The Holy Quran has commanded believers to lower their gaze:
Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely Allah is well aware of what they do.(Surah an-Nur, 24:31)
The wisdom of this teaching is to save us from the negative consequences that result from openly looking at women. Our ability to perceive and appreciate the physical beauty of an object decreases as familiarity with that object increases. For example, if we find a new phone or shoes that we see through a store window to be beautiful, we will like the way it looks most when we first see it. The more we see it, the more we become familiar with it, and its beauty in our eyes slowly starts decreasing. When we have bought it and see it every day, the fascination with it begins to fade as our familiarity with its appearance causes the mystery and novelty of its beauty to disappear. After a few years of owning it, even if it is in exactly the same physical condition as it was when we first saw it, we will still not find it as beautiful and will want a new or different one. Oscar Wilde said:
Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
We find it less beautiful not because its appearance has changed but because we are now familiar with it and the effect it has on us has changed. Take cars for example. When people buy a new car they find it beautiful. Then, some get bored with its appearance and start modifying it, buying new rims, and then lowering it. When they see the car now, they find it beautiful again because it looks different and its appearance is new to them. However, after some time they again become bored with its appearance, so they buy a body kit and then add a spoiler and find it beautiful again, wondering how they used to find it so fascinating when they first saw it in its original condition. With physical beauty, fascination fades with familiarity and one starts looking for something new and different. This same principle applies when we only appreciate a human being as a physical object. When men objectify women and look at them just for their physical beauty, their fascination with that beauty begins to fade with familiarity.
Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra described how there is a difference in how we see the beauty of Allah Almighty and the beauty of human beings. He explains that when we love Allah Almighty, we first see His ihsan [favors] first and then we see His husn [beauty]. We first see the favors that Allah Almighty does for us, and then when we reflect on those favors, we begin to see His beauty which exists as the source of those favors. However, for humans, it is the opposite. When we first see someone, we only see their
The purpose of the ihsan of Allah Almighty is to ultimately lead us to His husn. If a person sees the favors of Allah Almighty and never reflects on His beauty, then he has not benefited from the favors of God at all and will remain trapped in this stage, looking for greater and greater miracles but not progressing in love, as the Jews did at the time of Hadrat Musa as. Similarly, the purpose of a person’s husn is to ultimately lead to their ihsan. If we only see a person’s beauty and never try to understand their ihsan and good characteristics and personality, then we will not benefit from their husn at all and will remain trapped in this stage, looking for greater and greater beauty but not progressing in love.
As we progress in our love for someone, the appearance of their
The purpose of physical beauty is to lead us to learn about the inner beauty of others. However, if men fail to lower their gaze and freely look at the physical beauty of women, they do not progress past
One clear example of this is the popularity of pornography. When men start looking for pornography, they search for the pleasure of seeing things they find beautiful and fascinating. However, when they become accustomed to the novelty of pornography and the physical beauty they are searching for, they start to look for newer and more different things. As a result, they begin searching for more and more strange acts until they get to a point where they are no longer able to appreciate the normal physical beauty of a woman and their perception of beauty has become so deformed that they are only excited and attracted to images of what ordinary people would consider disgusting and heinous acts. In this way, the effect pornography has on our mind can be similar to our biological response to an addictive drug. The more tolerance a person builds to a drug, the higher the dose he needs to achieve the same high, and if that does not work, then a more potent drug is needed. The popularity of deviant pornography is a testimony to the ultimate results of this vicious cycle. This state of affairs is an inevitable result of searching for only physical beauty. This same principle applies to the example of looking for fascination in the beauty of cars referred to earlier. Some people start modifying their cars to renew the novelty of its beauty in their eyes. Step by step, they sometimes go so far in adding modifications to it that eventually it looks ridiculous to ordinary people who see it. Ironically, it would have looked ridiculous to them as well when they first bought the car and found it beautiful in its original condition, but because their perception has become skewed by slowly looking for new types of novelty in its physical beauty, they genuinely think that their car is beautiful in its modified state. Similarly, when men look at a woman only for her physical beauty, they eventually become accustomed to it and look for something different, and that search for something different never ends, leaving them more and more dissatisfied with every attempt.
Thus, Allah Almighty has commanded that we observe
The adultery of the eye is the lustful look.(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 79, Hadith 17; Sahih Muslim, Book 46, Hadith 32)
The Promised Messiah as wrote:
But those whose eyes commit adultery and whose hearts are(Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 20, p. 77)
more dirtythan filth and who have totally forgotten that they have to leave this world one day, I and my God are completely disgusted with them. I shall feel happy if such people, on their own account, sever their connection with me, because God intends to make this Community a model for others, who strive to reach the highest rung of the ladder of piety and purity and those who have truly given priority to faith over their worldly pursuits.