Continued from Hayaa’ – Modesty 


  • 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.

What is al-Ihsan??

أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه فإن لم تكن تراه فإنه يراك  

“To worship Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you.” [Al-Bukhaari]

When Al-Junaid was asked about what would cause modesty and shyness towards Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala), he said: “By appreciating the bounties and favors of Allaah, and then considering your own shortcomings. Thereafter, the situation caused by these two things is known as modesty.”

Al-Qurtubi said: “It is incumbent upon every person (adult) to show shyness to his Creator, by not letting Him see him in positions in which He forbade him. This is because the believer magnifies whom he believes in, and he abstains from shameful acts out of modesty and shyness to Him, so much so, that some would take a bath wearing their Izar (lower garment) and others would not stand up straight, but bend when taking a bath.”

As mentioned in the following Hadeeth of Mu’awiyah ibn Hidah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu):

قلت يا نبي الله ! عوراتنا ما نأتي منها وما نذر؟ قال: ”احفظ عورتك إلا من زوجتك أو ما ملكت يمينك  “  قلت : يا رسول الله! إذا كان القوم بعضهم من بعض؟ قال: ”إن استطعت أن لا يراها أحد فلا يراها “ قال: قلت: يا نبي الله ! إذا كان أَحَدُنا خاليا؟ قال: ”فالله أحق أن يستحيا منه.“ وفي رواية ” فالله أحق أن يستحي منه الناس. “ 

I said: “O Prophet of Allaah! When should our ‘Awrahs be shown and when should they be hidden?” He (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Conserve your ‘Awrah except from your wife or those whom your right hands possess.” I said: “O Messenger of Allaah! What about other people?” He (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “If you can hide it, then no one should see it.” I said: “O Prophet of Allaah! What if one of us was alone?” He (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Allaah deserves to be shown more shyness.” In another narration he (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Allaah deserves more (has more right) that the people show shyness to Him.” [Reported by Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi and it is Hasan]

Also the scholars said: “It is recommended for a person, if he is in seclusion (alone), not to be naked except for necessity, (or to uncover himself without a reason), because Allaah is more deserving of shyness.”

It is recommended to screen oneself from the people while taking a bath. One should feel Allaah’s supervision and His watch over us in secret and in public, because knowing that will lead us to show shyness to Him (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala).

Musa (Moses) (‘Alayhis salaam) was a shy person and was never seen naked. The children of Israel said: “(He does so) because of a sickness in his skin or because he has two bulky testicles.” Once Musa (‘Alayhis salaam) washed his body in a pool, having put his clothes on a stone. The stone moved away with his clothes. He chased the stone while hitting it and said: “My clothes, my clothes,” until he reached a group of Israelites who then saw him naked, and found him the best of what Allaah had created, and so Allaah cleared him of what they had accused him of, and this verse was revealed:

“O you who believe, do not be like those who annoyed Musa and Allaah cleared him of what they alleged, and he was honorable before Allaah.” [Al-Ahzaab 33:69] [Al-Bukhaari]

At-Tirmidhi reported that Ibn Mas’ood (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) said that Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“استحيوا من الله حق الحياء”

“Show shyness towards Allaah as He truly deserves.”

He (‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) said that we said: “Al-Hamdulillah we show shyness to Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala).” The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Not like that! But truly showing shyness to Allaah is achieved by preserving the head and all what it consists (gathers), preserving the belly and all what it contains, and remembering death, and whoever is seeking the Aakhirah (the Hereafter) should leave the adornment of this worldly life. Whoever does all these, then he has shown shyness to Allaah as He truly deserves.” [Hadeeth Hasan, reported by Ahmad, Al-Haakim, Al-Baihaqi, and authenticated by Al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jami’ no. 935]

There is another narration ordering us to show shyness to Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala): Khuzaimah ibn Thaabit (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Feel shy, for Allaah does not feel shy (ashamed) of telling the truth. Don’t have sexual intercourse with women in their anus.” [Authenticated by Al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jami’ no. 923]

Whoever feels shy from Allaah will not openly commit a sin. And whoever does not feel shy from people does not feel shy from Allaah. Therefore, the inborn shyness is praiseworthy in a slave because it prevents him from openly committing evil and wrong actions.

Al-Bukhaari reported that Ibn Mas’ood (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

وإنّ مما أدرك الناس من الكلام النبوة الأولى إذا لم تستح  فاصنع ما شئت.

“One of the sayings of the early Prophets which the people have, is: ‘If you do not feel ashamed, then do whatever you like.’”

This Hadeeth urges and orders us to have Hayaa’, and dispraises whoever leaves it. It also means that the early Prophets encouraged their people to have al-Hayaa’.

  • Shamelessness (personal persistence in committing wrong and evil) is dispraised in every human being.

The Modesty of Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his Companions

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was more shy than a veiled virgin girl. [Al-Bukhaari]

This means that he (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) refrained from doing or saying anything shameful or indecent, and he (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) disliked to see people doing such things in front of him. If he (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) disliked something, the sign of aversion would appear on his face. [Al-Bukhaari]

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would only become angry and take revenge for Allaah’s Sake, when His laws were violated and outraged, and not for his own sake.

Therefore, when Ma’iz ibn Maalik (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) came to the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) confessing to him that he had committed fornication, the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) turned away from him. Again he came to the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying that he had committed adultery and the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) turned away from him again. He came to the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) for the third time and the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) turned away from him because he wanted him to repent to Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala). When he came for the fourth time, the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) discussed it with him and said: “Are you mad (insane)? He said: “No, O Messenger of Allaah.” The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do you know what adultery is?” He replied, “Yes. Adultery is when a man has illegal sexual intercourse with a woman as a husband does with his wife lawfully.” Then the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked: “Perhaps you kissed or touched her or looked at her.” He replied, “No, O Allaah’s Messenger.” Then the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked more details about this matter. He (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Are you married?” He replied, “Yes.” Then the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Take him away and stone him to death.” [Al-Bukhaari]

This Hadeeth explains that a judge must make a thorough investigation prior to passing a verdict and prescribing punishment, lest someone should be deprived of his life due to some judgmental error.

This Hadeeth also indicates that one should never be ashamed of the truth. This is concluded from the attitude of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in asking Ma’iz (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) the questions in detail.

The next person in shyness, after Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), was ‘Uthmaan ibn Affaan (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu). Abu Umamah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

إنّ أشد هذه الأمة بعد نبيها حياءً عثمان

The most shy person of this nation after its Prophet is ‘Uthmaan (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu). [Hadeeth Saheeh, reported by Abu Na’iem, and authenticated by Al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jami’ no. 1564]

In another narration Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

عثمان حيّ تستحي منه الملائكة

“’Uthmaan (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) is modest; the angels feel shy from him.” [Hadeeth Saheeh, reported by Ibn ‘Asakir and authenticated by Al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jami’ no. 3978]

Ibn Siriin, Imaam of the Tabi’een (the followers), used to say that he never looked at a woman in his wakefulness or in his sleep other than Umm ‘Abdullah (his wife). And if he saw in his dream a woman to whom he was not a Mahram, he turned his eye away from her. Even in his sleep he never violated Allaah’s prohibitions.

Examples of Modesty of the Early Women from the Qur’an and the Sunnah

(1) Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) mentioned in Surat al-Qasas the story of Musa (Moses) (‘Alayhis salaam), when he escaped from his people with fear, after killing one of the Israelites by mistake. He went towards the land of Madyan (Midian):

وَلَمَّا وَرَدَ مَاء مَدْيَنَ وَجَدَ عَلَيْهِ أُمَّةً مِّنَ النَّاسِ يَسْقُونَ وَوَجَدَ مِن دُونِهِمُ امْرَأتَيْنِ تَذُودَانِ قَالَ مَا خَطْبُكُمَا قَالَتَا لَا نَسْقِي حَتَّى يُصْدِرَ الرِّعَاء وَأَبُونَا شَيْخٌ كَبِيرٌ

“And when he arrived at the water of Madyan he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: ‘What is the matter with you?’ They said: ‘We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man.’” [Al-Qasas 28:23]

فسقى لهما ثم تولّى إلى الظل فقال ربّ إني لِما أَنزَلْت إلىّ من خير فقير.

“So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: ‘My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that you bestow on me.’” [Al-Qasas 28:24]

فجاءته إحداهما تمشي على استحياء قالت إنّ أبي يدعوك ليجزيك أَجر ما سقيت لنا ( ) فلما جاءه وقصّ عليه القصص قال لا تخف نجوت من القوم الظالمين.

“Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: ‘Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us.’ So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said: ‘Fear you not. You have escaped from the people who are Dhalimun (polytheists, disbelievers and wrong doers).’” [Al-Qasas 28:25]

Allaah, Al-‘Adheem, the Great, described the woman as having a great characteristic, namely her shyness. Allaah did not describe her beauty or any characteristic other than her modesty.

And when she came to Musa (‘Alayhis salaam), she told him briefly that her father was calling him. Why? She did not give Musa a chance to ask. She said, “To give you the reward for having watered our flocks for us.”

The two girls (women) did not stand with Musa thanking him or praising him, asking him about his name or address, etc.

Compare this situation with a similar one that could happen nowadays in our daily lives!

Imran ibn Hussain (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Hayaa’ does not bring anything except good.” [Al-Bukhaari]

In another narration reported by Muslim, Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

الحياء كله خي

“Modesty is all good.”

What was the recompense of the Hayaa’ or the modesty of this woman? Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) gifted her in marriage to the best man on earth at that time, the Messenger of Allaah, Musa (‘Alayhis salaam).

(2) Once Asma’ bint ‘Umais (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha) (the wife of Abu Bakr Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) was talking to Fatimah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha), the daughter of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and Fatimah was absentminded (not listening). Asma’ asked her about what concerned her. She replied that she was thinking of her death or when she would die (i.e. what would happen to her). Of course Asma’ thought that Fatimah was thinking about the agony of death, the grave and its calamity.

Fatimah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha) said to Asma’ (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha), “O Asma’! I feel shy about what is done to women (when they die), putting just a piece of cloth on her, describing her body.” Asma’ (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha) said, “O daughter of the Messenger of Allaah! Shall I not show you something that I have seen in Ethiopia?” Asma’ (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha) brought wet branches of palm tree, bent them and then put a piece of cloth on them. Fatimah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha) said, “How good and beautiful is this way, the women are distinguished from men. If I die, you and ‘Ali (her husband) wash me, and let no one enter upon me.” When Fatimah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha) died, Asma’ and ‘Ali washed her.” [Reported by Abu Na’iem in al-Hilyah, and Al-Baihaqi]

 She felt shy even when she was dead. This is why she advised that the bier on which her dead body would be carried, be covered with bent sticks with a veil over them.

The scholars recommended this way for women because it is more concealing for them. It is said that the first one who was covered in this way was Ruqayyah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha), the daughter of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) (It is not Sunnah in the case of men).

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) gave Fatimah the glad tidings when he told her that she would be:

(سيدة نساء المؤمنين( نساء هذه الأمة

“The best of all the believing women (or the best of the women of this nation).” [Al-Bukhaari]

In another narration reported by Al-Haakim, the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Fatimah is the mistress of the women of Paradise.” [Authenticated by Al-Albaani]

(3) The modesty of ‘Aishah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha), when ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) was buried in her house next to the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and her father Abu Bakr (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) – she entered the room wearing her full Hijab, although ‘Umar (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) was dead.

(4) The story of the black woman:

A black lady came to the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said: “I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allaah for me.” The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said (to her): “If you wish, be patient and you will have (or enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allaah to cure you.” She said: “I will remain patient.” Then she added: “But I become uncovered, so please invoke Allaah for me that I may not become uncovered.” So he invoked Allaah for her. [Al-Bukhaari]

This lady did not ask the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to invoke Allaah for her that she get married to one of the Sahabah or to get any worldly benefit (she could ask that but she did not). She chose Paradise, although remaining sick could destroy her future, no one would marry her, people would laugh at her, etc.

Therefore, Paradise was a recompense for her shyness and modesty.

Compare these pious and righteous women of early times with the women nowadays who:

1-   Leave the proper Islamic dress and Hijab, displaying themselves like that of the times of ignorance (at the very least they humiliate the dress of modesty by making it immodest with a false version of the Hijab).

2-   Mingle/mix with men without necessity.

3-   Compete with men in their jobs, especially in fields which are not suitable and there is no need for women i.e., like factories, companies, etc.

4-   Ask for their “rights” and want to be equal to men in everything.

وليس الذكر كالأنثى

“And the male is not like the female.” [Aal-‘Imran 3:36]

5-   Commit sins openly without being shy in front of Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) (smoking, dancing, singing, etc.). Therefore, because of all this, men have no respect for women nowadays!!

6-   Don’t stay in their houses, although Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) ordered the Muslim women to stay in their houses in Surat al-Ahzaab:

وقرن في بيوتكنّ ولا تبرجن تبّرج الجاهلية الأولى

“And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance.” [33:33]                            

Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) is addressing the wives of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as an honor for them and for us to take them as our example.

Modesty is a particular quality of the woman. An unmarried woman, above all else, is considered to be the embodiment of bashfulness.

Islamic countries have witnessed many curses of western civilization and the worst is the one which has robbed the woman of her modesty, because it is the last protective shield of Islamic civilization which the enemy is consistently sweeping at. They claim that the Hijab is an oppression for the woman, that arranged marriage is an oppression, that the woman should have the freedom to have relations with men before marriage, etc.

May Allaah grant Muslims the insight to avert this wickedness! Ameen.

The means of attaining Hayaa’

1-  The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“إنما العِلْمُ بِالتَّعَلُم وَالحِلْمَ بِالتَّحَلُّم ومن يتحرَّ الخير يُعْطهُ ، ومن يتَّقِّ الشَّرَّ يُوَقَّهُ”

“Knowledge is attained by seeking the knowledge, forbearance is attained by trying one’s utmost to forbear. Whoever searches for the good, he will be granted, and whoever avoids evil, he will be protected.” [Saheeh al-Jami’ no. 2327]

2-  Du’aa: avoiding all what leads to shamelessness such as sin, evil/wrongdoing, evil talk (obscene talk), etc.

3-  Knowing the virtues of Hayaa’; know that Hayaa’ does not bring forth anything except good

4-  Increasing faith in one’s heart

5-  Knowing Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) and pondering about His Names and Attributes

6-  Taking the Messenger of Allaah (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as a good example

7-  Accompanying good and righteous people, because this will lead the person to feel shy from Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala)

8-  Keeping away from the media which calls to shamelessness and evil doing

9-  Trying to pretend Hayaa’ until it becomes one of your qualities

10- Teaching Hayaa’ to our children from childhood

     It is wrong not to teach our children shamelessness, especially the boys, thinking that men should not feel shy. This is a misconception. Also, one should be careful to teach the young girls to wear decent clothing from a young age.


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