raphy. In the old days, a privileged few could compromise their erotic imaginations and experiences by reading about sexual engagements or by perusing drawings or paintings of such engagements. "Nowadays, any conceivable sexual activity performed by others can be witnessed in living colour and sound. The portrayal has 'you-were-there' quality. In fact, video presentations are said to show sex that is 'bigger than life' by closing in on the events in ways that go beyond the unarmed eye and ear. However, the social dimension of exposure to such super-iconic representations of sex is probably more significant. Pornography has gone truly public. It reaches all the people. Any adult has assured access, and almost all adolescents seeking access manage to attain it. The proliferation and distribution of pornographic materials are such that more and more children find access."
In Islam pornography in any of the forms discussed above is harâm (unlawful) and therefore strictly forbidden. According to Shaikh Yűsuf Al-Qardâwî, 'awrah (nakedness) that which is to be hidden denotes those parts of the body which Islam requires to be covered in front of others whether of the same or the opposite sex, and exposing it is harâm. Everyone naturally feels a sense of shame for exposing it. There are reasons why Muslims are obliged to cover nakedness in public. The first and foremost reason is to develop a healthy Islamic society and to preserve peace and harmony in the ummah. When everybody follows the commandments of Allah and His Messenger to cover their 'awrah, disputes arising out of chasing men and women in a shameful manner will be greatly curtailed. The Messenger of Allah forbade Muslims from looking at the nakedness of another, whether of the same or the opposite sex:
"A man should not look at the nakedness of another man, nor the woman of another woman, nor should a man go under one cloth with another man, nor a woman with another woman."
However, there is an exception concerning looking at and touching the parts of the body which must otherwise be covered arising out of need and necessity, such a case is medical treatment or emergency first aid.
The consequences of looking at other's 'awrah leads to coming closer to zinâ (adultery) or committing zinâ which is strictly prohibited in Islam. When one looks at another's 'awrah with lust and desire it will encourage or lead one to commit zinâ which the Messenger of Allah calls the greatest evil after shirk (polytheism):
"There is no sin after shirk and greater in the eyes of Allah than a drop of semen which a man places in the womb which is not lawfully for him."
Islam prohibits every step and every means that leads to committing zinâ as mentioned in the Qur'ân:
"Do not come nearer to adultery for it is a shameful deed and evil, opening the road (to other evils)."
Islam not only considers adultery as a great sin but also an act which opens the gates for other shameful acts, which destroy the very basis of the family, lead