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Question: I am a teenage living in the west; I want to know whether things such as hugging etc. fall under the sin of adultery or are considered major sins.

Your question shows your eagerness to know Islam’s position on a practice that is so prevalent among the youth today. You should know that as a young man striving to hold on firmly to your religion you belong to those who have been given glad tidings by the Messenger of Allah. Once you recognize Allah’s laws for what they are, namely compassionate devices to save us from the wickedness inherent in our souls, and not as burdensome legislation you would much better prepared to follow them most scrupulously.

The laws of Allah are based on His infinite Mercy and Compassion; they take into account human weaknesses and failings; they are intended to save the largest number of people; these laws recognize the fact that humans are not always governed by their reason and rational mind; rather they are ruled by emotions and personal desire for instant gratifications. Were such emotions and feelings given a free rein, they would cause incalculable destruction to individuals and societies. So God out of His sheer Compassion and mercy towards us has prescribed laws that are intended to protect us against our nature. So instead of merely telling us don’t fornicate, Allah tells us don’t go near fornication; for all humans, given their rational mind, will recognize the fact that fornication entails serious consequences for individuals and societies; no person in his sane, rational mind would think of committing that; but humans cannot control themselves once they are aroused or trapped in a situation where their emotional aspect dominates. Therefore, Allah has set certain clear boundaries and limits for interaction between males and females; these include prohibition of all sorts of indiscriminate mingling and mixing between them, including hugging, kissing, touching and flirting, etc. These things are forbidden not because everyone engaging in them will be committing adultery, but because they can all become leads, means and preliminaries of fornication. Once allowed they can become a slippery slop. How many have become victims of such activities?

So trust in Allah and surrender to His will you will enjoy true peace and tranquility. You will protect yourself against the pernicious tendencies of your own soul and you will belong in the company of those who were given glad tidings by the Prophet, peace be upon him: “One of the seven categories of people who shall be accorded the protection in the shade of Allah (on the day of horror and terror) will be a person who brushed off the advances of a lady of status and beauty saying, “I fear Allah.”

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