Answered by Shaykh Riad Saloojee
Question: Assalamu alaykum
Is it bad to go out in public and to want to be seen, known, admired especially by girls?
Every time I go out, this is what I want to hear and feel.
Answer: Wa’alaykumsalam wa rahmatullah,
I pray that you are well, by Allah’s grace. What follows is a general answer, without regard to specific details that I do not have.
The Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) taught that “Allah does not look at your bodies or your external forms but rather He looks at your hearts.” (Muslim). This text emphasizes that Allah is concerned about our inner character or khuluq – the virtues that we have inside ourselves, such as modesty, kindness, truthfulness, sincerity, generosity and others.
While we need to care for our external appearance because our bodies are a trust from Allah, we need to be extremely conscious of whether we have internal virtuous qualities that Allah loves, or whether we harbor qualities that are not beautiful and those that Allah does not love.
The Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) taught us a prayer when looking into the mirror: “O Allah, as you have beautified my external form, beautify my inner character.”
An inner obsession with external appearance or beauty is not healthy for us or for our relationship with Allah. It will lead to behavior that Allah does not love and that will harm us. This includes not lowering our gaze, being alone with a member of the opposite gender and ultimately illicit relationships.
When one finds himself with a physical disease, he seeks a cure. Similarly, for a spiritual ailment, the cure is the process of purifying the heart – in this case, to become more aware of Allah’s gaze upon our heart than the gaze of others upon our forms.
May Allah open the avenues of knowledge, practice and purification for us.
Wa salaamu’alaykum wa rahmatullah,
[Shaykh] Riad Saloojee
Shaykh Riad Saloojee graduated and taught in an Islamic seminary in Cape Town, South Africa. He is a lawyer by training and worked in the field of civil rights advocacy. Currently, he teaches and translates.