Lowering the Gaze

by | 21 Jun 2021 | Miscellaneous, Research & Articles, Tazkiyah

Allāh ﷻ has blessed the human with innumerable bounties and blessings which one cannot count nor comprehend. Allāh ﷻ says in the Holy Qurʾān:

وَإِن تَعُدُّواْ نِعْمَةَ اللّهِ لاَ تُحْصُوهَا إِنَّ اللّهَ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“Were you to [endeavour to] count the blessings of Allāh, never could you enumerate them. Indeed, Allāh [alone] is Most-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.” (Sūrat al-Naḥl: 18)

Among the numerous blessings Allāh ﷻ has bestowed upon us, is the truly magnificent blessing of our eyes and sense of sight. It is through this incredible blessing of Allāh ﷻ that we are able to see something, mentally register the image of that very thing in our minds and subsequently feel the effects of it within our hearts. Allāh ﷻ has referred to the eyes as a person’s “two dear things” in a Ḥadīth qudsī:

عن أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: (( إن الله قال: إذا ابتليت عبدي بحبيبتيه فصبر عوضته منهما الجنة))

It has been reported from Anas ibn Mālik (raḍiyallāhu ʿanhu) that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Allah (ﷻ) said: When I afflict my servant with respect to his two dear things (i.e. his eyes), and he endures patiently, I shall compensate him for them with Jannah.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī)

Since the eyes are one of the greatest of Allāh’s blessings upon us, it follows therefore that it is incumbent for us to show our appreciation and express our gratitude to Allāh ﷻ for such a great blessing. Expressing such gratitude is of two types:

1. The first is to verbally thank Allāh ﷻ for the blessing; and

2. The second is:

a. To practically utilise that blessing in a manner that earns the pleasure of Allāh ﷻ; and also

b. To refrain from using it in a manner that earns the displeasure of Allāh ﷻ.

Thus, it is extremely crucial that we do not misuse our eyes and that we safeguard them against looking towards unlawful things. Allāh ﷻ has instructed us in the Qurʾān:

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ

“Tell the believing men that they must lower their gazes and safeguard their private parts; that is purer for them. Indeed Allāh is All-Aware of all that they do.” (Sūrat al-Nūr: 30)

The command to lower the gaze is not exclusive to males. In fact, the verse that follows explicitly instructs females to do the same, along with mention of a number of other laws pertaining specifically to females. Allāh ﷻ says:

وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُن…

“And tell the believing women that they must lower their gazes and safeguard their private parts…” (Sūrat al-Nūr: 31)

Oftentimes it is due to allowing the eyes to wander, that eventually other sins follow. A man or a woman may initially just glance towards the other. The accursed shayṭān takes advantage of this situation, creating a false attraction and instilling yearning, lust and desire for them in their hearts. This then ultimately leads to other Ḥarām (forbidden and sinful) activities. It is for this reason the sharīʿah prohibits males and females from looking at each other. Consequently it is necessary for us to also refrain from attending venues and gatherings wherein free-mixing between the genders takes place, whereby one may earn the displeasure and wrath of Allāh ﷻ. Rasūlullāh ﷺ said:

ما تركت بعدي فتنة أضرعلى الرجال من النساء

“I do not leave after me, a more harmful trial for men than women”. (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī)

The method legislated by the sharīʿah for females to protect themselves from being seen by men who are not unmarriageable kin, is to cover their faces with a niqāb. Throughout history – right up until this era – this has been the practice of the pious women who truly fear and revere Allāh ﷻ. Further details on the laws of niqāb can be found here: https://markazulfiqh.com/2021/04/18/the-niqab-and-its-obligation-in-the-hanafi-madhhab/

The culmination of all the points mentioned is this: we must always be mindful that it is of the utmost importance that we safeguard our eyes, for they are a great blessing from Allāh ﷻ that come with an equally great amount of responsibility. Ultimately, we need to understand and accept that we are not entitled to, or in any way owed, any of these amazing blessings that Allāh ﷻ has granted us. It is our duty to remain constantly vigilant in protecting such priceless blessings against evil, lest we earn the displease and punishment of Allāh ﷻ, or He removes these blessings from us completely, for He most certainly has the power to do so.

28 Shawwāl 1442 / 09 June 2021


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