Islam is the perfect code of life. It provides complete guidance in all spheres of life and teaches man how to conduct and how to fulfil his worldly and deeni needs. Islam advocates respecting human rights and promotes sublime conduct when interacting with the creation. In aspects of honesty, trustworthiness, kindness to parents, respect to elders, and decency in manner, speech and dressing, Islam is second to none. From among the core values that Islam encourages one to adopt is the quality of Hayaa (shame and respect).
In essence, hayaa (shame and respect) is the stepping stone to acquiring the true morals, values and ethics of Islam. After examining the various laws and injunctions of Islam, whether relating to the domestic, social or economic aspects of one’s life, one will reach the conclusion that the element of Hayaa (shame and respect) forms an integral part of all practices.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said:
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم :لكل دين خلق وخلق الإسلام الحياء (موطا إمام مالك رقم 1610)
Every religion has a distinguishing characteristic, and the distinguishing characteristic of Islam is Hayaa (shame and respect).
In a humble attempt to promote hayaa, this series in future will be dedicated to this topic. It is hoped that, Insha Allah, it will make us more conscious of the various aspects of shame and modesty. May Allah Ta’ala enable us to truly adopt hayaa in every facet of our lives. Aameen.
The Mubaarak lifestyle of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was an embodiment of Hayaa (shame and modesty). From his ibaadat to his eating, sleeping, interacting and even attending the call of nature, every action portrayed the highest levels of shame and modesty. In every dimension of his Mubaarak life, he ensured that the desired degree of Hayaa was never compromised. On one occasion Hazrat Asmaa (Radiyallahu Anha), the respected sister of Hazrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha), entered the home wearing a thin garment. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) disapproved of this type of clothing for the women of his ummah and immediately corrected her. He explained to her that the entire body of a woman should be covered in a manner that together with the cloth being non-transparent, even the shape of the body should not be discernible. (Sunan Abi Dawood #4106)
This lesson of Hayaa, taught with respect by the master (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), was so deeply entrenched in the heart of Hazrat Asma (Radiyallahu Anha) that it remained with her till the end of her life. Hence, it is reported that when she reached old age, her beloved son Hazrat Munzir bin Zubair (Radiyallahu Anhu), after returning from Iraq, sent her a cloth as a gift which was of very fine and superior quality. She had lost her sight, and so held the fabric in her hand feeling it carefully. Then with disappointment she said: “Return the gift to him.” When the cloth was returned to Munzir (Radiyallahu Anhu), he was hurt at this. He came to Hazrat Asma (Radiyallahu Anha) and said to her: “O my mother, the cloth is not transparent! (Hence, it is fine for you to wear).” Hazrat Asma (Radiyallahu Anha) replied: “Even though it is not transparent, however due to it being tight, it will still reveal the shape of the body.” He thereafter bought for her common garments made in Marw and Quhistaan. She accepted them saying, “It is these types of garments that you should give me to wear.” (Attabaqaatul Kubra li ibn Sad, pg. 199)
One can well imagine what will be the response of our beloved Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) if they were to witness the tight fitting and body revealing clothing worn by the Muslim women of today.
Honesty, trustworthiness, kindness to parents, respect to elders, decency (in manner, speech, dressing, etc.) and a host of other basic values are cherished by one and all. The reality, however, is that such values are gradually becoming rare and extinct. While there could be many factors which cause this lamentable situation coming about, one of the main factors is definitely the erosion of Hayaa (modesty and shame). This is clearly understood from the Hadith: “If you have no shame, do as you wish” (Bukhari #3483).
It is often witnessed that one who lacks shame is prepared to stoop to any level – no matter how low – in order to achieve what he wishes. He will shamelessly lie, shamelessly disrespect elders and seniors, shamelessly abuse his own parents, behave shamelessly, dress shamelessly, etc. In fact, if hayaa (shame and respect) is totally eradicated, one’s Imaan is in grave danger. One will be prepared to even forego his Imaan in order to acquire his goal. The reality of this is clearly evident in the many cases where, after becoming involved in illicit relationships, people have given up their Imaan merely to marry the non-muslim they have fallen in love with. Thus we find shamelessness, which led to the illicit relationship taking place, eventually resulted in the loss of Imaan!!! Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) has declared in his Mubaarak Hadith: “Imaan and hayaa are companions. When one leaves, the other follows.” (Bayhaqi #7331)
In this era of fitna, almost everything is calculated and designed to destroy hayaa. From the media to dressing styles, from chocolate wrappers to billboards, everything is vigorously promoting shamelessness and obscenity. The only security and protection a believer possesses by which he will be able to save his Imaan and respect is to increase the levels of hayaa in his life. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Hayaa is an integral part of Imaan.” (Ibn Maajah #58)
Every human being is born with several basic needs. Among the basic needs is the need for clothing. Allah Ta’ala declares: “O children of Adam (Alayhis Salaam)! We have sent down to you clothing to cover your nudity as well as adornment for you, and the garment of piety is the best (7:26).” By mentioning the aspect of covering before the aspect of adornment, the Qur’an-al-Kareem impresses upon us that the primary object of clothing (i.e. to cover one’s satr) is more important than its secondary benefits (i.e. adornment). Hence, if the clothing does not adequately cover one’s body, causing part of the satr to remain visible, then such a person, though clothed, will be regarded as naked in the eyes of Shariah. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has prophesized the coming of such crucial and critical times in the ummah where women will be clothed yet naked.
Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radiyallahu Anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “There will be two groups (in my ummah) who will be punished in Jahannum whom I have not yet seen (i.e. they will emerge after my demise). One group will carry whips with them resembling the tails of cattle, with which they will (oppressively) lash the people. The second group will be those women who will wear clothes yet will still be naked (i.e. they will wear tight fitting or flimsy clothing), they will attract men towards themselves, and they themselves will be inclined towards men, their heads will resemble the humps of the Bukhti camels (i.e. they will wear buns which will be high like camel humps). They will neither enter Jannah nor smell its fragrance despite its fragrance being perceivable from a great distance away. (Saheeh Muslim #2128)
Shariah has provided extensive guidelines in regard to the description of the clothing a woman should cover herself with.
1. The clothing must provide cover for her entire body, otherwise in the eyes of Shariah they will not be worthy of being called “clothes.” It is compulsory upon a woman to cover her entire body and hair (with the exception of her hands till her wrists and feet) before non-mahrams (strange men).
2. The clothing must be such that it should neither be transparent nor should it reveal the shape of the body. Hence if the clothing is tight-fitting to the extent that the shape of the satr is discernable, such a woman is also included in the description of being “clothed yet naked.”
3. When leaving the home, a woman should ensure that the laws of hayaa and modesty are maintained. The Hadith commands that she should dress in an unattractive manner, should not apply perfume and she must don the niqaab. It is a fact of life that there exists a basic natural inclination towards the opposite gender. Wearing attractive clothing further incites such inclination which leads to fitna.
4. The type of clothing that is essentially for one gender should not be worn by the opposite gender. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “Allah Ta’ala has cursed those men who imitate women (in dressing, etc.) and those women who imitate men.” (Tabraani #4003)