Islamic Perspectives

Modesty

Modesty plays a constructive role in character building and in the formation of a sound and healthy society. It also wards off all sort of obnoxious and unholy acts.

There is much emphasis in Islam on observing modesty, holy Prophet says: "Every religion has a distinctive quality and the distinctive quality  of Islam is modesty. (Muwatta). He again says: "Modesty and Faith exist together and when one of them goes out, the other, too, goes out". (Baihaqi) "Modesty brings nothing but good" (Bukhari and Muslim).

Noted Islamic scholar Manzoor Nomani (RAH) has observed that: "Modesty restrains a man from be-having in an undesirable manner and acts as a shield against lewdness and immorality. It holds the key to piety and good-doing". He further said: The word 'modesty' is used in a very wide sense in the special terminology of the Quran and the Traditions. In the common usage, what it signifies, simply, is that a man avoided lewdness and kept away from lustful and indecent acts. But, in Islam, it appears that it stands for a state of feeling which is intolerant of everything that is not desirable and produces a reaction  of disgust and agony within anyone who knowingly and unknowingly, falls into an error or behaves in a manner having a semblance of sinfulness" (Meaning and Message of The Traditions, Vol. iv p, 63)

The immodesty, no doubt, is the root cause of all evils. It is such a menace which leads us towards adultery, fornication, rape, molestation and other obscene acts.  It is modesty that keeps us away from indulging in a host of evil deeds and absurd acts.

The lack of modesty which results in nudity and obscenity are these days considered acts of 'modernity'. Transparent aprons, designer dresses instead of covering the body contours expose them in a vulgar way.

It is unfortunate that today immodesty has reached such an extent that women are made to dance to attain political mileage. Such cases can be seen during election campaigns. Women should not be exploited in such a way. According to Islam, the world and all things in it are valuable, but the most valuable thing in the world is a virtuous woman. The holy Prophet says: "The more civil and kind a Muslim is to his wife, the more perfect of faith he is" (Tirmidhi)

Islam strictly prohibits such depiction. We may easily comprehend through the following  Ahadith as to how Islam combats immodesty and indecency. The holy Prophet says: "Allah has a greater right that one should observe Haya (Modesty) before Him" (Al-Tirmizi) He further says: "Mind, you never be naked, for you are being attended by the angels of God who never leave you alone, except at the time when you have to attend to the call of nature or when you go to your wives. Therefore you should feel ashamed of them and have regard of them"(Al-Tirmizi)  "Allah has cursed those women who wear clothes and still remain naked" "Those women who remain naked even after wearing clothes, allure others and are allured by others and walk coquettishly with the head turned to one side, will never enter paradise, nor even get its scent (Muslim)". Hafsa, daughter of Abdur Rahman, came before Hazrat Ayesha, she was wearing a thin wrapper over her head and shoulders, Hazrat Ayesha tore it up to pieces and put a thick wrapper over her". (Mu'atta of Imam Malik)

Islam also warns men not to dress like women and women too should not wear masculine dresses. Narrated Abdulllah bin Abbas that: "The Apostle of God cursed men who effect a likeness with women (in dress, manners, deportment etc…), and women who effect a likeness with men," (Bukhari). It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of Allah cursed men who wore clothes of women, and women who wore clothes of men,". (Abu Dawood)

It is obvious that modesty is essence of Islamic Shariah. We may lead prosperous and peaceful life by observing it. Besides we can keep ourselves aloof from a variety of anti-social activities if we inculcate it in our lives.

In this context we may recall Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz's directive to the media about displaying obscene and inappropriate pictures of women. He advised Gulf Media not to publish naked pictures of women to achieve material gains. He has rightly said: "one must think, do they want their daughter, their sister or their wife to appear in this way."

It would not also be out of place to recall chief Minister Mayawati's advice wherein she laid stress on weeding out obscenity and immodesty from the society. She advised her party leaders not to attend functions where women are made to dance in obscene manner or exhibit their bodies. She got annoyed on seeing her party leaders watching dance show by bar girls aired on TV channels. She said: "Agar tumhari maa aur baheno ko nachaya jaaye toh kaisa lagega" (How will you feel if your mother and sisters are made to dance?)

In short no religion likes immodesty and indecency. Each faith wants to do away with this menace. Hence we should develop sense of modesty, shyness and bashfulness and avoid all sort of immodest, indecent and impudent things so that an atmosphere of peace and serenity may prevail in the society."

Obaidur Rahman Nadwi, Lucknow
ornadwi@yahoo.com

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 September 2009 on page no. 29

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