By Zahra Anjum
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
We were waiting for someone on our way to an Islamic class. One of my companions snickered suddenly, “Look at that man.” She pointed and commented that he looked like a famous military dictator. As our gaze followed the man, our teacher present with us pointed out, “My dears, we should lower our gaze and not look at men. The command to lower the gaze does not apply only to men; it’s applicable to women, too.”
There and then, for the first time, I consciously realized this command from Allah. Allah (st) says in the Qur’an: “Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts.” (Surah Nur 24: 30-31)
Imam Ibn Katheer writes in the explanation of this verse: “This is a command from Allah to His believing servants, to lower their gaze from looking at things that have been prohibited for them. They should look only at what is permissible for them to look at, and lower their gaze from forbidden things. If it so happens that a person’s gaze unintentionally falls upon something forbidden, he should quickly look away.”
Hence, amidst huge billboards, advertisements on the internet and newspapers, etc., and while talking to a non-mahram, we are commanded to avert our gaze and not let it dwell.
Nowadays, we live in a society that promotes so-called ‘freedom’ and the culture is to ‘do whatever you wish’. Thus, our eyes are not used to any restrictions and we assume that it is fine to look at everything and anything. However, the Benefactor of sight has given us a manner of conduct for the blessing that He gave. Reining ourselves is not an easy task but it is a command of Allah. Thus, it is doable and is in our best interests.
Below are seven tips to help us save our sight in an era of media and obscenity:
1. You have no other choice
There is no choice but to obey Allah, no matter how hard the circumstances and how strong the temptation. You cannot justify your mistake by simply saying it’s too difficult. Allah (st) has said in the Qur’an: “It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.” (Surah Ahzab 33: 36)
2. Practice perseverance
Practice makes perfect. Strive with yourself, force yourself to guard your gaze, and check yourself from time to time. At first it will seem difficult, however, if you remain steadfast and conquer all temptations you will soon become used to it. Allah (st) certainly helps those who are sincere in their endeavours. The Qur’an affirms this: “As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our paths.” (Surah Ankaboot 29: 69)
3. Ask Allah for help
When we make sincere dua (supplication), Allah provides the means to help us. Ask Him to help you safeguard your gaze. The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever seeks to be chaste, Allah will make him chaste, and whoever seeks to be independent of means, Allah will make him independent of means, and whoever strives to be patient, Allah will make him patient.” (Bukhari)
4. Voluntary acts of worship
After fulfilling the obligatory acts of worship, take a step forward and engage in voluntary acts of worship, for example, the night prayers and fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. Worshipping Allah helps us keep our heart in shape and allows us to control it. Fasting especially is an effective remedy mentioned by the Prophet (sa). He said: “O young men, whoever among you can afford it, let him get married, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and guarding chastity, and whoever cannot then he should fast, for it will be a restraint (wija’) for him.” (an-Nasa’i; sound)
5. Get married
As stated in the aforementioned hadith, marriage is the best way to protect the gaze. If you have the means, do not delay your marriage.
6. Company of the pious
Surround yourself with companions who are wary about their hereafter. Consequently, the places you visit and the topics you discuss will be different and will not leave much room for the gaze to wander towards forbidden things. Have your friends remind you when you slip.
7. Keep your eyes on the prize
Bear in mind that what you are looking at is impure and fatal compared to what is in store for you in paradise. Remind yourself of that prized sweetness of faith that is attained by controlling your eyesight. Imagine your eyes speaking for or against you on the Day of Judgement. Envision the meeting with Allah, and remember your desire to be of those few fortunate ones who will be able to see Him in paradise. Do you not wish to safeguard your eyes for that special moment?
Zahra Anjum is a freelance writer, editor and translator based in Islamabad, Pakistan.
© IIPH 2015