Chapter 2 : Rules Related To Looking At Others

بسم الله الرّحمن الرّحيم

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ A30B وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ….

“(O’ Prophet!) Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts - that is purer for them; surely Allah is aware of what they do. And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks…”

Al-Qur’an · Surah al-Nur · Ayat 30-31

اَلْحَمْدُ للهِ الَّذِي لاَ يَبْلُغُ مِدْحَتَهَ الْقَائِلُونَ وَ لا يُحْصِي نَعْماَئَهُ الْعَادُّونَ وَ لاَ يُؤَدِّي حَقَّهُ الْمُجْتَهِدُونَ الَّذِي لَيْسَ لِصَفَّتِهِ حَدٌّ مَحْدَودٌ وَ لاَ نَعْتٌ مَوْجُودٌ وَ الصَّلاَةُ وَ السَّلاَمُ عَلى مَوْلاَنَا وَ مُقْتَدَانَا أَبِي الْقَاسِمِ مُحَمُّدٍ وَ عَلى أَهْلِ الْبِيْتِهِ الْطَيِّبِينَ الطَّاهِرِينَ لاَ سِيَّمَا بَقِيَّةُ اللهِ فِي الأَرْضِيِينَ وَ لَعْنَةُ اللهِ عَلى أَعْدَائِهِمْ أَجْمَعِينَ إِلى قِياَمِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.

The Rules of Looking - Related to Men Men Looking at Other Men

1 – Rule: Men are permitted to look at the entire body of other men except the private parts, with the condition that it is not done with the intention of lust or seeking sexual pleasure. ABGKLMST

Therefore: It is haram to look at any part of the body of another man, even the face and arms, if it is done with the intention of lust or seeking sexual pleasure. Similarly, it is also not permitted for men to look at the private parts of other men who are baligh, either with or without the intention of lust.

Note: The meaning of “intention of lust” or “seeking of sexual pleasure” is the fear of falling into sin or corruption.

2 – Rule: If a man fears that if he looks at the body of another man, he is liable to commit a sin, then he is not permitted to look at that man’s body. BGKLMT

3 – Question: What is meant by the private parts?

Answer: For men, the private parts include the anus, penis and testicles. For women, the private parts include the vagina and anus. AGKLMST

Therefore: The back part of the leg (thighs) are not counted as the private parts, and therefore it is permissible to look at them, however according to Ihtiyat Mustahab it is better to refrain from looking at them (as well).

4 – Question: In lakes, ponds, public showers, or on the banks of rivers… men wear something in which the skin of their body is not showing, however the form and shape of their private parts are completely showing – is it permissible to look at them?7

Answer: What is meant by the covering of the body is that the skin of the body should not be visible, and in the event that one is not led into committing a sin, then looking (at such a man) is not a problem. AGKLT

If in this action there is fear of falling into corruption or committing a sin, then it is not permissible. B

5 – Rule: Fathers are not permitted to look at the private parts of their sons who are baligh, whether it be in the shower or anywhere else. Also, according to Ihtiyat Wajib, the father is not permitted to look at his son’s private parts even before the son has become baligh during the time when he is Mumayyiz. AGKLMS

It is haram to look at the private parts of a child who has reached to the age of Mumayyiz. BT

6 – Rule: It is haram for a doctor to look at the private parts of another man, except in the case of necessity.AFGKLST

Therefore: It is not permissible for a man to refer to a doctor for birth control (vasectomy) so as to prevent his wife from becoming pregnant. However, it is not a problem to have such an operation performed in the event that it is not permanent (the operation can be reversed), but since such operations necessitate the need for someone else to look at the private parts, thus it is haram. However if there is a procedure which can be performed such that it does not involve the doctor looking at the private parts, then it is not a problem. Also, if one’s wife is a doctor and she can perform the operation, then it is permissible.

Men Looking at Mahram Women

7 – Rule: Men are permitted to look at the entire body of their Maharim, with the exception of their private parts, with the condition that this looking is not done with the intention of lust and there is no fear of falling into corruption. (One’s wife is an exception to this rule). ABGKLMST

Therefore: Men are not permitted to look at the private parts of their daughter, mother, sister or any other Maharim women, even if it is done without the intention of lust or falling into sin. Similarly, according to Ihtiyat Wajib, it is not permissible to look at the private parts of a Mumayyiz child who is not yet baligh.

8 – Rule: According to Ihtiyat Mustahab, men should refrain from looking at the area from the navel down to the knees of their Maharim. GKLM

Men and women who are Mahram to each another are permitted to look at the complete body of one other, with the exception of the private parts, with the condition that the looking is without the intention of lust.B

Men Looking at Non-Mahram Women

Non-Mahram women are divided into two categories: Muslims and non-Muslims. As for those who are Muslims, they are further divided into those who correctly observe their hijab, and those who do not observe it.

  1. Muslim women who observe the proper Islamic hijab.

9 – Rule: If a Muslim woman is properly observing her hijab, then it is not a problem for a man to look at her face and hands, as long as the following conditions are met:

  1. Her face and hands have no decorations (zinat) on them.

  2. The looking is done without the intention of lust or falling into sin or corruption. ABK

According to Ihtiyat Wajib, it is not permissible to look at even the face and hands of a non-Mahram woman, whether she has any zinat on them or not. G

In every way, if the non-Mahram is a Muslim woman who observes the proper Islamic hijab; or even if she does not observe the proper Islamic hijab, but if she was told about hijab she would observe it, then to look at her face and hands without the intention of lust and falling into sin is not a problem. However, according to Ihtiyat Mustahab, it is better not to look at her face and hands. S

If the zinat on the face and hands consists of an ordinary ring, the removal of facial hair or applying Surma, even if these things are common among old women, then it is not wajib for the women to cover them, and also, it is not a problem for the man to look at them as long as this look is not with the intention of lust. T

Therefore: Men are not permitted to look at the face and hands of women who do not observe proper hijab; for example, those women who have an amount of hair showing, have short sleeves on, or those women who have not covered their arms, wrists or hands.

10 – Rule: It is haram for a man to look at the hands of a non-Mahram woman who has a ring, bangles or bracelet on, long fingernails, nail polish applied, or who has beautified herself in any other way – whether the non-Mahram is a close relative or a non-family member. ABKG

In the event that the non-Mahram woman is wearing an ordinary type of ring on her hand, then it is not a problem to look at her hand. However, in all other instances, if she has any other type of zinat on her hands, then it is not permissible to look at this. T

Note: Shop owners whose products are usually of the type that mostly only women use, for example, jewelry or clothing accessories; and those shops that sell cosmetic items and items for beauty and skin care, etc… are most susceptible to falling into this sin (mentioned in rule 10), and more than others, must be careful in observing the correct Islamic rules and regulations.

11 – Question: In public and other schools, there are some practicing Muslim men, who teach Muslim girls. Naturally, it is necessary for the teacher to write something on the board, and as it is normal, the girls look at the hands and face of the teacher without the intention of lust and sexual pleasure. Is this type of looking permissible?

Answer: It is not a problem for women to look at the face and hands and other parts of the body that men normally do not cover, as long as it is not with the intention of lust or fear of falling into sin. AGKLMS

Answer: According to Ihtiyat Wajib, it is haram for a woman to look at the body of a non-Mahram man. However, the permissibility for a woman to look at the parts of the body of a non-Mahram man that are commonly left open, for example, the head, etc… is not free from doubt, unless this type of looking leads or helps one in committing a sin.B

12 – Question: Is it permissible for a man to look at the face and hands of a non-Mahram woman who is in the Taqlid of a Marja‘ who says that it is permissible to keep these open?

Answer: There is no connection between the permissibility of keeping the hands and face open and looking at these parts.G

13 – Rule: It is not permissible to look at a non-Mahram woman who has any kind of beauty on her, even if it is something such as a woman trying on some clothing, a ring, a bracelet, a belt, or anything else to see if it fits. AKG

If the zinat on the face and hands consists of an ordinary ring, or the removal of facial hair or applying Surma, even if these are common among old women, then it is not a problem for a man to look at these parts as long as it is done without the intention of lust. However, as for other types of zinat, for example, bracelets and bangles, these must be covered from non-Mahram men and in addition to this, non-Mahram men are not allowed to look at such things either. T

14 – Question: Is it permissible to look at the sole, top, heel of the foot or the calf of a non-Mahram Muslim woman if she has not covered it properly, and if it is without the intention of lust?

Answer: No, it is not allowed, and with the exception of the face and hands, a man is not permitted to look at any other part the body of a non-Mahram woman. ABK

Answer: It is haram to look at the body of a non-Mahram woman in any way, and according to Ihtiyat Wajib, it is not permissible to look at her face and hands either. G

Answer: In the event that the woman is among one of those who observes her proper Islamic hijab, or if she was told about the hijab, she would follow it, then it is not permissible to look at those parts, otherwise it is not a problem. S

Answer: According to Ihtiyat, it is not allowed to look at the feet (top and the bottom of the feet up to the ankle)T

15 – Rule: If a man fears that in the event that he looks at a non-Mahram woman he will fall into sin, then he must not look at her. AKLMS

He must not look at her. B

16 – Rule: It is haram to look at a non-Mahram woman with the intention of lust. or to bring about sexual pleasure, even it may be her face and hands, or the shape of her body.ABGKLMST

General Rules

17 – Rule: It is haram to look at anyone or anything with the intention of lust or with the fear that one will fall into sin (with the exception of one’s spouse), even if one is looking at a Mahram. This rule applies to looking at a woman, man, animal, inanimate object, photo, film, statue, or any other thing. It is also haram to look at one’s own body in the mirror or in anything else with the intention of bringing about sexual pleasure. ABGKL

Question: Is it haram to look at anything that would bring about sexual pleasure even if it may be a person looking at his own body?

Answer: In itself, it is not haram for a person to look at his own body to bring about sexual pleasure.T

18 – Rule: A doctor is not one’s Mahram and therefore, except for in the case of a necessity, he is not permitted to look at the body of a non-Mahram woman. ABGKLMST

19 – Rule: If a doctor is compelled to look at a part of the body of a non-Mahram woman, they he must suffice to look at only that part of the body (that is for treatment), and it is not permitted to look at more than that. Also, if it is possible, then the examination or testing must be performed over the clothing. ABGKLMST

20 – Rule: Men are not permitted to give an injection to non-Mahram women since this act necessitates looking or touching the body of the woman, even if the injection is given into the vein. However, in the case of necessity where there is no Mahram available to give the injection, then it is not a problem. ABGKLMST

21 – Question: Does looking at the inside parts of the body, such as the liver, intestines, etc… have the same ruling as looking at the outside of the body?

Answer: Apparently, as for the prohibition in the looking and touching of the body parts, there is no difference between the outside and the inside body parts, however, just as has been mentioned in the book al-‘Urwatul Wuthqa in rule 45 in the section of looking - looking at a tooth, for example, once it has been taken out of the mouth is permissible.L

22 – Rule: In the following instances, it is haram for a woman to go to a non-Mahram man in the event that she is able to go to a female general physician, or a specialist who is a woman, who is at the same level of knowledge as that of a man for:

· The taking of X-rays, taking blood for testing, ultrasound, or any other medical work, in which it is necessary to look at the body of the woman. ABGKLMT

However with the exception of those situations in which it is permitted (for the man) to look at the body of the non-Mahram woman. (These were explained in the section on ‘looking’.)S

23 – Question: In the markets, ordinary places, or in people’s houses, sometimes the eyes unintentionally fall on a non-Mahram woman that either have beautified themselves, or have not properly observed their hijab. What is the rule for looking at them in these circumstances?

Answer: That which is haram is to look, not simply having the eyes fall on someone. Therefore, that which one sees unintentionally is not a problem, however, without delay one must turn away so as to not fall into the category of looking. ABGKLT

24 – Rule: It is haram for one to go to a place with the intention that his eyes may fall on a non-Mahram woman who is not in hijab. AGKT

Going to such a place is not a problem, but one must not look at the non-Mahram women.B

Therefore: If a person passes by a certain spot at a special time in order to look at non-Mahram women, or goes to a place to fulfill a task where there are a lot of non-Mahram women, or goes to a specific place such as on a bus, recreational area for sports, or exercise, or chooses to go to any area in which there are a lot of non-Mahram there, with the main aim to look at non-Mahram women, etc… then in summary, it is not permissible for a man to perform any action in order to have his eyes fall on non-Mahram women, and thus, it is necessary for one to refrain from these things.

25 – Rule: It is haram for a man to go to a place in the event that he knows that non-Mahram woman are not in hijab, or do not observe proper hijab, such that he goes there with the intention of looking at them. AGKT

Going to such a place is not a problem, but one must not look at the non-Mahram women. B

Therefore: It is haram to go on the roof of the house, or to look out the window with the aim of looking at a non-Mahram woman. It is also haram to enter a room, kitchen, or any other place in which one knows that non-Mahram women are present with the aim of looking at them. Likewise, it is haram to look through the crack of a door, window or from the side of the curtains to peek inside a room or any other place such as these, with the aim of looking at non-Mahram women, even if it is just for one moment.

26 – Rule: It is not a problem to go to those shopping centers in which women who live in the villages or in the country side visit, and who are not accustomed to wearing the complete or proper hijab, even if one knows that he will look at them. Business transactions with them also are not a problem. AKLMT

According to what is apparent, it is permitted to look at those women - without the intention of lust - who live in the country side and places other than this (for example, those women who live in the city and who do not observe the proper hijab), who are not in the habit of covering properly - with the condition that there is no fear of committing a haram act. Therefore, associating with them, business transactions and other dealings with them are permitted as well. B

In the event that one is certain that he will not intentionally look at them, then it is not a problem.G

It is not a problem to look at “common place” women (those who do not observe hijab whatsoever, or the proper hijab) whom, if told to observe the hijab would not comply with the condition that it is done without the intention of lust and one does not fear that he will fall into a haram act. In this ruling, there is no difference between non-Muslim Women and others (Muslims or those living in the Village, etc…). Also, there is no difference in the hands, face and other parts of the body, which they normally do not cover.S

27 – Rule: It is not a problem to look at the hands up to the elbows, an amount of hair on the head, the feet up to the knees and the area under the chin and the neck of an elderly woman who is a non-Mahram. AGKLT

It is not a problem to look at the body of an old woman as long as it is not with the intention of lust. B

Rather, apparently, it is not a problem to look at all of their hair. M

28 – Rule: As for those people whom it is not permissible to look at, it does not make any difference if one looks at them from behind a glass, in a mirror, through the reflection of water or any other thing that reflects their image. (Meaning even in these ways, it is not permissible to look at them). AGKLMST

29 – Question: Is it permissible for a man to look at a woman who is very ugly, without the intention of lust? (In the event thatt she is not observing her proper Islamic hijab)?

Answer: According to Ihtiyat Wajib, he must not look at her, because if she is not an old woman, then a man can not be certain that his look at her would not be a lustful one.T

30 – Rule: It is haram to look at the body of a non-Mahram woman, whether tha woman knows that you are looking at her or not; whether she is blind or can see; whether she is a non-Mahram family member, such as one’s brother’s wife, the wife of one’s paternal uncle, a female cousin, etc… or she is an outsider (the ruling of looking at the face and hands has already been mentioned). Even if this looking is done without the intention of lust, it is still haram. ABKLM

According to Ihtiyat Wajib, one must also refrain from looking at the face and hands of a non-Mahram woman. G

31 – Rule: Women of the Ahl as-Sunnah have the same ruling as (other) Muslim women. AGK