Haya’ ~ Modesty

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By Umm Haneef

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When people hear the word Haya’a (Modesty), the next thing most would think is hijab. This is because we have limited the meaning of Haya’a and associated it with hijab only. Islamic ethics consider Haya’a as more than just a question of how a person dresses. Modesty is actually turning away the soul from dishonorable conducts; this is the quality that prevents one from behaving badly towards others. Modesty should be reflected in a Muslim’s speech, dress and conducts both in public and in private.
As believers, we should have Haya’a from Allah by not sinning or behaving appropriately either publicly or privately as Allah knows and sees all. This kind of modesty is directly related to our level of Eeman (faith). The more we know Allah, the more our Haya’a increases.Most scholars agree that modesty is a trait that distinguishes human beings from animals. As we all know, animals have no sense of shame whatsoever and that’s why the less Haya’a a person has, the more he resembles animals.
Islam has set some guidelines which help bring about this sense of modesty and these guidelines range from seeking permission before entering a room to mandating certain manners of dressing for both men and women.

HAYA’A IN DRESSING
This is encouraged in Islam as screening most of your body from the gaze of strangers especially those of the opposite sex helps to prevent falling into inappropriate acts. And Allah has told us covering ourselves only helps us to be honored and safe.
“O Prophet! Tell your wives, and your daughters and the believing women to draw their veils all over their bodies. That is better for them so they may be known and it will be less likely that they would be harmed. And Allah is Ever Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful” {Q33:59}
And we can all agree that a Muslim woman in her hijab is like a pearl in its shell; hidden and protected.
Modesty is therefore the means by which morals and ethics in society are maintained and pursued. The key to modesty is knowing that Allah is aware of all we do and staying away from that which He forbids. 

Points Related to Modesty:
1. Modesty is one of the most honourable attributes and is a consistent virtue found in all the various laws sent down to each prophet and messenger.
2. It is one of the most perfect and desirable characteristics to possess and an excellent state to be in.
3. Modesty only brings good to individuals and is an indication of faith.
4. Bashfulness and shame is in direct opposition to indecency and shamelessness.
5. Modesty is an element of faith, and indecency has no relation to it.
6. Modesty adorns one’s nature and personality and is indicative of his being Islamically cultured and refined.
7. Indecency, on the other hand, shows that one lacks virtues and is uncouth, dishonourable and uncultured.
8. We are obligated to guard ourselves against indecency and from acting indecently or uncultured, as qualified by Islam.
9. We must never misconstrue bashfulness or shyness with cowardice – Islamically they are far from synonymous.
10. Modesty, as mentioned, is a root virtue. One of the fruits of modesty is chastity.
11. There is no modesty when it comes to teaching the laws of Islam or searching for the truth.

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