Sunday 30 June 2024

Why Islam gives so much emphasis on Modesty " Hayā حياء "

Modesty is the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities. (She accepted the award with modesty). It is also the propriety in dress, speech, or conduct (like "the young man was known for his modesty".) When it comes to women, modesty is known as demureness, is a mode of dress and deportment which intends to avoid the encouraging of sexual attraction in others. The word modesty comes from the Latin word modestus which means 'keeping within measure'. It is genrally observed that most of the ills in our societies are due to non adherence to a code of conduct due to which the entire personality of a person, both within and without. 

While the term "Haya" is not explicitly mentioned in the Quran, the principles and behaviors associated with it are emphasized throughout. The Quran encourages modesty, chastity, and humility, which are core elements of Haya. The hadiths further reinforce the importance of Haya as an integral part of faith, illustrating its significance in the daily lives of Muslims. Quran promotes principles and behaviors that embody the essence of Haya, such as modesty, chastity, and humility. It is for this purpose much emphasis is laid on avoid gazing bodies of other men and women, for such lusty gazes invites the evil ro mislead man and women, as was Adam and Ever were enticed in the Heavens to disobey Allah and thus lured them to fall into his evil trap. It is said in Qur'an :

(O Prophet), enjoin believing men to cast down their looks and guard their private parts.30 That is purer for them. Surely Allah is well aware of all what they do. (Surah 24 An Nur:30) 

As women too have been duly cautioned too:

And enjoin believing women to cast down their looks and guard their private parts and not reveal their adornment except that which is revealed of itself, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their husbands, or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or of their own sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or the sons of their brothers,41 or the sons of their sisters,.... (Surah 24 An Nur:31)

    * You may detailed explanation of the above said verses in our exegesis / tafsir of Surah An Nur

Prophet Muhammad صَلَّى اللّٰەُ تَعَالٰى عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, too has emphasised the need to observe modesty and Haya:

In a Hadith he has been quoted as saying: When you do not have modesty, so do whatever you want. (Sahih Bukhari, vol. 2, pp. 470, Hadith 3484) 

It is narrated by Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "Modesty is a branch of faith." (Reference: Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 56

It has become obvious that one of the reasons for avoiding any evil act is modesty.

As stated above, when one is immodest, Satan and his associated entice such men, and women, to push aside barriers that differentiate between modesty and immodesty, and enter the domain of lewdness - something highly detested by Allah.  

Thus, in Islam, modesty, or "Haya" in Arabic, is a comprehensive concept encompassing both inner and outer aspects of a Muslim's life. It involves modest behavior, speech, dress, and overall demeanor. Modesty in Islam is considered a virtue that reflects a person's faith and piety. 

The concept of modesty is addressed in Islamic teachings from many angles. In physical terms, modesty is connected with the awra', an Arabic term meaning 'inviolate vulnerability' (El Guindi 1999:142), or 'what must be covered' and consisting of the private body parts of a human being. Here’s a detailed exploration of what modesty means in Islam:

Inner Modesty

Modesty in Faith and Actions: Fear of Allah: Inner modesty involves having a strong consciousness of Allah (taqwa) and being mindful of His presence in all actions.

Humility: It includes humility and avoiding arrogance. A modest person acknowledges their own faults and strives to improve them, seeking Allah’s guidance and forgiveness.

Self-Respect and Dignity: Self-Control: Inner modesty is about self-control and avoiding sinful behaviors. It encourages one to restrain from actions that might lead to immorality or immodesty.

Outer Modesty

Modesty in Dress:  Islam has fixed the standards of modesty for both men and women. For men, the minimum amount to be covered is between the navel and the knee. For women who are in the presence of men not related to them, they must cover their bodies except for their face, hands and feet. Some go to extreme of covering face with only eye visible, but most scholars do not agree with this extra precaution.  It is therefore haram to look at the awrah/satr/private areas(navel of others. If someone's awrah is exposed in front of you, it is your duty to look away and protect your gazes.
For Women: Women are instructed to dress modestly, covering their bodies in a way that does not attract undue attention. This is outlined in Surah An-Nur (24:31) and Surah Al-Ahzab (33:59). Though they can take off your hijab when you are in privacy, such as in their own home, bedroom, or bathroom. This allows them to be comfortable and free in their personal space without worrying about anyone seeing them.
For Men: Men are also required to dress modestly, covering their bodies from the navel to the knees as a minimum standard, and to avoid wearing tight or transparent clothing that reveals their body.

Modesty in Behavior:

Lowering the Gaze: Both men and women are commanded to lower their gaze to avoid looking at things that may lead to sinful thoughts or actions (Surah An-Nur 24:30-31).

Interactions with the Opposite Gender: Modesty in interactions includes maintaining a respectful and professional demeanor, avoiding unnecessary physical contact, and being mindful of privacy and boundaries.

Modesty in Speech: Respectful Communication: Modesty in speech involves speaking kindly, avoiding vulgar or offensive language, and not engaging in gossip or slander.

Truthfulness: Being honest and avoiding lies is part of maintaining modesty in speech.

Modesty in Islam, thus, is a multifaceted concept that includes inner qualities like humility and self-respect, and outer expressions such as modest dress, behavior, and speech. It reflects a person's commitment to their faith and their awareness of Allah’s presence in their lives. Modesty helps to maintain social harmony, protect individual dignity, and foster an environment of respect and morality.

May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 

وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

Photo | references: | 1 | 2 | 3 |

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