What is Haya?
is derived from the word hayat which means life. This term covers
a wide number of concepts. In English, it may be translated as modesty,
shyness, self-respect, bashfulness, shame, honour, humility, etc.
The original meaning of Haya according to a believer's nature, refers
to a bad and uneasy feeling accompanied by embarrassment, caused
by one's fear of being exposed or censured for some unworthy or
Islamically Haya 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 uncomfortable and ashamed about this.
The reason being that he/she will have displeased Allah by breaking
plays a huge role in the lives of Muslims because it is a very important
part of our Iman (faith/belief). If we do not have any form of haya
within us then it is most likely that our Iman is very weak. For
as it states in the following hadith:
Narrated by Abu Huraira (ra): The Prophet said, "Faith (Belief)
consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And Haya is a
part of faith." (Bukhari)
also learn from the Prophet (saws) the importance of having haya
and how it is not something to be ashamed of, but instead, one should
be concerned and ashamed if they do not possess it within their
Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar (ra): The Prophet (saws) passed by a
man who was admonishing his brother regarding Haya and was saying,
"You are very shy, and I am afraid that might harm you."
On that, Allah's Apostle said, "Leave him, for Haya is (a part)
of Faith." (Bukhari)
the above hadith is also a form of proof that "shyness"
is not just something regarding women but also an attribute that
believing men should have, for it is an indication if their fear
of Allah and an indication of the value of their Deen.
When we think back to when we were young around eight or nine years
old - we all remember this feeling of shyness and humility naturally
occurring - for many it was when we felt we wanted to conceal our
bodies from our mums or siblings. We were often told - "don't
be silly" or "we have seen it all before" and the
many other comments that people in the west or ignorant Muslim parents
affected by the western values (or lack of them) say to their pure
children. If these natural instincts of shyness and shame are taken
by the smart parent and nurtured, it will develop and affect their
entire character and also most importantly lead to a conscious responsible
Muslim who prioritise their life towards submission to Allah (swt).
We often find that shyness, humility and bashfulness is frowned
upon by our society as a weakness or a lack of confidence when,
Infact these are quality of a dignified upright human being, who
is conscious of their actions and their responsibilities in life.
Now to discuss the different types of haya. How many types of haya
Haya' is of two kinds: good and bad:
The good Hayâ' is to be ashamed to commit a sin or a thing
which Allah and His Messenger (saws) has forbidden, and bad Hayâ'
is to feel ashamed to do a thing, which Allah and His Messenger
(saws) ordered to do.
Firstly, to talk about the types of Good haya. For example, anyone
who is a believer, he/she should build their personalities and their
character with the good dimensions of haya. The most important is
that he/she must be shy of doing ANYTHING displeasing to Allah (swt),
with the belief that he/she will have to answer for all their deeds.
If one develops a sense such as this one, it will help the believer
to obey all of Allah's command and to stay away from sins. Once
the believer realises that Allah (swt) is watching us all the time
and we will have to answer to every move we make in this dunya (world),
he/she would not neglect any order from Allah or His Messenger (saws).
So the stronger this sense of haya becomes, the more it motivates
one to make sure that Allah (swt) doesn't see him/her doing anything
prohibited. The way to develop this haya is that one must keep learning
and absorbing more knowledge and applying it to their lives.
Another type of haya is more of a social aspect concerning others
besides Allah (swt). Normally these things often come in regard
with ones relationship with family. For instance, a child not wanting
to do something displeasing to his mother, or a wife not wanting
to do something displeasing to her husband or even a student who
is careful about saying something incorrect in front of his teacher..
Last but not least is the type of haya in which the believers become
shy of themselves. This is when they have reached the peek of their
Iman. What this means is that if they do, or say, or see, 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 Allah (swt)
After discussing the various types of "beneficial" haya,
it is time to discuss the type of haya which is not only against
the teachings of our Prophet (saw) but it is also solid proof of
the weakness of someone's Iman. This negative aspect revolves around
a person's shamefulness or shyness of doing something that Allah
(swt) has ordered us to do through the Qur'an or our Prophet's (saw)
Sunnah. This constitutes the shamefulness or embarrassment of doing
a lawful act or something that is ordered upon us from Allah (swt).
Meaning for someone not to follow an obligation of Islam, due the
fact of being shy in front of others about it. This is totally forbidden
because then one is giving the people of this dunya more respect
than the One who Created this whole universe. It also means if someone
is shy or afraid to seek knowledge of Islam for worldly reasons,
because they do not want others to see them or to know of their
ignorance. This once again goes contrary to what Allah (swt) has
told us in the Qur'an, which is to seek knowledge and preach it
to others. In this society there are many examples. People will
go out an get degrees in law schools, or science, or engineering
and they will put four to six years of their lives studying for
this stuff that will only benefit them in this world. Why? You ask?
Well most likely, in this society people including Muslims, choose
their careers according to how much money they will make and what
status they will have in this society as to being a lawyer or a
doctor etc. They do not realize that in Islam the BEST stature of
a Muslim is that of a "dai'i" or a teacher of Islam.
Islamic teachers and scholars are even higher in the eyes of Allah
(swt) then one who only sits at home and does ibaadah (worship).
If they want to study law, why not Islamic Shariah? If they want
to study science, why not Islamic Science? So this explains how
people consider the worldly careers to be of higher value and are
embarrassed to even express an interest in Islamic Studies. It is
usually because they will not be considered as high as the other
"educated" people. This is having the bad haya or "shame"
of something that is encouraged to us by Allah (swt) and His Messenger
Another proof of bad haya is that which is extremely popular amongst
many sisters in this western society.
One of the most important aspects of haya, for women, is that of
guarding their chastity and their modesty. To do this they must
follow the order from Allah (swt) telling them to keep hidden themselves
and their adornments from all men lawful to them in marriage. Now
this order involves all the aspects of haya for those who do follow
it. The believing and following women are ashamed of disobeying
Allah (swt). They are shy of the opposite gender in this society
because of what they might experience if strange men look at them
and lastly they have haya because they are ashamed of going out
in public and committing this grave sin of displaying their beauty
is public. There are many women in this society who claim that they
have haya but to follow the order of hijab is backwards and that
women in this society shouldn't have to cover, is obviously disbelief.
For if someone really had haya they would never contradict ANYTHING
that Allah (swt) has ordained upon us even if they found it a test
and a trial. A women's haya comes from her modesty and her shyness
and her fear of Allah, so how can she have haya if she walks around
in public un-veiled? Proof lies in the following hadith.
Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said: "Indeed
haya (modesty) and Iman are Companions. When one of them is lifted,
the other leaves as well." (Baihaqi)
There are many verses in the Qur'an and many ahadith explaining
the reasons behind observing Hijab. The Islamic Shariah has not
stopped at giving the Commandments of Hijab, it has also clarified
every such thing which directly relates to these commandments and,
with the slightest carelessness, may result in vulgarity and immodesty.
In other words such things have also been forbidden in order to
close the doors to indecency and lewdness, in return providing a
stronger pillar for haya.
(haya) and maintaining one's honour and dignity are of primary importance
in preserving the moral fibre of any society. This is why modesty
has been called the ornament of a woman, which protects her from
many sins and which prevents ill-intentioned men from daring to
have bad thoughts about her. This haya has been made a part of her
nature to safeguard her from being abused by immoral men.
on the authority of Anas bin Malik, the Prophet (saw) said: When
lewdness is a part of anything, it becomes defective; and when haya
is a part of anything it becomes beautiful. (Tirmidhi)
So it is only obvious that Hijab plays an extremely important role
in regards to Haya. For Hijab prevents lewdness and Haya backs this
up and then person's Iman becomes even stronger. So both things
work together in a partnership. At the time of our beloved Prophet
(saw) as soon as the verses of Hijab were revealed, all the Quraish
and Ansar ran home to their wives and daughters and close female
relatives to tell them to cover themselves. The ones who had veils
used them and the ones who did not have veils made some right away.
For instance the following hadith tells us:
by Aisha (ra): May Allah have mercy on the early immigrant women.
When the verse "That they should draw their veils over their
bosoms" was revealed, they tore their thick outer garments
and made veils from them. And when the verse "That they should
cast their outer garments over themselves" was revealed, the
women of Ansar came out as if they had crows over their heads by
wearing outer garments. (Abu Dawood)
This indicates that all these women wanted to guard their modesty
which is why they followed out the orders of Allah. Yet, another
verse talk about the level of modesty in Aisha (ra):
Narrated Aisha (ra): "I used to enter my house where Allah's
Messenger (peace be upon him) 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." (at-Tirmidhi and Ahmed)
women in today's society choose not to wear the veils, but some
belief in their hearts, than they might be categorised as Muslim
women but not Mumineen. The truth is that Haya is a special characteristic
of a Mu'min ( believing, practicing Muslims). People who are ignorant
of the teachings of the Prophet (saws) do not concern themselves
with Haya and Honour. Haya and Iman are interdependent; therefore
either they both exist together or they both perish. Thus, the Prophet
(saws) has said in one hadith, "When there is no haya left,
then do as you please."
vulgarity and all its ingredients have become a common place even
among well-known Muslims in the zeal of imitating the disbelievers.
It is these people who have been struggling to bring Muslim women
out of Hijab into immodesty and indecency. They have adopted the
lifestyles of the disbelievers more than the traditions of the Prophet
(saws). Such people are in a dilemma. On the one hand, they desire
to freely look at the half-clad bodies of their wives and daughters
of other Muslims on the streets; and on the other hand, they do
not have the courage to deny the teachings of the Holy Qur'an and
the Prophet (saws). Neither can they say they have given up Islam,
nor can they bear to see Muslim women wear Hijab and showing some
Haya. Actually the fact is, indulging in indecency for so long has
killed the sense of modesty (haya) which Islam had commanded them
to preserve. It is this natural desire of maintaining one's honour
which compels men to protect the respect and honour of their women.
What these men and women do not understand is that if the women
do not observe Hijab and do not develop Haya inside of them, they
will be entertaining those who have taken the path of Sheytan. Such
as the following hadith:
b Uhaimir reported that he heard the Prophet (saw) saying that,
"Allah (swt) will not accept any good deeds or worship of an
immodest and vulgar person." We asked "Who is a vulgar
and immodest person?" He replied, "A man who's wife entertains
the word "entertains" implies that she is showing off
her beauty instead of keeping herself covered up. If the Muslim
brothers of today's society knew the benefits of haya and hijab
hey would definitely not tolerate the opposite. At the time of our
beloved Prophet (saws) the husbands could not even imagine their
wives leaving the houses un-veiled let alone go out and beautify
themselves for other men to get "free looks". The following
hadith shows this fact clearly:
by Al-Mughira: Sa'd bin 'Ubada said, "I will not hesitate killing
my wife with a sword if I see her with another man" This news
reached Allah's Apostle who then said, "You people are astonished
at Sa'd's Ghira (self-respect, honour). By Allah, I have more Ghira
than he, and Allah has more Ghira than I, and because of Allah's
Ghira, He has made unlawful shameful deeds and sins done in open
and in secret. And there is none who likes that the people should
repent to Him and beg His pardon than Allah, and for this reason
He sent the warners and the givers of good news. And there is none
who likes to be praised more than Allah does, and for this reason,
Allah promised to grant Paradise (to the doers of good)." 'Abdul
Malik said, "No person has more Ghira than Allah." (Sahih
this should be enough to understand why Hijab is so important for
women to establish Haya in themselves and live the lives of true
mu'mineen. Sometimes the situation becomes a such that people will
have done wrong/sins for such a long period of time that they will
not be able to differentiate between right and wrong. Another way
to put this is that, a person's exceeding indulgence in indecency
results in the loss of wisdom and the ability to see good deeds
from bad deeds. As the Prophet (saw) said:
have a sense of Honour ( a part of haya). Only a person with a darkened
heart is deprived of Honour."
So one wonders
..what if this observing of Hijab and maintaining
Haya is so important then why is it we have nothing to show us the
merits? Well the answer to that question clearly lies in the Qur'an
and ahadith. There are many merits of Haya if one wants to know.
Here are some just to list a few.
Allah loves Haya. We know this by the following hadith: " Surely
Allah (is One who) has haya and is the Protector. He loves haya
and people who cover each others faults."(Bukhari)
Secondly, Haya itself is a Greatness of Islam as our Prophet indicated:
"Every way of life has a innate character. The character of
Islam is haya." Or "Every Deen has an innate character.
The character of Islam is modesty (haya)." (Abu Dawood)
Haya only brings good and nothing else. Our Prophet (saw) said:
"Haya does not bring anything except good." (Bukhari)
Haya is a very clear indication of our Iman. As the Prophet (saw)
had mentioned to the Ansar who was condemning is brother about being
shy: "Leave him, for Haya is (a part) of Faith." (Bukhari)
Fifthly, last but not least, Haya leads us to PARADISE. As the Prophet
saws) told us: "Haya comes from Iman; Iman leads to Paradise.
Obscenity comes from antipathy; and antipathy leads to the fire."
The actual word Haya is derived from Hayat. This means life. It
is only obvious that when someone has Haya in them, they will LIVE
a life of Islam. On the other hand if they do not have Haya they
are living a life that is dead "Islamically" but alive
according to this dunya.
Prophet (saws) said: "Haya and Trustworthiness will be the
first to go from this world; therefore keep asking Allah for them."
conclusion we must understand that Haya is important for both men
and women. Men are to control themselves by getting married as young
as possible or if they cannot afford that, they should fast. Women
are told to conceal themselves so that the men will not be over
taken by the whispers of Sheytan and will not disrespect or take
advantage of the women. There are many verses in the Qur'an that
have clearly explained how we have to behave and Allah is All-Knowing
therefore He knew that we would face these problems living in this
society, and that is no excuse to change Islam and only practice
what we feel is right. Allah (swt) has told men how to guide their
modesty and has told women how to guide their modesty. If either
one of them refuse to follow the commandment of their Lord, may
Allah have mercy on them and may He guide them to the straight path.
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
(Qur'an Nur, 30-31)
PRAISE BE TO ALLAH, AND MAY HIS PEACE AND BLESSINGS BE UPON MUHAMMAD
(SAW), HIS FAMILY, HIS COMPANIONS AND HIS TRUE FOLLOWERS UNTIL THE
DAY OF JUDGEMENT.