Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
How do we define Zina of the eyes? For example, am I committing Zina of the eyes when I intentionally look at females in desire, even if they’re clothed? How does Zina of the eyes compare to full Zina? In other words, is Zina of the eyes less severe or equally severe as the full Zina?
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as saying, “Allah fixed the very portion of adultery which a man will indulge in. There would be no escape from it. The adultery of the eye is the lustful look, and the adultery of the ears is listening to voluptuous (song or talk), and the adultery of the tongue is licentious speech, and the adultery of the hand is the lustful grip (embrace), and the adultery of the feet is to walk (to the place) where he intends to commit adultery, and the heart yearns and desires which he may or may not put into effect.” [Muslim]
Your question is answered in full here:
Zina of the eyes
In short, the sin of not lowering one’s gaze is not equivalent to committing illicit intercourse with someone. The latter’s (hadd) punishment is decreed, while the former only requires tawba. It would be considered a sin if one gazed lustfully at someone, even if clothed. And the persistence of performing a minor sin repeatedly takes on the ruling of a major sin. The Prophet (Allah bless and grant him peace) said, “Do not follow one glance at a woman with another. Verily, you have the first one and not the second.” [Tirmidhi]
The best advice I can give you and all young men and women are to train yourself to lower your gaze. (It is permissible to look at the opposite gender when dealing in business or learning) Practice looking down or away over and over until it becomes automatic and keep the company of people who lower their gazes. Indeed, in this, there is excellent protection and wisdom.
Allah, Most High, said, “(O Prophet!) Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their chastity. That is purer for them. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their chastity, and not to reveal their adornments” [Quran, 24:30-31]
[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.