Lower your gaze, avoid the blaze.
You’re on the bus, and a cute guy/girl sits on the opposite seat and looks directly at you. You look up, both pair of eyes meet and he/she smiles. A conversation starts between the two of you and ultimately you exchange phone numbers/emails. You go home, tell your awesome best friend all about it and she hands you a slip of paper containing:
“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their private parts; that will make for greater purity for them. Indeed Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.” [an-Nur 24:30]
Sound familiar? Well, except for the best friend handing that slip of paper part. They usually just gush along with you.
The practice of lowering one’s gaze is a small act which is conveniently easy to forget. It is also something important especially now, where society has become more blatant in their attention-seeking. The media emphasizes a huge role on sight. They want everything to be done right in order for people to look good. Key word: look.
They advertise with attention-grabbing images that -more often than not- contradict the ways of Islam. Lowering one’s gaze is not necessarily only for life experiences, an example being the situation above. Some of us also forget that although we avoid looking at members of the opposite sex, by watching our favourite actors/singers/celebrities, looking and marveling at their physical beauty falls under the category of letting your eyes stray.
We were created with the love of seeing and obtaining beautiful things. Humans love to behold beautiful sights, objects and people. It is in our nature to want to seek out these objects on a daily basis. The eyes are our guide. As written in an article by Imam Ibn Qayym (RA) on The Great Virtue of Lowering the Gaze, we see that the human soul guides the eyes to see objects of its desire and hence, we develop a love for its beauty. This relationship between the soul and the eyes will ultimately tire both out.
Lower your gaze, Avoid the blaze
Preventing one’s gaze from straying has a few benefits. The most popular and logical reason is to protect the people involved from fitnah. Some may think that just a look would not hurt but as portrayed in the scenario above, a look could start things going. From a look, comes a smile, then comes communication, then meet ups and maybe then a relationship that is not permissible in Islam.
Ibn Qayym also mentions on three benefits that come with guarding one’s gaze:
The first one is to experience the ni’mah and sweetness of imaan. As mentioned, the heart develops a desire for an object or a person from the moment its host lays eyes on it. It is then distracted from Allah as it will be devoted towards the object of its wanting. Therefore, if the object or person is not seen, then it is only common sense that the heart does not yearn for it, for one cannot wish for something that he does not know of its existence.
Hence, when one’s gaze is guarded, the heart needs and longs only for Allah who will never disappoint. As stated in the article by Ibn Qayym:
[box_dark]“ This delight and sweetness is far greater and more desirable that which might have been attained from the object that one lowered his gaze from for the sake of Allaah. Indeed, ‘whosoever leaves something for the sake of Allaah then Allaah, the Mighty and Magnificent, will replace it with something better than it.’ ”[/box_dark]
Therefore, let our hearts yearn and glorify only Allah and no one or nothing else.
The second benefit is the illumination of the heart, clear perception and penetrating insight.
The phrase “Al ‘ilmu nuurun” literally translates to “Knowledge is light” and it is only when darkness is removed that light can shine through. This is the same principle of the relationship between our actions and the clarity of our hearts. Good deeds lead to the enlightenment of our “Qalb” whereas bad ones result in its blackening. When one lowers his gaze, he is forbidding himself the desires of his heart that does not comply with the laws of Islam. Thus, this is a sacrifice by itself and deserves a reward because it is not something that can be done easily.
As Ibn Qayym says,[box_dark]“The reason behind this is that the reward is of the same type as the action. So whosoever lowers his gaze from the unlawful for the sake of Allaah, the Mighty and Magnificent, He will replace it with something better than it of the same type. So just as the servant restrained the light of his eye from falling upon the unlawful, Allaah blesses the light of his sight and heart thereby making him perceive what he would not have seen and understood had he not lowered his gaze.”[/box_dark]
The third benefit is that the heart becomes strong, firm and courageous.
By guarding one’s gaze, the heart will indirectly be trained to not fall for the nafs. It strengthens one’s imaan and and consciousness of God at the same time increasing an individual’s willpower against the whispers and invitations of the shayateen to commit sins. Hence, Allah blesses the ones who guards their gazes from straying away by giving them the strength and courage to remain on the right path.
So remember, the next time you see that cute boy/girl sitting opposite you on the bus, keep calm, lower your gaze and start your dhikr!
May Allah help us in our efforts to become better servants. Ameen.
Radhiatul Mardhiyah Mustaffa
Mardhiyah graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with a Diploma in Applied Food Science and Nutrition. She’s an aspiring writer trying to find peace and serenity that comes solely from feeling Allah’s love.