Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
Every Muslim should spare no pains in lowering his gaze and preserving his modesty. This should occur in compliance with the Divine command given in Surat An-Nur, “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest.” (An-Nur 24:30-31)
Answering this issue, we would like to quote the following:
In his hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported as having said, “And the eyes commit zina (adultery). Their zina is gazing.” He (peace and blessings be upon him) commanded Ali and said: “Ali! Do not look once after another, for the first look is for you (since it happens accidentally) while the second is against you.” (Abu Dawud)
Of course a Muslim needs some help in lowering his gaze. A Muslim should always think of Allah’s reward that is deposited for him and of the many bad consequences he is saved from when he lowers his gaze. It is a tough task of course, but the harder it is, the greater the reward.
Here, we would like to cite for you some helpful hints to make the task of lowering the gaze easier for you, in sha’ Allah:
“It is when he is surrounded by half-naked people that a Muslim must have the courage to follow the command of Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and lower his gaze. “Do not go near fornication and adultery, it is an abomination and an evil way.” (Al-Israa’ 17:32)
This sin is so hateful in the sight of our Lord, that He commanded us to not even go near it. Despite what anyone may say, looking upon that which is forbidden is going near adultery, for an illicit affair begins with a lustful glance.
Allah wishes for us not to commit this ugly sin, and thus He commands us to lower our gazes, “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest.”(An-Nur 24:30-31)
Lowering the gaze does not mean keeping our eyes constantly on the ground and not looking up at all. It is turning our faces away when we see a less-than-decently-dressed woman or man walking on the street, which is so much more common in the summer months.
The adultery of the eyes
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) further explained to us Allah’s command. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet said, “…the adultery of the eyes is looking (at [that] which is not allowed)…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Also, on the authority of Jurayr who said: I asked the Messenger of Allah about accidentally looking at something that is not allowed and he said, “Turn your eyes away.” (Muslim)
Lowering for the “other” nakedness
One common mistake is to think that lowering the gaze is only required upon encountering nakedness and indecency “in the flesh” or in person. Lowering the gaze must also be practiced when watching a film or television program replete with nakedness and intimate scenes of couples. (Actually, one should try to avoid watching such types of programs, period). Lowering the gaze includes changing the channel when Baywatch comes on.
It also means changing the channel when watching the news if one feels attracted to the anchorperson or reporter reading or presenting the news. And anyway, television isn’t that great of a way to spend time.
Don’t go to the beach
Avoid the beach or anywhere else you’ll find a plethora of men and women clad in swimming trunks and bikinis. Lowering the gaze there is virtually impossible. You may turn in one direction, thinking you’re home-free, but soon enough you can’t even look there.
The same holds true for parks. This doesn’t mean never taking the kids out to enjoy the slides and see-saws or having barbecues there. It does mean perhaps having activities on days that are cooler, or at times when the sun is not as hot and intense (i.e., sometime in the earlier morning or before sunset). This way, the prime time for sunbathing has passed, and most people either leave or feel cool enough to put some more clothes on.
Make du`a’ (supplication)
Never underestimate the power of du`a’,” Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Brooklyn, New York once said. This holds true in all trying situations. Sometimes, despite avoiding certain places where you are more likely to encounter an improperly dressed person, you may find someone walking on the street going to the beach or the park who decided to get ready for sun tanning or swimming beforehand.
In these cases, lowering the gaze may be even harder. You weren’t expecting it, so you didn’t mentally prepare yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, one suggested du`a’ to read is: A`udhu billahi as-ami` al-`aleemi min ash-shaytan ir-rajeem (I seek the refuge of Allah the Hearer, the Knower, from Satan the accursed.)
In general, seek refuge in Allah. It has also been suggested to say: La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah (There is no power or might except with Allah).
If we sincerely make du`a’, in sha’ Allah, we can succeed in turning our eyes away.
Lowering the gaze doesn’t mean being anti-social
But lowering the gaze does not mean being rude or anti-social. Summer is definitely a time to go out and have fun.
The gaze is part of a Muslim’s character
A Muslim is decent and pure. This means all of his or her body must be decent and pure. A natural consequence of this is lowering the gaze. Allah tells us, “O you who believe! Do not follow Satan’s footsteps: if any will follow the footsteps of Satan, he will command what is shameful and wrong…” (An-Nur 24:21)
Looking at another man or woman in an indecent manner is following in Satan’s footsteps. It all begins with a lustful glance. Such a glance leads to lustful talk and flirting, then meeting. And we are all aware of what comes next.
Let us stop Satan in his tracks and lower our gaze. Let us start today, especially during these hot summer months. Yes, it is very difficult and it takes discipline and faith. Yet, whenever we struggle to please Allah, He will reward us several times over in this life and the next. It is truly a jihad. But, it is a jihad worth undertaking and we will be all the better for it.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.
Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: http://www.soundvision.com