بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
يَعْلَمُ خَائِنَةَ الْأَعْيُنِ وَمَا تُخْفِي الصُّدُورُ
He knows that which deceives the eyes and what the breasts conceal.
[Al-Qur’an: Surah Al-Ghafir (The Forgiver): 19]
“Treachery is one thing that I don’t do,” is usually our first and instant reaction when faced with this ayah. But when we sit down and analyze ourselves, we realize that, more often than not, our eyes have fallen into sin.
TV and Magazines
When we watch programs on TV that promote ideas contrary to the teachings of Islam, which also broadcast images that spread immorality, we allow our eyes to be witnesses to things that displease Allah (سبحانه وتعالى). Sadly, today the media is full of such exposure, and one has to train oneself to quickly bypass such channels without letting the eyes linger on
A simple exercise of checking one’s email can lead to unwittingly seeing images on the Web that can affect one’s level of eemaan (faith) adversely. The culture of the West is in complete contrast to Islamic teachings, hence in a virtual world that is dominated by it, it is very easy to defocus from the ultimate goal and have the eyes wander in directions that are not liked by Allah (سبحانه وتعالى). Being focused and consciously sticking to the maqsad (purpose) for which one has come online for will help keep the eyes from sinning.
I also find searching for images online to be somewhat disturbing, because the search results often display images that are of indecent nature, which can lead to treachery of the eyes.
Lowering the Gaze from the Opposite Sex
Surah An-Nur, with its concept of “ghadd-al-basar” (lowering of the gaze), contained a meaningful lesson for me:
قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ
The ayah that comes after this commands women to do the exact same thing, followed by additional steps to ensure their safety and respect in society.
So the windows to the soul are indeed the eyes. We have to lower them in order to avoid any sort of fitnah (trial). I realize the significance of this ruling and how essential it is for us to implement it. When we lower our gazes, we are automatically redirected towards becoming focused on the Siraat-ul-Mustaqeem (Straight Path)!
The Women of Jannah guard their gazes too
One of the traits of the women of Jannah (Paradise) is that they guard their gazes. This is a reflection of what they used to practice in the dunya (worldly life). They reserve their glances for only those whom it is lawful for them to look at, i.e. their spouses. Remembering this ayah motivates a woman to become more like the women of Jannah:
وَعِندَهُمْ قَاصِرَاتُ الطَّرْفِ أَتْرَابٌ
“And with them will be women limiting [their] glances and of equal age.”
[Al-Qur’an- Surah Sad: 52)
Khiyanah in Prayer
Another area where we do khiyanah (treachery) of the eyes is during salah (prayer). We think it is all right to take sneak peaks here and there while reciting our oft-repeated surahs (chapters) in salah. Stealing from prayer is a grave sin.
The Messenger of Allah (صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) said: "The worst type of thief is the one who steals from his prayer." The people asked, "O Messenger of Allah, how can a person steal from his prayer?" He said: "By not doing rukoo' (bowing) and sujood (prostration) properly."
(Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 5/310; see also Saheeh al-Jaami', 997).
And on the same note:
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ1
الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ َ2
“Successful indeed are the believers. Those who perform their Salah with all solemnity and full submissiveness.”
[Al-Qur’an – Surah Al-Muminun: 1-2]