What Is the Technical Definition of ‘Desire’?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


What is the definition of desire (looking at someone with desire) according to the Shafi’i School?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him. May He reward you for this beautiful desire to live your life according to His guidance. Amin.

Looks of Desire Refer to Lustful Looks

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) considered lustful looks at a person of the opposite sex as ‘the zina (adultery or fornication) of the eye.’ He said: “Allah has written for the child of Adam his/her share of zina which they commit inevitably. The zina of the eye is the sight [i.e. to gaze at what is forbidden], the zina of the ears is the hearing [i.e. listening to what is forbidden], the zina of the tongue is the speech [i.e. saying what is forbidden], the zina of the hand is the touching [i.e. illicit touching], the zina of the feet is the walking (i.e. to forbidden places) and the heart desires and wishes, while the private part ratifies that or denies it.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Desire, therefore, means lustful, and Allah knows best.

Lowering the Gaze

The above hadith indicates that gazing at that which Allah has forbidden is Islamically considered zina and prohibited. For this reason, Allah ordained us to lower our gaze. Allah Says: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze [from looking at forbidden things] and protect their private parts [from illegal sexual acts, etc…] that is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze [from looking at forbidden things] and protect their private parts [from illegal sexual acts]…” [Quran, 24:30-31]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani 

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.