"If I were not a Muslim, I would have contacted AIDS!" proclaimed my friend. "The ayahs in Sura Nur about lowering our gazes don'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 even in the Masjids.
What has gone wrong with our Ummah? Why are we adopting the attitudes and routes of the non-believers? How can we rectify ourselves? What follows are a series of practical advice which can work for us and set us free from Satan's stronghold, insha Allah.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) 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)
Our Prophet also related: "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 Quran 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 your deen for you, completed my favors upon you and chosen Islam as your deen." (Quran 5:3)
Realize the fact that the great Sahabas were humans 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 luring situation, like passing by a woman 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 realize that when we give a second or following glances, we are obeying Satan.
"O you who believe, follow not the footsteps of the devil..." (Quran 24:21)
By immediately averting our gazes and disobeying Satan, we are giving him a punch in the face which leaves him frustrated, accursed and defeated. Satan rebelled and was expelled by Allah. Let's all rebel against Satan then and expel him from our hearts. Satan intents to fight a war against the believers, so let's gather our forces behind Quran 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 witnesses for or against us on the Day of Judgment 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 themâ€¦ Say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modestyâ€¦ O you believers! Turn you all together towards Allah that you may attain success." (Quran 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 gaze 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 cutting 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 encourage 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. Can we ever imagine (Na'udubillah) any Sahaba renting the latest hit from Blockbuster videos, or listening to music with luring lyrics at high volume?
Likewise, we watch news on TV and stare at the anchorwomen, female gymnasts, and female swimmers who are scantily dressed. Thus we are not supposed to stare at the faces of non-Mahrams of opposite gender, be they our fellow students, elders, saleswomen or someone on TV.
Each one of us may have become culprits of not obeying the ayahs in Surah Nur. It is not too late to realize these shortcomings 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. Let's contemplate on the above humble advice 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 ... aameen."
Editor's note: This should apply to both sexes, naturally!
'I feel compelled to respond to the letter that the sister wrote in your last issue on hardly ever reading articles about Muslim men lowering their gaze. The sister is right in reminding brothers to lower their gaze.' -Sabeel Ahmed
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