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Interpretation of Sura an-Nur - Verse 30

Adopted from the book: "The Light of the Holy Qur'an - Interpretation of Sura an-Nur" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani & a Group of Muslim Scholars"

30. "Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty. That is purer for them, verily Allah is All-Aware of what they do."

Occasion of Revelation

In Kafi book there is a narration by Imam Baqir (a.s.) about the occasion of revelation of this noble verse. A young man of The Helpers met a woman on his way while her veil was put behind her ears (naturally some part of her neck and breast was visible). The woman's face attracted the young man and he gazed at her and when the woman passed by him he was still looking at her while she was going her own way. Then he entered a narrow alley, and still he was looking behind himself, when suddenly his face hit against the wall and the sharp point of a bone, or a piece of glass, that existed in the wall cut his face! Then the woman went away when the young man came to his senses and saw that blood was pouring forth from his face and his clothes and chest were stained with blood.

He became very displeased. He said to himself: "I take oath by Allah that I will go to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and retell him this event." When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) saw him, he asked the young man what the matter was. The man told him the event. At this time Gabriel, the harbinger of Allah's revelation, came down and brought the above verse. 39


Sin must be prevented from its origin and piety must be set out from eyes. Immodesty and ogling prevent man's spiritual development to grow up.

We said before that this Sura is in fact the Sura of chastity and purification from sexual deviations. So its discussions, from this point of view, have a clear coherency. The verses in question mat state the ordinances of looking, ogling, and veil are also related to this matter. Moreover, the relation of this discussion to the discussions that are about accusations of immodesty is known to everyone.

At first, the verse implies that the believing men should be told to lower their gaze from a woman who is related within forbidden degrees and from what is illegal to look at, and be modest. The verse says:

"Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty...."

The Arabic word /yaquddu/ is derived from the word 'Qazz', which originally means to decrease or to lessen. In many cases it is used in the sense of: to lower voice or to lessen looking. Thus the verse does not say that the believers must close their eyes, but it says that they must lessen or shorten their looking. This is a delicate way of speaking, because if a man really wants to close his eyes when he sees a woman who is related within forbidden degrees, he can no -longer walk, but if he casts down his gaze and does not look at her face and her body,it is as though he has shortened his gaze and has totally deleted the scene, that is forbidden, from the scope of his eyes.

It is worth-studying that the holy Qur'an does not specify the thing that a person must cast down gaze from (so as to say complement of the verb is omitted), in order that it will be a general rule; that is, one must cast down gaze from whatsoever is unlawful to look at.

But, with regard to the context of these verses, specially the following verse that mentions veil, it will be clear that it means not looking at women who are related within forbidden degrees (or are marriageable). The occasion of revelation, mentioned at the beginning, confirms this matter, too.

From what was said this matter is understood that the verse does not signify that men must not gaze or stare at women's face so that some people misuse it and say that not staring look is permitted. However, its purpose is that when a man looks or sees, the scope of his vision is vast, and at the time of entering a woman who is related within forbidden degrees in the scope of his vision, he must cast down his look in a way that the woman exits the scope. It means he does not look at her, but he must see his way and path; and that it is said that the word /qacld/ has been applied with the sense of 'to decrease' means the same. (Take care)

The second command that is mentioned in the verse is to guard ones modesty and to be modest.

The Arabic word /farj/ in fact means a split or opening between two things, but in such cases it connotes pudendum. In Persian language, is used instead of it, for keeping its-connotative meaning.

The purpose of 'being modest', according to Islamic narrations, is covering the pudendum for not to be seen by others. In a tradition by Imam Sadiq (a.s.) we read: "Every verse of the holy Qur'an that mentions 'guarding modesty' indicates warding of fornication, except this verse that means keeping it from others' look." 40

Since sometimes it comes to mind that why Islam has prohibited this action that is in line with one's lust and wish, at the end of the verse it is added:

"... That is purer for them,..."

Then those who look at women flirtatiously, amorously and consciously, and sometimes they consider it unintentional, are warned:

"... verily Allah is All-Aware of what they do."

In other words, Allah is aware of whatever kind of manner they have; whether they look openly or secretly, or other forms. A few Traditions upon Gaze:

1. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "Whoever supplies his eyes with what is unlawful, in Hereafter his eyes will be filled with fire, unless he repents." 41

2. We read in a tradition that all the eyes will shed tear in Hereafter, except 3 groups of eyes: the eyes that have shed tears out of Allah's fear, the eyes that are closed to sins, and the eyes that are open for the sake of Allah. 42

3. Imam Ali (a.s.) said: "If your look is cast on a woman (who is related within forbidden degrees) for the first time, there will be no problem, but if your looking is continued, (there will be problem, because) it causes disorder and temptation." 43

4. We read in a tradition (recorded in Sahih Bokhari) that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "Do not sit on the way of people!"

The audience said: "We have no choice." The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "Then honour what is true and right!" They asked: "What is the right?" The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "Withdrawal from ogling and bothering people, answering others' salutation, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong." 44

5. Hadrat 'Isa (a.s.) said: "Withdraw from looking at women who are related within forbidden degrees, because it plants the seed of lust in the heart and only this is enough to get man involved in seduction or temptation." 45

6. Imam Ali (a.s.) said: "The eye drags the heart." "The eye is Satan's trap or snare." (Guarding eyes is the best way for being away from lusts.) 46

7. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "Evil look is one of Satan's fatal arrows. Whoever closes his eyes for the awe of Allah, Allah will bestow him a faith that he feels its sweetness and taste in his inward." 47

8. Concerning permissible looking at a woman, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said: "Looking at her face, palms, and front part of the feet is lawful (but purely and chastely)." 48

9. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "Allah's wrath is very severe against a married woman whose eyes are filled with individuals other than her husband (and persons related in forbidden degrees) (looking deliberately and lustfully at a man who is not related within forbidden degrees). When she does so,Allah, Almighty and Glorious, rejects and nullifies all good deeds and worships she has done.When she lies with a person other than her husband, Allah has right to burn her after He chastises her in the purgatory world." 49

10. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "A man who funs a woman who is not related to h

im in any form of marriage contract, Allah will confine him in chastisement for a thousand years for every word that he has jested her." 50 11. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "One who dominates neighbor's house and looks at a man's pudendum or a woman's hair or part of their body will be rightly and definitely gathered by Allah with hypocrites who intended to look at women's covered limbs. And until Allah Almighty defaces him in the world he will not leave this world. Allah also will divulge all his sins and faults in the Hereafter and disgrace him before other men (therein)." 51


39. Wasa'il-ush-Shi'ah, Vol. 14, p. 139, Nur-uth-Thaqalyn, Al-mazan, and Ruh ul-Ma'ani

40. 'Usul Kafi and the commentary by Ali ibn IbRuhim, Nur-uth-Thaqalyn Vol.3, p. 587

41. Bihar ul-'Anwar, Vol. 76, p. 336 and Man layahdaroh ul-Faqih

42. Kanz ud-Daqa'iq, the Commentary

43. Ibid

44. Ruh ul-Bayan, the Commentary

45. Ibid

46. Urar ul-Hikam

47. Bihar ul-'Anwar, Vol. 104, p. 38

48. Kanz ud-Daqa'iq

49. Man Layahduruh ul-Faqih

50. Ibid

51. E'aqaab Al-A'amal

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