Son: What are the most dangerous of such temptations?
Dad: On top of such temptations is looking boldly at a woman as an object of sexual desire. This serves as a stimulus that may lead to an unlawful response. Also, it is the first step towards major sins. Allah warns us against such a forbidden look; He Almighty Says (what means): “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do.” [Quran 24: 30]
Because of its dangerous consequences, the Prophet warned his companions against looking at forbidden things. He said: “Refrain from sitting on the sidewalks of the streets.” The companions, may Allah be pleased with them, submitted: ‘O Messenger of Allah, we have no other alternative, there is no other place where we can sit and discuss things.’ He said: “If that is so, then observe your responsibilities due to the street.” The companions, may Allah be pleased with them, asked as to what was due to the street? He said: “lower your gaze, clear the street off obstacles, reply to greetings, and enjoin virtuous deeds and forbid evil ones.”
Son: I can gather from this that a Muslim should be on his guard and keep away from places where he would look at forbidden things. Is that right?
Dad: Yes, my son, in the previous saying, the Prophet ordered them not only to avoid looking at forbidden things, but also to avoid sitting on the sidewalks. The Prophet said so although the streets of Madeenah then were different from the streets nowadays. Nowadays, the streets are full of unveiled women, who tend to display their charm. The women then were veiled and showed signs of modesty; and so they would stick themselves to the walls while walking without a legal escort as bashful as they were.
Son: Why is looking at a woman so dangerous?
Dad: This is because it is oftentimes followed by serious consequences. When someone looks at a woman, he pictures her as an object of sexual desire. And the image develops in his mind. Satan, then, beautifies this image and brings it back in his mind with all sorts of desirable animation. When this is repeated, it develops into an obsession; and one may be haunted by such an image in his prayers.
When someone is obsessed by a certain idea, there is always the possibility that such an idea might materialize into tangible action. The whole thing starts with an intention perceived, then the intention develops into determination, followed by vicious scheming, which eventually results in committing adultery. If this were not the outcome, thinking would lead to masturbation which is forbidden.
Son: Dad, I have an important question about masturbation, but I will put it off until later. For now, I have another important question about looking at women. What would you say to those young men who watch actresses in movies or view pictures of women in magazines or on the Internet; and their excuse is that there is no harm in just doing that since they are not looking at the real woman body but rather an image of her?
Dad: This is the same as looking at women in person; there is no difference, since both actions will lead to the same result.
Son: What if the whole matter is confined to a mere thought, I mean no action is taken. Would you say something like ‘it’s the thought that counts'?
Dad: One of the Attributes of Allah is “The Merciful”; and so He Almighty does not punish His slaves except for the sins that they actually commit. The Prophet is reported to have said: “Allah forgives my followers for evil deeds their ownselves may suggest to them as long as they do not act upon them.” But, thinking about women in a persistent way may lead to the unlawful act of adultery. I would advise you and every young man to engage yourselves in things that will benefit you in this world and in the Hereafter. Be careful when such thoughts cross your mind; try to stop them right away and replace them with better thoughts.
Son: Dad, how can I put a curb on my desires?
Dad: The best thing to do is to maintain a strong Faith in Allah. This is the most effective weapon against desires. I am telling you this because the Prophet is reported to have said that there would come a time when Faith would become dear and rare to found. Mu’aath, may Allah be pleased with him, used to call one of his friends and say to him: “Let’s sit and spend some time increasing our Faith!”
Son: Dad! What are some of the things that one does to increase his faith?
Dad: Faith increases with submission to Allah. Good deeds, like reading the Noble Quran and reflecting on its meanings, remembering Allah, and contemplating His creation, also increase faith.
Then you have to fear Allah in the most appropriate manner, and observe your duties to Him wherever you are. That is because a true believer should know that Allah encompasses everything and that nothing is hidden from Him. Not even an atom escapes His knowledge. Allah Says of Himself in the Noble Quran (what means): “And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record.” [Quran 6: 59]
Allah Almighty also Says (what means): “Allah knows what every female carries and what the wombs lose [prematurely] or exceed. And everything with Him is by due measure. [He is] Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, the Grand, the Exalted.” [Quran 13: 8-10]
Allah knows whoever commits unlawful acts in broad daylight and whoever commits them behind closed doors. If a believer is well-aware of this fact, he will fear Allah. Do you remember that Hadeeth in which the Prophet named the types of believers that will be under the Shade of the Throne of Allah on the Day of Judgement? One of them is a man who was seduced by a beautiful woman, but he said: “I fear Allah.”
To be concluded…