Our eyes are our gateways to the world. With our eyes, we are able to see the many bounties of Allah, and appreciate His greatness. However, our eyes sadly, too, may also be a cause of destruction, if not used correctly; as the Prophet said, “The adultery of the eye is the lustful look.” (Muslim)
Every limb has the capacity and ability to sin, it is upon us to guard them and protect them. In respect to our eyes; it means to refrain from looking at that which is prohibited; to lower our gaze. We all, I am sure, are aware of the prohibition of staring at the opposite gender, but perhaps a sin of the eye less known is that of looking into people’s homes.
“O you who believe! enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and saluted those in them: that is best for you, in order that you may heed.” (Surah An-Nur 24:27)
Allah instructs us to seek permission before entering a person’s home, to enter without permission is rude and ill-mannered. So now what about those who purposely peep into the homes of others, without having permission, knowing full well their sight may fall on something not befitting for them to see?!
How often do we peer into people’s homes? perhaps to admire their decor, or furnishings, or to be amused by the theatre on display…of course with the excuse that their curtains were opened wide for the world to see. ‘Not my fault!’ we exclaim in complete disregard for people’s privacy.
Narrated Sahl bin Sa’d As-Sa’idi, that a man peeked in on the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), in one of the apartments of the Prophet (ﷺ), while the Prophet (ﷺ) had a Midrah (an iron comb) with which he was scratching his head. So the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “If I knew that you were looking then I would have poked your eyes with it. Seeking permission has only been enjoined because of the sight.” (Tirmithi, Sahih)
This is the severity of the matter, such that the Prophet exclaimed that he would have poked the man’s eyes out. curtains closed or open, we have no right to look into people’s homes. In fact, he, peace be upon him even gave permission to do poke out people’s eyes,
Narrated Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “If anyone peeps into the house of a people without their permission and he knocks out his eye, no responsibility is incurred for his eye.” (Abu Dawud, Sahih by Sh Al-Albaani)
Perhaps passer-by’s may not be interested in looking into people’s homes, they are too busy going about their business. However, it certainly does occur with neighbours, and when we consider the close proximity of neighbours, one’s privacy is at stake. Hence, Allah, our Legislator who knew the evils that such a small act could bring, legislated on the tongue of His prophet the impermissibility of looking into the homes of others.
We can understand the severity of looking into the homes of others, when we analyse the calamities it has brought. From a small discontentment with one’s own property to more severe thieving. From murder to adultery and fornication. There are many more that can be listed, but I am sure you understand.
In conclusion, it essential for the muslim to uphold these good manners, with other muslims as well as non-muslims, for we are the representatives our deen and our character may well attract someone to Islam or put someone off. From the etiquettes of lowering the gaze is to withhold it from looking into a person’s home without permission.
May Allah aid us to uphold good manners, and to perfect our characters.