Explaining the meaning of the “first glance”
Fatwa No: 26644

  • Fatwa Date:22-1-2014 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 21, 1435
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Question

Please explain the main rationale behind the first glance being lawful in terms of looking one’s way and the like. There appeared a kind of deviant interpretation of permitting the first glance and prolonging it to the extent of examining the person and seeing their details. This kind of looking is perceived to be permissible. Another sort of deviant interpretation involves looking at the other side of the street and seeing the passers-by on the grounds that the first glance is lawful. Please explain the meaning of the first glance, the real rationale behind permitting it and people’s behavior in light of the Quranic command to lower one’s gaze. Also, please explain the significant harms that might affect marriages, including the dissatisfaction that may arise between spouses owing to the deviant conduct of intentionally looking at others under the pretext of it being the first glance.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

It is forbidden for a man to intentionally look at a non-Mahram woman whether for the first or the second time.

However, a sudden glance is pardoned, provided that the gaze is lowered immediately and no further looking is resumed. If the man continues to look at the woman or lowers his gaze and then looks at her again, then, by this, he is committing a sin.  It is narrated on the authority of Jareer ibn ‘Abdullaah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that he said, “I asked the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, about an accidental glance [at a woman]. He (the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) commanded me to turn my gaze away.” [Muslim]

No scholar or sensible person said that the Hadeeth indicates the permissibility of continuing the first glance, examining the subject person, or looking at him/her intentionally. Commenting on this Hadeeth, An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

"The sudden glance means one that is accidentally directed to a non-Mahram woman. He bears no sin at the beginning, but he must lower his gaze immediately. If he does so, then he bears no sin; and if he continues to look at her, then he bears a sin according to this Hadeeth. This is because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, ordered (the Companion) to lower his gaze. Also, Allaah Almighty Says (what means):{Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allaah is Acquainted with what they do.}[Quran 24:30]" 

The aforementioned Hadeeth explains the other Hadeeth where the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “O Ali, do not follow a glance with another, for you will be forgiven for the first, but not for the second.” [Ahmad, At-Tirmithi, and Abu Daawood]

The first glance is the sudden one after which a man is ordered to lower his gaze. 

There is no doubt that looking at what is forbidden by Allaah Almighty results in blindness of the heart, weakness of insight, indulging in vice, and corruption of society, in addition to other evils. Therefore, men and women must lower their gazes from what they were forbidden to look at by Allaah.

Allaah Knows best.

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