Modesty is a widely used term in today’s world. It is often misinterpreted as just the feelings of shyness or shame one has. Everyone has their own opinion of what being modest is and they try to brag about their levels of modesty while looking down upon others. Let us look what Allah and our beloved Prophet Muhammad sallallahualaihiwasallam has to say.
The term modesty is referred to in the Quran in the following verses:
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.
(Surah An- Nur 24: Verse 30)
And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.
(Surah An-Nur 24:31)
O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember.
(Surah Al-A’raf 7: Verse 26)
As Muslims, we have to constantly be in touch with our own haya and make sure we’re not displeasing Allah in any way. It is mentioned in a hadith:
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet peace be upon him said, “Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And haya (This term “haya” covers a large number of concepts which are to be taken together; amongst them are self-respect, modesty, bashfulness, and scruple, etc.) is a part of faith.”
( Sahih Bukhari Book #2, Hadith #8)
Therefore, Haya is not just feeling shy in front of someone but it consists of many other aspects which can be achieved step wise by assessing ourselves in the following points-
1. Haya in the way we dress
Dress is perhaps the most widely thought of in terms of modesty. Dressing up in the right way as commanded by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala plays a major role in boosting our imaan as well as bringing us closer to Allah. There are many instances in which people feel close to Allah by just covering themselves up rightly. But we also need to be wary of avoiding boastfulness or vanity about the way we dress.
2. Haya in what we watch/read
We should be wary of what we watch on the television or read. Television is the number one source of immodesty followed by books. You can find n number of shows which deal with immodest topics and same goes for books. So, look at the type of shows you’re watching and the kind of books you’re reading. Are they immodest? Are they causing you to lose your sense of shamefulness?
3. Haya in what we say
The way we speak is also a part of Haya. The words we use and our tone matters a lot. The present trend is to use immodest words when expressing either happiness or grief which is fast picking up and also being seen in the Muslim community. Do you use such words? Don’t forget that every word you speak out is going to testify for/against you on the Day of Judgement!
4. Haya in how we treat others
Treat others with respect and kindness is what is taught to us since childhood. But do we really follow that? Treat others like you would want to be treated by others is perhaps the best policy ever which one can follow to maintain this aspect of Haya.
5. Haya in the friends we choose
Yes, your friends circle does matter a lot! A person is more likely to follow what his friends believe and do. Be careful when it comes to maintaining close friendships with people. Ask yourself if this is the type of person you want to be or want to be seen with?
6. Haya in the places we go
As much as it matters how we speak, dress, behave; it also matters that which places we visit. Are the places we visit reminders of all the forbidden or haraam things? Or are you frequenting the right kind of places? Reflect.
7. Haya in what we do
Haya in what we do amongst people is as important as Haya in front of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, when we’re alone. Our actions when in public and in private should reflect piety and obedience to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Another hadith which mentions Hayais :
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: The Prophet passed by a man who was admonishing his brother regarding Haya and was saying, “You are very shy, and I am afraid that might harm you.” On that, Allah’s Apostle said, “Leave him, for Haya is (a part) of Faith.
(SahihBukhariBook #73, Hadith #139)
Haya brings only good. It can either make or break one’s eeman. It will guide one towards peace of mind. Here is praying that the Muslim ummah all over the world finds it easy to be modest! Ameen!”