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Hayaa – The Ummah of Modesty

“Just before she leaves the security of her home, she looks in the mirror at her reflection and ensures she is properly covered in a manner which is pleasing to her Lord. She adjusts her hijab and makes sure it is drawn over her bosom area and then smiles secretly to herself, pleased. As she walks out the door, she draws her abaya close and feels the security and warmth it brings, knowing she is protecting her body from the unwanted glances and stares. He wistfully walks past the many strangers in the streets, who he protects his glances from as he lowers his gaze and smiles secretly to himself, knowing he is obeying his Lord.”

These displays of Hayaa, (modesty, shyness) bring a happiness and contentment from Allah ‘Azaa wa Jal, which only the believers can experience. A happiness found only in the obedience of Allah ‘Azaa wa Jal, during our trying times when modesty is frowned upon and lewdness and lack of shame is praised and held in high esteem.

Hayaa may be translated as modesty, shyness, self-respect, bashfulness, shame, honour or humility. It is an attribute which pushes the believer to avoid anything distasteful or abominable. It is this attribute of Hayaa that causes us as believers to be dutiful to Allah ‘Azaa wa Jal in all of our affairs, being fearful and having shyness towards disobeying Allah by committing sins. Hayaa dictates for us the manner in which we should behave, in the way we should dress, interact with others, and even how we should worship Allah (staying away from sins is also a means of worshipping Allah because we are obeying his commands).

Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  said, “Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And Haya is a part of faith.” [Sahih Al Bukhari]

The importance of Hayaa in our lives is so great, that it is mentioned by Allah and His Rasool in both the Qur’an and in many ahadith. Allah ‘Azaa wa Jal loves those who display this beautiful trait of Hayaa in their lives, not only outwardly but also inwardly. He commands us when He says;

“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. 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..” [Surah An Nur]

How then can we disobey a direct command from our Rabb, Allah, Most High, knowing that when He commands us with anything it is for our own benefit and success? As Muslims, especially for our young Muslim brothers and sisters, we should feel honoured and pleased that Allah ‘Azaa wa Jal has chosen a way or us to be protected and raised in rank by having Hayaa, and not be caught up in the glitter and glamour of society that preaches to us to expose ourselves, our sins and our shortcomings. Are these not the whisperings and deceptions of Shaytaan the accursed? Indeed! Shaytaan wants for nothing more than for us to disobey Allah; and certainly a means of bringing about this disobedience is by placing us in situations and around people who can encourage us to behave in ways completely opposite to the commands of Allah. It is very easy in these times of trials and tribulations especially for our Muslims sisters to want to remove the hijab and abaya to simply fit into society and not be left out. It is easy for our Muslim brothers to want to go to the clubs and the parties, shave their beards and be with the opposite sex just to fit in. However, Allah has promised us better than everything in this worldly life if we obey Him and follow His commands and the Sunnah of our beloved Messenger Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم . Allah ‘Azaa wa Jal said;

“But you prefer this worldly life, while the Hereafter is better and more lasting..” [Surah Al-A’la]

When we look into the Sunnah of our Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم we see many instances where he tells us about having Hayaa and even how the Sahabahs used to have Hayaa – both the males and females alike. For instance, once, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  had mentioned to the Ansar who was condemning his brother about being shy:

 “Leave him, for Haya is (a part) of Faith.” [Sahih Al Bukhari]

Also our Mother, Aisha رضي الله ﺗﻌﺎﻟﯽٰعنها narrated: “I used to enter my house where Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم  was and take off my garment, saying that only my husband and my father were there; but when Umar was buried along with them, I swear by Allah that I did not enter it without having my clothes wrapped round me owing to modesty regarding Umar.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi]

Another beautiful characteristic of having Hayaa is that our Messenger Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم  said that;

            “Haya does not bring anything except good.” [Sahih Al Bukhari]

Subhanallah! How perfect is this command from Allah to have Hayaa? Simply being modest brings us reward, and causes us to attain goodness, once it is done for the pleasure of Allah ‘Azaa wa Jal and not for showing off and to receive praise from others around us. Having Hayaa will bring about goodness for us outwardly and inwardly, thereby making us contented with our lives as a whole. When we have this Hayaa, outwardly our bodies are covered and protected from the evil glances of the opposite sex; it protects our eyes from seeing evil, our ears from hearing evil and our limbs and tongues from going towards and speaking evil. Inwardly, Hayaa will help us to cleanse our hearts from the filth that causes the blackening and hardening of the heart through sins which we deem ‘small and insignificant’; for these ‘small’ sins we will even become too shy to commit in front of Allah ‘Azaa wa Jal.

So beautiful this trait called Hayaa is that it plays a major role in helping us to mold ourselves, cleanse ourselves and beautify ourselves into being the best person we were made to be – the person Allah ‘Azaa wa Jal knows we are all capable of being as true believers, if we follow his commands and follow the Sunnah of His beloved Messenger, Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم .

 

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Umm Hafsah Rumaisah

About

Rochelle Flores (Umm Hafsah Rumaisah), born in Trinidad & Tobago, is a 31 year old stay at home mother of two. She has an Associates Degree in Literatures in English and has studied Islamic studies for a few years at Knowledge International University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She currently writes for a local Islamic periodical newspaper, The Muslim Chronicle


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