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By Muhammad Basir Roslan
The sugar baby-sugar daddy issue was thrust into the limelight early last month after media reports emerged that Malaysia held the dubious distinction of having the third-highest number of sugar daddies in Asia. In this final of four articles on this issue, Islamic religious experts give their take on how to resolve this social ill.
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – The two main factors that compel university and college students to fall into the sugar baby, sugar daddy trap are culture shock and drastic lifestyle changes, according to an academic.
Dr Khairul Azhar Meerangani, who is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Islamic Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA Melaka campus, said based on his observations, most undergraduates would make an effort to safeguard their reputation when they first enter college or university.
However, their behaviour would change completely after getting a taste of a new culture which, to them, is more trendy and fulfills their adolescent aspirations.
“The new culture includes pairing off (with members of the opposite sex), westernised fashions, (portraying a) sexy image and using (the latest) gadgets which, without them realising, can weaken their sense of identity and also their intellectual potential.
“Finally (after completing their studies), they will be there on the stage just to receive their scroll without having manifested good conduct,” he said.
MORE GIRLS OFFERING SUGAR BABY SERVICES
According to Khairul Azhar, there has been a 40 percent increase in students offering their services as sugar babies since January this year.
“Their families are probably affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and to these students, it is an easy way to earn some money to pay their fees and meet their other costs,” he said.
He said media reports have also indicated that two public and eight private institutions of higher learning in the Klang Valley were among the top 10 “sugar baby universities” in the country.
“Everyone knows that the Klang Valley is the hub of challenges and worldly temptations,” he added.
Khairul Azhar said students who face financial constraints have various other syariah-compliant platforms to seek aid such as zakat, crowdfunding and interest-free loans or they can earn an income by starting an online business.
“The scope offered by these platforms is wide… even though the amount offered may not be much,” he said.
He stressed that the most important thing for one to do is to take the initiative to protect their self-respect which, incidentally, is also one of the requirements of Islam as stated in Surah Al-Ahzab, verse 35: “The men who guard their chastity and the women who guard their chastity, the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember Allah much, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and a mighty reward.”
Pointing to media reports that Malaysia has the third-highest number of sugar daddies in Asia at 42,500, Khairul Azhar said some experts have theorised that Malaysia’s higher education levels have exposed vulnerable students to this (sugar baby, sugar daddy) trend as they are burdened by fee payments until they complete their studies.
“Apart from that, the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in Asia over the last two decades has pushed many young women to seek out older and wealthy men for financial support,” he said.
GET RID OF UNWANTED APPS
Independent preacher Asma’ Harun, meanwhile, said for many years she has been hearing of university students getting involved in sex work to earn money.
Of course, their parents would have no knowledge of their daughters’ immoral ways as they would be dressed in their Muslim attire whenever they returned to their villages.
Asma’ blamed social media for entrenching youths in vice.
“Many youths are turning to social media as their guide… it provides a picture of the life they dream about, and then comes the burning desire to attain them (luxuries of life) even if it means having to involve themselves in immoral activities.
“They just close their eyes and do whatever they need to do to get what they want, profit from it and enjoy it,” she said.
Pointing out that materialism and secularism are alienating youths from religion in their daily lives, Asma’ said it appears as if they are not fearful of the sins they are accumulating.
“For sure, all those activities prohibited by our religion are the ones youths find exciting,” she added.
She also said that websites and dating applications such as Sugarbook should not be allowed to operate as they facilitate illicit sex. Such sites, she added, were against Islamic principles, as stressed by Al-Isra, verse 32: “Do not go near adultery. It is truly a shameful deed and an evil way.”
“It’s more disgusting when some sugar babies give the excuse that they need to earn an income to survive. Whatever excuse they give, it is unacceptable to Islam or any other religion or culture,” Asma’ said, adding that one cannot excuse an act of indiscretion by claiming that the end justifies the means.
WIPE OUT IMMORAL ACTIVITIES
Asma’ also explained that Prophet Muhammad SAW, through His hadiths, has often warned that when illicit sex is normalised, it will open the door to catastrophe, wickedness and destruction of society.
Following is one of the popular hadiths: “When promiscuous behaviour becomes rampant in a nation, Allah will send upon them such (strange) diseases that their own ancestors never heard of (al-Tabarani).”
Urging the authorities to wipe out immoral activities, she said more drastic action should be taken against the perpetrators.
“Even if we or our family members are not involved in such activities, we shouldn’t ignore them as it may give the impression that we are condoning such behaviour.
“And remember, our sense of repulsion towards immorality is a sign that our faith is still intact,” she added.
Translated by Rema Nambiar