A correspondent from the Netherlands has asked about marriage, adding that years of conditioning goes into wanting illicit sex and that the whole of Western society promotes lust and illicit sex. My reply may prove to be of more general interest, so I am posting it below, in slightly edited and expanded form.
To answer your questions first, I have been married for many years. Marriage is not just about sex. It is a lifelong commitment to a significant other, it is being a “friend for life” (Tr. hayat arkadaşı). If you want a definition of that, it means helping and supporting each other against the hardships of life. So if/when physical attraction fails (which will happen anyway if you live long enough), the feelings you have for each other, or even having gotten used to each other, will suffice.
Marital life can be very sweet. The Koran states this in a sublime way: “God has placed affection and mercy between you” (30:21); “you are garments for one another” (2:187).
On the other hand, marriage is not always smooth sailing. You are bound to hit rough waters from time to time. The important thing is to survive such storms without sinking the ship. This is where patience is needed. As the song goes:
I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There’s got to be a little rain sometimes.
God says in the Koran: “Do not (even) approach fornication/adultery” (17:32). The gist of this is expressed in the saying: “First you wed them, then you bed them.” Human beings have not been able to find a better arrangement than marriage for sexual relationships. When you engage with another, what is termed “the rights of others” (kul hakkı) comes into play. This covers not just human rights, but the rights of all beings; it includes animals, plants… even the can or stone on the street that you needlessly kick.
God will forgive us for the rights He has over us (other than denying God or God’s Unity). But He says, “Don’t come to Me with the rights of others.” For that, you have to obtain the well-wishing/forgiveness of the Other(s) involved. So when you enter such an intimate relationship as sex with a human being, violating the rights of another can lead to the most serious consequences. But without a moral compass, you cannot tell what is right from what is wrong.
“The rights of others” includes animals, plants… even the can or stone on the street that you needlessly kick.
If you haven’t seen the “Flatliners” movies (both the old version and the more recent remake), I suggest you watch the last one (or both). They contain some very good examples of kul hakkı.
The Base Self can be tamed. But it cannot, unless the two urges of Illicit Lust (extramarital and premarital sex) and Illicit Gain are curbed. This is not generally known, even among spiritual adepts. As Master Kayhan said, “you won’t find any of this in any books.”
So, here’s a Turkish saying: “Whatever you cut from your losses counts as profit” (zararın neresinden dönsen kârdır). Promise God not to do it again, marry your partner, and prepare to face what life has in store for you. Don’t delay.
Eating little (especially, not eating meat) will rein in lustful feelings. If someone else excites you, turn immediately to your spouse to satisfy your lust. It doesn’t matter that they’re not Muslim. If you’re able to provide them with a good example of what a Muslim should be, they will come around of themselves.
That’s what Master Kayhan would say.