Is It Permissible for a Woman to Look at Men from Under Her Screen?

Answer: Allâh the Mighty and Majestic said in his Noble Book:

"Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). that is purer for them. Verily, Allâh is All-Aware of what they do." [Nûr: 30].

Al-Imâm Al-Bukhâri (may Allâh bestow mercy on him) said (11/503): Mahmud b. Ghaylân narrated to us, he said AbdurRazâq narrated to us, he said Ma'mar told us from Ibn Tâwus, from his father from Ibn Abbâs who said: 'I see nothing as more resembling to Al-Lamam (unavoidable sins) than what Abu Hurairah (may Allâh be pleased with him) said from the Prophet, that he (Sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) said:

'Allâh indeed decreed against the son of Aadam his portion from Zinâ (unlawful sexual act); that he would carry it out, no way. The Zinâ of the eyes is looking, the Zinâ of the tongue is talking, the soul desires and longs (for the act), the genital will either confirm it or deny it.' Muslim also reported it (4/2046), so also Abu Dâwud (1/653) and Ahmad (2/276) in his Musnad.

A poet composed:

All evil begins from looking and most (cases what will lead) to hell will be as a result of belittling of sins.

How many are acts of looking that cause in the heart of their doer the effect of arrow without bow and string?

His eyeball is affected by that which pleases his soul. There is no welcome to a pleasant thing which returns with harm.

Scholars have (all) agreed, as Al-Imâm An-Nawawi (may Allâh bestow mercy on him) reported from them in Shar'h Muslim, that the act of (women) looking at (foreign) men, if it is out of lust, is prohibited. Some scholars say it is absolutely permissible for women to look at men, they cite as proof, the story of Âishah (may Allâh be pleased with her) that she used to look at the Ethiopian youths while they played such that when she felt bored, the Prophet (Sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) said to her: 'Enough for you?' She said she replied,'Yes.' Then the Prophet (Sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) said: 'Then leave.'

But the hadîth has a number of interpretations as Al-Imâm An-Nawawi (may Allâh bestow mercy on him) said: 'That could be before Âishah (may Allâh be pleased with her) reached puberty.' But Al-Hâfidh (Ibn Hajar) mentioned a version of Al-Bukhâri in Fat'hul-Bâri (2/445) under Nikkah: '…measure the ability of a girl still young in age and who loves play.' Her statement: '…measure (the ability)' indicates that she was then young.' End of quote (that is, from Fat'hul-Bâri).

There are among the scholars who say the incident was in the first period of Islam, (that is, before the act of the opposite sex staring at each other was prohibited).

Al-Hâfidh (Ibn Hajar) said – with regard to this view; he rejected the claim saying her statement: 'He was concealing me with his garment' indicates that the incident was after the revelation of (the Verse commanding) Hijâb.

An-Nawawi (may Allâh bestow mercy on him) said: 'It could mean that she was looking at their actual act of play – with their spears – not their faces and bodies. And if she had looked at them unintentionally, she would just look away in the situation.' End of quote from Al-Fat'h (2/445).

Adapted from: 'My sincere Advice to Women.'

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