“On the authority of Abu Masood Uqbah ibn Aamr Al-Ansaari, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘From the words of the previous prophets that the people still find are: If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.’” (Recorded in Bukhari)
Abu Masood al-Badri (r) was a well-known Companion of the Prophet (s). He gained his kunya ‘al-Badri’ because he lived close to the place of the Battle of Badr. He (r) was from the tribe of Khazraj, of the Ansaar of Madina. He (r) was the youngest of the seventy people who took part in the Second Oath of Allegiance to the Prophet (s). He fought in the Battle of Uhud and all sequential battles thereafter and was appointed temporary governor of Khufah. He died forty years after the Hijrah and was responsible for narrating 102 hadith, 9 of which are found in both Bukhari and Muslim.
“From the words of the previous prophets that the people still find are: If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.”
This hadith shows us that statements concerning the virtues of modesty are something we find passed on from the earliest of the prophets. We will find that all the laws of the previous prophets agreed upon this principle.
Hayaa, shame or modesty is what keeps a person away from committing sinful acts. If a person has no feeling of shame, there is nothing to prevent them from doing anything they wish. They have no internal mechanism which tells them what is good behaviour and what is bad. In fact, the more a person commits sins, the more their feeling of hayaa is lessened, to the point where it may cease to exist altogether. When a person reaches that point, they do not care what others think of them and their sense of pride may actually come from how ‘bad’ they or others think they are. SubhanAllah you do not have to look far to see the effects of this loss of modesty upon societies. When the sense of shame is lost, alcohol and drug abuse, sex outside marriage, and violent crime increase.
Hayaa is something that every human being naturally possesses. We feel a sense of shame to cover our private parts, that originates from the Prophet Adam (as). It is the attribute that truly distinguishes us from the animals. In general, animals follow their desires or instincts without any feeling of right or wrong. They do not feel shame for their actions. As humans, we have been blessed with the ability and guidance to discern right from wrong, and we will be judged upon it.
Like all natural characteristics Hayaa can be nurtured or stunted through our actions. The more that we realise the presence of Allah (swt) and his blessings upon us, the more the natural Hayaa within us will grow. The more we commit sins and lewd acts, the more it will decrease until it eventually disappears. Let’s remember here that television has many images that lack hayaa and repeated exposure to these things will also decrease both our, and our families level of hayaa. The Prophet (s) said:
“Hayaa is part of Imaan and Imaan is in Paradise. Lewdness is part of hardness of heart and hardness of heart is in the Fire.” (Recorded in Ahmad)
We should realise that Hayaa is a part of our Imaan. The Prophet Muhammad (s) said:
“Imaan has seventy some-odd or sixty some-odd branches. The most virtuous of them is the statement, ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah’, and the slightest of them is to remove something harmful from the road. And Hayaa is a branch of Imaan.”(Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)
It is also an essential characteristic of our religion. The Prophet (s) said:
“Every religion has a particular manner or characteristic. And the characteristic of Islam is Hayaa.” (Recorded in Ibn Maajah)
In order to develop ourselves as believers, we need to cultivate our sense of hayaa. Hayaa in front of the creation, but most importantly, hayaa in front of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) sees everything that we do. We should be as shy towards Allah (swt) in private as we are towards people in public. And with Him (swt) lies the highest reward.
Extracted from Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi (Vol 2) by Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo Pages 799-822