Khutba: The character of Islam is … al hayaa, so how do we understand this?

“O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember.” [Al-A’raaf, 7:26] 

The topic of today’s khutba is an essential characteristic of our faith and practise – the topic of hayaa. In English, hayaa may be translated as modesty, shyness, self-respect, bashfulness, shame or honour. The original meaning of Hayaa reflects a believer’s natural state and it refers to a bad and painful feeling accompanied by embarrassment, caused by one’s fear of being exposed or censured for some unworthy or indecent conduct.

Hayaa is an attribute which pushes the believer to avoid anything distasteful or abominable. It keeps him/her from being neglectful in giving everyone what is due upon them, and if for any reason he/she is not able to keep up with his/her commitment then they will feel extremely bad and ashamed about this. The reason being that he/she will have displeased Allaah by breaking a commitment. It is paired with the deen directly with the Prophet(SAW) stating:

Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, every religion has a character and the character of Islam is modesty.” [Sunan Ibn Mājah 4182]

Qurrah ibn Iyas reported: We were with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, when modesty was mentioned to him. They said, “O Messenger of Allah, is modesty part of faith?” The Prophet said, “Rather, it is the entire religion.” Then, the Prophet said, “Verily modesty is holding back the tongue, not the heart, and deeds are all part of faith. They bring gain in the Hereafter and loss in the world: what is gained in the Hereafter is much greater than what is missed in the world.” [Bayhaqi – al-Sunan al-Kubrá 19162, Sahih]

Ibn Umar reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, modesty and faith come together. If one of the two is missing, so is the other.” [Shu’ab al-Imān 7211, Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Suyuti] Hayaa itself is derived from the word hayaat which means life. It is only obvious that when someone has Hayaa in them, they will LIVE a life of Islaam. On the other hand if they do not have Hayaa they are living a life that is Dead islamically but alive according to this dunya.

Abu Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, among the words people obtained from the prophets are this: If you feel no shame, do as you wish.” [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3296]

Ibn Rajab said, “The scholars interpret this saying in two ways. First, that it is a command of caution and warning, meaning if there is no shame, do as you wish, for Allah will repay you accordingly… Second, that it is a command of description, meaning that whoever does not have shame will do as he wishes, for it is shame that prevents evil deeds.” [Jāmi’ al-Ulūm wal-Ḥikam 20]

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Modesty is part of faith and the most modest of my nation is Uthman.” [Tārīkh Dimashq 39916]

Uthman(RA) was one who never worshipped idols before Islam, never drank alcohol and was extremely handsome resembling the Prophet(SAW). Even before Islam, he never came close to zina. He was so modest that even when changing clothes while alone, he would not stand or leave himself exposed. To listen to him, you would have to lean in to hear him. His generosity – he inherited 30m dirhams from his father and he spent freely. He was the first to make hijrah with his family to Abyssinia – he travelled with Ruqayya (Ra), the daughter of the Prophet(SAW). After the passing of Ruqayya(Ra) on the Day of the victory of Badr, he was aggrieved that the connection with the Prophet(SAW) had been severed. The Prophet(SAW) on learning of this married his other daughter, Umm Kulthum, to Uthman(RA) saying “If I had 40 daughters, I would marry them off to Uthman one by one.”

Uthman(RA) was a man of great modesty. A’isha(Ra) reported: Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) was lying in the bed in my apartment with his thigh or his shank uncovered that Abu Bakr sought permission to get in. It was given to him and he conversed in the same very state (the Prophet’s thigh or shank uncovered). Then ‘Umar sought permission for getting in and it was given to him and he conversed in that very state.

Then ’Uthman sought permission for getting in; Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) sat down and he set right his clothes. Muhammad (one of the narrators) said: I do not say that it happened on the same day. He (‘Uthman) then entered and conversed and as he went out.

A’isha asked: Abu Bakr entered and you did not stir and did not observe much care (in arranging your clothes), then ‘Umar entered and you did not stir and did not arrange your clothes, then ‘Uthman entered and you got up and set your clothes right, thereupon he said: Should I not show modesty to one whom even the Angels show modesty? [Sahih Muslim (2402)]

However, it should be noted that modesty does not mean you are a walkover – meek and submissive. Rather, Uthman(RA) was the same who took part in all of the battles other than Badr and Dhat-ur Riqa where he was the deputy of Madinah in the absence of the Prophet(SAW). Also, when the muslims came with the intention of undertaking the pilgrimage, it was Uthman (RA) who was sent alone as an envoy to the Qurayshis. The Quraysh responded, “Go and tell the person who sent you here that he will never be able to enter Makkah and visit the Kaaba. However, if you want, you can circumambulate the Kaaba.“

Uthman (RA) answered them as follows: “I will not circumambulate the Kaaba without the Messenger of Allah.” His hayaa included a deep sense of loyalty and responsibility.

The Qurayshis were disturbed by these words of Uthman(RA) and they held him back for a while. It was this delay that led to the Prophet(SAW) and the Sahaba taking the bay’ah of Ridhwan and on his return, the treaty of Hudaybiyyah was agreed.

Uthman (RA) was also among those who protected and defended the Messenger of Allah by forming a wall of flesh during the Battle of Hunayn.

This shows us hayaa includes courage, leadership and standing for the truth as evidenced in the example of Uthman (RA).

Uthman (RA) was known for his generosity which included giving away 1000 dinars, 50 horses and 100 camels for the Expedition of Tabuk. The Prophet stated the following for this generosity: “None of the mistakes Uthman will do from now on will harm him.“ [Tirmidhi]

So how do we live a life of hayaa?

Hayaa – shame before Allah(SWT)

We should feel ashamed knowing Allah(SWT) sees everything we are doing, especially when alone and out of the view of others.

The best of this is if a believer does, or says, or sees anything wrong or even commit the tiniest sin, they start to feel extremely bad and embarrassed or they feel extreme guilt in their heart. This builds a high degree of self-consciousness and that is what strengthens the believers commitment to Allaah. 

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Be modest before Allah, as is his right.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, surely we have modesty, all praise is due to Allah!” The Prophet said, “It is not so. Rather, modesty before Allah, as is his right, is to guard the mind and what runs through it, to guard the stomach and what fills it, and to reflect upon death and trials. Whoever desires the Hereafter, let him abandon the embellishment of worldly life. Whoever does so has been modest before Allah, as is his right.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2458]

This means thinking about:

  • What we watch or read on social media, Netflix and the internet. Look at the type of shows you’re watching and the kind of books you’re reading. Are they immodest? Are they causing you to lose your sense of shamefulness?
  • What we say: swearing and using inappropriate words when expressing either happiness or grief. Do you use such words? Don’t forget that every word you speak out is going to testify for/against you on the Day of Judgement!
  • How we treat others: we all know we should treat others with respect and kindness and we should consider how we treat our wife or husband, our teenage child, our elders, our parents, our neighbours or colleagues. Treat others like you would want to be treated by others.
  • Who you socialise with: A person will be raised on the day of judgement with his friends and beloved. Ask yourself if you would be happy with their position before Allah(SWT). Ask yourself if this is the type of person you want to be or want to be seen with?
  • The places we spend our time – physical or virtual. Would you be happy if they were published for all to see or is today the day to change?

This recent 5.8 magnitude Pakistan earthquake is a reminder that the earth will be witness about us, just like our own limbs and the angels.

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Allaah sometimes gives the earth permission to breathe, which is when major earthquakes happen; this makes people feel scared, so they repent, give up sins, pray to Allaah and feel regret [for their sins]. When there had been an earthquake, some of the Salaf said: your Lord is warning you. When Madeenah was struck by an earthquake, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with you) addressed the people and said: if there is another earthquake, I will not stay here with you.”

Too modest to do good?

Hayaa should not act as a justification for not doing something or giving up an obligatory act, e.g. being silent or passive in the presence of falsehood or oppression, being ashamed to seek knowledge or read Qur’an. It’s interesting to note how we have no shame in proclaiming our football team, fighting to play PS4 or seeking a promotion at work.

Think carefully about your social media profile and selfies. Is there any holding back when it comes to pictures of abs, biceps or places you have been, own or eat?

Does hayaa mean you dont do anything too public?

There was a drought in Madinah which was the only source of sweet water in the city owned by a Jew named Rummat al Giffari who charged Muslims and other inhabitants of the city if they wished to fetch water which made it very difficult on those who could not afford it. On learning of this need, the Prophet(SAW) asked publicly ““If a believer buys the Ruma Well, he will have a similar well in Paradise.” On hearing this, Uthman (RA) immediately responded and approached the owner offering to buy his well.

Recognising his advantageous position he refused to sell. Uthman(RA) then offered to buy half of the well allowing anyone to fetch water on alternate days. Rummat recognised he would be able to sell and benefit from the upfront 18,000 silver coins and agreed.

Opening it up to everyone, Muslim or not, people would withdraw two days supply on the days of Uthman (RA) and he felt great loss. Recognising his weak position Rummat then asked Uthman(RA) to buy the remainder for 20,000 more dirhams. Although he could have negotiated the kind companion agreed.

Some years later, a Sahabi offered to buy the well from Uthman (RA) but he refused saying someone had offered him much more. The Sahabi kept increasing the, more than doubling the price, but Uthman(RA) gave the same respose. This baffled the Sahabi who asked how much he had been offered. Uthman(RA) replied Allah(SWT), has offered me 10 times the reward for helping the Muslims. Until today, this well is open for all and everyone to fetch water and is the only well which researchers have proven still exists and flows in Madinah since the time of the Prophet(SAW).

Don’t let Shaytaan fool you into holding back from good in public. I have attended many events where even non-Muslims are motivated to give because of the generosity and enthusiasm of Muslims around them. If you doubt your intention, give publicly and then challenge yourself to do more in private as well, so that it doesn’t become an excuse to limit your giving.

Don’t be ashamed by others only

In our social context, we often are ashamed by our children or family members, and this is betrayed by our language “look at so-and-so’s son/daughter”. Its important not to compare yourselves to others and recognise everyone is unique. I read a beautiful statement this week which stated that many people fail at life because they spend their time trying to copy others, not realizing that everyone has a different question paper.

Sadly, some feel that an educated person today is not someone who has studied Allah’s Deen, rather an honourable position is for someone who has attended a prestigious university or gained an academic qualification, regardless of whether that person has bad behaviour and is shameless in their personal or social conduct. Sadly, many politicians are examples of this and the same media that raises them one day, shames them the next.

Everyone from this nation will be forgiven except…

Related to this, don’t expose your own wrongs. We all do things wrong but publicising this wrong whether, its illegal relationships, haram earnings (cars, cash, assets) through drugs, alcohol, gambling or any other sin further amplifies and emboldens Shaytaan and even raises the aspiration of our youth or others to persist and follow this path.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Everyone from my nation will be forgiven except those who sin in public. Among them is a man who commits an evil deed in the night that Allah has hidden for him, then in the morning he says: O people, I have committed this sin! His Lord had hidden it during the night but in the morning he reveals what Allah has hidden.” [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5721, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2990]

What is Shaytaan’s ultimate goal?

What was the worst thing that happened to Shaytaan? Humiliation which led to be him being kicked out. He wants the ultimate revenge by getting human beings to be humiliated.

Surah Al-A’raaf:18 Allah(SWT) said, ‘Get out! You are disgraced and banished! I swear I shall fill Hell with you and all who follow you! Its important to note here that Shaytaans disbelief was his disobedience.

But you and your wife, Adam, live in the Garden. Both of you eat whatever you like, but do not go near this tree or you will become wrongdoers.’ Allah(SWT) told Adam ‘don’t go near the tree’, similarly, we are told don’t go near adultery.

Waswasa means someone who relentlessly – again and again – whispers from behind you. He whispered to both of them. What was he whispering them?

“Satan whispered to them so as to expose their nakedness, which had been hidden from them: he said, ‘Your Lord only forbade you this tree to prevent you becoming angels or immortals,’

And he swore to them, ‘I am giving you sincere advice’ ”

Shaytans ultimate agenda was to remove humanity’s clothes. When dresses get shorter and shorter. When images get filthier and filthier. When the filth industry is worth trillions of pounds. Then Shaytaan sits back and says, I’m accomplishing my goal. Now he would say, I have accomplished what I needed to. Sow’a is referred to in the ayah and it refers to something ugly which is even used in the story of Habil and Qabil and refers to the corpse. Its not our nature to look at nudity but when our nature gets corrupt, then you want to look at nudity. As nudity is called ugliness in the Qur’an.

“He lured them with lies.” This was over a long period of time – dalaa in Arabic refers to slow pulling, like a bucket from a well. He promised them he wanted the best for them – he said wanted them to live in Jannah eternally by achieving something good through this disobedience. Think of your wife and all the good things you can give her here etc.

“Eventually they tasted the tree and their nakedness became exposed to them: they began to put together leaves from the Garden to cover themselves. Their Lord called to them, ‘Did I not forbid you to approach that tree? Did I not warn you that Satan was your sworn enemy?’”

Later in the story after they have sought forgiveness, clothing is a revealed gift to mankind and should not be disregarded. Clothing is a protection for your body; taqwa is a protection for your soul.­­

It was beautifully mentioned a few weeks ago that in international congress that a woman who seeks to cover her immodesty is considered backwards while someone who seeks to remove their clothes is praised. Guarding ones chastity and modesty and the contract of marriage is the way taught by all the Prophets in almost every religion to preserve a positive social fabric.

Narrated on the authority of Anas Ibn Malik (radi-Allaahu ‘anhu), that the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said: “When lewdness is a part of anything, it becomes defective; and when hayaa is a part of anything it becomes beautiful.” [Tirmidhee]

So it is only obvious that Hijab plays an extremely important role in regards to Hayaa. For Hijab prevents lewdness and Hayaa backs this up and then person’s eeman becomes even stronger. So both things work together in a partnership.

To the extent that Aa’ishah (radi-Allaahu ‘anhaa) said that “I used to enter my house where Allaah’s Messenger (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) 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 Allaah that I did not enter it without having my clothes wrapped round me, owing to modesty regarding Umar.” [at-Tirmidhee and Ahmad]

Of course, it’s not a sin to be attracted to the opposite gender – the sin is not controlling it and not exposing yourself and your dignity. Zina of the eyes kills your soul so lower your gaze and keep up your prayer as a reminder that you will stand before Allah(SWT) and answer for everything you have seen and done.

As strong as your temptations and desires are, remember Allah(SWT) is All Powerful.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Faith has sixty to seventy branches, the best of which is to declare there is no God but Allah, the least of which is to remove something harmful from the road, and modesty is a branch of faith.” Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 9, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 35

So how do we deal with immodesty?

“And those who, when they have committed Fahisha (shameless acts) or wronged themselves with evil, (immediately) remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; – and none can forgive sins but Allah – and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.” [Aal-Imran, 3:135]

Imagine you’re doing something shameless, your mother or father walks in on you. Your sister walks in on you or your friends see you do something. How humiliated would you be? How embarrassed would you be? How sorry would you feel? You would feel like scum. You would absolutely feel like scum. But now Allah is saying, “You want to save yourself from becoming shameless?” If you do fall into that act, and it’s inevitable that you will – if it does happen, your remedy for protecting you from next time “dhakaroo Allah” – immediately, they remembered Allah. Immediately.

When you do something shameless, you feel really bad about yourself. When you feel bad about yourself, Shaytaan comes and says, “How are you going to talk to Allah now? What face are you going to show Him? First you do this, and now you think you’re going to pray to Allah? You hypocrite.” And so you say “Yeah, I shouldn’t talk to Allah, I’m scum.” And you become distanced from Allah. And shaytaan succeeds.

When you do something evil, especially an act of shamelessness, something that’s humiliating – you go and ask Allah azza wa jall to forgive, immediately.

And Allah puts a condition. You know, you could become addicted to that. “Yeah, I mess up, I watch this really terrible stuff, and then I ask Allah to forgive me. Ah, I’m pretty sure I’m going to do this next week again….” Allah says: “They didn’t insist upon what they did.”

If you do come back to it – we’re human beings, it might happen. But in your heart, there’s not even the slightest bit of a doubt that you’re abandoning this forever. You’re abandoning it forever.

And maybe you’ve tried before, and you’ve failed. You gave it up, then you went back to it. You gave it up, then you went back to it. You gave it up, and you went back to it. So you start saying to yourself, “Yeah, I’ve done this enough times. Probably I’ll be back to it.” No – you’ve already failed. No matter how many times you’ve failed, you cannot have that attitude. That attitude alone means you are not sorry before Allah.

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