As Islam always seeks to preserve the modesty of its followers in order to create a society where chastity, decency and pure-heartedness prevail, it has blocked all means that may lead to evil thoughts or corrupt behavior. A mere desirous look from a member of one sex to a member of the other may cause vile consequences. Therefore, Allah the Almighty explicitly enjoined both the believing men and the believing women, saying: (Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is all-aware of what they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their private parts… )(An-Nur 24: 30-31)
However, as there are situations where it is nearly unavoidable for both men and women to look at one another, such as while walking in the street or while dealing with one another in buying and selling, it is permissible if they have quick and spontaneous visual interaction.
Responding to this issue, Sheikh Muhammad ibn Salih ibn ‘Uthaymeen, a prominent Jurist, said:
When women look at men, whether this is on TV or otherwise, we have two possible cases:
1 – Looking with desire and enjoyment; and this is definitely haram because of the evil and fitnah (temptation) involved.
2 – Simply and spontaneously looking with no desire or enjoyment; in which case there is nothing wrong according to the correct scholarly view. This is permissible because it was proven that `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) watched the Ethiopians when they were playing in the mosque, and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was screening her from them, and he approved of her doing that.
Furthermore, women while wearing hijab walk in the markets and look at men. Thus, a woman may look at a man even when he does not look at her, on the condition that there is no feeling of desire or fitnah (temptation). If there is any feeling of desire or fitnah (temptation), then it is haram to look, whether the man is on TV or otherwise.