The Jihad of the eyes - start today!
by Dr. Hesham Hassaballa
As temperatures soar and sweat pours down our faces this summer, it is essential to remember this: protect your eyes, and I am not talking about wearing sunglasses.
I'm talking about lowering our gazes.
In our culture today, as the temperature increases, so does the amount of exposed skin on people's bodies. Although this is very distressing and disturbing, it has become a fact of life.
In fact, those of us, especially our sisters wearing Hijab, who cover to guard our modesty are seen as strange!
Yet, covering, not exposing the skin, is an advice currently being given by the United States Department of Health And Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
They have sponsored a campaign called "Choose Your Cover", encouraging people to protect themselves from skin cancer.
One of the recommended methods is wearing clothing that covers skin and protects against the sun's UV rays.
The campaign's section on clothing notes that "a long-sleeved shirt and long pants with a thick weave provide the best protection."
And lest we forget, before global warming and skin cancer warnings were ever issued, most of the Muslim and non-Muslim men and women living in the scorching deserts or cities and villages of Africa and Asia, which experience tremendous heat in the summers [if not most of the year] did NOT emerge from their homes virtually naked.
In fact, they covered themselves more to protect themselves from the sun.
This sin is so hateful in the sight of Our Lord, that He commanded us to not even go near it.
Despite what anyone may say, looking upon that which one is not supposed to is going near adultery. For an illicit affair begins with a lustful glance.
Allah wishes for us not to commit this ugly sin, and thus He commands us to lower our gazes:
Lowering the gaze does not mean keeping our eyes constantly on the ground and not looking up at all.
It is turning our faces away when we see a less-than-decently-dressed
woman or man walking on the street in the middle of July.
Thus, our Prophet even instructed us to lower our gaze when looking at members
of the same gender in some cases.
Lowering our gaze must also be practiced when watching a film or television program replete with nakedness and intimate scenes of couples (actually, we should try to avoid watching such types of programs, period).
Lowering our gaze includes changing the channel when "Baywatch" comes on.
It also means changing the channel when watching the news if we feel attracted to the anchorperson or reporter reading or presenting the news.
And anyway, television isn't that great of a way to spend time. See why in
Sound Vision's unTV guide.
Lowering your gaze there is virtually impossible. You may turn in one direction, thinking you're home-free, but soon enough you can't even look there.
The same holds true for parks. While this doesn't mean never taking the kids out to enjoy the slides and see-saws or having barbecues there, it does mean perhaps having activities on days that are cooler, or at times when the sun is not as hot and intense (i.e. some time in the earlier morning or before Maghrib).
This way, the prime time for sunbathing has passed, and most people either
leave or feel cool enough to put some more clothes on.
Sometimes, despite avoiding certain places where you are more likely to encounter an improperly dressed person, you may find someone walking on the street going to the beach or the park who decided to get ready for suntanning or swimming beforehand.
In these cases, lowering the gaze may be even harder. You weren't expecting it, so you didn't mentally prepare yourself.
If you feel overwhelmed, one suggested Dua to read is: "Aoutho billahi Sami' il Aleem minash Shaytan ir Rajeem" (see Quran 41:36 for more information). A translation of this is "I seek the refuge of Allah who is the Hearer and Who is the Knower from the Shaytan the accursed."
In general, seek refuge in Allah. It has also been suggested to say "La
hawla wa la Quwwata illa billah" (there is no power except with Allah).
If we sincerely make Dua, Insha Allah, we can succeed in turning our eyes away.
You can, for example, hand out brochures at public places and parks.
The Prophet used to present the message of Islam to people that had come for the yearly "Ukaz" festival, which did include unIslamic activities like drinking and gambling.
However, this requires faith, self-control and discipline. This must never
be used as an opportunity to indulge in these sins.
Allah tells us:
Looking at another man or woman in an indecent manner is following in Satan's footsteps.
It all begins with a lustful glance. Such a glance leads to lustful talk and flirting, then meeting and we are all aware of what comes next.
Let us stop Satan in his tracks and lower our gaze.
Let us start today, during these hot summer months. Yes, it is very difficult and it takes discipline and faith.
Yet, whenever we struggle to please Allah, He will reward us several times over in this life and the next.
It is truly a Jihad. But, it is a Jihad worth undertaking, and we will be all the better for it.
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