding falling into the sin. Keeping busy in and out of the house, having good company, not spending too much time alone, exercising etc. are all positive steps.

Set a little time aside to learn more about the religion, read Quran and make remembrance of Allah in the day and night.

If you can, wake up for Tahajju, do so. The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Hold fast to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin, and it repels sickness from the body.’ [Al-Tirmidhi and Ahmad]

Please also refer to the answers found here:

Masturbation Archives

May Allah grant you success in all your endeavours.

Warmest salams
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

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