Lower Your Gaze
"If I were not a Muslim, I would have contacted AIDS!" Proclaimed my friend. "The ayahs in Surah Nur about lowering our gazes doesn't affect me anymore", expressed another youth, talking about the intense temptations felt by today's youth. Difficulty in lowering the gaze by both the young and old is readily perceived on the street, weddings, parties and other places.
What has gone wrong with our Ummah? Us Muslims, called by Allah, our Creator, as the best Ummah, Model Community, custodians of Truth and the Upholders of Morality behaving in this way? Why are we adopting wrong attitudes and routes? How can we rectify ourselves?
What follows are a series of practical, though graphic advice which can work for us and set us free from Satan's stronghold, Insha Allah.
Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), by way of warning and as a reminder said: " I have not left a fitnah (trial, calamity or cause for calamity) after me more than (the fitnah) with women for men" (Bukhari and Muslim). Also was related by our Prophet:
"The world is sweet and verdant, and Allah having put you in it in your turn watches how you act; so fear the world and fear women, for the first trial of the Bani Israel had to do with women" (Muslim) Being optimistic, a ray of hope was also wisely provided during Prophet's Last Sermon on way to avoid the above pitfall: "If the Ummah hold on to the Qur'an and the Sunnah, it will not go astray".
When Allah created us humans with all the desires and urges, He also revealed to us sufficient and complete guidance to contain them through proper channels. All we need to do is seek this guidance, contemplate on it and implement it. "This day I have perfected you and Deen for you, completed my favours upon you and chosen Islam as your Deen" (Qur'an, 5:3) Realise the fact that the great Sahabas were human beings too.
Biologically they were no different from us, they too had desires and temptations of the human species, and yet they controlled them in the best of ways. We can too, Insha Allah. To possess sensual passions is Human, to control them is Muslim.
When confronted with a tempting situation, like passing by a non-mahram on the street, office, or a school, Satan is constantly tempting us to glare at her with evil thoughts. Satan is probably excitingly saying with a big smile 'Yes', 'Yes', 'Yes', when we steer into the bait he is setting.
During these situations immediately and consciously realise that when we give a second or following glances, we are obeying Satan. "O you who believe, follow not the footsteps of the devil..." (Qur'an, 24:21). By immediately averting our gazes and disobeying Satan, we are giving him a one-two punch in the face which leaves him frustrated, accursed and defeated.
Satan rebelled and was expelled by Allah, so let's all rebel against Satan and expel him from our hearts. Satan intends to fight a war against the believers, so lets gather our forces behind Qur'an and 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 heart. Our eyes, limbs, tongue and private parts will all be witness for or against us on the Day of Judgement and not an atom's worth of our deeds will remain unexamined.
Psychologically our minds are conditioned to associate our 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 Nur in front of our eyes during any tempting situation and imagine that during that particular instance Allah (swt) is speaking to us directly: "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty, that will make for greater purity for them... Say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty... O you believers! Turn you all together towards Allah that you may attain success" (Qur'an, 24:30-31). What a beautiful guidance and what a sublime reward for implementing it.
With practice, the above associations and the remembrance of Allah during tempting situations will prevent us from getting stuck by devilish arrows. Successful controlling of our gazes also depends upon our avoidance of sinful situations. An Islamic idiom (Usul Al-Fiqh) says: "Anything that leads to haram is haram in itself". Therefore nipping any unlawful situation in their bud is what we should strive for. Performance of a pious deed is rewarded and avoidance of a sinful deed is also rewarded, Al-Hamdulillah.
One of the biggest culprits which encourages us to disobey the ayahs in Surah Nur, are the movies. In the name of entertainment, to please our peers and children and as an excuse to do something together as a family, we astonishingly allow the development of un-Islamic scenes and dialogues in front of our eyes.
Likewise, we watch news on TV and stare at the anchor women, female gymnasts, and female swimmers who are scantily dressed. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was once approached by a women with a proposal for marriage. He took a single glance at her and turned his face away. Jabir bin Abdullah 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 the faces of non-mahrams of opposite gender, be they our fellow students, elders, saleswomen, or the one on TV.
Pious ladies of the Prophet's household were even ordered to do Purdah in front of a Blind Sahaba. Upon the curious question as to why Purdah when the blind Sahaba can't see them, Prophet wisely replies: "But you could see him" (Ahmed, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud).
Each one of us may have become culprits not obeying the ayahs in Surah Nur. It is not too late to realise these short coming and work at rectifying ourselves. Above all, we should always ask forgiveness of Allah (swt). Indeed blessed are those Muslims who are able to check their gazes, thus conserving their precious time and energy, and working in the cause of Allah to reclaim our positions as the superpowers of the world.
Let's contemplate on the above humble advises and constantly make the following supplication: "O Allah help us in controlling our sensual desires until we get married, and after our marriage, let our desires be only towards our spouses".