Means of helping oneself to lower one’s gaze
We have said here many times that it is not permissible for one who has no legitimate shar’i excuse to remain in the kaafir lands. This land is filled with kufr, immorality and sin, and people there deviate from the fitrah (sound innate human nature) with which Allaah has created them. One of the immoral actions that are widespread in those countries is immoral and wanton display (tabarruj), whereby women hardly wear anything that covers them, as the questioner has said.
This situation leads to haraam things and major sins, including mixing, touching and zina (unlawful sexual relationships), all of which stem from looking.
Sharee’ah came to forbid the ways that lead to immorality, one of which is looking at non-mahram women.
1 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts)”
Imaam Ibn Katheer said:
This is a command from Allaah to His believing slaves to lower their gaze and refrain from looking at that which is forbidden to them. So they should not look at anything except that which they are permitted to look at, and they should lower their gaze and refrain from looking at forbidden things. If it so happens that a person’s gaze accidentally falls upon something forbidden, he should quickly avert his gaze.
Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 3/282
2 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts”
3 – It was narrated that Jareer ibn ‘Abd-Allaah said: “I asked the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about a sudden glance, and he commanded me to avert my gaze.”
(Narrated by Muslim, 2159)
What is meant by a “sudden glance” is when a person’s glance unintentionally falls upon a non-mahram woman. There is no sin on him for the first glance, but he must avert his gaze immediately. If he averts his gaze immediately there is no sin on him, but if he continues looking, then he will be a sinner, because of this hadeeth, for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded him to avert his gaze, and Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things)”
Men must lower their gaze and refrain from looking at them in all circumstances, unless that is for a valid shar’i reason, such as giving testimony, medical treatment, wanting to propose marriage, buying a slave woman, engaging in financial transactions such as buying and selling, etc. In all these cases it is permissible to look as much as is needed, and no more. And Allaah knows best.
Sharh Muslim, 14/139
There are means which help a person to lower his gaze, and we ask Allaah to help you to do them:
1 – Bearing in mind the fact that Allaah is watching you, that He sees you and is with you (by His knowledge) wherever you go. It may be a secretive glance of which your neighbour is unaware, but Allaah knows of it. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allaah knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the hearts conceal”
2 – Seeking the help of Allaah, beseeching Him and calling upon Him (du’aa’). Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And your Lord said: Invoke Me [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism) and ask Me for anything] I will respond to your (invocation).”
3 – You should know that every blessing you enjoy comes from Allaah, and requires that you should give thanks. Part of the gratitude for the blessing of sight means that you should protect it from looking at that which Allaah has forbidden. Is there any reward for good, other than good? [cf. al-Rahmaan 55:60] Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allaah”
4 – Striving with your self and training yourself to lower your gaze and be patient in doing so, and not giving up. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning:
“As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our paths (i.e. Allaah’s religion — Islamic Monotheism)”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever seeks to be chaste, Allaah will make him chaste, and whoever seeks to be independent of means, Allaah will make him independent of means, and whoever strives to be patient, Allaah will make him patient…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1400)
5 – Avoiding places where a person feels he will be exposed to the temptation of looking, if he can manage to avoid them, such as going to marketplaces or malls, and sitting in the street. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Beware of sitting in the street.” They said, “We have no alternative; that is where we sit and talk.” He said, “If you insist on sitting there, then give the street its rights.” They said, “What are the rights of the street?” He said, “Lowering the gaze and refraining from causing offence…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2333; Muslim, 2121).
6 – You should realize that you have no choice in this matter, regardless of what the circumstances are and no matter how great the temptation or motive to do evil, and no matter what emotions and overwhelming desires stir in your heart. You must lower your gaze and refrain from looking at haraam things in all places and at all times. You cannot use excuses such as the environment being corrupt or justify your mistakes by saying that there is a lot of temptation around. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allaah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error”
7 – Doing a lot of naafil acts of worship, because doing a lot of them whilst also regularly doing obligatory acts of worship is a means of protecting one's physical faculties. According to a hadeeth qudsi, Allaah said: “… and My slave continues to draw close to Me with supererogatory (naafil) works so that I shall love him. And when I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask (something) of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.” (al-Bukhaari, 6137
8 – Remembering that the earth on which sin is committed will bear witness. Allaah says:
“That Day it will declare its information (about all that happened over it of good or evil)”
9 – Remembering the angels who are recording your deeds. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of mankind) to watch you,
Kiraaman (Honourable) Kaatibeen —writing down (your deeds),
They know all that you do”
10 – Bearing in mind some of the texts which forbid letting the gaze wander freely, such as the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things)”
11 – Avoiding looking unnecessarily, so that you only look at what you need to look at, and you do not let your gaze wander right and left so that it falls upon something the effects and fitnah of which cannot be got rid of quickly.
12 – Marriage, which is one of the most effective remedies. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever can afford it, let him get married, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and in guarding one’s chastity. And whoever cannot afford it, let him fast, for it will be a shield for him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1806; Muslim, 1400).
13 – Fasting – because of the hadeeth quoted above.
14 – Doing obligatory acts of worship as Allaah has commanded, such as prayer. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) prevents from Al‑Fahshaa’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse) and Al‑Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed)”
15 – Remembering al-hoor al-‘ayn, which will give you a motive to be patient in avoiding that which Allaah has forbidden, hoping to get al-hoor al-‘ayn. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Companions of Equal Age ”
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “… If a woman of the people of Paradise were to look out over the people of this earth, it would light up everything in between and fill it with fragrance, and the veil of her head is better than this world and everything in it.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2643).
16 – Bearing in mind the shortcomings of the one who is looked at and the filth and waste material they carry in their gut.
17 – Being ambitious and focusing on nobler things.
18 – Checking on yourself from time to time and striving to make yourself lower your gaze whilst realizing that everyone makes mistakes.
19 – Thinking of the pain and regret that will result from this looking, and the effects of letting one’s gaze wander.
20 – Understanding the benefits of lowering one's gaze, as mentioned above.
21 – Bringing up this topic in meetings and gatherings, and explaining its dangers.
22 – Advising your relatives, telling them not to wear clothes that attract attention and show their attractions, such as how they dress, wearing bright colours, how they walk, speaking too softly, etc.
23 – Warding off passing thoughts and whispers from the Shaytaan before they take hold and are acted upon. Whoever lowers his gaze after the first glance will be saved from innumerable problems, but if he keeps looking he cannot be certain that seeds that will be difficult to remove will not be planted in his heart.
25 – Being afraid of a bad end, and of feeling regret at the point of death.
26 – Keeping company with good people, because you are naturally affected by the characteristics of the people you mix with, and a person will follow the way of his close friend, and a friend will pull you to follow his way.
27 – Knowing that the zina of the eye is looking, and that should be sufficient to put you off.
Adapted from an essay entitled Ghadd al-Basr (Lowering the Gaze) by a student of sharee’ah.
And Allaah knows best.