Modesty and shyness play a special part between the affairs of the Creator and the created. All prophets and Messengers encouraged modesty, as the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said:
“Indeed from the teachings of the first prophets which has reached you is, ‘If you do not have shyness, then do as you please.”
Modesty as a sense of shame or shyness in human beings is a shrinking of the soul from foul conduct, a quality that prevents one from behaving badly towards others or encouraging others to behave badly towards you.
Islamic ethics considers modesty as more than just a question of how a person dresses, and more than just modesty in front of people; rather it is reflected in a Muslim’s speech, dress, and conduct: in public when in regards to people, and in private in regards to God.
Any talk of modesty, therefore, must begin with the heart, not the hemline, as the Prophet SAWS said, ‘Modesty is part of faith,’ and that part of faith must lie in the heart.
Take reservation in speech. As with everything in Islam, speech should be moderate. Raising one’s voice in venting anger simply shows one lacks the ability to contain it, and only damage will ensue from it.
Uncontrolled anger, for example, can lead one to verbally abuse and physically assault another, both of which take off the veil of bashfulness one is endowed with, exposing the shameful ego within.
A strong person who believes feels shy in front of God and His creation, since God knows and sees everything. He feels shy to disobey his Lord and feels shame if he sins or acts inappropriately, whether in private or public. This type of modesty is acquired and is directly related to one’s faith, where one’s awareness of God increases one’s “shyness” in front of Him.
The Prophet SAWS demonstrated this shyness in front of his Lord in the occasion when he met Allah SWT.
If we recall the story of the time when the prophet SAWS went to the Heavens and during that blessed night he was talking to Musa May Allah be pleased with him.
It was he who recommended he goes to reduce the number of prayers per day, as when our beloved Prophet SAWS first met Allah SWT, he was commanded to instruct his ummah to pray 50 times a day.
Each time Musa, may Allah be pleased with him, advised the Prophey SAWS to go back to Allah SWT and ask for a reduction in prayers. As we know, at the end, when the prayer count had been reduced to 5, Musa advised the Prophet SAWS once more and the Prophet SAWS said “No I cant go back I have become shy from my Lord”.
Dear brothers and sisters, not only is this an example of the reminder for today but we should also be grateful that this event ended with the count of prayers being 5 daily and the reward for these 5 prayers remaining at the original 50. Allahu Akbar.
Islam is a religion that ought to be identified by its modesty. The Prophet SAWS is known to have said that:
“Every religion has its distinct characteristic, and the distinct characteristic of Islam is modesty.’”
And so, the way to develop modesty is to think about whether you would do the deed they are contemplating in front of their parents. A person with a shred of shame in their heart will not commit any lewd act in front of their parents.
So the question then ought to be: Is Allah SWT not much worthier that such acts not be done in His sight? Therefore, Islam considers that the modesty of a believer in front of God must be greater than in front of people. This is shown in the saying of the Prophet when a man asked him about remaining naked in the house while alone. The Prophet responded:
“God is more deserving than other people of shyness.”
Dear brothers and sisters, modesty can therefore be seen as the means by which morals and ethics in society are maintained and pursued. Shyness from people and society may be a reason to be modest, but this modesty will not remain due to the fact that what is immodest one day in a secular society may be totally acceptable in another.
Therefore, the key to modesty is knowing that God is aware of what you do and shying away from that which He forbids. God only desires what is best for us. So to seek what is best for us is to submit to what He has in mind for us. The only way to properly know what that is, is to believe in what he sent down to us through His Prophet, Muhammad SAWS and to embrace the religion (Islam) that His Messenger brought us.