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Keep Your Distance!


Every parent loves his child and tries his best to keep his child safe from harm. Even in the home, the parent understands that the young toddler is exposed to certain dangers which threaten his safety. Plug points… detergents… knives and scissors… Swimming pools… These, and other similar things are common in many houses, yet pose a grave threat to the safety of the child.

Out of deep love for the child, and wishing well for the child, the parent firstly educates the child and tries to teach him that these things are dangerous. When the young child stretches his chubby and grubby fingers towards the detergent cupboard, the mother will raise her voice and call out in a stern tone, “NO! NAUGHTY!” Thereafter, if the child persists in trying to play with the dangerous item, she may even punish him.

However, a sensible, loving parent will not only suffice on teaching the child harm from benefit. For instance, the parent will not leave a knife within arm’s reach while telling the child, “Don’t touch.” Rather, the parent will also put into place preventative measures which will be conducive to the child’s safety.

Cupboards will be made child-proof, a safety net will be placed over the pool and plug covers will be placed in the plug points. While the child, in his ignorance and naivety, may protest and think the parents to be cruel, it is actually their profound love for him that causes them to give him these ‘advantages’ in staying out of harm. Thereafter, though it may still be possible for the child to fall into harm, especially if he is determined to defy his parents, it will nevertheless be more difficult for him to do so.

In the very same way, there are many hazards, dangers and obstacles that a believer faces in his journey to Jannah. All these dangers have been clearly explained and highlighted to us by the sharee‘ah. However, over and above warning us of the impermissible acts and sin that will land us in Jahannam, sharee‘ah also seals off and makes impermissible the avenues of shamelessness that lead to certain sins, thus giving us an advantage by promoting hayaa (modesty and shame) and making the environment conducive to purity and piety.

For example, zina is haraam in sharee‘ah. However, in order to assist us in staying away from zina, Allah Ta‘ala has also ‘cordoned off’ and made haraam the pathways and avenues that lead to zina. Hence, in the Quraan Majeed, Allah Ta‘ala does not say, “Do not commit zina,” but rather says, “And do not go close to zina…” (Surah Israa v32)

In other words, Allah Ta‘ala has made it easy for us to refrain from zina by prohibiting the actions and causes that lead to zina. Thus, shameless dressing, indecent behaviour and speech, intermingling between strange males and females, casual interaction between the opposite sexes – all have been prohibited in Islam, as all these are avenues that totally destroy one’s hayaa, until one eventually falls into the sin of zina itself.

In the blessed hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has prohibited a strange man and woman from being in seclusion with one another. (Saheeh Bukhaari #3006) Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) further warned us that when they are in seclusion, then without a doubt, the third-party present is Shaitaan (who spurs them towards ultimately committing zina). (Sunan Tirmizi #1171) In the same way, the Quraan Majeed and blessed ahaadeeth command the Muslim males and females to lower their gazes (Surah Noor v30-31), women to remain in the home (Surah Ahzaab v33) and only leave out of necessity, etc.

When these laws are upheld, an environment of hayaa is created, in which abstaining from sin and pleasing Allah Ta‘ala becomes easy. On the contrary, when shamelessness, obscene speech, nudity, free intermingling of males and females, and other similar evils dominate the environment, then remaining pure and chaste becomes as difficult as swimming against the current, and it is highly likely that one will succumb to the pull of the current and drown in zina and sin.

It is reported that during the pre-Islamic era, there was a woman in Arabia named Hind bintul Khuss Al-Iyaadiyyah. She was renowned for her intelligence and nobility and hailed from the ruling class of her clan. Contrary to all expectations, she one day committed zina. Furthermore, from all people, she had committed zina with a man of absolutely no standing or attraction in society - her slave!

She was later asked, “Why did you commit zina with your slave, whereas you are from the ruling-class among your people? If you wanted to commit zina, then why not with a free man?” She replied by explaining that there were two factors that had caused her to fall into zina and disgrace herself. She said, “(The two reasons were) close interaction and long conversations.” (Risaalatul Mustarshideen pg. 177)

In other words, when the slave was ‘part of the household’, coming and going as he pleased, and was able to interact with the women without anyone batting an eyelid or suspecting anything, then this repeated interaction, at close quarters, and intimate familiarity, led them to fall into zina. It is for this reason that in the hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has warned us to adopt extra precaution regarding purdah between the brother-in-law and sister-in-law saying, “The brother-in-law is ‘death’ (much more precaution should be exercised from him).” (Saheeh Bukhaari #5232)

If we ponder over the condition of our environment today, we will realise that these two factors are found prevalent in the workplace, schools, marketplaces and most other places, resulting in people from all backgrounds falling into zina. In fact, more than anywhere else, these two factors are found in cell phones, where social media platforms provide strange men and women a space to have close interaction and engage in long conversations with each other. Thus, just as many marriages have broken due to workplace infidelity, countless marriages have also broken due to zina that was initiated over WhatsApp, Instagram and other social media platforms.

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all with hayaa and the ability to stay far from the avenues of sin.