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April 14, 2004
How Should I Lower My Gaze?

by Gillette aka Hassan[uddin] Khaja

There are many reasons why a brother would - not "should" - lower his gaze. I hope this serves as a guide to brothers as well as sisters to help them better understand the human male psyche.

The most obvious motivation - and the hardest to come by - is taqwa. The benefits for lowering the gaze are many. The consequences to lowering the gaze in the sight of Allah (SWT) are grave. The repeated glance very easily turns into a stare. A stare becomes a conversation. There's no need to go any further. In the end, the muttaqoon know that we commit zina with the eyes as well as with the genitals, so they stay away from the zina of the eyes, as it might lead to zina of the genitals.

Part of taqwa is force, meaning, measures that we take at the Muslim gathering come under this category. Separation of the gatherings is one of these measures. Another is placing a curtain between the gender groups at the gatherings. All of these are ways of "forcing" brothers to lower their gazes.

Second comes getting caught. This doesn't happen often with lowering the gaze, because no brother would call another one out on staring at women. But, if someone were to find a stack of Playboys under his Muslim brother's bed, the owner might not place anymore magazines under his bed. Likewise, since staring at women is a public deed which most brothers might not be able to conceal, if a brother were to get caught staring, he won't stare anymore because of the sheer humiliation.

Getting married isn't quite as common, but this might shatter the most popular argument that people use in favor of staring at women. At a fully Islamic gathering, if we place curtains - or partitions or fitnah filters or ummah dividers or taqwa builders - brothers might wonder "how will I find a wife?" If somehow, one were to remove the "fever" from his own heart, this might help in curing the disease of the wandering eye. The best ways to do this are to a) get married or b) fall so hopelessly in "love" with ONE sister that other sisters are not worth staring at, which doesn't solve the problem of staring at the one sister, but it's a start until the diseased brother or that one sister graduates, moves, dies, or is otherwise too preoccupied to be at the same place as the other.


of and relating to...
Talal said

"but it's a start until the diseased brother or that one sister graduates, moves, dies, or is otherwise too preoccupied to be at the same place as the other."

yet another classic line from the Gillette-ster.

on April 14, 2004 2:28 PM
Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain said

salaam alaikum,

very nice article gillette, as always...nice to tie it in with the Haya one :)...but let us pray that Allah gives us the taufiq that all of us lower our gaze out of taqwa..ameen

May Allah allow us to see the Haqq as Haqq and give us the taufiq to abide by it and may we see the Batil as Batil and have the ability to stay away from it.

'work in this life as if you'll live forever, prepare for the Hereafter as if you'll die tomorrow'

on April 14, 2004 2:40 PM
Justoju said

AssalamuAlaikum,

Thanks for giving us that glimpse into the male psyche. Here is a glimpse into the female psyche:

You mentioned getting caught. Brothers, hate to be the one to break it to you, but sisters usually know with 99% accuracy when a guy is checking them out. Partly this is because Allah, Glorious and Exalted, has given women a certain strength of intuition, but more commonly it is because girls are generally very quick to believe that someone, somewhere, somehow, is checking them out, and they kind of have their radar open to picking it up when it happens. Why they would do this is too amusing a topic for me to waste on a comment:). But the point is, you DO get caught. The sisters just dont call you on it...

...and usually it screws up a guys 'islamic' image cuz it sometimes happens that sisters talk to one another and share stories of who they think has a wandering eye. Its even more scandalous when the wandering eye belongs to a bearded brother. And this hinders his chances of marrying the sweet pious ex-model niqaabi his heart desires because she dont want no "badmaash maulvi". So, if you cant lower your gaze for the sake of Allah, Glorious and Exalted, do it for the sake of your rep and marriage and save the sisters from having to sadly cross out another member of the male gene pool. I hope that was enough incentive:).

WasalaamuAlaikum

on April 15, 2004 12:27 AM
Talal said

Hidaya: exposer of society's little secrets...

:)

on April 15, 2004 12:47 AM
Justoju said

Wouldnt it be cool if you could buy automatic gaze-lowering shades or something? They could be like normal sunglasses only the top 2/3's of the lens would be opaque so you would only see the rest of humanity from their knees down.

Hidaya: creator of society's solutions

on April 15, 2004 2:50 AM
Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain said

salaam alaikum,

good points justoju...hehe nice name...we haven't had enough of that here lately...sisters knowing that brothers are looking at them is always a good thing..to keep the brothers at check...but i think sisters check out brothers too...so i've heard...

my roommate in med school used to be the amir of the msa at univ. of houston...he was saying how none of this interaction went on there...sisters and brothers would prefer if they didn't say salam to the opposite gender...because they really is no need...sisters would actually prefer the brothers who didn't talk to them at all...

may Allah guide us all to the Straight Path

Ibn Muzaffar
'work in this life as if you'll live forever, prepare for the Hereafter as if you'll die tomorrow'

on April 15, 2004 9:35 AM
Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain said

another little thing on lowering ones' gaze...
imam shafi (may he rest in peace) had a photographic memory - he could memorize both pages of a book at the same time but he felt that he was slipping in his memorization...so he went to his sheikh and he told him of this and the sheikh said you have committed a sin...so imam shafi thought and thought and the only sin he could think of was that one time in the market, he saw the back of the heel of a woman in front of him by accident...subhanallah
of course we can't compare ourselves to those great people but we can at least try to get to that level insha'allah

'work in this life as if you'll live forever, prepare for the Hereafter as if you'll die tomorrow'

on April 15, 2004 2:25 PM
faqir said

why is it that the majority of muslim dialogue is centered around either some aspect of hijab or how someones beard isnt long enough....perhaps its because we're so empty inside that all we talk about are these outward tendanicies because they are so easy to pick apart. constant reiteration of male/female relations just makes us seem like we're obsessed and insecure about this topic. theres much more to a person than their sexual nature, humans can coexist in an upright society and work together to better themselves as individuals and as a people as the need arises. read some history and see how islamic societys lived their lives in a much more realistic way than many of the "ideals" of today. in no way am i agreeing with brother x "shooting the wind" with sister y, but at the same time, there is a huge disparity between the former and being a mature human being who can sometimes see people for more than just sexual fitna....wallahu 'alim

on April 16, 2004 12:19 AM
faqir said

one other thing....this is directed toward all the kind brothers who somehow exemplify this through their words/actions/gestures/and slight connotations....stop reinforcing the already sad idea that all muslim brothers do is think about sex. we're people of 'iza, but the way you guys talk make us seem like depraved, weak fools being controlled by our nafs....cmon now boys

on April 16, 2004 1:14 AM
justoju said

AssalamuAlaikum,

Brother Faqir has a point in regards to the Ummah's automatic and desperate turning to the reform of the outward when there is much lacking inward...but perhaps that is due to the fact that reforming one (with sincerity) leads to the reform of the other? Its understood that neither should be ignored, but people go for the outward first since its usually the easier of the two to tackle.

Wabillahi tawfiq. WasalaamuAlaikum

on April 16, 2004 1:16 AM
justoju said

and I am not condoning unilateral reform...I am just trying to understand why it sometimes happens...

Here is a question to think about: Is there a SUCH thing as unilateral reform? Is it possible to reform either the inward or the outward without also reforming its other half?

on April 16, 2004 1:23 AM
Talal said

What? People aren't finding this incessant talk of the male and female genders entertaining?
My write would have no meaning if such were true... "ay me".

As for the reason of unilateral reform... if the Inward in Islam is taken as the soul, and the outward as Man in Dunya:
All actions of worship are directed at returning to the innate sense of 'ibaad-hood known as fitra; the state during which the soul was asked whether it took Allah as it's lord, and it answered with the Testification.
The soul being so intertwined with the outward during it's time in the Dunya, all attempts in altering the once innate and perfect "what is good, what is evil" sense of the soul in the Dunya, is relfected in the outward actions of Man in Dunya.
ex: Look to Allah in your Shahadah, Salah, Zakaat, 'Sawm, and Hajj, and find yourself not having to stare, because you end up possessing a full conviction that Allah will indeed provide you with the soul you were first paired with.


on April 16, 2004 1:37 AM
my2cents said

" we're people of 'iza, but the way you guys talk make us seem like depraved, weak fools being controlled by our nafs...."


hehe i really like this.

on April 16, 2004 8:23 AM
Gillette said

Assalamu 'alaikum,

"constant reiteration of male/female relations just makes us seem like we're obsessed and insecure about this topic..."

it's a topic to be insecure about. islam has set out a social order, and the american social order contradicts this.

"but the way you guys talk make us seem like depraved, weak fools being controlled by our nafs"

we may not all be "weak fools," but Islam encourages us not to find out the hard way.

on April 16, 2004 9:20 AM
Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain said

salaam alaikum,

faqir ure right that it may seem we're so obsessed with this topic but like gillette said it's something to worry about...it's because we have this weakness in our characters, brothers and sisters both, that we aren't progressing as Muslims...we always have to look for a way out of everything and the easy path...but Islam isn't about easiness, it's about sacrificing...and i don't think u can have unilateral reform...our outward and inward should be one and the same...who are our role models? the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions and their outward and inward were the same, that's why they were a functional society...our outward nature doesn't even show we're Muslim, so we can't expect anything from our inward natures...

Wallahu 'alam...
Don't forget to read Surah al-Kahf today
wassalaam
'work in this life as if you'll live forever, prepare for the Hereafter as if you'll die tomorrow'

on April 16, 2004 9:50 AM
faqir said

"it's a topic to be insecure about. islam has set out a social order, and the american social order contradicts this."

i dont believe islam teaches us to be insecure about anything, it makes us aware of things that we may or may not conclude through our own mental excersising, aka, revelation....i disagree that the american social order wholesally contradicts this, there are aspects of it that are not so "halaal" but in the same token it has many exemplary qualities....where else can a woman, or man for that matter, walk around naked and not get abused or molested?

on April 16, 2004 12:48 PM
Gillette said

"i dont believe islam teaches us to be insecure about anything, it makes us aware of things that we may or may not conclude through our own mental excersising, aka, revelation...."

if, by insecure, we mean uncomfortable, then islam teaches us to be insecure with haraam. to get to comfortable is a sign of a lack of faith.

"i disagree that the american social order wholesally contradicts this, there are aspects of it that are not so 'halaal' but in the same token it has many exemplary qualities....where else can a woman, or man for that matter, walk around naked and not get abused or molested?"

no where. it's called sexual harassment. even staring is a form of harassment.

on April 16, 2004 2:57 PM
faqir said

on the contrary mr. gillete....

i can be uncomfortable with the idea of ingesting an intoxicant because of my taqwa, but i am not insecure about it to the point where thats all i talk about like a big bad scary ghost. but anyway, we're all different, some stronger here and some weaker there, my point is just to be realistic about things and not think of the opposite gender as ahh!!!!! evillll!!!! it makes the situation worst in my eyes, and at times cause more confusion and resentment than good. by the way, why did barriers go up at the isru meetings? its funny how all day you sit in class with females then for an hour you come into that room and now its haraam to even know a fully covered sister is sitting 10 feet away from you...go figure

on April 16, 2004 11:46 PM
Gillette said

[my last comment was insufficient]

"i can be uncomfortable with the idea of ingesting an intoxicant because of my taqwa, but i am not insecure about it to the point where thats all i talk about like a big bad scary ghost."

i presume that you wouldn't be insecure about it because it's something that you put behind you. but the violation of the islamic social order goes on everyday.

"...my point is just to be realistic about things and not think of the opposite gender as ahh!!!!! evillll!!!! it makes the situation worst in my eyes, and at times cause more confusion and resentment than good."

a fitnah doesn't necessarily mean evil. the opposite gender can be a fitnah and a blessing. it causes confusion when people want it to cause confusion.

"by the way, why did barriers go up at the isru meetings? its funny how all day you sit in class with females then for an hour you come into that room and now its haraam to even know a fully covered sister is sitting 10 feet away from you...go figure"

there's no equivalent between the two situations. the former (class) is a non-Muslim gathering. of course, we should take measures (sitting front and center of the classroom), but the prime purpose among non-Muslims isn't to necessarily call AWAY FROM somethin, but to call TO Allah (SWT), as proven in the hadeeth of da'wah by Mu'adh bin Jabal, Rasoolullah (SAW) said specifically to call to the shahada first, then the pillars. In general, we're not even allowed to be in this country, let alone sit in a mixed class, unless we directly or indirectly contribute to the efforts of da'wah.

At the meetings, however, there is no excuse for not putting up a barrier. Among Muslims, the focus is to call to a specific dictate of Islam. If something is proven Islamic, it's assumed that the we will take it to heart.

on April 17, 2004 1:33 AM
faqir said

dear maulana mufti sheikh Gillete,

i didnt know you were a mujtahid and deduced the fatwa that we're not allowed to live here....(scholars are not agreed upon this issue)

"If something is proven Islamic, it's assumed that the we will take it to heart."

proven by who? they never used barriers in the first masjid, why do you need a barrier if everyones covered and separated and all they are doing is sitting there

on April 17, 2004 4:46 PM
justoju said

Side note: I noticed something interesting a long time ago at the ICPC masjid---they dont have a barrier. I was curious so I asked why. I was told that the reason they didnt need a barrier was because:

1) the women's area is usually kept in lower lighting so as to safeguard their privacy and so that peeping brothers/uncles are unable to peep.

2) Because ICPC has one of those communities where if a sister comes in and is about to pray in less than perfect islamic attire (i.e. her pants indicate the shape of her legs, or half her arms are exposed, or she is wearing anything form-revealing), the women will ask her to please put on one of the loose 'communal' skirts they have there or will give her a large scarf to wrap herself with.

These two things insure that the brothers cant easily see the sisters, and that even if they can, they wont see anything but 'perfectly' covered muhajibas.

...that was just a side note, carry on...

on April 17, 2004 5:08 PM
Talal said

And let's not forget the most obvious item on the list before we start comparing meetings to Masaajid. Men and women sit front and back in a Masjid, not side-by-side.

on April 17, 2004 6:21 PM
Rami (in a fighting mood) said

Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,

Br. Faqir, please grow up and stop trying to cause angst between fellow muslims.
There is a difference between arguing and bashing. Men argue with order and respect. So give Hassan the respect he deserves and fight your arguments with facts and rationalism rather than with childish retorts and name callng. Argue, comment, write anything that you want...but if you want to pick a fight/argument then stop hide behind aliases and be a man like everyone else. I doubt then that you would be as rude or as brave.

One out of every six American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime (14.8% completed rape;2.8% attempted rape). So please don't complain when a brother is trying to keep his other brothers/sisters in check.

Wasalaam Warahmatullah Wabarakatu

on April 17, 2004 7:37 PM
Saima said

wow. is this hidaya ?


Nice.

on April 17, 2004 11:54 PM
Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain said

Rami no need to get upset...we will always have some ppl in the ummah who will try to cause a stir to get everyone else riled up...the brother is not trying to prove a point but just throwing out stuff...some people think of Islam as too easy and think that it CAN'T be that hard...and the reason, faqir, why there was no separation in the first masjid was because of the way ppl covered back then...DON'T even try to explain that it's the same way right now, because we all know it isn't...people wear clothes yet they are still naked...on the contrary when the ayah came down for women to cover, the women at the time even covered their faces but if a barrier is causing so much trouble, i guess b/c brothers and sisters have to look at each other or something, i don't know what kind of controversy the topic of niqab will cause.....

may Allah guide us all to the Straight Path and faqir please read the article on Haya and InshaAllah try to implement some of it

as for living in this country, i think hassan is right...the majority opinion says that since this is not an islamic country, we can only be here for education and da'wah purposes...surely we can't argue with the fact that now we live in a country in open war against Islam...

'work in this life as if you'll live forever, prepare for the Hereafter as if you'll die tomorrow'

on April 18, 2004 9:08 AM
Anonymous said

Wow! Guys are too weird. I am acquainted with a sister who never like anyone and lowers her gaze at ALL times. Some people have even accused her of being a lesbian because she doesn't even talk about boys. In her second year of college she would go to Jummah prayer accompanied with her friends. At jummah prayer, the MSA president would stare at this girl throughout the prayer and preceding it as well. He was known to be religious and be of the Ivy League persuasion. This followed for a year unitl the girl finally said something to her sister. She started to think as the boy as marriage material. Well it turns out, the boy was "committed" to a girl and it was a secret. This sister was extremely upset because of one boy who couldn't lower his gaze.

Guys....please don't break the innocent sister's hearts :(

on November 25, 2004 2:17 PM
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