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April 12, 2004

by Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain

Assalaamu 'alaikum.

I'll try to keep this short but it's something that has been on my mind for quite some time and I felt that I should at least write something regarding it. The topic is modesty and whether any of us even try to abide by it. Modesty does not only have to do with the clothes we wear but it should define our whole character - from what we wear to how we talk.

Allah says in Surah Luqman, "And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loveth not any arrogant boaster. And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass." (31:18,19) Yet how many of us walk around as if we think we own the land on which we walk? Or when we speak, we speak as if everyone's deaf? And it goes much further than just walking or talking, modesty, haya in Arabic, is one of the signs of Islam. The Prophet (saw) spoke alot about modesty but in one hadith in the Muwatta of Imam Malik (r.a), he said that, "Every deen has an innate character. The character of Islam is modesty."

Unfortunately though if someone would look at the Muslims, he or she would not know that we are Muslim because for the most part, our characters don't portray Islam. Remember that during the time of the Prophet (saw), most people came to Islam based on the Prophet's and his companions' characters. Their words held so much meaning because their actions backed them. Today, when we talk about Islam and its "middle nature" and all that is good in it, the non-Muslims fail to see those ideals in our lives and thus our words don't hold alot of meaning. However let's just focus on the Muslims and our actions and interactions with each other.

Most of us have lost respect for long-standing traditions within Islam that have been present since the early days of the Deen. We don't respect scholars, we don't respect masaajid and we don't respect each other. We think that if we know one Ayah or one Hadith, that automatically makes us a scholar and we can refute anything else we hear. Yet, why do we fail to realize that if something does not appear in that which we know, it may be there in that which we DON'T know? Just because we haven't "heard" of something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist; maybe we don't know about it? Everything doesn't start or end with us, I hope we realize that by now. As for interacting with each other, there should be a sense of haya when brothers are with brothers as well as when sisters are amongst each other. When we talk, it shouldn't always be about marriage or how this sister looks or that brother is, it should be beneficial for our iman. Besides going to halaqas however, how much of our talk with each other is of ANY benefit to any of us?

Haya is also how we dress as stated before. Just wearing a hijab doesn't mean that sisters are 'muhajjaba', hijab has to do with one's whole appearance and character. My cousins, who don't wear hijab, don't like girls who wear hijab because they say they are all hypocrites. From the outside they appear 'religious', as they say, but their characters leave alot to be desired. The same goes with brothers and their beards. The bigger the beard doesn't necessarily mean the more religious the brother. Many brothers without beards have better character than those with a beard. This in no way is undermining the beard or the hijab, it's just showing, at least I hope, that our actions don't really portray 'modesty'. As far as the clothes we wear - most of our clothes portray arrogance, not modesty. Dressing neatly and nicely doesn't mean we go out to the most expensive store and buy the most expensive and brand name clothes. However, guys wearing jeans three sizes too big is not considered modesty and neither is girls wearing clothes showing off their body.

As far as not respecting scholars and masaajid, surely we have all seen cases for both. People come to the masjid, and talk away in the musalla as if it's a community hall. There are others who are focusing on their prayer and their 'ibadah and if they are kind enough to let us continue talking, doesn't mean we do so. Case in point of that is Jumu'ah. As soon as the Imam says salam, the talking starts like the people are in a market; forget about disrespecting the others present, we are disrespecting Allah when we do that. Surely we don't go to the house of Allah to just yap away and not focus on our deficient 'ibadah?

Disrespecting scholars has become very apparent in modern times. It goes along with what I said earlier about us thinking that we know matters about Islam. Instead of just bashing this scholar or that scholar, we should research and see from where the person is getting his or her information. If there are faults in the sources, then we might have something to complain about, otherwise I don't think we have the right to say anything. Many times we have issues with the person on a personal level and so we try to persuade everyone else to not take anything from him or her. Difference of opinion is a blessing for this Ummah but that does not mean we have to argue, debate and slander the other party.

This article has been long enough and so I just want to conclude by saying that we have to really look at ourselves and see whether our actions and our words portray modesty or not. If they do, then Alhamdulillah we should keep trying to improve ourselves and if they don't, then we must figure out what we are doing wrong and fix it InshaAllah.

Anything correct that I have said is from Allah, the Merciful and all that is incorrect is because I know nothing.

Wassalaamu 'alaikum
'work in this life as if you'll live forever, prepare for the Hereafter as if you'll die tomorrow'

of and relating to...
Nadia said

Mashallah, a well-written article. It is true, Muslims are in dire need of modesty.I think the situation will greatly improve if each of us is concious of ourselves, our words and actions. May Allah bless all of us with Haya along with theHidaya :) Ameen.

on April 12, 2004 2:09 PM
Faisal Akhtar said

"Difference of opinion is a blessing for this Ummah but that does not mean we have to argue, debate and slander the other party."

A brother once told me that there was a hadith with this subject that difference of opinion is a blessing but I was unable to find the source. If you know the source, please let me know because I was unable to find it. JazakAllahKhair

on April 12, 2004 4:24 PM
Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain said

you can go to this website:


there are many "differing opinions" on this hadith :)

imam suyuti has mentioned it in his books and imam bayhaqi mentioned it in his book

'work in this life as if you'll live forever, prepare for the Hereafter as if you'll die tomorrow'

on April 12, 2004 4:57 PM
Saima said

Masha'Allah, a great reminder.

on April 12, 2004 6:24 PM
Zeina Saymeh said

Assalamuailikum wR wB
So this issue of "nonhijabis" feeling intimidated by "hijabis" is ongoing. Most nonhijabis I know say that it is a big step to put on hijab and they aren't ready for it, because they see us hijabis acting all high and mighty once we put it on, so ultimately they dont think it is a level they can reach or it isn't a level that is yet appealing to them. I also see many hijabi girls looking down upon nonhijabis but subhanaAllah when u see the way some hijabis dress versus some non then u would sometimes wonder why they are the ones wearing it. I think this is something we as hijabis need to work on, and as the article states "hijab has to do with one's whole appearance and character." JazakAllahum Allahu Kheirun.

Zeina Saymeh

on April 13, 2004 1:17 AM
Zeina Saymeh said

Just wanted to correct myself in the post above...
Jazakum Allahu Kheirun...sorry really bothered me.

on April 13, 2004 1:26 AM
Justoju said

Excellent work, bro IMSH.

I shall leave the haya comments to those that are best entitled to speak about it...

on April 13, 2004 1:51 PM
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on April 13, 2004 7:40 PM
Shafaq said

Mashallah, very nice article, comes from the heart and depicts the truth. My dua is that all Muslims take actions upon these words and illustrate the true characteristics of a Muslim throughout the world, Inshallah. JazakAllahKhair.

on April 14, 2004 4:05 PM
hina ghani said

alumdulilAllah a great reminder and neverthless a beautiful artile..may Allah keep us on the right path...

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on January 14, 2007 1:39 PM
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