Dealing With Girls: The Gaze

MYM Guests
Memoir by
Dec 7, 2011 · 4 min read

I stepped out of the bus and took a deep breath. At last. The first day of school. The sun was shining and the atmosphere was abuzz with lively chatter as teenagers laughed and talked with their friends. As I walked down the pathway, scrunching the leaves beneath me, I took a good look around. Regrettably, all I saw around me was a blur of flesh, sustained by an absolute disregard for decent clothing. I quickly checked myself and lowered my head as I made my way inside.

And it hadn’t changed. Four years later, the crowd hadn’t changed. The leaves made the same familiar crunch. The air smelled the same. The stairs stirred up the same morning drowsiness. But the clothes; I can deal with unchanging stairs and leaves and air, but the continued lack of clothing from the students around me truly disturbed me. It also made me realize just how much I had changed over the past year, particularly in the way I now dealt with girls.

Back in the day, I would have no problems with girls. Talk and smile, no problem. But ever since reality hit – in part due to an incident involving another girl who had asked me out in eighth grade – I started to distance myself from girls and became more involved with Islamic work in the Muslim Students Association (MSA). I ended up changing my talking style and began to entirely avoid speaking to girls. But since that never worked out, as I was forced to interact with many of them regularly, I would now instead look completely at the floor and just listen. It was especially hard at first to explain my new code of modesty to non-Muslim girls, but Alhamdulillah, I got past feeling awkward and became much more comfortable in explaining my position.

Sadly though, just when I thought the hardest part was over, I found out that it had all just begun. I soon discovered that many of the Muslim sisters at school actually had an issue with my lowered gaze. They thought that I was either outright ignoring them, or that I was just plain awkward. I remember one sister directly telling me this online so I decided to regress into my old ways of conversing with girls. And she noticed the change the very next day; they all did. But while they were happy, I was not. I didn’t like the renewed eye contact, I didn’t like the way they looked at me. I was scared for my future and was not sure if I could really hold myself back from falling into fitnah. I finally decided to revert back to avoiding eye contact, but this time, I tweaked it up a bit. Now, I began to stare right across their shoulder instead of gazing at the floor. This way, it would at least give them the impression of me looking at them, when really, I was just facing their general direction looking elsewhere.

I now had my method of speaking to girls figured out. Gradually, I also came to understand the importance and necessity of communicating with those of the other gender though my involvement in leading the MSA. What if I have to give advice? What if I have to talk to a young sister? What if I have to ask the teacher a question? What if I have an interview? Alhamdulillah, through the various experiences I have encountered, I have emerged with a more astute and mature understanding of the whole gender relations issue.

Even now, when it so happens that I hit a bump in the road, I just remind myself that I am doing this for the Creator, not for His Creation. I no longer pay any mind to those who think they have the right to call me awkward or weird. I now look past this, since I know I don’t have to please them. I have to please Allah. That phase is over. Trying so hard is not a problem anymore, for after all, my ultimate goal is to be able to live my deen to the best of my ability.

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28 Responses to "Dealing With Girls: The Gaze"

  1. Someone says:

    Many of us know about the fiqh of gender relationships. What is challenging is when we have to apply it to daily life. Like the brother mentioned, we are presented with so many different situations and we naturally struggle with how to behave in each particular one. We are pressed with those ‘What if I have to ask a question?, ‘What if I have to give advice?’ kind of questions. There is a dire need for this subject to be addressed in a more practical way.
    I personally feel it is easier to put teachings into ‘practice’ if you have someone around you who you can look up to and see how they live the teachings.

    Well-written article, masha’Allah. Jazakallahu Khair.
    I would appreciate if someone could link me to more articles relating to the topic of ‘lowering the gaze’.

    • Maryam says:

      I really liked this one I read:

      And this one:

      • Someone says:

        Jazakillah, Maryam. :) I’d read the first one before and I really loved it, but back then I read it more from a perspective of forgiveness in general than from a hijaab point of view. But I see now that if I’m gonna try an’ lower my gaze, it might attract questions and criticism or maybe just plain surprise that I should be prepared to deal with. Thanks for sharing!

        • Maryam says:

          waiyyaki, glad it helped alhamdulilah, that site’s got more articles dealing with lowering the gaze, but y’know lowering the gaze isn’t hard when the heart learns to lower the gaze.

          I really need to implement this in my life. And i know, it all starts with switching off the TV. 

          take care :)

  2. Aziza says:

    This is a very interesting article. We hear often about how as both genders, we must lower our gaze, but I have never seen this looked at from a male point of view.  And while it’s not always an easy stance to adopt, I have discovered from my own experience that you get alot more respect from the opposite gender.

    • Alvi Rahman says:

      Yes that’s exactly why I wanted to bring this out because there’s a lot of different opinions and views from the sister’s who write about this but never have I seen one from a brother. I’m glad you liked the article! 

  3. Maryam says:

    SubhanAllah this is a beautiful article. I used to find it hard following the Sunnah, I thought it was outdated and that we had to move with the world, but i realized that i was turning into a person i wasn’t comfortable with anymore. Lowering the gaze is hard esp. when you are in a classroom, no doubt. People dont understand any of this, but subhanAllah if we dont follow the sunnah, then they wont ask us questions like ‘why dont you shake hands with us?’ or ‘why are you not looking to us?’ etc. 

    SubhanAllah ive noticed, whenever i feel that i dont need a particular sunnah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala shows me how wrong I am, like i didnt like licking my fingers after eating and I saw Matt Preston on Master Chef Australia doing that and a voice inside me asked me why I was so ashamed of following the sunnah?

    May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala keep you steadfast on deen, may He bless you with all the happiness in both this world and the Hereafter ameen.

    • Aziza says:

      Haha, I learned through the sunnah that we aren’t supposed to sleep on our bellies (my favorite way of sleeping) so I have to prop myself with a pillow now to keep from flipping onto my stomach again…but it feels so good to follow the sunnah, so it’s worth it! :)

      • Maryam says:

        omg i need to stop sleeping on my belly. JazakAllah khayr for reminding me alhamdulilah. yes alhamdulilah its worth everything, imagine standing in front of him and imagine his reaction when he finds out how much we wanted to take care of not just the big things but the little things too, subhanAllah.

  4. Sabera says:

    I like how the puffins are chillin’ like villains in the title banner picture. Like, ‘Yeah, we have nothing to do with fitnah and gaze lowering but we’re cool like that.’All jokes aside though. I found this article to be very relevant to modern youth. The struggles that were addressed were absolutely relatable and the conclusion had a good moral. It’s a much-needed reminder for recurring struggles.
    الله المستعان.

  5. Some good points discussed here, mashaAllah. I especially loved the conclusion:

     “Even now, when it so happens that I hit a bump in the road, I just remind myself that I am doing this for the Creator, not for His Creation. I no longer pay any mind to those who think they have the right to call me awkward or weird. I now look past this, since I know I don’t have to please them.”SubhanaAllah, the author now “look[s] past this” – not just by looking past the sisters’ shoulders but past the things that were previously of difficulty. What a great image!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The puffins are in fact cute. :)

    This is an amazing article masha Allah.

  7. SubhanAllah this story totally reflected the obstacles I went through in high school almost exactly in that order. Well written mashAllah. May Allah allow us to move past the critical eyes of His creation and realize that His pleasure is the only one we seek, ameen.

  8. Arif Kabir says:

    Great article, Māshā’Allāh :)

    Keeping that balance of not being distant/awkward and not being overtly friendly is something that really only comes with experience.

    P.S. Can’t believe I’m the first guy to comment on this lol.

  9. Lightseeker says:

    JazakAllah Khair A Bold Step in the World of glamour and a way of Guidance

  10. I really loved that this piece was coming from a brother’s perspective…also the way he acknowledged in a graceful manner the struggles that a man can go through.  I also appreciate the honesty and courage it must have taken to write something so sensitive and personal like this.  Keep on writing!

  11. Ace says:

    mA this is amazing May Allah give you the best in this life and the hereafter 

  12. Advocate says:

    Now, I could be wrong, but since god created the whole female gender, and he said to be kind to everyone, shouldn’t you be kind to girls?

  13. Chrysant says:

    “Even now, when it so happens that I hit a bump in the road, I just remind myself that I am doing this for the Creator, not for His Creation. I no longer pay any mind to those who think they have the right to call me awkward or weird. I now look past this, since I know I don’t have to please them.. ”

    MashaAllah, nice article..

  14. Muhammad Moosa says:

    Subhanallha! i can relate to whole of it, learning and understanding lowering the gaze and thinking that’s it, but its just the start indeed. You have to deal with what comes next, and i am still dealing with it.
    Jazakallah khair brother.. this article just boosted up my confidence and i ll be more comfortable dealing the situations with opposite genders.

  15. onlinebusiness says:

    That is good

  16. Haidar Hilmi says:

    Masyaallah, This is the only article I found mathced to my situation, Jazakallah

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