Allah Ta‘ala has blessed every person with five basic senses; taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight. It is through these five faculties that each person perceives the world around him, responds to the stimuli he experiences and is able to interact with his environment.
On hearing a pleasant sound, smelling a fragrant scent, seeing an attractive sight or touching something dear and beloved, the heart is immediately affected. It is filled with happiness, causing one to react with joy and delight.
Thus, the five senses can be regarded as the ‘gateways’ to the heart, while the heart itself can be regarded as the ‘command centre’ of all the limbs of the body. Therefore, in order to protect our heart from evil influences that will motivate the limbs towards sin, it will be imperative to protect the five faculties and senses, and shield them from all sins and temptations to haraam.
In regard to guarding the sense of sight, Allah Ta‘ala says in the Quraan Majeed,
قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا۟ مِنْ أَبْصٰرِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا۟ فُرُوجَهُمْ ۚ ذٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَبِيرُۢ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ ﴿٣٠﴾ وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنٰتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصٰرِهِنَّ
(O Nabi Muhammad [sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam]) tell the believing men that they should lower their gazes and guard their private parts. That is purer (and more chaste) for them. Indeed, Allah has full-information of all that they do. And tell the believing women that they should lower their gazes… (Surah Noor v30-31)
From all the different senses, it is perhaps the sense of sight that is the most dangerous. Through the sense of sight alone, one gets the ‘full picture’ which even the other senses combined (without the sense of sight) cannot provide. Hence, the vision that a person beholds with his eyes has the potential to leave an immediate indelible impression on the heart. It is for this reason that the disbelievers often speak of ‘love at first sight’ – acknowledging the fact that a single sight has the potential to lead to the complete corruption of the heart.
‘Abdah bin ‘Abdir Raheem (rahimahullah)was a pious person and a mujaahid who engaged in many campaigns against the Christians. He narrates the following incident which highlights the lethal and fatal effect contained by a single glance. He says:
On one occasion, we embarked on an expedition to the land of the Romans. Accompanying us on this expedition was a certain youngster. From all of us, no one could excel him in his recitation of the Quraan Majeed, nor could any of us compare to him in his understanding of Deen and his commitment to fulfilling all Deeni obligations. He would fast during the day and stand in salaah during the night.
During the expedition, we came to a certain fortress (occupied by Christians). Our army thus diverted its course away from the fortress and the youngster went near the fortress to relieve himself. Whilst there, his gaze fell on a Christian woman who was peering out from the fort. As his gaze fell on her, (her love entered his heart and) he became infatuated with her.
He called out to her and asked, “What can I do to be with you?” She replied, “If you become a Christian, we will allow you into the fortress, and I am happy to give myself to you.” Accordingly, the youngster renounced Islam, embraced Christianity and entered the fortress.
For the remainder of the expedition, the fate of this youngster continued to cause us immense distress and anguish, as (we were all fond of him and) each of us had considered him to be like our own son.
Sometime later, we returned to that area on another expedition. As we passed by the fortress, we caught sight of him, standing with the Christians, looking out from the top of the fortress. We called out to him and asked, “What has happened to your recitation of the Quraan Majeed? What has become of your knowledge of Deen? What has become of your salaah and fasting?”
The youngster replied, “I have forgotten the entire Quraan Majeed, with the exception of one verse. The only verse that I remember is:
رُبَما يَوَدُّ الَّذينَ كَفَروا لَو كانوا مُسلِمينَ ﴿٢﴾ ذَرهُم يَأكُلوا وَيَتَمَتَّعوا وَيُلهِهِمُ الأَمَلُ ۖ فَسَوفَ يَعلَمونَ ﴿٣﴾
Again and again, those who disbelieve will wish that they were Muslims. Let them eat and enjoy, and let (their) false hopes distract them, for they shall soon come to know (their ultimate end). (Surah Hijr v2-3)
(Al-Muntazam vol. 12 pg. 302)
In the blessed hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has warned us of the severe danger of not guarding the gaze, and has also promised tremendous reward for the one who safeguards his sight. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “The (impermissible lustful) glance is a poisoned arrow from the arrows of Iblees. The one who leaves it out (i.e. looking at haraam), out of the fear of Allah Ta‘ala, Allah Ta‘ala will reward him by blessing him with such imaan that he will perceive its sweetness in his heart.” (Tabraani – Majma‘uz Zawaaid #12974)
In this hadeeth, the evil glance has not merely been compared to an arrow. Rather, it has been compared to a poisoned arrow. Perhaps the reason for this is that the ill-effects of the glance linger in the heart and continue to harm and damage it, long after the glance was concluded. Hence, the haraam vision will continue to replay itself in our minds, in the form of haraam fantasies, and we will continue to derive haraam pleasure from the glance. In this manner, the sin continues and is compounded, long after the sight was seen.
We thus understand that both males and females must guard their gazes (as discussed here and here as well). Guarding the gaze is one of the most basic steps required in the journey to acquiring hayaa and the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala.
May Allah Ta‘ala assist us to lower our gazes and bless us all with true hayaa, aameen.