Jun 6, 2012

The Art Of Looking Down

By An Ghela


We often underestimate the power of eye contact and gazing. As social creatures we interact with each other throughout the day. However there is a truth to the saying “the eyes are the window to the soul”, it is something extremely personal to lock eyes with someone.

Allah has granted us the gift of vision, but as many of our blessings they can also become a test for us. We can certainly use our eyes to gaze at our spouses and so increase the love bond we have with them. Studies between couples show that gazing at someone you love increases the release of the hormone oxytocin or “love hormone” which gives us a sensation of happiness and pleasure as well as increases trust between individuals [1].

Also studies on Child Development show that newborn babies have blurry vision up to the sixth month but are able to discern faces when they are close to them. They’ve found that they can approximately see and recognize a face 8-15 inches away from them, the distance between them and their mothers holding them. It is one of the reasons why they create a special bond with their mothers and are able to recognize their faces even when their vision is not clear [2]

But our vision not only helps us connect with others but it has been shown that the direction of the movement of the eyes activates different areas of the brain. While looking up and to the left can help us remember and looking up and to the right can help us construct ideas; looking down activates the area of the brain connected with feelings and “internal dialogue”. Something that can aid us in reflecting on our lives and blessings, subhanAllah! [3].

Such are the gifts that Allah has created to be able to increase our love for our spouses and children. But it is essential for us to protect this gift even when we are not married or don’t have kids. We often associate lowering the gaze as a command primarily given to men but the Qu’ran clearly states: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest.” (Surah An-Nur: 30-31) Even when we would like to believe that our desires are not as strong as that of a man, we also have to realize that the command to lower the gaze is much more extensive that just looking at the opposite gender. As many of the things Allah ta’ala has commanded us, this too exceeds in benefits and serves as a shield from many vices.

Below are some of the many benefits of lowering the gaze:

1) Save your gaze for the ones who deserve it. As Muslims we know that our foremost fear shouldn’t be to be caught by our relatives or friends when doing something wrong but that our Lord is watching us all the time. But we must also have in mind the rights of our husband (or future husband) when transgressing. I often think that the best gift a spouse can give to the other is that they have saved even their gaze only for them. What best token of tawakkul than to wait patiently and not look around to see what we can find, but preserving our gaze, our conversations, our interactions only for the one who was created for us subhanAllah!

2) Protecting the rights of other women’s husbands and of your husbands. "...So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard..." (Surah An-Nisa 4:34) As marked before we have rights towards our husbands (or future husbands) which we cannot neglect. However we also have an obligation to protect the rights of our sisters. Maybe the guy who is attracting our gaze is married and has a family. How would we feel if another woman was looking at our husband? Even if we are not aware of it we are ordained to restrict our interactions with non-mahrams not only to save ourselves from zina but our brothers and sisters who may unintentionally be hurt by our actions.

3) Avoid unwanted interactions. As someone who spends a considerable amount of time commuting every day, I had my fair share of unwanted interactions. But through experience comes wisdom and I’ve found a couple of ways of avoiding them. Amongst the obvious is dressing in a non-attractive way, wearing hijab properly and using props such as books or sunglasses to avoid being the target of such interactions. But I think a very important tip is to avoid at all costs looking at people. For some reason even innocently looking at someone may send the wrong signal. So lowering your gaze is the best hijab for the eyes and the best protections against outdoor fitnah. 

4) Avoid desiring what other people have. “And do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given enjoyment to [some] categories of them, [its being but] the splendor of worldly life by which We test them. And the provision of your Lord is better and more enduring” (Surah Taha 20: 131) It is sometimes unavoidable to look at the blessings of others and wish we could have them. But it is often worst when we are constantly looking around, checking out that sister’s new handbag, or wishing we had her eyelashes or asking why we were not blessed to have such a good husband. When we focus so much on what is around us we often forget our purpose in life and get distracted by this dunya’s innumerable temptations. So lowering our gaze will shield us from longing to what others have and help us reflect on our blessings.

5) Avoid being arrogant and feeling superior to anyone. “And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful” (Surah Luqman 31:18) Have you seen how celebrities walk around with pride, as if this earth was their own personal runway? As Muslim women even our walk should make others feel the presence of Allah but what image can we portray when our attitude and gaze looks down at everyone, when we cannot even spare a smile with our sisters. Lowering our gaze can help us remember we are just mere slaves not king wannabes.

6) Avoid seeing that which you are not meant to see. “Beware of suspicion, for Suspicion may be based on false information, do not spy on another, do not disclose others’ hidden defects.” (Al-Bukhari) Have you ever wished you had not witnessed something? Sometimes seeing some things become a burden upon us. We are faced with making decisions that may even conflict with our own principles. But our religion is there to ease our burden and exempt us from facing such hardships. This can easily be avoided by minding our own business and not constantly be “checking” what others are doing. At the same times our eyes might sometimes deceive us and what we thought we saw may not have been the complete picture. Meanwhile in our heads we have already created a scenario that is incorrect and can bring conflicts instead of solutions.

7) Protect your other senses. “Allah has written the very portion of Zina which a man will indulge in. There will be no escape from it. The Zina of the eye is the (lustful) look, the Zina of the ears is the listening, the Zina of the tongue is (the licentious) speech, the Zina of the hand is the (lustful) grip, the Zina of the feet is the walking (to the place where he intends to commit Zina), the heart yearns and desires and the private parts approve all that or disapprove it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) “It all started with a look” is something we often hear in both love and tragedy stories. This is because the eyes are physiologically as well as psychologically connected to the other senses. Is like when we see a delicious cake, even if it is behind a window we can imagine ourselves smelling it, tasting it, and even daydream we are eating it (especially when we are on a diet hehe). So at that moment you can choose to look away and avoid the temptation or give in and walk your way to the bakery. At the end is all about the choices we make but as humans we are vulnerable beings, so protecting your sight might end up protecting your nafs.

8) Look down at those who are in need. "By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you spend (in Allah's cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well." (Surah Al 'Imran 3:92) The idea of this article came to me while I was walking trying to keep my gaze down and saw an old woman in the floor asking for help. Throughout that day I saw many helpless people who I’d probably not have noticed if I was busy looking around distracted by this dunya. As amazing as this world is there is also many things that need your help around such as helping a needy person or removing an obstacle that is in the way, which are both examples of things we can do or come around when we realize that lowering our gaze can also help us help others.

9) Avoid Cyber-sinning. So it appears that many brothers and sisters that avoid free-mixing with the opposite sex, or gazing and talking to them in real life are under the false belief that when they are online these rules of conduct magically vanish. If it is not permissible to look at a man in the street then what makes it okay to look at them on any social network? Of course in the comfort of your home no one would be checking on the flirty looks we give a certain brother; but we are aware that every single one of our acts is been recorded by the angels. Great is the shame for anyone who would make their angels write down the many times they were not able to contain their gaze and gave up to the whisperings of Shaytan.

Now is your turn Habibis to come up with benefit #10. Please write in the comments section what you think is /are other benefits of lowering your gaze and any comments and opinions of the article.


I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


Jazaki Aallah khair! This Is a beautiful read! Very well written; I
Enjoyed reading it very much. One benefit of lowering ones gaze is that it helps one remember for whose sake they are lowering it (Allah swt). By always being God-conscious, our days are made easy. Knowing that Allah swt is watching us helps us be good for His sake alhamdulilah.

Aoosum article really in need of these reminders..Feel very good when one know that they r not the only one
Loved the pic-"Think Im Hot Well so is HELL....Lower Your Gaze" haha
(especially when we are on a diet hehe) created bond between reader and article
Sorry for being too critical may be its due to ENG 201
Jazakallah khayr

this was a very beneficial article mashaAllah...and i loved the points you mentioned and i also loved the organization of the article. That fact about us looking up and to he left when memorizing was something new i learned and it's sooo interesting! now i know why i always tend to look to the left and up while memorizing Qur'an! 
sis, i also wanted to give some advice. I recently took the Fiqh of Love class by Al-Maghrib Institute with Sh. Waleed Basyouni and he mentioned that it is indecent to wear clothes/accessories with the text "You think I'm hot? So is Hell, Lower Your Gaze." I saw the picture up there so I thought I should remind you and/or the website moderators. 

JazakAllah sister for the thoughtful article. And as for the phrase 'you think im hot so is hell' is common to me and I try to use it and share it with others.
Another phrase that I'd like to share is that; "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", jus like Allah swt has given us sight to see the beautiful bounties of his endless blessings such as nature..oceans and gardens that we have been blessed in this dunya to see with our vision. I personally when im walking in public i mostly look ahead to where I am going or I mostly look down..because I know everywhere there are non-mahram men around us..and some even stare even though we are wearing hijabs. But again, for the hijab of the eyes and for being modest we will be rewarded inshAllah. And another thing I would like to add is that now that summer is just around the corner..a lot of the non-Muslims will start to dress more revealing..and i know it may be a bit hard for the guys..but again, i think the same 10 Benefits goes for the Muslim men as well to lower their gaze..and always remember Allah is watching..we should definitely preserve our gazes for our future spouses. May Allah swt protect us all from the gazing fitnah and give strengthen our imaan. Ameen.

lovely article. the info about how our brains work according to the movement of the eyes was quite interesting! and also how the release of oxytocin increases when gazing at a loved one. i have experienced that personally <3 alhamdulillaah.

one more pointer for lowering the gaze:
we should also try and lower our gazes from other things Allaah has prohibited us from seeing, aside from the non-mahram opposite gender - we should avert our gazes when people expose their awrahs, like thighs, midriff, etc. we may come across that in newspapers, magazines, billboards, TV, etc, or even on the streets. so it is important to avert our gazes immediately, because it is haraam for us to look at them, even if they be of the same gender

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