“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.”
Whilst great emphasis is placed on hijab for women, it should be known that Islam also teaches the male to observe his own role in implementing hayaa (modesty). He too is taught the ways of conduct including how to dress modestly, and how significant his gaze is in controlling the desires of his lower self or nafs. This is also to honour the status of women, establishing that they should not be looked upon as objects of lust but that they should be honoured with purity.
It is interesting to also note that in the Qur’anic verse above, Allah addresses the men in regards to purity and hayaa before He addresses women on the same subject (“And say to the believing women that they…” comes immediately after the verse above.)
MODESTY IN MAN
In addition to modest clothing and following the ways of the noble Sunnah, men must also lower their gaze and protect themselves from their desires in regards to women.
This is commanded upon them in the Qur’anic verse: “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them. And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.” [Qur’an 24:30]
It should be noted here that the best of all men, our Beloved Prophet, was himself extremely shy and modest. This character trait was also implemented by Sayyidina Usman; it is reported that the Beloved Messenger of Allah was sitting with Sayyidina Abu Bakr and Sayyidina Umar, and when he saw Sayyidina Usman approach he straightened out his clothes and covered his blessed thigh. Later he explained, “Should I not show modesty to one whom even the angels show modesty?” [Sahih Muslim; Hadith no. 5906]
The fact that the role model for hayaa amongst the Companions is indeed a man, and not a woman, is something to ponder upon and emphasises how it does not apply just to females as is commonly misunderstood.
BROTHER, LOWER YOUR GAZE
“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty…” [Qur’an 24:30]
The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “The zina (adultery) of the eye is the (lustful) look…” [Bukhari, Muslim]
One of the main objectives of the Shari’a or Islamic Law is to protect the purity of both men and women, from an internal and external angle. It is for this reason that we as Muslims have been taught a truly powerful wisdom; lower your gaze. Today the modern world, through neglecting this vital rule, has become an oppressive society where the status of woman has been completely degraded, and fornication has become a widespread disease. This is a direct result of exceeding limits which Allah has prescribed for us.
Allowing the eyes to look at whatever the nafs finds pleasure in leads to weakness of the heart, and the increase of evil desires. When this continues to happen, a person turns away from goodness and towards sin, to try and fulfil his desires. He will continue to seek satisfaction from fulfilling these desires, he will continue to chase evil, but eventually he will find that the void is never satisfied. The hunger of evil is continuous; it only increases the more it is fed. This is why we have been advised to protect ourselves. Brother, lower your gaze.
Notice how this is the first word of advice given in the above verse regarding modesty.
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said, “O Ali, do not follow a glance with another, for you will be forgiven for the first, but not for the second.” [Tirmidhi]
Sayyidina Jareer ibn Abdullah said, “I asked the Messenger of Allah about an accidental glance at a woman. He commanded me to turn my gaze away.” [Tirmidhi]
The above Ahadith further emphasise the significance of guarding the eyes. An accidental first glance is excused but another glance is dangerous, you must look away immediately. The second glance leads to the heart becoming attracted and lustful desires forming. When such passion seizes one’s heart, great danger arises. The advice of the Beloved Prophet is to save us from such perils and keep us pure in imaan and thought. A wise man once said, “That which enters the eye also enters the heart.”
SAFEGUARD YOUR PURITY
In the above verse, the words “wa yahfazu furujahum” (“and guard their modesty”) is also translated as “guard their private parts.”
One of the main reasons for why the hijab is so focused on women is because woman is a man’s weakness. This is an innate trait which has been embedded into his nature. This is why the woman is asked to observe the hijab - not just for her own protection and modesty, but also to protect man from his own weakness and lower self (nafs). The man therefore, must also observe his own duty, and abstain from that which will lead him into lustful temptation.
Indeed, the Qur’an states, “For man was created weak.” [Qur’an 4:28]
Regarding this verse, Tafsir ibn Kathir reports Imam Waki’s comment: “Concerning women; man's mind leaves when women are involved.” And Tafsir Jalalayn interprets this verse thus: “For man was created weak, unable to abstain from women and passions.”
Therefore, the Hijab is a protection for the purity of both genders and is ruled according to the nature of each. Since woman is made naturally soft-hearted, modest and humble, she is asked to cover up and protect herself; and since man is created weak, he is taught to exercise self-restraint. If both genders fulfil their individual duties, their faith is protected and their purity is preserved – insha’Allahul Azeez.
And Allah says in the Qur’an:
“If any one does a righteous deed, it is for the benefit of his own soul; if he does evil, it works against his own soul. In the end will you all be brought back to your Lord.” [Qur’an 45:15]