4. LOWERING THE GAZE
The temptation to look at that which Allah Ta’ala has forbidden is the root of all evil desires. Ibne Qayyim (Rahmatullahi alaihi) writes: “The gaze is the prowler and the messenger of desires. Its protection is, in reality, the protection of the private-parts. The person who does not control his gaze throws himself into the places of destruction. Allah has made the eyes the mirror of the heart.
When a servant lowers his gaze, the heart decreases its desires and when he sets his gaze free, the heart also sets its desires free. This is the reason why Allah Ta’ala has first ordered the lowering of the gaze at the instance when He commands the protection of the private-parts in Suratun Nur. Allah Ta’ala says: “Say (O Nabi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam!) to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and protect their private parts. This is more purer for them. Indeed Allah Ta’ala is Well-Aware of what they do”(Sura Nur, ayat 30). The person who lets his eyes wander about inconveniences his mind, harms his soul, injures his heart, causes unending distress to himself and above all wastes his time.”
Ibne Qayyim (Rahmatullahi alaihi) writes: “The beginning of a huge fire is small sparks. Likewise, the beginning of every accident and mishap is the gaze. Firstly, it is just a gaze, then it becomes a thought, thereafter a step and finally, a sin.”
An Arab poet has a right to say with regard to those who lower their gaze and fight their desires:
A brave person is not he who stirs-up his riding-animal on the day of the battle when the fire of combat flares-up, But a youth who lowers his gaze and turns-away his eyes from harâm (forbidden things), he indeed is a brave, heroic horseman.
Hadhrat Hakeem Muhammed Akhtar Saheb writes: “A person who protects his gaze is rewarded by the Being who created the gaze. Consider this hadith: “It is reported from Abdullah bin Mas’ud that the person who guards his gaze (i.e. he protects his gaze from strange women and handsome young lads and bears the difficulty of not looking at them, then, through the Mercy of Allah Ta’ala), he will taste the sweetness of Imân in his heart.”
Hadhrat Sheikh (Rahmatullahi alaihi) quotes the following incidents in his book, Fadhãil-e-Zikr: A person was on his death-bed. People reminded him to recite the kalimah. He said: “I cannot read it.” When the people asked him the reason for this he replied: “A woman came to buy a towel from my shop. Looking at her pleased me. Hence I continued to look at her.”
5. DEVELOPING A FIRM WILL/DETERMINATION
Only those people whose intentions and firm will has weakened have become the slaves of their desires. Hence, they are incapable of controlling their desires and opposing their passions. How many people are there who know that this affair is forbidden and that this matter is a sin, yet they are too weak to abstain from it. For example, look at those who smoke cigarettes. In reality, we find most of them knowing the harms of smoking. Despite this, if you address any smoker and remind him of its harms, he will reply that he knows all this very well and desires to free himself of this “killer friend”, but yet he is unable to do so. Why? Because he does not possess a firm intention by means of which he will be able to abandon this bad habit.
For this reason if a person reads all the books on bad habits and comes to know of all the means which will free him from these bad habits, but he does not possess a strong intention nor a firm will, then he will not progress a step forward. Therefore, it is necessary upon all of us to make an effort to develop our intentions, strengthen our resolutions and build our minds and souls by observing the following points; 1. To strive to acquire good character. Good character like knowledge, tolerance, patience are such that it is within a person’s scope to acquire. Nabi has said: “The person who seeks chastity, Allah keeps him chaste.
The person who seeks independence, Allah Ta’ala makes him independent and the person who is patient, Allah grants him patience.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
When a servant burdens himself with a firm intention and he strives to acquire it, it becomes his nature and character. Allah says: “And those who strive in Our Way We will definitely guide them to Our Paths.” (Sura ‘Ankabuut, ayah 69)
2. To inculcate good character gradually. Good character is not acquired all at once or by a little effort. To acquire good character it is necessary for a person to practice upon it gradually until it becomes his nature.
3. A person should realize the Greatness, Loftiness, Oneness and Independence of Allah Ta’ala. He should not rely on his own strength and power. He should rely only on Allah Ta’ala. Allah Ta’ala says: “Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah. And Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Sura Aale Imran, ayat 159)
The person who recognizes Allah Ta’ala more will fear Him more. A person should develop within himself the Fear of Allah Ta’ala because this is the strongest means whereby he could oppose his desire. Allah Ta’ala says: “And as for him who feared to stand before his Lord and restrained his soul from lust, verily Jannah will be his abode.” (Sura An-Nazi’at, ayat 40 and 41)
When the Fear of the Exalted is found in the heart of a person, forbidden desires are burnt and the perpetration of sin is stopped.
4. A person should increase his firm determination by abandoning comfort in some permissible matters so that his nafs could be strengthened in abandoning the prohibited things. For example, to strengthen one’s determination, abstain from excessive soft-drinks, tea, sleeping, etc. In this manner, a person will become strong enough to abandon that which is more difficult. With regards to this a poet says: The nafs is like an infant, if you leave it, it will grow up with the love of suckling and if you wean it (accustom it to food other than it’s mother’s milk), it will abstain.