A Muslim is always sober and modest. Modesty is one of his qualities because, “modesty is part of faith, and the faith is the pillar of a Muslim’s life.” The Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Faith has over seventy branches or over sixty branches, the most excellent of which is the declaration that there is no god but Allah, and the humblest of which is the removal of what is injurious from the path, and modesty is a branch of faith.” (Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah – may Allah be pleased with him).
Al-Hakim recorded on the authority of Ibn `Umar – may Allah be pleased with him – that the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Modesty and faith are indivisible partners. If one of them is missing, the other will also be missing.”
Secret of modesty being part of faith
This is because; each of the two qualities calls unto virtue and prevents evil. Faith spurs the believer to do righteous deeds and to abandon sins while modesty prevents man from being negligent in showing gratitude to his Benefactor and from being deficient in rendering rights to whom they are due. Modesty also prevents a person from doing or saying ugly things to avert being censured.
It is in the light of this that modesty is regarded as a good thing that produces only good things. The Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Modesty brings only good things.” (Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of `Imran bin Husayn – may Allah be pleased with him)
Should a Muslim be immodest and harsh?
Immodesty is to be harsh in sayings and actions; and a Muslim should neither be uncouth nor immodest or harsh. These are characteristics of the dwellers of Hell. Since a Muslim is one of the dwellers of Paradise, then he should neither be immodest nor harsh. The proof for this is the Prophet’s saying, “Modesty is part of faith and faith leads to Paradise; and immodesty is part of harshness and harshness leads to Hell.” (Recorded by Ahmad on the authority of Abu Hurayrah)
Who should be a Muslim’s model in this quality?
A Muslim’s model in this noble quality is Allah’s Messenger, the overall leader of the earlier and the latter generations of human race, Muhammad. He was more modest that even a virgin in her secluded room, as recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Abu Sa`eed Al-Khudri – may Allah be pleased with him), “The Prophet was more shy than a virgin in her separate room. And if he saw a thing which he disliked, we would recognize that (feeling) in his face.”
Should shyness prevent a Muslim from saying the truth?
Modesty should not prevent a Muslim from saying the truth, seeking knowledge, promoting a virtue or preventing a vice. This fact is illustrated by the following Hadith recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of `A’ishah – may Allah be pleased with her – who said, “The Quraish people became very worried about the Makhzumiyah lady who had committed theft. They said, `Nobody can speak (in favor of the lady) to Allah’s Messenger and nobody dares do that except Usamah who is the favorite of Allah’s Messenger. ‘When Usamah spoke to Allah’s Messenger about that matter, Allah’s Messenger said, `Do you intercede (with me) to violate one of the legal punishments of Allah?’ Then he got up and addressed the people, saying, ‘O people! The nations before you went astray because if a noble person committed theft, they used to leave him, but if a weak person among them committed theft, they used to inflict the legal punishment on him. By Allah, if Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, committed theft, Muhammad will cut off her hand. ‘ “ See how modesty and shyness plus his love for Usamah bin Zayd and his father did not prevent the Prophet from rebuking him and saying the truth.
Umm Salamah, mother of the faithful – may Allah be pleased with her – narrated, “Umm Sulaim, the wife of Abu Talhah, came to Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Verily Allah is not shy of (telling you) the truth. Is it necessary for a woman to take a bath after she has a wet dream (nocturnal sexual discharge)?’ Allah’s Apostle replied, `Yes, if she notices a discharge. ‘ “ (Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
In the above Hadith, shyness did not prevent Umm Sulaim from seeking knowledge.
Equally a Muslim should be shy of his fellow humans. He should not expose his nakedness in their presence. He should also not hesitate in giving them their rights nor should he address them in a rude manner. He is shy in front of the Creator by not being negligent in giving his obedience to Him or in showing gratitude to Him for His blessings. This is because of what he knows of Allah’s power over him and His knowledge of everything that he does.
Mu’awiyah bin Haydah – may Allah be pleased with him – narrated, “I said, `Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), from whom should we conceal our private parts and to whom can we show?’ He replied, `Conceal your private parts except from your wife and from whom your right hands possess (slave-girls).’ I then asked, `Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), (what should we do), if the people are assembled together?’ He replied, `If it is within your power that no one looks at it, then no one should look at it. ‘I then asked, `Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) if one of us is alone, (what should he do)?’ He replied `Allah is more entitled than the people that bashfulness be shown to him.”’ (Recorded by Abu Dawud)