13: Eyes & Ears


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This Ramadan…

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And do not follow what you have no knowledge of. Certainly: hearing, sight and heart — you will be questioned about all of these.” [17:36]

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There are people whose stomachs fast from food and drink, but their eyes graze freely through a field of forbidden sights. Their ears soak in the sounds of music and other forbidden speech. These people have never tasted the true essence of fasting…

They stand to pray, and the lyrics to a song run through their head. They move their lips to praise Allah, but in every rak’ah, they are replaying a different scene from a television drama, immoral scenes and all. They search for khushoo’ in worship, but how can they achieve it?

O Servant of Allah… your eyes and your ears are windows to your heart, openings to your soul. O Servant of Allah, let your eyes and your ears fast from the unlawful things in the same way you abstain from food and drink…

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And there is the fasting of the eye…

For the eye to fast is for you to avoid looking at anything Allah has forbidden; it’s to lower your gaze and shield your sight from indecency:

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts. That is purer for them – certainly, Allah is aware of all they do. * And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts, and to not display their charms beyond what may necessarily appear; so let them drape their head-coverings over their bosoms…” [24:30-31]

If you don’t lower your gaze, you’ll find your heart scattered in every direction, chasing after this temptation and that. Your soul will feel tormented at the loss of things it saw but could not have. Because of the sins of your eye, you’ll feel constantly distressed and anxious. You’ll lose out on the pleasure and sweetness of worship. How can you enjoy your worship and feel a conviction of faith if you don’t keep your eyes in check?

Remember that to lower your gaze is to obey the command of Allah ta’ala… and this, in itself, is enough of a blessing and honor for you, in this world and next.

And if looking at the haram will cause you turmoil, then lowering your gaze will put your heart at ease. You’ll be able to realize your full potential; you’ll find greater happiness and contentment. As you avoid sinning, Allah will save you from trials and calamities… He’ll open up the doors of knowledge and understanding for you; He’ll bless you with success and wisdom.

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And likewise, there’s the fasting of the ear…

The ear is responsible in front of Allah for what it hears. For your ear to fast is for you to avoid listening to obscenities, music and other types of evil speech. You should avoid listening to things which will anger Allah, both in and out of Ramadan.

The ears of those who fast are tuned in to hear what is beautiful.

Use your ears to take in the beautiful sounds of this world – the whisper of the wind in the trees, the pitter-patter of the falling rain. Listen to the sound of birds and their after-Fajr chatter, or the chirping of the crickets in the otherwise quiet of the night. Listen – closely, carefully – to the recitation and words and message of the Qur’an, and to the reminders that come to you in the form of speech.

Don’t be like those people who misuse the faculties Allah has given them,

Or do you think that most of them can hear or understand? They are only like cattle – no, they’re even farther off from the Path.” [25:44]

The power of the ears lies in remembering beneficial knowledge and sound advice. Listen to the Qur’an; more than anything, listening to Allah’s words will plant the seeds of faith and guidance and light in your heart. Listen – with your ears and with your heart – to be filled with wisdom and tranquility and contentment. The Qur’an is your protection from useless speech and sinful thoughts.

Just like listening to evil leaves traces of evil in your heart, listening to the truth will keep your heart steadfast on the path of truth. Praise Allah and thank Him for the blessing of hearing by using it to gain His pleasure.

Certainly, the believers have succeeded: * Those who are humbly submissive during their prayer * And those who turn away from vain and evil speech…“[23:1-3]

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O Servant of Allah… have you ever considered that the blind man never looks at anything forbidden, and the deaf never listen to anything that would anger Allah? And here you are – blessed with perfect sight and hearing. Be thankful for these blessings. Enjoy what Allah has give you, but enjoy it in the halal.

O Servant of Allah… Ramadan has come to purify you. Fast with your eyes and your ears, and guard these windows of your heart and soul.

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[Post largely based on and loosely adapted from Thirty Lessons for Those Who Fast, by Sheikh Aa’id al-Qarni]