Prophet Muhammad (SAW) the Modest:

Our Inspiration

By Mona Ayad

The House of the Holy Prophet Muhammad pbuh-MAROOF PEER.mp4

Modesty has a much broader meaning in Islam than it does in other circles. It is difficult to relate to the level of modesty Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had in this day and age. What is clear to see is its importance in living a pious, healthy life. By watching politicians and entertainers "fall from grace," as they say on the news programs, we sense the lack of modesty around us. The one virtue that would have protected these people from scandal is modesty. Modesty is an attitude which one develops in order to overcome temptation, the lack of which ruins careers and families. Modesty safeguards human dignity. This is why the innate character of Islam is modesty. It is important for both men and women to have modesty. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) led the way from darkness to light with his incredible expression of modesty in his daily interaction and behavior. In spite of his (SAW) high noble position, he was most humble and modest. So, it is important to follow his (SAW) guiding light to strengthen this virtue.

It is even more disturbing to see that it is not just the rich and famous who "fall from grace." Immodesty afflicts the overall population, too. In a recent article in USA Weekend , dated Feb. 15-17,2008 "Single and Now A Mom," it is stated that nearly 40% of American babies in 2006 were born outside of marriage. What an alarming statistic! If this is the end result of immodesty, then modesty must yield a different result. Aside from the social burden society bears for each fatherless child, the injustice done to the child is tremendous. Each child deserves the right to know who is father is. Each father should be sure who his child is in order to assume responsibility for his children. Modesty keeps childbearing until after marriage. This is the only way to preserve the rights of children and fathers. The article also states that about half of unwed mothers live with boyfriends. Of course, this increase in cohabitation usually will result in pregnancy. The dangerous trend is that people feel less compelled to marry, while others are postponing marriage. Most people are not remaining celibate as they postpone marriage. So, even postponing marriage in many cases leads to immodesty and sin. The article also mentions that some women deliberately have babies out of wedlock for fear of developing fertility problems as they wait for the right man to come along. The travesty is that some women are more afraid of marrying the wrong man and experiencing a divorce than of being an unwed mom. Another statistic is that more than 80% of babies delivered by teen mothers were born outside of marriage while nearly 60% of those delivered to women ages 20 to 24 were out of wedlock. The social cost of this immodesty is tremendous. The only way to stop this outrage is to implement modesty is our lives. If we do not like the result, we must change the behavior! It is not reasonable to think that we can emulate this wrong action and escape its consequences. Will we allow ourselves to become part of this statistic? Do we have to learn the hard way?

Modesty, or hayaa in Islam, has another dimension. It is the opposite of shyness, which is the result of weakness. If properly developed, it gives a person the strength to appreciate himself too much to stoop so low as to commit sin. One gains self respect, which keeps the person in check at all times; it is when the soul does not want to be humiliated in front of Allah or in front of others. When modesty dies, the heart dies. When that happens, all sins become shameless and, therefore, doable. Our Prophet (SAW) actually affirmed that modesty is a branch of faith which leads to goodness. This opens the door to other virtues, and manners.

The attitude of modesty should manifest itself in our behavior by reminding us that Allah is watching us. In doing so, we will feel ashamed to commit sin in front of Allah. Naturally, it would follow that this feeling would manifest itself in front of other people, as well. Having modesty is expressed in many ways externally and internally. One aspect is wearing proper clothing. Men and women are required to cover certain parts of their bodies as a way to protect their dignity, chastity and reputations. Allah orders both men and women to lower their gaze.

Tell believers to avert their glances and to guard their private parts; that is purer for them. Allah is informed about anything they may do. Tell believing women to avert their glances and guard their private parts, and do not display their charms except what normally appears of them (Quran: An Nur 24:30-31).

It all starts with that first look. So, lowering on′ gaze can prevent many evil acts. Internally, modesty can be observed by not viewing lewd, crude, vulgar, pornographic, or other illicit material. Modesty is not just limited to sight. Unlawful touching between members of the opposite sex is sinful. All conduct should be dignified and formal so that men and women are treated with respect. Needless to say, modesty is more that a set of rules; it is an entire attitude.

Prophet Muhammad ( SAW) said that modesty, or hayaa, have been paired together. If one is removed, the other is removed. So, every Muslim should evaluate his behavior for the presence of modesty - this will indicate his level of faith. A modest person brings benefit to others and never harms anyone with words or deeds. He is always conscious of the presence of Allah. It is modesty which separates the pious or righteous from the sinful. Will we choose modesty to keep us on the straight path? Will we allow ourselves to be humiliated in front of Allah? One thing is for sure: the path of immodesty is a slippery slope which leads downhill all the way. Will we learn before it is too late?