The Five Senses
By Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyah (751H)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, all praises belong to Allah the Most High Most Wise and we ask Allah to send His Peace and Blessings upon Muhammad, His Companions, and everyone who follows His path. Allah is the best of creators. He has fashioned us the best form. Allah said: Verily, We created man of the best stature (mould)[ At-Tin 4].
Part of our physique are the organs that connect to our sense of perception; eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and ears. There are legislated acts for each of these limbs and Shaykul Islam Ibn Al-Qayyim discussed them in detail in his book, “ Madaraj As-Salikeen”. It’s extremely important to know and be cautious of misusing these blessings Allah gave us before they testify against us or for us. Allah said: “This Day, We shall seal up their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their legs will bear witness to what they used to earn.” [Ya-Sin 65]
He also said: On the Day when their tongues, their hands, and their legs or feet will bear witness against them as to what they used to do.[An-Nur 24]
There is level of worship on the five senses which reaches a total of twenty five.
We will begin with the hearing and the 5 types of worship it follows:
- Listening that’s obligatory: This includes silence and to listen to what Allah and His Messenger made mandatory to hear for all of the believers either it is Fard or Sunnah. For instance listening to the Imam during the audible daily prayers and the Friday sermon in the masjid.
- Listening in on things that are prohibited: It’s haraam to listen to Kufr and Bid’ah unless the purpose outweighs the harm and this is to refute it or testify against the person who made the statement. It’s not allowed in Islam to eavesdrop, plus listen to a woman’s voice that can cause a trial, except if there is a need to hear her. i.e her testimony in court. Also, listening to idle speech, music and musical instruments fall in this category of Haraam.
- Listening that is recommended: This covers listening to classes, the Quran, remembrances of Allah or any kind of speech that pleases the Most High that’s not obligatory to hear.
- Listening to things that are disliked: This means the ears hear things that Allah doesn’t like to be heard, but they aren’t punished for listening to them.
- Listening to things that allowed to be heard and this is known.
The next sense of among the five senses that is bound by the categories of Allah’s Commands and His Prohibitions and everything between them is the sight.
- Sight that is wajib for the eyes to view: This refers to looking in the Quran, and in educational material for an issue obligatory to know.
- Viewing something that is Haraam: Looking at a woman lustfully is part of the prohibited sight on the eyes, unless it’s done with the intention of a marriage. i.e looking at the fiancé, or for the doctor when he needs to carry out an examination. Staring at the private parts of a person is Haraam and this kind of look is when the person is naked or in the privacy of their home.
- The recommended look at things: This applies to reading things in books of knowledge to increase a person’s faith and understanding, or to look at things in Allah’s Creation to acknowledge His Oneness.
- Looking at things that are detested: This applies to glancing and reading things that are useless.
- The permissible look: A permissible look is one that causes no harm and brings no benefit.
After the ears and eyes the tongue has obligations and prohibitions.
- The taste and consumption that’s required: This goes for eating and drinking when a person needs to in order to avoid death and taking medicine if a person is certain it will help in his recovery.
- The taste that is Haraam: Drinking intoxicants and swallowing poison.
- Tasting things that is disliked: This means a person eats or drinks something and is uncertain if it’s Halal or eating more than he needs. Also it’s disliked to eat or drink from a person who feeds you because he’s too shy to say no after you’ve asked him.
- Eating and drinking that’s recommended: This means a person eats in order to gain strength to help him worship. This action also takes into account eating as a guest at someone’s house and eating food at a waleemah or at an Aqeeqah.
- It’s permissible to eat food that’s not prohibited and there is no doubt about it being halal or haraam.
Smelling is a sense of the nose that also has prohibitions and commands like the ears, the eyes and the mouth.
- Smelling that’s obligatory on the nose: This involves smelling everything that helps in distinguishing between Halal and Haram.
- Smelling that’s Haram : This is similar to a person using his nose to smell perfume while in a state of Ihram, to smell stolen perfume, and to smell a woman’s perfume fearing that its seductive and can lead to a greater harm.
- Smelling that is recommended: This means a person inhales a fragrance that helps him to worship Allah and brings delight to his spirits in seeking knowledge. i.e perfume , oud, or Bukhoor.
- Smelling that isn’t recommended: This is breathing in something that a person is uncertain about from untrustworthy merchants.
- The permissible sniff for the nose is one that Allah hasn’t prohibited and has no relationship to Islam .
Touching has its duties to maintain for Allah’s worship.
- Touching that is Wajib: This is defined by a man touching his wife when he wants to have sex.
- Touching that is Haraam: This involves using the hands to touch a Non- Mahram woman or a man.
- Touching that is recommended: This helps lower the gaze, prevents a person from sinning and maintains dignity.
- Using the hands in fashion that’s disliked: This refers to a person who fondles his wife while is a state of Ihram or while fasting if he doesn’t have the ability to suppress his desires.
- Touching that is permissible: This is for any and every feel that’s not harmful.
These actions for Wajib, Haraam, Sunnah, disliked, and lawful are applied to the hands and the legs equally the same.
The hands must be used to go to work to earn livelihood for yourself and your family. It’s prohibited to use your hands to kill a person unjustly. Using your hands fruitlessly in too much sport or leisure is disliked in Islam, while using them to author things for religious benefit is Sunnah. Finally anything that isn’t harmful and brings no benefit is permissible for the hands to engage in.
The legs have duties to fulfill as well and this includes walking to the Masjid for congregation, Jumu’ah and Tawaf around Allah’s house. Those actions are obligatory on the legs and walking to commit sin is Haraam. It is frowned upon in Islam for the feet walk to places wasting time, in contrast it’s simply halal to stroll to do an act not losing a reward or performing a sin. These acts also include riding .These fifty actions affect: the heart, the tongue, the hearing, the sight, the nose, the mouth and the hand, the legs, and the private part when the person ascends on his transportation.
Taken from Madarajus Salakeen
Translated by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Lamont Battle Sr.
Doha, Qatar 1437H