Is It Permissible to Look at Women Who Do Not Cover Their Awrah without Lust according to Hanafi Fiqh?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

According to Hanafi Fiqh, is it permissible to look at women who do not cover their awrah without lust, and is it permissible to look at women on television and other media without feeling lust? I thought it was forbidden until a scholar said it was allowed in Hanafi Fiqh.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Looking at a Woman Without Lust

It is permissible for a male to look at those parts of a woman’s body that are not legally considered nakedness in Islamic law: they are the face, hands, and feet of the woman.

This is on condition that there is no lust or no fear of lust arising. If there is lust it is strictly prohibited to look anywhere on her body, even the above three places; if there is a reasonable possibility of lust arising, it is also prohibited. [Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

Looking at any other part of her body, regardless of the presence of lust or lack thereof, is strictly prohibited. [Ibid.]

Please see this for more details on the legal nakedness:
A Detailed Exposition of the Fiqh of Covering One’s Nakedness (awra)

Note that there is no difference whether the woman being looked at is in person, on a screen, or an image. And, note, that what enters into peripheral vision is not what is meant by looking: thus if one looked at the face of a woman without lust, they will not be accountable if peripherally they can see her hair; but all actions are based on intentions.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.