Is it Permissible for a Woman to Look at Men from Beneath Her Veil?
Allaah the Mighty and Majestic says in His noble Book:
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allaah is Well-Aware of what they do.” [Soorah an-Noor 24:30]
Mahmood ibn Ghaylaan told us that ‘Abdur-Razzaaq told us that Ma’mar informed us upon the authority of Taawoos that, “We have not seen anything which resembles the minor sins except that which Aboo Hurayrah narrated from the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who said:
‘Indeed Allaah has written for the son of Aadam his inevitable share of illicit sexual relations which he will unavoidably encounter. So the illicit sexual relations of the eye is the looking, and the illicit sexual relations of the tongue is what is uttered and the soul desires and lusts while the private parts either actualize this or subdue it.’” 
The poet says:
“Every problematic occurrence begins with a look, as most fires begin with a small flame.
How many looks have affected the heart of its possessor, like an arrow with no bow and no string?
Things can be pleasing to the eye while harmful to the heart, so do not welcome with happiness that which will harm you.”
The scholars have reached a consensus as mentioned by An-Nawawee in Sharh Muslim that looking at men when it involves one’s desires is indeed forbidden.
Certainly, some scholars have permitted looking at men without any restrictions while citing as evidence the story of ‘Aa’ishah and how she used to watch the Ethiopians (Abyssinians) while they would play with their spears until she would tire. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to her, “Have you finished?” She said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Then go.”
An-Nawawee responded to their use of this prophetic narration as a proof by mentioning the possibility of this situation occurring before ‘Aa’ishah matured.
Al-Haafidh said, “This is refuted by her statement, ‘He concealed me with his over-garment;’ which indicates that this situation occurred after the head covering was legislated.”
An-Nawawee also mentioned, “It is also possible that she was looking at their play with their spears, and not at their faces and bodies. Furthermore, if it occurred without her intending it he would have been able to correct the situation at that moment.” [(From Al-Fath 445/2) end of cited passage]
 Saheeh al-Bukhaaree [503/11], Saheeh Muslim [2046/4], Aboo Daawood [653/1], and Ahmad in his Musnad [276/2].
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