Traditionally, the word chastity has been understood to mean sexual purity. In Islam and Christianity it refers to abstaining from sexual activity outside of marriage. It applies to both men and women. The term also is identified with protecting oneself from adultery, fornication and prostitution. Other religions such as Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism etc. all preach chastity.
Up until the 19th century, even in the Western countries, chastity was much talked about and was valued especially in the areas where Shakers (an offshoot of the Quakers) and Catholics were in majority. In recent decades, the West has depreciated the virtue of chastity and related discussions are only to address the social and physical issues that arise from promiscuity. Fornication has become the unquestioned norm in Western society. The issues of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), prostitution and teenage pregnancies are discussed only in view of solving the resultant problems instead of promoting the solution of chastity.
Deviating from chastity has resulted in the widespread of STDs. In the United States of America, according to government reports, CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year. It accounts for 16 billion dollars in health care costs and about ten million of these cases each year are among youth aged 15-24 years. The CDC report for year 2013 indicated a rise in Syphilis cases and it is the highest among gay and bi-sexual men.
We need not go into the obvious horrific trends in the spread of HIV. The CDC also reports that young women face the most serious long term health consequences. It estimates that every year 24,000 women become infertile as a result of STDs.
Islam places a great deal of emphasis on chastity. The commandments of Allah are clearly spelled out for men and women in the Holy Quran as well as in the books of Ahadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet(sa). Islam not only strongly advocates to abstain but has provided the means to control natural desires such as fasting. Chastity directly relates to social morality and protects people from the sinful activities resulting from lust.
In a chaste society, couples have an enjoyable life with two parents raising their children. Sex is a means of procreation and enjoyment within the confines of marriage and results in secure and long lasting happy lives of family units. The harm of getting away from chastity is too obvious for anyone to ignore.
In this issue we have a few articles about chastity to invite the readers to advocate this important virtue highly valued among all major religions of the world. Islam has shown a much more consistent track record of guarding the chastity among its followers. It is the result of the clear and practical commandments, and the importance it has placed on this issue. Men and women both need to be chaste for the betterment of the society and the future of the human race.
Click here to read the articles in this volume: 2015_summer