By Haider Hobbollah
Translated by Sadiq Meghjee (UK)
This issue became a point of contention between different Muslim jurists. Some of them inclined to the opinion that looking at a woman through indirect means, such as a mirror, or through a photograph, was permissible and there is no proof of it being forbidden provided it is not accompanied with lust and desire. Others specified that it was only permissible to look at the photograph if the one looking does not know the lady in the picture, and in the instance he did know her then it was not allowed. Similarly others mentioned that looking at women in a television was not allowed if the stream was being broadcasted live, other than that it was allowed. Another group opened another condition that looking at women in all motion pictures like films was not allowed, whereas looking at pictures was fine. And there were still many more subdivisions from there.
As for the conclusion that I have reached in my research is that Islamic law, in all instances, has prohibited looking at males and females, and unveiling in front of males and females. There is no difference between whether the looking is being done directly or if it is being done indirectly, they are both forbidden. Similarly there is no difference between something being live streamed or not, nor between a motion picture or not, nor does the awareness of the person knowing who he is looking at have any relevance to it’s impermissibility. Neither is it relevant if the person being looked at is alive or dead, it still remains forbidden.
For more details on this matter, please refer to my article Fiqh al-Sitr wa al-Nadhr in my book Dirasāt fi al-Fiqh al-Islamī al-Mu’āsir, v. 1, p. 493-512.
Tuesday, 7th September 2021