Sources:

  •  An-Nahj al-Asma’ Fee Sharh Asma’u-Allaah ul-Husnaa, by Shaikh Muhammad al-Humoud an-Najdi.
  •  Lectures given by Dr. Al-Muqaddim on Hayaa’.
  • Sharh Riaydh–us-Saliheen, by Shaikh Muhammad ibn Salih al-‘Uthaimeen.

Islam calls to fine manners, and one of the most noble manners is Hayaa’ (modesty). Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“إن لكل دين خُلْقاً وخُلُق الإسلام الحياء”

“Verily, every religion emphasizes a character, and the character of Islam is al-Hayaa’.” [Reported by Maalik and authenticated by Al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Targhib wat-Tarhib no. 2632]

Hayaa’ is a term that covers a large number of concepts which includes modesty, self-respect, bashfulness, honor, etc.

Hayaa’ induces (urges) the person to do good and abandon what is shameful and disgraceful. You notice that when someone commits a disgraceful act, he feels shy or ashamed from people. If he does a forbidden act, he feels shy towards Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala); even if he leaves an obligatory act, he feels ashamed before Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala). Therefore, Hayaa’ (modesty) prevents a person from disobedience to Allaah (Azza wa jall) and from immoral and evil pursuits.

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) considered Hayaa’ one part of faith. He (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

الإيمان بضعٌ وستون شعبة والحياء شعبةٌ من الإيمان

“Faith (belief) consists of more than sixty subdivisions or branches (i.e. parts), and al-Hayaa’ is a branch of faith.” [Al-Bukhaari]

The same narration is reported by Muslim, in which he added: “Faith consists of more than 60 or 70 subdivisions (branches or parts). The most excellent one of them is to say ‘La ilaaha illa Allaah’ (none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah) and the least and the lowest of them is to remove injurious and harmful things from the road. And modesty (al-Hayaa’) is a part of faith.”

Commentary:

* This Hadeeth makes evident the importance and excellence of bashfulness, because it induces a person to do good deeds and deters him from evil.

* In this Hadeeth, the Messenger of Allaah (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) informed us that Imaan (Faith) consists of many divisions (parts); more than 60 or 70 subdivisions (parts). And he (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not clarify them or mention them, in order for us to search for them by following up the verses of the Qur’an and the narrations (Sunnah) until we gather them and act upon them.

There are many examples in the Qur’an and the Sunnah which are deliberately unclear, in order to test the people and to distinguish the truthful from the untruthful.

For example regarding the Night of al-Qadr, the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Search for it in the last 10 nights, or last 7 nights of the month of Ramadaan.” [Al-Bukhaari] But we don’t know exactly which night is Laylatul-Qadr. This causes people to establish all the nights with prayer, Du’aa and Dhikr, hoping to attain the reward of establishing this specific night with prayer. If the people knew which specific night Laylatul-Qadr was they would surely show laziness in establishing the other nights with prayer.

Another example is a special hour on Fridays when supplications are granted. Abu Hurairah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) talked about Friday and said: “There is an hour (opportune–time) on Friday and if a Muslim catches it while offering Salaat (prayer) and asks something from Allaah (Azza wa jall), then Allaah will definitely meet his request.” [Al-Bukhaari] This hour is not specifically known and it is for people to search for.

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) also informed us and said: “Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) has 99 Supreme Names, whoever Ahsaaha[[1]] will enter Paradise.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim] It is up to the people to strive to find these Names in the Qur’an and the Sunnah in order to ‘Ahsaaha’ them.

Accordingly, the wisdom behind not mentioning the 60 or 70 parts or divisions of Faith is for us to follow up and search for them in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: The best or most excellent part (subdivision) of Faith is to say ‘La ilaaha illa Allaah’.” If the seven heavens and the seven earths and all the creation were weighed, this great word would preponderate over them, because it is the greatest word, the word of Tawheed (Monotheism); if a man says it, he becomes a Muslim, and if a man denies it, he becomes a Kafir. This word is a decisive boundary between Imaan (belief) and Kufr (disbelief). In other words, the most excellent part of Faith is ‘La ilaaha illa Allaah’, which means: none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah. All other deities are false except Allaah (Azza wa jall); He is the Only True God. Allaah (Azza wa jall) says in Surat al-Hajj:

ذلك بأنّ الله هو الحقُّ وأنّ ما يدعون من دُونِهِ البَاطِل وأنّ الله هو العلىُّ الكبير.

“That is because Allaah – He is the Truth (the only True God of all that exists, Who has no partners or rivals with Him), and what they (the polytheists) invoke besides Him, is “Batil” (falsehood). And verily, Allaah-He is the Most High, the Most Great.” [22:62]

Islamic Monotheism, Tawheed, consists of belief in:

1-  The Oneness of Lordship (Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyya): there is no creator but Allaah, no sustainer but Allaah, no disposer of affairs but Allaah, no one can benefit or harm but Allaah.

2-  The Oneness of Worship (Tawheed al-Uloohiyya): no one deserves to be worshipped but Allaah (Azza wa jall).

3-  The Oneness and Uniqueness of the Names and Attributes of Allaah (Tawheed al-Asma’ was-Sifaat).

“Whoever’s last words in this life were ‘La ilaaha illa Allaah’, will enter Paradise.” [Abu Dawoud and Al-Haakim]

The least and the lowest part of faith is to remove harmful things from the road; things that could harm the people who are passing or walking on the road, such as a thorn, wood, stone, etc. If you find anything harmful on the road, or other places, remove it, because this is from Imaan. Removing a harmful thing from the road is even considered Sadaqah (charitable act).

Even the act of leaving your car in the middle of the road such that it may bother others, is considered as putting a harmful thing in the way of the people; thus, removing it from the way is a part of Imaan. If removing a harmful thing is a part of Faith, then placing a harmful thing is considered a deficiency in Faith.

Man should have a bashful heart; feel for others, and love for others what he loves for himself. How can he put his car in the way to bother others without caring about their feelings?

If one cannot remove a harmful thing from the road because it is very large, then he should call the authorities, because it is their responsibility to ensure that the roads are safe. Let us be one be of those about whom Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says:

وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى

“Help one another in righteousness and piety.” [Al-Ma’idah 5:2]

Hayaa’ is a part of faith; it is bashfulness from doing something people dislike, or bashfulness from Allaah, which induces the slave to obey Allaah (Azza wa jall) and abstain from all that Allaah has forbidden.

Bashfulness from people obliges a person to be modest, not to do what beautifies him among people, and to abstain from what causes disgrace or humiliation. The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) considered al-Hayaa’ to be one part of faith.

Ibn ‘Umar (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhuma) narrated: “Once Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) passed by an Ansaari (man) who was admonishing his brother regarding al-Hayaa’. On that, Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Leave him, as al-Hayaa’ is a part of faith.’ [Al-Bukhaari]

In another narration by Ibn ‘Umar (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu), the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

إنّ الحياء والإيمان قُرنا جميعاً ، فإذا رُفع احدهما رُفع الآخر

 “Verily, Hayaa’ (modesty) and Imaan (faith) are joined together. If one of them was removed (erased from the heart), accordingly, the other one would be removed (from the heart).” [Al-Haakim, Al-Baihaqi and authenticated by Al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jami’ # 1603]

Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaimeen (Rahimahullaah) said: “The person who has Hayaa’ (modesty) takes the straight path because modesty restrains him from following wrong ways. For this reason, modesty has been called a part of faith.”

Hayaa’ is an inborn quality which Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) has created in the human being, and the evidence for that is what Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) stated in the Qur’an about Adam (‘Alayhis salaam) and his wife (Eve). When they both ate from the tree, their private parts appeared to them, and they began to stick the leaves from Paradise on themselves as a covering.

One may ask, if Hayaa’ (shyness, modesty) is an inborn quality (i.e. naturally born shy), then how was it made a part of faith? Shaikh Muhammad al-Humoud says: “Al-Hayaa’ could be an inborn quality and could also be adopted by the person. However, practicing it should be according to the Islamic law, and this requires training, knowledge and intention; therefore, it is a part of Faith.”

For example: A non-Muslim can be modest by nature, but his modesty does not prevent him from disobeying Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) and committing Shirk, etc. Modesty urges or prompts one to do righteousness and prevents one from committing sins.

Types of Hayaa’

Hayaa’ is of two kinds: praised and dispraised. Praised Hayaa’ is to be ashamed to commit a crime or a thing which Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) and His Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) have forbidden. Dispraised Hayaa’ is to be ashamed to perform an act which Allaah and His Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) have ordered. Some examples of dispraised Hayaa’ are:

  • Hayaa’ (feeling shy) to pray in front of non-Muslims in non-Muslim countries, or to wear Hijaab in non-Muslim countries,
  • Hayaa’ when enjoining al-Ma’roof (good) and forbidding al-Munkar (evil).

To see an evil and to feel shy to forbid it is actually weakness and cowardice and not modesty,

  • Hayaa’ to feel ashamed of acting upon a matter which Allaah has ordained, such as contracting a debt, or witnessing it. Allaah says:

يا أيها الذين آمنوا إذا تداينتم بدين إلى أجل مسمى فاكتبوه

“O you who believe! When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down.”

And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called on (for evidence). Then Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) said:

“…..That is more just in the Sight of Allaah; more solid as evidence and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves.”[Al-Baqarah 2:282]

  • Hayaa’ in acquiring knowledge.

Umm Sulaim (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha) came to the Messenger of Allaah (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asking him: “O Messenger of Allaah! Verily, Allaah is not ashamed of (telling) the truth, does the woman take a bath if she experiences in a dream what a man experiences (wet dream)?” The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Yes, if she sees the water or wetness.” [Muslim]

A person may feel ashamed to ask this question, especially in an assembly (gathering); but modesty did not prevent Umm Sulaim from knowing her religion and gaining knowledge about a matter about which she was ignorant.

Accordingly, modesty (shyness) which prevents one from asking about an obligatory matter is considered a dispraised modesty. We should not call it shyness or modesty; this is cowardice and it is from Shaytaan.

One should ask about his religion, but one should feel shy from asking about matters not related to the religion.

Therefore, Hayaa’ which prevents one from telling the truth or doing good is not recommended and not legal in the religion.

Ar-Raghib said: “Man feels shy from three:

1.  People (this is most of what he feels shy from)

2.  Himself

3.  Then Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala)

Whoever feels shy from people and never feels shy from himself, then his self is more despised with him than others. And whoever feels shy from himself and people and does not show shyness towards Allaah, then he does not know Allaah well, because man should feel ashamed from whomever he magnifies and should know that He is looking at him and hearing his secret counsel. If someone does not know Allaah, then how will he magnify Him?”

Shyness towards people

Shyness towards people is by doing something that the people dislike. The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

البِرُّ حُسْنُ الخلق، والإثم ماحاك في نفسك وكرهت أن يطّلع عليه الناس

Virtue is good conduct, and the sin is that which pricks your heart and you hate that people know about it.” [Muslim]

Shyness towards oneself

 One should feel ashamed to commit a sin or do something wrong when alone or in seclusion. Whoever feels shy from people and does not feel shy from his own self, then his self is more despised with him, than others.

Shyness towards the angels

Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said about ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu), “Shall I not feel shy from whom the angels feel shy?” [Muslim]

This Hadeeth indicates that the angels also feel shy. Moreover, the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The angels are offended by what offends the human being.” [Muslim]

The angels are with us all the time, writing down our actions and utterances. Man should feel shy from them too.

Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) mentions in the Qur’an about the angels who are accompanying us:

وإنّ عليكم لحافظين كراماً كاتبين يعلمون ما تفعلون

“But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of mankind) to watch you, Honorable [in Allaah’s Sight], writing down (your deeds). They know all that you do. [Al-Infitar 82:10-12]

The scholars are in dispute regarding the recording angels, whether they part (leave) the human in certain states or places or not?

Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaimeen (Rahimahullaah) said: “The two angels are always accompanying man in all states as Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’alaa) says in Surat Qaaf (50:18)

ما يلفظ من قول إلا لديه رقيب عتيد

“Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).”

It is said that they leave man when he enters the lavatory (to answer the call of nature), at the time of having sexual intercourse (with one’s wife) and when taking a bath. If these quotations are verified to be true, then we will take them as proofs, otherwise, the ruling remains general, based on the verse of Surat Qaaf.” [Sharh al-Aqeedah as-Safariniyah]

Shaikh Al-Albaani (Rahimahullaah) verified these narrations to be weak, accordingly the ruling remains general.

Shyness towards Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’alaa)

This is the most excellent kind of Hayaa’. Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Show shyness towards Allaah as He truly deserves.” [Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi] This means that man should feel ashamed to do wrong, and should preserve his senses and limbs except in obedience to Allaah.

It should be borne in mind that the greatest and the most  honored Hayaa’ is from Allaah (Azza wa jall), Whose Blessings and Graces we enjoy day and night, and under Whose Hearing and Sight we are. Nothing of our actions or speech is hidden from Him. He (Azza wa jall) said in Surat Yunus:

وَمَا تَكُونُ فِي شَأْنٍ وَمَا تَتْلُو مِنْهُ مِن قُرْآنٍ وَلاَ تَعْمَلُونَ مِنْ عَمَلٍ إِلاَّ كُنَّا عَلَيْكُمْ شُهُوداً إِذْ تُفِيضُونَ فِيهِ وَمَا يَعْزُبُ عَن رَّبِّكَ مِن مِّثْقَالِ ذَرَّةٍ فِي الأَرْضِ وَلاَ فِي السَّمَاء وَلاَ أَصْغَرَ مِن ذَلِكَ وَلا أَكْبَرَ إِلاَّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ

“Whatever you (O Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) may be doing, and whatever portion you may be reciting from the Qur’an, and whatever deed you (mankind) may be doing (good or evil), We are Witness thereof, when you are doing it. And nothing is hidden from your Lord (so much as) the weight of an atom (or a small ant) on the earth or in the heaven. Not what is less than that or greater than that but is (written) in a Clear Record.” [10:61]

Some of the Salaf used to say: “I know that Allaah (Azza wa jall) is watching me, so I feel shy from Him seeing me commit a sin.”

Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says in Surat al-‘Alaq (96:14):

ألم يعلم بأنّ الله يرى

“Knows he not that Allaah does see (what he does)?”

This indicates that if the slave knows that his Lord is watching him, he will feel ashamed of committing a sin.

Ibn ‘Abbaas (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhuma) said: “Committing a sin while being aware (knowing) that Allaah is watching you is a greater sin than the sin itself.” This is because the person did not magnify and honor Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala).

There are some who do not commit wrong deeds in front of people, but when they are alone, they easily commit sins without caring that Allaah sees them.

يَسْتَخْفُونَ مِنَ النَّاسِ وَلاَ يَسْتَخْفُونَ مِنَ اللّهِ وَهُوَ مَعَهُمْ إِذْ يُبَيِّتُونَ مَا لاَ يَرْضَى مِنَ الْقَوْلِ وَكَانَ اللّهُ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ مُحِيطاً

“They hide (their crimes) from men, but they cannot hide (them) from Allaah. For He is with them (by His Knowledge), when they plot by night in words that He does not approve. And Allaah ever encompasses what they do.” [An-Nisaa’ 4:108]

Thawban (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “I know people from among my Ummah who will come on the Day of Judgment with white deeds as (much) as the mountain of Tihamah; Allaah will make them as scattered floating particles of dust.” Thawban said: “O Allaah’s Messenger! Describe them to us, reveal to us their state; we may be one of them while we do not know (or we perceive it not).” He (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “They are your brothers, from your race, they establish the night with prayers like you, but whenever they are alone or in seclusion, they violate the prohibitions of Allaah.” [Reported by Ibn Maajah and authenticated by Al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Targhib wat-Tarhib no. 2346, graded Saheeh]


[1] Ahsaaha means to count them, believe in them, and to comply with them. But he (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not mention them, and the narration which is reported by At-Tirmidhi in which the 99 Names are mentioned, is a weak Hadeeth.

To be Continued…..


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