Thursday, October 28, 2010

How to Lower your Gaze


Verily all praise and thanks is due to Allah, we thank and praise Him and we seek His aid and depend upon Him and we ask Him for forgiveness and seek refuge in Him from the evils of ourselves and the wickedness of our deeds. Whoever Allah guides there is no one who can lead him astray, and whoever Allah leads astray there is none who can guide him. I testify that there is nothing deserving of worship in truth except Allah Who is Alone and without any partner and I bear witness that Muhammad is the slave servant and final Prophet and Messenger of Allah. Verily the most truthful and correct speech is the Book of Allah and best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). The worst of all matters in religion are those newly invented matters and each invented matter is a forbidden innovation and every forbidden innovation is a straying and every straying is in the fire.

"If I were not a Muslim, I would have contracted AIDS" proclaimed my friend. "The ayats in Sura Nur about lowering our gazes doesn't affect me anymore," expressed another youth, talking about the intense temptations felt by today's young. Difficulty in lowering the gaze by both the young and old is readily perceived on the street, weddings, parties and even in the mosques. What has gone wrong? How can Muslims, called by Allah, our Creator, the model community, the custodians of Truth and the upholders of morality behave this way? Why are we adopting the attitudes and routes of the kuffar? How can we rectify ourselves? What follows is practical and straightforward advice that can work for us and set us free from Satan's stronghold, Inshaa Allah.

Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam), by way of warning and as a reminder said, "There is nothing left after I go more dangerous to men than the temptations of women." [Al-Bukhaari] Being optimistic, a ray of hope was also wisely provided during the Prophet's Last Sermon "There are two things I have left that if the Ummah holds on to they will never go astray the Book of Allah and  my Sunnah." [Al-Haakim] When Allah created humans with all our desires and urges, he also revealed to us sufficient and complete guidance to properly channel these desires, both in the midst of Dar-ul-Kufr or Dar-ul-Islam. All we need to do is seek it, contemplate on it and pursue it.
"This day I have perfected your deen for you, completed my favors upon you and chosen Islam as your deen." (Al-Maida 5:4)

We should realize the fact the great companions (radiallahu 'anhum) were human beings also. Biologically they were no different from us. They had desires and temptations but yet, they controlled themselves in the best of ways. We can do the same, in shaa Allah. To possess sensual passions is human, to control them is Muslim.

When confronted with an alluring situation like passing by the opposite sex on the street, office or school, Shaitan is constantly tempting us to glare at her/him with evil thoughts. Shaitan is probably excitedly saying, with a big smile, 'Yes, yes, yes!' when we steer into the bait he is setting. During these situations, we should immediately and consciously realize that when we give a second or following glance we are obeying Satan.
"O you who believe, follow not the footsteps of the devil" (24:21).  By immediately averting our gazes and disobeying Shaitan, we are giving him a "one-two" punch in the face, leaving him frustrated and accursed.

Shaitan rebelled and was expelled by Allah, so let's all rebel against Shaitan and expel him from our hearts. Shaitan intends to fight a war against Muslims, so let's gather our forces behind the Qur'aan and the Sunnah and defeat him. Remember that even if no human eye is watching us, the Ever-Watchful Allah is constantly monitoring the innermost regions of our hearts. Our eyes, limbs, tongue and private parts will be witnesses on the Day of Ressurection and not an atom's worth of deeds will remain unexamined. Our minds are conditioned to associate thoughts of stealing clothes from a store to being in handcuffs and hauled into a police van. Likewise, we should condition our minds to bring the verses of Surah An-Nur in front of our eyes during any tempting situations and imagine that Allah is speaking to us directly:
"Say to the believing, men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty. O you believers! Turn you all together towards Allah that you may attain success" (24:30-31) If the Qur'aan contained only these two ayats, it would be enough to convince me that it is the book of Allah.

With practice, these associations and the remembrance of Allah during tempting situations will prevent us from getting stuck by devilish arrows. Successfully  controlling our gazes also increases our avoidance of sinful situations. An Islamic idiom says, "Anything that leads to haram is haram in itself." To do a pious deed earns a reward; to avoid a sin earns a reward too.

One of the biggest culprits in this class is movies. In the name of entertainment, to please our peers and children and an excuse to do something together as a family, we astonishingly allow un-Islamic pictures and dialogues in front of our eyes and ears. Can we ever imagine (a'udhubillah) any sahaba renting the latest hit from Blockbuster Video, or listening to music with alluring lyrics at high volume?

Likewise we watch news on TV and stare at the anchor women, adorned in heavy make-up, scanty clothing and seductive smile. Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam), was once approached by a woman with a proposal for marriage. He took a single glance at her face and turned his face away. Jabir bin Abdullah (radiallahu 'anhu) reported: I asked Allah's messenger about the sudden glance on the face of a non-mahram. He commanded me that I should turn away my eyes. (Muslim) Thus, we are not supposed to stare at faces of non-mahram females, be they are our fellow students, our elders, saleswomen or someone on TV. In our wedding ceremonies and parties and even in many Islamic fundraising dinners, there is heavy free-mixing between brothers and sisters. Often the chairs of males and females are arranged facing each other, knowing that about ninety percent of our sisters do not wear hijab. It is often noticeable to see males and females peeking glances at each other from the opposite ends of the hall. A big curtain is not my intention, but a big iman and befitting Islamic manners is.

The Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Verily a woman who is perfumed and passes by men and they smell her scent, is called a zaaniyah (fornicatress or adultress) in the heavens" [Ahmed and others with a hasan isnaad, Saheeh Al-Jaami' 2701]. Compare this with our sisters who clad themselves with expensive perfume, one kilogram of makeup, and then come to mixed gatherings. Will this not attract the attention of males? Let's be real. We have lowered our moral guards so low that a humble word of truth often seems so awfully strange. Let us contemplate the above humble advice and constantly make the supplication, "O Allah help us control our sensual desires until we get married, and even after we marry, let our desires be only towards our spouses.

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