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|Modesty, not fear|
|09/03/01 at 02:33:38|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
[center]Modesty, not fear
Dr Muhammad Kamal Al-Shareef[/center]
Shyness and social phobia are negative qualities, while modesty is given a high position among personal virtues. The Prophet has urged his followers to be modest, saying: "Every religion has a special moral trait, and the moral trait of Islam is modesty." (Related by Malik and Ibn Majah). He also says: "Modesty brings nothing but good." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). In another Hadith related by Muslim, he is quoted as saying: "Modesty is full of goodness" (Related by Muslim).
Abdullah ibn Umar, a companion of the Prophet, reports that God's messenger passed by a man from the Ansar admonishing a brother of his concerning his modesty. The Prophet said to him, 'Leave him alone; for modesty is part of faith.' (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
The Prophet is also quoted as saying: "Faith has seventy-odd or sixty-odd branches. The most important among these is the declaration that 'there is no deity other than God,' and the lowest in rank is to remove harmful objects from people's path. Modesty is a branch of faith. (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Modesty was one of the Prophet's characteristics. His companion, Abu Saeed Al-Khudri says: "God's messenger was more modest than a virgin girl in her private room. When he disliked something, we noticed that by the expression on his face." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Indeed the Prophet mentions modesty as a quality of God Himself, as he says: "God Almighty is modest and generous. When a person raises his hands in appeal to Him, He is too modest to let him take them down unanswered." (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawood and At-Tirmithi).
Unlike shyness that manifests low self-esteem and a sense of contempt for oneself, modesty is associated with high self-esteem, and a sense of personal dignity that has not been undermined by wrong upbringing or bitter experience, whether in childhood or adulthood. A modest person has a positive view of himself, and he values his own dignity. He is keen to avoid anything that is likely to detract from his own respect. Shyness may prevent a person from doing many things in the presence of others, while modesty may restrict a person and prevent him from doing what is unbecoming even when he is alone. What he refrains from, then, is what does not fit with his own self-image. It is how he sees himself that matters, not how others see him. He is full of self-respect. Hence, he would not allow himself to do what he feels to be unbecoming, regardless of how other people view it. He has an independent judgment, not merely towing the social line, as it were.
A human being with undistorted nature is modest, because he appreciates his position in God's system of creation. He is inclined to emulate God's attributes, apart from pride and majesty, within the limitation of his human nature. Hence whatever is in conflict with such qualities debases man, because it leads him to do what does not fit with his position as God's honored creature. Thus, modesty stops a person from telling lies, doing injustice, theft, treachery, miserliness, envy and coveting what others have. Modesty may be compared to an inner watch guard which helps us to avoid sinful and unbecoming practices.
The Prophet's modesty has been compared by one of his companions to that of a virgin in her private room. Such modesty is maintained by a virgin because she is naturally keen to maintain her position of self-respect. It is part of a woman's dignity that she should be sought after, not seeking men. Indeed even when she is willing to accept a suitor who has proposed marriage, she may think that a declaration of acceptance could be understood as an eager desire. She is then too modest to express her acceptance in words. She resorts to keeping silent, and her silence is understood to be an acceptance of the proposal.
It is contrary to a woman's dignity that she should be seen merely as a tempting body, paying little attention to the human being that she is. Hence, a woman is naturally inclined to cover her body.
A noticeable characteristic of women who take sex as a profession is that their self-esteem is very low. Hence, they do not find it hard to put themselves in unworthy positions. By nature, a human being is too modest to allow others to look at what he or she considers to be private, whether physical or moral. A human being loves to appear at his or her best. It is divine wisdom that has made human private parts devoid of beauty. Indeed, God describes these as a person's 'shame' or 'nakedness' as in verse 7: 22.
Modesty stops a person from causing harm to others. It is the quality which makes a person behave as a civilized human being, regardless of whether or not he fears punishment. Hence a shameless person is one to be avoided, because he is oblivious to his own and other people's honor. He has nothing more to worry about. Hence the Hadith: "Among the heritage people have received from earlier prophets is the statement: 'if you have no sense of shame, then you may do what you like'." (Related by Al-Bukhari). Al-Bukhari also relates that the Prophet says: "It is right that one should feel more ashamed in front of God than in front of other people."
[i]"Islam in Perspective" - Arab News - 23 October 2000[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
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