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.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, Bestower Of Mercy
COPING WITH SEXUAL DESIRE
Islam, being a complete and total way of life that is the most beneficial for all mankind, recognizes the natural built-in urges that occur in every healthy normal mature human being. For this reason we find, as usual, the best of guidance in the Qur'aan and the authentic sunnah for how to deal with sexual matters. The following article will provide a general outline on just what Islam prescribes in this important area of life.
It should first be mentioned that Islam encourages healthy and lawful sexual activity. Sex itself is neither a taboo subject nor a preoccupation. It has been dealt with at length and detail in nearly every aspect by scholars of Islam, not as a means of titillation, but in order to guide the ummah of Muhammad in this basic and vital area of life so they can live in a manner that Allah Most High is pleased with. Free and wanton sexual practices are proven unhealthy physically and psychologically and have a tremendous negative impact upon society whereas when people conduct themselves according to the divine guidelines set down by Islam, sexual behavior is both controlled and beneficial for individuals and society.
"Some scholars have concluded that the human being should pledge 1) To walk at least a minimum distance every day 2) To feed his stomach at regular intervals 3) Not to abstain from having lawful sexual intercourse..." [Zaad Al-Ma'ad]
We find that the following general points are advised for people from the Qur'aan and sunnah that afford the believer the means to control his or her self and properly channel their desires. Indeed, the major role of Islam is to provide human beings the means by which they can control themselves, develop in righteousness and fulfill their roles as slaves of Allah.
1.Remembrance of Allah (i.e. through reading and understanding the Qur'aan and Sunnah and seeking refuge in Allah from the whisperings of Shaitan and keeping Allah constantly in mind.
3.Lowering the gaze
5.Staying away from bad company
6.Staying away from places of temptation (fitnah)
The benefits of lawful sexual intercourse are that it protects one's eyes from looking at what is unlawful, it preserves one's chastity and helps to control one's desire and lust against what is unlawful and of course is the means through which society may flourish. Anas Ibn Malik (radiallahu 'anhu) said that "the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) use to command us to marry and forbid celibacy severely and say, 'Marry women who are very prolific and loving, for I shall outnumber the prophets by you on the Day of Resurrection.'" [Ahmed, Ibn Hibban, Abu Dawud, An-Nasaa'i]. Also Allah's Messenger (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Yet I pray and sleep; I fast and break my fast; and I marry women. He who desires other than my sunnah is not my follower". He (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) also said, "O young men, whoever among you has the means to establish a family, he should get married, for marriage preserves the chastity of one's eyes and sexual organ, and whoever cannot afford to establish a family, he must fast from desiring sex, for abstention in that case will protect him from sin." [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim]
Islam even provides guidance as to sexual conduct between spouses and one can read these details in the works of the scholars and in the hadeeth. Notable in this regard is the work of Ibn Qayyim Al-Jowiyyah (b. 1292 d. 1350 CE) who dealt with the subject in detail in his famous book Zaad Al-Ma'aad Fi Huda Khairil-'Ibaad. He deals with what is permissible, recommended and forbidden with regards to sexual conduct and every married Muslim as well as those about to be married should seek such knowledge.
Islam forbids sex outside the lawful marriage tie, and it strictly forbids homosexuality, bestiality and any other harmful or deviant practices. It also provides measures through its laws and ethics to prevent such sinful behavior along with appropriate punishment for those who do so. One of the major causes of sexual immorality today is the absence of limits in many so-called modern societies. This permissive attitude is propagated through the popular media, especially TV and films where prohibited sex is glamorized and encouraged.
Also books, songs and poetry encourage and stimulate the sexual urge among men and women to the point where they can no longer refrain from indulging in what Allah has made forbidden for them. Those who are responsible for the spread of these mediums among society and especially among Muslims have a heavy burden to bear upon their shoulders on the Day of Resurrection.
Constant exposure to the opposite sex or to whatever affords a person the opportunity to indulge in concentration upon them can lead to sexual obsession. Once a person is put in this position "...they will find themselves under constant, irresistible, and compelling influence to engage in sex." [Zaad Al-Ma'aad] Allah Himself refers to this when talking about women's erotic passion and in relation to the sexual inversion of the men engaged in homosexuality and pedophilia.
The first instance is that which is related in the story of Yusuf (alaihi salaam) and the uncontrollable desire of the wife of the Aziz for.
The second can be found in the story of the people of Lot ('alaihi salaam) who sought to satisfy their perverted lusts with the guests of Lot ('alaihi salaam) and ultimately Allah destroyed them. [See Al-Qur'aan Chapter 15]
Ibn Qayyim writes: "Fascination and attraction to physical forms, objects, pictures, statues, idols, books, portraitures, museums, images, arts, nature, beauty, scenery, or obsession and pride about one's own beauty or self sometimes develop into an abnormal excitability and is an illness that must be treated as such. These are creations, and fascination with the creation is a mask that obstructs one's recognition of his Creator. A heart that is filled with love for Allah will see life in this world from a different depth." How true ring such words in these times when films and magazines bombard our senses that our designed to make us focus on the "sexy" celebrity and that have the main theme of how one can make themselves sexually attractive!
We thank Allah Who has told us, "It is He who created you from a single being and out of that, He created its mate, so that he may enjoy the pleasure of living with her" [Al-Qur'aan 7:189] Allah has made the nature of mating congruity between man and woman based on love for they are of like nature and the core of peace and tranquility between them is love. Real satisfaction is not merely based on beauty, looks, intention, goal, will, character, or spiritual attainment, though such elements can help to bring about love, peace and tranquility.
The overemphasis in society on physical beauty and constant exposure or preoccupation with the opposite sex undermines the ability of people to apply wisdom, logic and sound reasoning to overcome desires. This is where the wisdom of keeping good company and staying away form the places of temptation (fitnah) is so crucial, for bad companions will surely do nothing but encourage the wrong behavior. The closest and constant companion for many is the television which is the worst of companions and a center of fitnah, not to mention actual supposed friends who are but shayateen in disguise who call to corruption and immorality by various means.
We must avoid both. Certainly places where men and women freely mix are a great cause of temptation. Take any college campus or even work environment in the west (or even in Muslim countries where adherence to hijaab and separation of the sexes is lax or non-existent) and you will naturally find a higher incidence of unlawful premarital and extramarital relations between the sexes. The same applies to situations where men and women have many opportunities to be alone together.
As Ibn Qayyim said with regards to being infatuated and giving the degree of love to others that belongs only to Allah : "...love for other than Allah is polytheism, and since Allah created one heart for each human being, the focus of such a heart should not be divided...we can say that love for other than Allah is wine for the spirit, and an intoxicant that can cloud one's clarity, and obscure one's real purpose. It inebriates the mind, impairs one's proper functions, occupies the heart from concentrating on the remembrance of Allah...occupying one's heart with attachment and love for someone else besides Allah breaks up one's devotion, for the heart naturally adores its beloved, and that is worship ('ibaadah)."
Allah is most Wise and the guidelines He has laid down regarding lowering the gaze, wearing hijaab, not being alone with the opposite sex who is not mahram and not coming near to zinaa (illicit sex) are all for our benefit in this life and the Hereafter and we ask Allah to guide us to adhere to that which He has taught us, and that He and His Prophet are the most beloved to us all Ameen.
References to Ibn Qayyim's words was taken from the book "Natural Healing With The Medicine Of The Prophet" Translation and Emendation by Muhammad Al-Akili, Pearl Publishing House
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