Modesty forbids us from the Hellfire

Islamic Modesty

Modesty is an element found within many religions, it is a characteristic aligning with piety and respect. That is not to say that all who demonstrate modesty are pious, unfortunately, many look the part yet they do not act it. Ultimately, the psychology of Islamic modesty and self-respect are important aspects of Islamic character. Therefore, the ones who are down-to-earth and kindhearted might deserve Allah’s heaven. Allah says:

وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِنْ صَوْتِكَ ۚ إِنَّ أَنْكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ

“And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful. And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.” (Surah Luqman 31:12-19)

Modesty does involve the protection of one’s chastity, but this is not the sole intention or benefit of modesty. Modesty and shyness play a special part in the affairs of the Creator and the created. A modest sister or brother avoids arrogant and disrespectful words, they do not boast nor backbite and they maintain a level pattern of speech. Allah says:

وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِأَعْدَائِكُمْ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَلِيًّا وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ نَصِيرًا

“And Allah is most knowing of your enemies, and sufficient is Allah as an ally, and sufficient is Allah as a protector.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:45)

As Muslims, we must be familiar with the concept of modesty. Modesty or usually called Al Hayah means shyness, which might be considered as the state of mind that makes a person feels bashful when they commit doing something hateful or unpleasant. Allah says:

أَئِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ الرِّجَالَ وَتَقْطَعُونَ السَّبِيلَ وَتَأْتُونَ فِي نَادِيكُمُ الْمُنكَرَ فَمَا كَانَ جَوَابَ قَوْمِهِ إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا ائْتِنَا بِعَذَابِ اللَّهِ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ

“Indeed, you approach the men, and you cut off the road and commit in your meetings evil?” And not was (the) answer (of) his people except that they said, “Bring upon us (the) punishment (of) Allah if you are of the truthful.” (Surah Al-‘Ankabut 29:29)

Islam as the religion that is very firm to combat immorality and insolence, occupied the teachings with the appropriate standard of moral and ethical manners. Every religion has the main core of teachings and in Islam, Modesty is what makes Islam different from other teachings. Therefore, any discussion regarding modesty must begin with the purest heart as our beloved Prophet once said, “modesty is a part of faith.” Allah says:

لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا

“Certainly, is for you in (the) Messenger (of) Allah an excellent example for (one) who has hope (in) Allah and the Day the Last, and remembers Allah much.” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:21)

The modest ones are the dwellers of heaven. Why do modest people become the real dwellers of heaven? It is because of the modesty that prevents them from being ignorant, cocky, and proud. Allah dislikes people who don’t behave well and stay away from goodness.

There are some benefits of modesty in Islam:

  1. Modesty reflects our obedience towards Allah
  2. Modesty is the main characteristic of Islam
  3. Modesty as protection from arrogance
  4. Modesty distinguishes us from animal
  5. Modesty helps us being protective
  6. Modesty helps us being caring
  7. Modesty completes our prayer
  8. Modesty controls our anger
  9. Modesty is the key to heaven
  10. Modesty prevents us from zinah
  11. Modesty forbids us from the Hellfire
  12. Modesty helps us through our healthy diet
  13. Modesty will bring you more good than harm
  14. Modesty gives us happier life in the hereafter
  15. Modesty is the way we respect the teaching of Islam
  16. Modesty maintains our relationship with other people

Islam forbids all forms of zinah: fornication, adultery or other illegal sexual activity. We as Muslims, regardless we are a woman or man, should become modest by lowering our gaze towards each other. Talking about modesty, it is not always about how we dress, pray, and commit deeds, it is also about how we behave well to others. When we are already modest enough, no matter how angry we are, we are still able to control our anger.  Allah says:

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ

“Say to the believing men they should lower their gaze and they should guard their chastity. That (is) purer for them. Indeed, Allah (is) All-Aware of what they do.” (Surat An-Nur 24:30)

Despite helping us being caring, modesty also helps us being protective. We know, modesty covers everything we do in our life including how we speak, treat others, and how we get to deal with worldly temptation. Some people might be so difficult to get rid of the easiest worldly temptation in their life: food. Allah says:

وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنَا إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا

“Do not go near fornication and adultery, it is an abomination and an evil way.” (Surah Al-Isra 17:32)

Another benefit of modesty in Islam is also distinguishing us, as human beings, from the animal. Even though human beings and animals are the creatures of Allah, human beings were blessed with intelligence, and the animal was not. Animals only follow their instinct without feeling shy and bashful. They don’t have the sense to categorize what is right and wrong. Therefore, Islam has the concept of modesty to distinguish human beings, who are more special than animals. Allah says:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْآتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ

“O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember.” (Surah Al-A’raf 7: 26)

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 in regards to people, and in private in regards to God. Allah says:

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ

“Except those who (are) patient and do the good deeds, those for them (will be) forgiveness and a reward great.” (Surah Hud 11:11)

Thus, 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. Allah. In these moments we should be at our most modest internally and externally. We should feel a remembrance of the mercy and blessings we receive daily. The prayer mat is the place where the ultimate love story unfolds, our submission to our creator and our Sustainer. Our modesty is a part of that submission and as we work to strengthen our modesty, we strengthen our bond to our faith.