Ruling on looking at improperly dressed women on TV and in magazines
Fatwa No: 265648

  • Fatwa Date:11-9-2014 - Thul-Qi'dah 17, 1435
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Question

salam alaykum.pls i need explanation about watching women not properly dressed in magazine and TV screen as i read that sheikh bn uthaymeen and salman alaudah said no harm if no lust is involved. so did Imam Annawawi among shafiiyya.jazakumullah khayran

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and messenger.

We find it improbable that any of the scholars you mentioned in the question is of the view that it is permissible to look without lust at women who are not observing Hijab either on TV or in magazines, as the prohibition of this matter is agreed upon by the jurists. The Fiqh Encyclopedia (Al-Mawsoo‘ah Al-Fiqhiyyah) reads: “The jurists have unanimously agreed that it is forbidden for a man to look at the ‘Awrah of a young non-Mahram woman. They provided as evidence for that the statement of Allaah Almighty (which means): {Tell the believing men to lower their gaze…}[Quran 24:30], and the statement of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): "Allaah has foreordained for the child of Aadam (Adam) his share of fornication, he will inevitably catch up with it. The fornication of the eyes is the looking … ." [Muslim]

Allaah has forbidden men from looking at women with the exception of when a man is proposing to marry a woman; and He Almighty has not differentiated between looking (at women) with lust or without lust. How can someone ensure that looking at women without lust initially will not lead him to looking at them with lust afterwards, and then committing what is more serious than that - fornication? Indeed, the devil gradually drags people into sin. It is for this reason that Allaah Almighty warned of his plot, as Allaah says (what means): {O you who have believed, do not follow the footsteps of Satan. And whoever follows the footsteps of Satan - indeed, he enjoins immorality and wrongdoing. And if not for the favor of Allaah upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have been pure, ever, but Allaah purifies whom He wills, and Allaah is Hearing and Knowing.} [Quran 24:21]

For more benefit, please refer to Fatwa 117716.

Perhaps you are referring to the statements of some scholars who hold that it is permissible to look at the face of a non-Mahram woman and her hands only, without looking at the rest of her body, provided that the person looks without lust. However, even if this is the view of some jurists, this does not apply to looking at women who display their beauty on TV and magazines because they uncover parts of their body other than their face and hands. Besides, the view about the permissibility of looking at the face and hands without lust is a weak opinion, and An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him is of the view that this is forbidden as he said in Minhaaj At-Taalibeen: “It is forbidden for an adult man to look at the ‘Awrah of a free adult non-Mahram woman as well as her face and hands when he fears he will be tempted by her, and even when one is secure from being tempted by her according to the correct opinion….” [End of quote]

The words of Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him which suggest that looking at women directly is not like looking at them on TV and magazines apply only to photos which do not reveal women's charms and beauty. In fact, he  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him recommended that such pictures in fashion magazines be burnt as he said about them: “The women are shown half-naked – we seek refuge with Allaah from this – in indecent pictures; you may find a picture of a tall beautiful woman, putting her hand on her waist while wearing that outfit, it is as if she is saying to our women: 'Do the same as I do', so it is an obligation for men if they see such magazines in the hands of women to take them from them and burn them…..” [End of quote]

Also the Fataawa of Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him regarding the permissibility of women uncovering their face apply to old women whom men do not desire for sexual intercourse, but he is of the view that it is better for such women not to do so; as he said: “As for the words of Allaah (which mean): {And women of post-menstrual age who have no desire for marriage ….} [Quran 24:60]; it means the woman who does not expect anyone to propose to her to marry her. Why? Because she is of old age, her features have changed, nobody wants to have her in marriage. These are the women who have no desire for marriage. It is permissible for such women to go out while their face, their hands and their feet are uncovered because nobody desires them and no one is tempted by them….” [End of quote]

However, Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him is of the view that even such a woman should not go out [in public] in this manner, as he said: "But she should not go out [in public] for fear of her being imitated by young women who would probably think that this ruling is general and that it applies to old and young women alike. Whatever leads to a disadvantage should be avoided even if it is permissible. This is in order to block any means that lead to a prohibition....

Some scholars are of the view that it is permissible to look at an old woman's face and hands without lust; the Fiqh Encyclopedia reads: “There is no difference in opinion among the scholars that it is forbidden to look at an old woman without a sound reason with or without lust; they only differed in regard to looking at her without desire and without the intention of pleasure, into two different opinions:

The first view: It is permissible to look at her face and hands, if men do not lust over her, and provided that she is not showing her adornment; this is the view of the majority of scholars of the Hanafi, Maaliki and Hanbali Schools...

The second view: There is no difference between a young non-Mahram woman and an old non-Mahram woman in regard to the ruling of looking at them. This is all forbidden [looking at both is forbidden], and it is not permissible to look at any uncovered part of the body of an old woman, even though she is not desired [for sexual intercourse]. This is the preponderant view and it is the standard opinion of the Shaafi‘i School, given the general indication of the evidence which prohibits looking at non-Mahram women, and because lust is not bound by any certain criteria.

This view also does not apply to looking at women who are scantily dressed on TV and magazines; as they are young women and not old women and they uncover parts of their body other than their face and hands.

Finally, we have not come across the statement you attributed to Shaykh Salmaan Al-Ouda in the question.

Allaah Knows best.

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