How does the eye fast in Ramadan? The fast of the eye is to prevent it from seeing forbidden things and to prevent it from indecencies. Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, tells us in the Qur’an:
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts)…” (Surah An-Nur:30-31)
We can see from this that they eye is the opening to the heart and a door to the spirit. Whoever does not lower their gaze will therefore be affected by four calamities:
1. The disposing of the heart in every direction and resulting inner turmoil. This weakens the heart and saps it of its power.
2. Punishment of the soul and training it with the loss of what it saw and did not get. The soul is therefore in constant turmoil.
3. Forbidden glances cause the sweetness of worship and obedience to be lost. If the eye is not disciplined and made to fast from unlawful sights, the light of faith will be eroded. The soul will not taste faith or conviction except through control of the eyes.
4. If we do not lower our gaze, we commit the sins of the violation of honour and privacy. No one ever fell into filth and perversion except that their eyes had first gone astray.
What our eyes fall upon has so many implications for our soul. In this day and age, when so many things are on display – bodies, advertising, television and internet -we are constantly exposed to fitnah for our eyes, body and soul. These things erode our iman even though we may not realise it. This can have seeping or immediate consequences. As one of our righteous predecessors said: “I once looked at something that was forbidden and I forgot the Qur’an”.
There are five benefits and honours to be gained from lowering the gaze:
1. Obedience to Allah Almighty’s command to lower the gaze. This by itself is enough of an honour and blessing in this world and the next.
2. Peace of the heart, its nourishment as well as its realization of its full potential, comfort, happiness and ease.
3. Avoidance of calamities and safety from trials and misdeeds.
4. Allah opens for His servant the doors of knowledge, understanding, success and uprightness; a fitting reward for his piety.
5. Allah will instill a sense of discernment in the heart of the learned and His perfect light into the souls of the truthful.
In Ramadan our eyes should fast in obedience to the Ever Living, the Self-Subsisting. Our hunger curtails the excesses of the eye and restrains misdeeds. Let us therefore fast from the sight of unlawful things this Ramadan, in the same way that we abstain from food and drink. Let our hearts be healthy and our spirits relax, so that we may be among those who:
“Allah saved them from the evil of that Day, and gave them Nadhrah (a light of beauty) and joy. And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments, because they were patient.” (Surah Al-Insan:11-12)