Does Photos on Social Media Cause Fitna and Temptation?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

What is tabarruj? Men find women attractive even when she is not trying to attract them and even when dressed modestly. Are women held responsible for their weaknesses? Men modestly post their pictures, and women look at those pictures, and because they are also human and have desires, they may find those pictures attractive.

Shouldn’t men avoid posting their pictures to avoid fitna for the women? Or should every gender struggle against their nafs (ego) and avoid oppressing each other?

Answer

Allah, Most High, says, “Settle in your homes, and do not display yourselves as women did in the days of ignorance. Establish prayer, pay alms tax, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only intends to keep evil away from you and purify you completely, O members of the ˹Prophet’s˺ family!” [Quran, 33:33]

Meaning of the Verse

This verse was revealed for the Prophet’s wives (Allah bless him and grant him peace). They were asked not to display themselves as the women of pre-Islamic times did. This included every level of display, revealing the beauty of their faces, bodies, clothes, jewelry, or moving or walking enticingly.

Mawlana Mawdudi says, in this verse, “Initial steps were taken towards the social reforms whose need was being felt by the minds molded in the Islamic pattern themselves. In this regard, reform was started in the house of the Holy Prophet himself. His wives were commanded to avoid behaving and conducting themselves in the ways of the pre-Islamic days of ignorance, to remain in their houses with dignity, and to exercise great caution in their conversation with the other men. This was the beginning of the Commandments of Purdah (Hijab).

Is a Lady Accountable for His Attraction to Her?

You ask if women are held responsible for a man’s gaze even when she is appropriately covered. No, she is not. If she has done her utmost to be modest and to follow the rules of gender interaction in her behavior, words, and gaze, she has fulfilled Allah’s command. See the following: What Are the Principles of Gender Interaction in Islam? Mixed Gatherings: A Detailed Response Regarding Gender Interaction

Should Men Post Their Pictures on Social Media?

Yes, men should avoid posting pictures of themselves on social media because it can easily lead to lust and temptation for girls, especially if they are both around marriageable age. A young lady should make a rule not to befriend a boy on social media and vice versa and to never look at their photographs. Looking at their pictures contravenes the Quranic injunction to lower the gaze and has little benefit.

The Prophet’s Advice

If a young man or young lady is not married, there is undoubtedly some kind of struggle involved against fitna and temptation. It is not easy; that is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) gave us tips to fast when dealing with feelings of lust and suggested to marry as soon as possible. He even told young ladies not to reject a good proposal whenever it comes.

Please go with your gut feeling and unplug from social media as often as you can. Busy yourself with Allah, his remembrance, and his obligations, and you will live a beautiful life, Insha Allah.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.