by J. S. Idris
Morality has become for so many people in the West and those
who ape them elsewhere, the only immoral thing. Once you defend
or criticise any action or behaviour on a moral basis, You run
the risk of being branded as unscientific, irrational, and intolerant.
Morality according to such a view is at best something that is completely
irrelevant to the material and spiritual well-being of individuals
and societies; at worst it is the one handicap that is blocking
the way of healthy progress of individuals and societies. And this
is more so especially as far as sexual morality is concerned.
For such people the best attitude towards any kind of sexual behaviour
is: stop talking nonsense about its being moral or immoral since
these descriptions are mere expressions of the speaker's subjective
and irrational attitude. And since any form of sexual behaviour
is as good as the other, the best civilised, scientific and tolerant
attitude is to let any one choose the form which he likes and not
to impose on him the form which happens to be the choice of another
individual or groups of individuals even if the latter were in the
Suffice it to say that while the idea of planning is gaining grounds
in nearly every aspect of society, laissez-faire has established
itself as the best policy in matters sexual. Is morality, and in
particular sexual morality, such a superfluous and highly relative
matter that changes, without any harmful consequences, from place
to place, from age to age, and front one individual to the other?
It is my belief that this is a grossly mistaken view but I do
not want to enter here into a direct defence of morality. In fact,
I think that the best policy here is not to talk about 'morality'
at all, but about the harmful or useful consequences of adopting
one or the other of the many possible forms of sexual behaviour.
And I hope that the criteria in use for identifying a certain
consequence as useful or harmful will be acceptable to everyone
irrespective of whether he is religious or atheist, a defender
of morality or a staunch enemy of such a concept.
We shall see however that the choice we finally settle on is
the behaviour we call moral. And it is called moral, and enjoined
by God not for any mysterious unknowable quality which they have
but for reasons similar to the ones which I shall mention. As
Muslims we believe that God enjoins us to do only what is good
for us and avoid only what is bad or harmful for us.
There seems to be four main types of sexual relations of which
we either have a society of pure homosexuals, an entirely promiscuous
society, a society in which no sexual relation exists except between
husband and wife or a laissez-faire society in which all these
forms are tolerated. Are there any rational and objective basis
on which we can choose among these types of society?
Let us start with the easiest one to rule out. If men continue
to be moral then a society of pure homosexuals is a self-defeating
one, since it severs the enjoyment of sex from its reproductive
function. An entirely promiscuous society seems to many to be
the best, and in the long run the inevitable form of sexual relations.
In such a society sex, it is thought, ceases to be a problem,
since here we shall for the first time combine complete freedom
with the deepest enjoyment as well as the reproduction of children.
This however is a mere dream in which one does not see the facts
as they are but as one wants them to be. Here are some of the
difficulties that beset such a society.
Far from being the natural or ultimately the inevitable, and
even if man is viewed as a mere animal, this is a dream which
shall never be realised. This is because "*the human animal is
basically and biologically a pair-forming species. As the emotional
relationship develops between a pair of potential mates it is
aided and abetted by the sexual activities they share. The pair
formation function of sexual behaviour is so important for our
species that nowhere out- side the pairing phase do sexual activities
regularly reach such a high intensity."'
The facts are therefore against those who argue that man is basically
promiscuous, "**it is true that in many cultures economic considerations
have led to gross distortion of the pair-forming pattern, but even
where this pattern's interference with officially planned 'pseudo-
bonds' has been most vigorously suppressed, with savage penalties
and punishments, it has always shown signs of reasserting itself.
From ancient times, young lovers who have known that the law may
demand no less than their lives if they are caught, have nevertheless
found themselves driven to take the risk. Such is the power of this
fundamental biological mechanism.
"***As a dream, a promiscuous society is one where everyone
chooses whoever he likes at whatever time he prefers. As a reality
it is a society in which sexual deprivation becomes the main problem.
If it is true that human beings tend naturally towards forming
sexual pairs then if x and y are such a pair and if z likes y
he cannot have her (or him) because y is already tied to x and
because even if y agrees x is sure to interfere. But why it can
be asked, should z want y in particular? Why not any other 'free'
person. Well, sincerely because such is human nature. Man is not
indiscriminately attracted by every woman that happens to be passing
The young and the beautiful are universally more attractive
than the ugly and the old. And then there are the personal tastes
of voice, form, culture, gesture etc., etc. And if a person fails
to find the mate of his liking, then even if he is physically
satisfied, he is emotionally deprived."
In such a society people are sure to be obsessed with sex; the
search for the younger, the more beautiful, the what not becomes
a full time job. If time is a valuable asset then much of it is
unnecessarily wasted in such a society. And this leads inevitably
and naturally to the commercialisation of this human need, a commercialisation
which through advertisements, pictures, specialised magazines,
the employment of sexually attractive girls, and a hundred other
satanic devices, yet increase the obsession with sex.
The natural outcome of this is a distortion of human values.
I do not mean by this anything metaphysical or mysterious. I only
mean that in such a society a person's worth will depend on the
accident of his being in a certain age or having a beautiful body.
Girls are rewarded, socially and materially and even 'crowned'
not for anything they achieved but for a thing they had at their
hour of birth. By implication the less beautiful girls are punished
for no fault of theirs. What a cruel society!
A promiscuous society is definitely a cruel one. Even in a normal
society, the feeling that one is getting older is somewhat annoying.
What if the older one becomes one loses not only one's vitality
and smartness, but even some of one's worth as a human being.
If many criminal tendencies both among the young and the old
are discovered to have their origins in broken homes and unstable
families, what is going to be the fate of that army of parentless
children which a promiscuous society produces? I cannot go here
into the detailed problems of the mass bringing-up of children.
These then are some examples of the consequences of living in
an entirely promiscuous society. Contemplating them one might
say; well no one ever seriously advocated this kind of society.
All we stand for is a society where every individual or group
of individuals shall have the freedom to lead the kind of sexual
life which they prefer. In such a mixed society married people
will live side by side with promiscuous individuals and homosexuals,
each appreciating and respecting the ideas and choices of the
others and tolerating their behaviour. But this will not do either.
Firstly because the bad consequences of homosexuality (with
the details of which I have not concerned myself) and promiscuity,
will not be eradicated by having those who practise them living
among married people. All the complications will be there but
on a narrower scale,
Secondly, if the consequences are admitted to be harmful why
then encourage and not lessen the factors responsible for them.
And the unfortunate fact is that tolerating homosexuality and
promiscuity means encouraging them and pushing more and more people
to practise them so much so that the inevitable result will be
a promiscuous and homosexual society with a minority of "eccentric"
married people, who shall not however be tolerated as the example
of Lut's people shows.
"And Lut! (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Will
ye commit abomination such as no creature ever did before. "Lo!
ye come with lust unto men instead of women. Nay, but ye are wanton
folk. "And the answer of his people was only that they said (one
to another): Turn them out of your township. They are folk, forsooth,
who keep pure." (Surah 7:80-82)
By elimination then, and also by implication, the society with
the least evil and most good is a society of married people who
do not tolerate, but do their best to eradicate all the causes
of homosexuality and promiscuity. But the elaboration of this
is the topic of another article which I hope to write, insh'Allah.
* Desmond Morris, "The Human Zoo", p.83
** Ibid p.86
*** Ibid p.86