Haya (Modesty)

Author: Ms. Seen Noon

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

“Every Deen or religion has an innate character. The character of Islam is modesty (haya).” (Abu Dawood, al-Muwatta)   

From time to time, I am unintentionally shifted to revisit my routine dealings. This is usually due to the occurrences witnessed in my surroundings. The ways of a Muslim should always be exemplary, portraying him/her as an individual with dignified character. Instead, unfortunately I come across instances that cover my soul in sadness. We are human beings, I’m not perfect. A Muslim or not, one needs to employ a modest behavior towards his fellow beings and also in all his routine activities. This is basic ethics, something that Islam teaches us to adopt as a way of life. There are instances when I ask myself, why can we not follow the teachings of our Holy Prophet and live a life that is far from indecency and lewdness. Haya (modesty) has vanished from our lives and we fall prey to the ways of neanderthals. Or maybe, even they had the brains to be mindful of such basics, while we ‘polished’ folk shy away from these qualities.

Allah SWT mentions in Surah An-Nur, Verse 30

‘Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. (24:30)

Modesty is a quality every Muslim should possess, our behavior with family, relatives, friends should be enveloped in a seal of haya, signaling to others that indeed indecency isn’t part of our iman. Saving our eyes, and ears from watching vulgar content, which is available so easily today, is a tough call that we need to take immediately. At a time so critical, our kids need guidance in how to act responsibly in behavior, appearance and thinking.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

‘When lewdness is a part of anything, it becomes defective; and when haya is a part of anything it becomes beautiful. (Tirmidhi)

Our thought processes are now trained to just blindly follow the actions of people around us. Weighing of actions and their impact, their rewards by Allah in case we please Him, or His dislike if we unfortunately disobey Him, all of this outruns us. Islam has a complete code of life, plain and simple, it’s a religion of peace, a humble way of life. Allah doesn’t say to be shy in practicing your faith, you shouldn’t feel shame in leaving a gathering where indecent activities start to commence. Rather, you need to gather courage, and save yourself from the company of such wrongdoers. Shyness should be in your thinking, appearance and behavior, so as to be a Muslim that obeys Allah and follows sunnah. Haya is part of iman, a significant part of our faith, and when we try to understand why it’s important, a true Muslim we become.

Allah Subhana wa ta’aala says in Quran, Surah Al-Ahzab, Verse 59

‘O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their outer garments over their bodies (when they go abroad). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be teased. And Allah is Ever Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ (33:59)

Our dressing should be decent, and not revealing, for your appearance says a lot about you. Our bodies are very sacred, like you are wrapping yourself so the dust doesn’t spoil your beauty. There has to be modesty in how we carry ourselves in every decision taken by us.

Now, reading the Quran with translation (for those who don’t understand Arabic) could have guided us towards an enlightened way of life. Rather, we don’t have any idea about morally correct behavior in dealing with people or ways of living. Allah stops us from doing such indecent activities which might unintentionally end up hurting people plus our akhirah. Our tongues, these pieces of flesh, are spitting out such indecent and vulgar language, be it with kids or elders, that puts a human being to shame, Muslim or not. Shyness and modesty shouldn’t just be in behavior, but also in your speech, your dress code, your thinking and so on. These days the language spoken by us with our peers and elderly folks is deprived of respect, rather it puts us to shame, that we, the ‘ummati’ (one belonging to the Ummah of Muhammad (SAW) are using such vulgar ways of communication.

Narrated by Abu Huraira (R): The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

‘Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And Haya is a part of faith.’ (Sahih Al Bhukari Vol.1:9)

We are Muslims indeed, and we know that our great creator is the most forgiving, so why not we seek guidance from Quran and sunnah and live our lives on ways of a true believer, leading by example. The next generation is forgetting what a path of a mumin is, and it’s for sure our responsibility to show, by our behavior, how a meaningful life is to be lived to save our Dunya and Akhirah.

Let’s ponder over this hadith of our beloved Prophet (PBUH):

“Haya comes from Iman; Iman leads to Paradise. Obscenity comes from antipathy; and antipathy leads to the fire.” (Bukhari)

Indeed, this is enough to direct us to a life filled with modesty, shyness and respect, towards our fellow soulies, gaining us rewards in this world and Hereafter.



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