Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Allah then commanded them to protect their gaze and chastity, saying: (Tell the believing men) O Muhammad (to lower their gaze) from that which is unlawful (and be modest) and also refrain from unlawful sexual intercourse. (That) protecting their gaze and chastity (is purer for them) is better and more akin to righteousness as far as they are concerned. (Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do) of good and evil.
Say to the faithful that they cast down their eyes.
That is, the eyes of the heads from forbidden things and the eyes of the hearts from everything other than Him.
He commands the faithful to turn the eyes of the head away from forbidden things and the eye of the secret core from everything less than the Real. They should throw the dust of nonbeing into the eyes of their own being, and from the tablet of their existence they should read out reproach to the deceiving soul. Because of the pain of his own being, MuḤammad the Arab, the unique pearl of the oceans of messengerhood and the centerpiece of the necklace of evidence, used to lament, “Would that the Lord of MuḤammad had never created MuḤammad!” Those who were the preceders, the truthful, and the wayfarers of the road never paid the slightest attention to themselves. They were not happy with their own being and did not look at themselves with the eye of approval.
One day Junayd was sitting with Ruwaym when Shiblī came in, and Shiblī was exceedingly kind-hearted. When Junayd's words were finished, Ruwaym looked at Junayd and said, “He is a kind-hearted man, this Shiblī.”
Junayd said, “You are talking about someone who is one of those who have been rejected by the Threshold.” When Shiblī heard this, he was broken. He got up in shame and went outside.
Ruwaym, “Junayd, what were those words you said about Shiblī? You know the purity and truthfulness of his state.”
Junayd, “Yes, Shiblī is one of the great ones at the Threshold. But, when you speak to Shiblī, do not speak to him from beneath the Throne, for His swords spill blood. Ruwaym, those words of yours concerning his purification were a sword aimed at his days to hamstring the steed of his practice. I made my words into a shield to repel that sword.”
Say to the faithful that they cast down their eyes. One group do not look at this world, and they are the renunciants. Another group do not look at the realm of being, and they are the folk of recognition. Still another group are the companions of guarding and awe; just as they do not look at others with their hearts, so also they do not see themselves worthy of witnessing.
Then the Real lifts the veil from them without any choice, endeavor, or self-exertion on their part.
The chevaliers of the Tariqah are those who do not look at the others. They do not open the eyes of their aspiration toward anyone. They have lost themselves in the magnificent wilderness of Unity. The have thrown the fire of longing into the hut of their existence and drowned in the ocean of awesomeness and the waves of confoundedness. Their intellects are bewildered, their hearts lost-without reason or rhyme, without name or sign.
They are rushing, running, wailing in the world,
in the mountain monasteries, in the desert caves.
Totally effaced in the ocean of bewilderment,
of themselves they recite for all, “No home, no possessions.”
The Pir of the Tariqah said in his whispered prayers, “O God, You appeared to Your friends in gentleness so as to make a group drunk with the wine of intimacy and drown another group in the ocean of confoundedness. You made them hear the call up close, and You gave the mark from afar. You called the servants back, then You hid Yourself. You displayed Yourself from behind the curtain and disclosed Yourself in the mark of tremendousness so that You lost the chevaliers in the valley of confoundedness and made them dizzy in their incapacity. What is it that You have done to these helpless creatures!? The judge of these complainants is You, the giver of justice to these aid-seekers is You, the wergild of the slain is You, the hand-taker of the drowning is You, the guide of the lost is You. When will the lost come to the road? When will the drowning reach the shore? When will the wounded in spirit find ease? When will their hidden story find its answer? When will the night of their waiting reach its dawn?”
Tell believing men to lower their gaze, from what is unlawful for them to look at (min [of min absārihim, ‘their gaze’] is extra) and to guard their private parts, from doing with them what is unlawful [for them to do]. That is purer, in other words, better, for them. Truly God is Aware of what they do, with their gazes and private parts, and He will requite them for it.
(Guarantee me six things and I will guarantee you Paradise: when any one of you speaks, he should not lie; if he is entrusted with something, he should not betray that trust; if he makes a promise, he should not break it; lower your gaze; restrain your hands; and protect your private parts.) Since looking provokes the heart to evil, Allah commanded (the believers) to protect their private parts just as he commanded them to protect their gaze which can lead to that. So he said:
(Guard your private parts except from your wife and those whom your right hands possess.)
ذلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ
(That is purer for them.) means, it is purer for their hearts and better for their commitment to religion, as it was said: Whoever protects his gaze, Allah will illuminate his understanding, or his heart.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ
(Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do.) This is like the Ayah :
(The son of Adam has his share of Zina decreed for him, and he will commit that which has been decreed. The Zina of the eyes is looking; the Zina of the tongue is speaking; the Zina of the ears is listening; the Zina of the hands is striking; and the Zina of the feet is walking. The soul wishes and desires, and the private parts confirm or deny that.) It was recorded by Al-Bukhari without a complete chain. Muslim recorded a similar report with a different chain of narration. Many of the Salaf said, "They used to forbid men from staring at beardless handsome boys. ''
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The word ghedd means to reduce, shorten or lower down something. Accordingly, ghadd basar is generally translated as `lowering the gaze' or 'keeping it lowered'. But the Command of ghadd basar does not imply that the gaze should always be kept lowered. It only means to imply that one should restrain one's gaze and avoid casting of looks freely. That is, if it is not desirable to see a thing, one should turn the eyes away and avoid having a look at it. The restriction of a 'restrained gaz' is applicable only in a limited sphere. The context in which the words occur shows that this restriction applies to the men's gazing at women, or casting looks at the satar of the other persons, or fixing the eyes at indecent scenes.
The details of this Divine Commandment as explained in the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet are given below:
(1) It is not lawful for a tnan to cast a full gaze at the other women except at his own wife or the mahram women of his family. The chance look is pardonable but not the second look which one casts when one feels the lure of the object. The Holy Prophet has termed such gazing and glancing as wickedness of the eyes. He has said that man commits adultery with all his sensory organs. The evil look at the other woman is the adultery of the eyes; lustful talk is the adultery of the tongue; relishing the other woman's voice is adultery of the ears; and touching her body with the hand or walking for an unlawful purpose is adultery of the hands and feet. After these preliminaries the sexual organs either bring the act of adultery to completion or leave it incomplete. (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud).
According to a Tradition related by Hadrat Buraidah, the Holy Prophet instructed Hadrat 'Ali: "O 'Ali, do not cast a second look after the first look. The first look is pardonable but not the second one." (Tirmizi;, Ahmad, Abu Da'ud). Hadrat Jarir bin 'Abdullah Bajali says that he asked the Holy Prophet, "What should I do if I happen to cast a chance look?" The Holy Prophet replied, "Turn your eyes away or lower your gaze."(Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i). Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud quotes the Holy Prophet as having said: "Allah says that the gaze is one of the poisonous arrows of Satan. Whoever forsakes it, out of His fear, he will be rewarded with a faith whose sweetness he will relish in his own heart." (Tabarani). According to a Tradition related by Abu Umamah, the Holy Prophet said: "If a Muslim happens to glance at the charms of a woman and then turns his eyes away, Allah will bless his worship and devotion and will make it all the more sweet. ''. (Musnad Ahmad). Imam Ja'far Sadiq has quoted from his father, Imam Muhammad Baqir, who has quoted Hadrat Jabir bin 'Abdullah Ansari as saying: "On the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, Fadal bin'Abbas, who was a young cousin of the Holy Prophet, was riding with him on the camelback during the return journey from Mash`ar al-Haram. When they came to a few women passing on the way, Fadal started looking at them. Thereupon the Holy Prophet put his hand on his face and turned it to the other side." (Abu Da'ud). On another occasion during the same Pilgrimage, a woman of the clan of Khath'am stopped the Holy Prophet on the way and sought clarification about a certain matter pertaining to Hajj. Fadal bin `Abbas fixed his gaze at her, but the Holy Prophet turned his face to the other side. (Bukhari, Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi).
(2) Nobody should have the misunderstanding that the Command to restrain the 'gaze was enjoined because the women were allowed to move about freely with open faces, for if veiling of the face had already been enjoined, the question of restraining or not restraining the gaze would not have arisen. This argument is incorrect rationally as well as factually. It is incorrect rationally because even when veiling of the face is the usual custom, occasions can arise where a man and a woman come face to face with each other suddenly, or when a veiled woman has to uncover her face under necessity. Then even if the Muslim women observe purdah, there will be non-Muslim women who will continue to move about unveiled. Thus, the Commandment to lower the gaze or restrain the eyes, does not necessarily presume existence of a custom allowing the women to move about with unveiled faces. It is incorrect factually because the custom of purdah which was introduced after the revelation of the Commandments in Surah Al-Ahzab included veiling of the face, and this is supported by a number of Traditions relating to the time of the Holy Prophet himself. Hadrat `A'ishah in her statement relating to the incident of the "slander", which has been narrated on the authority of reliable reporters, has said: "When I came back to the camp, and found that the caravan had left, I lay down and was ' overpowered by sleep. In the morning when Safwan bin Mu`attal passed that way he recognised me because he had seen me before the Commandment of purdah had been sent down. On recognising me he exclaimed: Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji`un: `To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return'; and I awoke and covered my face with my sheet." (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Hisham). Abu Da'ud contains an incident that when the son of Umm Khallad was killed in a battle, she came to the Holy Prophet to enquire about him and was wearing the veil as usual. It was natural to presume that on such a sad occasion one is liable to lose one's balance and ignore the restrictions of purdah. But when questioned she said, "I have certainly lost my son but not my modesty." Another Tradition in Abu Da'ud quoted on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah relates that a woman handed an application to the Holy Prophet from behind a curtain. The Holy Prophet enquired: "Is it a man's hand or a woman's?" She replied that it was a woman's. Thereupon the Holy Prophet said: "If it is a woman's hand, the nails at least should have been coloured with henna!" As regards the two incidents relating to the occasion of Hajj, which we have mentioned above, they cannot be used as an argument to prove that the veil was not in vogue in the time of the Holy Prophet. This is because wearing of the veil is prohibited in the state of ihram. However, even in that state pious women did not like to uncover their faces before the other men. Hadrat `A'ishah has stated that during the Farewell Pilgrimage when they were moving towards Makkah in the state of ihram, the women would lower down their head sheets over their faces whenever the travellers passed by them, and would uncover their faces as soon as they had passed by. (Abu Da'ud).
(3) There are certain exceptions to the Command of lowering the gaze or restraining the look. These exceptions relate to occasions when it is really necessary to see a woman, for instance, when a man intends to marry her. It is not only permissible to see the woman in such a case but even commendable. Mughirah bin Shu'bah has stated,. "I wanted to marry in a certain family. The Holy Prophet asked me whether I had seen the girl or not. When 1 replied in the negative, he said: `Have a look at her; this will enhance harmonious relationship between you two'." (Ahmad, Tirmizi, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Darimi). According to a Tradition related by Abu Hurairah, a man wanted to marry in a family of the Ansar. The Holy Prophet asked him to have a look at the girl, for the Ansar usually had a defect in their eyes. (Muslim, Nasa'i, Ahmad). According to Jabir bin 'Abdullah, the Holy Prophet said: "When a person from among you wants to marry a woman, he should have a look at her to satisfy himself that there is some quality in the woman which induces him to marry her. " (Ahmad, Abu Da'ud). According to another Tradition emanating from Abu Humaidah and quoted in Musnad Ahmad, the Holy Prophet said that there was no harm in such a procedure. He also permitted that the girl may be seen without her being aware of it. From this the jurists have concluded that there is no harm in looking at a woman when it is really necessary. For instance, there is no harm in looking at a suspect woman when investigating a crime, or in the judge's looking at a female witness, who appears in the court, or in the physician's looking at a female patient, etc.
(4) The intention of the Command to restrain the gaze also implies that no man or woman should look at the private parts of the other man or woman. The Holy Prophet has said: "No man should look at the satar of another man nor a woman at the sater of another woman." (Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi). Hadrat 'Ali has quoted the Holy Prophet as saying: "Do not look at the thigh of another person, living or dead". (Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah).
"Guard their private parts": Abstain from illicit sexual gratification and from exposing their satar before others. For males, the satar is the part of the body from the navel to the knee, and it is not permissible to expose that pan of the body intentionally before anybody except one's own wife. (Daraqutni, Baihaqi). Hadrat Jarhad Aslami states that once he was sitting in the company of the Holy Prophet with his thigh exposed. The Holy Prophet said: "Do you not know that the thigh has to be kept concealed." (Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Mu'atta). Hadrat 'AIi reports that the Holy Prophet said: "Do not expose your thigh." (Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah). Not only is the satar to be kept concealed before others but even when alone. The Holy Prophet has warned: "Beware, never remain naked, for with you are those (that is, the angels of goodness and mercy), who never leave you alone except when you ease yourself or you go to your wives. So feel shy of them and give them due respect. " (Tirmizi). According to another Tradition, the Holy Prophet said: "Guard your satar from everybody except from your wife and your slave-girl." The questioner asked, "Even when we are alone?" The Holy Prophet replied, "Yes, even when alone, for Allah has a greater right that you should feel shy of Him." (Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah).
Say to the believing men to lower their gaze…That is, avert your gaze from that which God, Exalted is He, has forbidden you. This means to avoid any look that lacks a sense of honour. It is related from ʿUbāda b. Ṣāmit that the Prophet said, ‘If you can safeguard six things, I will guarantee for you entry into Paradise: be truthful when you speak; fulfil whatever you promise; carry out what has been entrusted to you [to do]; keep your chastity; lower your gaze; and refrain from doing harm to anyone.’ It is reported that Ibn ʿUmar y was asked, ‘Did the Messenger of God ever look around during the prayer?’ He answered, ‘Not even outside the prayer [did he look around].’His words: