Keep your hands to yourself

If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks, you might wonder about the timing of this post, but as regards the second hollow one, there’s a reason the parties and dinners I attend with my neighbors are gender segregated: in addition to our inability to watch our mouths, we humans—especially men, but women too—have great difficulty keeping our pants on, much less keeping our hands to ourselves.

And lowering our gaze? fuggedaboutit.

According to Jabir, radiallahu ‘anhu, the Prophet, peace be upon him, unintentionally saw an attractive woman and felt something, so he, peace be upon him, went to his wife Zainab and made love to her. Afterwords, he, peace be upon him, told some companions

إِنَّ الْمَرْأَةَ تُقْبِلُ فِي صُورَةِ شَيْطَانٍ وَتُدْبِرُ فِي صُورَةِ شَيْطَانٍ فَإِذَا أَبْصَرَ أَحَدُكُمُ امْرَأَةً فَلْيَأْتِ أَهْلَهُ فَإِنَّ ذَلِكَ يَرُدُّ مَا فِي نَفْسِهِ

The woman advances and retires in the shape of a devil, so when one of you sees a woman, he should come to his wife, for that will repel what he feels in his heart.

Now, if you’re unmarried, that throws a wrinkle into this. In such cases, self control is the key. Abdullah, radiallahu ‘anhu, and some other young, unestablished companions were with the Prophet, peace be upon him, who told them

يَا مَعْشَرَ الشَّبَابِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ الْبَاءَةَ فَلْيَتَزَوَّجْ، فَإِنَّهُ أَغَضُّ لِلْبَصَرِ، وَأَحْصَنُ لِلْفَرْجِ، وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَعَلَيْهِ بِالصَّوْمِ، فَإِنَّهُ لَهُ وِجَاءٌ

O young people! Whoever among you can marry, should marry, because it helps him lower his gaze and guard his modesty (i.e. his private parts from committing illegal sexual intercourse etc.), and whoever is not able to marry, should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power.

This is all much harder for most of us than the hadith would suggest, if all of the recent(ish) scandals involving politicians, movie stars, and even well-known religious figures, are any indication, and here we come back to where I started, sort of.

In Islam, we have a principle of staying far away from sin. Regarding adultery in particular, Allah azza wa jall tells  us

وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنَا ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.

It’s not just “don’t commit adultery,” it’s “do not approach,” don’t get close to it. There are similar principles and prohibitions in Christianity, for example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus, peace be upon him, is reported to have said

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Oh you people! Lower your gaze! Cast your eyes to your wife (or husband), and if you’re not married, raise your hands to God and ask Him to guide you to a righteous spouse. And it’s for this reason that parties I’ve been to lately keep the men and women separate: if we have no interaction, then we can’t fall into immorality. I may not like it, but maybe it’s better, and we need all the help we can get to avoid sinning with the two hollow ones.

May Allah forgive us and guide us to better, Ameen.

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