‘Haya | Gheerah | Humility’
What is haya? It is normally translated as modesty or shyness which is normally related to a something a person feels in front of others. Hence neither covers the full meaning of the word. Haya refers to an extremely desirable quality that protects us from all evil. It is a natural feeling that brings us pain at the very idea of committing a wrong alone or in public.
Ibn al-Qayyim narrated that some of the Salaf said:
“If one does something in secret that he is shy from doing in public, this means that he means nothing to himself.” [‘Madarij as-Salikin’; 2/353]
The word haya’ is derived from the word “al-hayah”, which means life, as if the person who has no haya’ (modesty) is like a dead person.
Similar thing was mention in a hadeeth, the Prophet ﷺ said: “Among the words that have come down to the people from the earlier Prophets is: If you feel no shame then do as you wish.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari).
Ibn Qayyim comments on this Hadeeth: If a person does not have any modesty, then there is nothing to prevent him/her from doing anything.
The Hadeeth does not mean that doing everything is allowed for a shameless person. It is like giving an information that when a person loses the feeling of shame, then he does not mind doing anything. For this reasons the western nations intend to finish the feeling of shame and remorse among the Muslims, which is a landmark and a criterion of Islam. They want to do away with this criterion so that Muslims may indulge in shameless things happily. Unfortunately, the western people are succeeding in their designs and the Islamic social life is also tending to be shameless like its western counterpart.
And hence Haya referred to as a branch of Faith, it was narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Faith has seventy-odd branches, and haya’ is one of the branches of faith.” (Agreed upon)
Also Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) narrated: The Prophet ﷺ passed by a man who was admonishing his brother regarding Haya and was saying, “You are very shy, and I am afraid that might harm you.” On that, Allah’s Apostle ﷺ said, “Leave him, for Haya is (a part) of Faith.” (Bukhari)
Now the above hadith is also a form of proof that “Haya” is not just something regarding women but also an attribute that believing men should have, for it is an indication if their fear of Allah and an indication of the value of their Deen.
Haya is a centerpiece of most of the actions that Iman calls for. It is the basic building block of Islamic morality. When it is lost everything is lost. Islam brought about a moral revolution of unprecedented dimensions with haya as its cornerstone.
Our Mother, mother of all believers, Aa’isha (radhiAllahu ‘anha) said:
The most beautiful characteristic is Haya. — [Adab Shar’jjah 2/344]
To conclude, we have seen that Iman and haya’ are linked. When there is iman, there ishaya’, and vice versa. All of us are born with natural haya’. However it is subject to being spoiled due to environment and dominating ideologies. Technology misuse has its negative and destructive impact on haya’. Muslims need to be aware of such challenges and exert their effort to overcome them. We can get out of the mess our lives have come to by making haya as our number one concern in both individual as well as public lives. There is no Islamic life without Islamic morality. There is no Islamic morality without haya.
We live in societies in which most men and women have lost their sense of modesty, women are obsessed with their appearances and wear clothes to be seen by others and to attract the attention of other men even if they are married!
Feminism too has reached its peak and men and women are told to suppress their natural emotions. Men are not even embarrassed when their wives are dressed up and attract the attention of other men, they don’t mind if another man sees, chats, laughs and even dances with their womenfolk and if they do mind, they are told not to be so possessive! In Islam we have a concept of Gheerah.
Commonly translated as ‘jealousy’ (and limited to men), the term ‘gheerah’ has unfortunately been used to justify extremely controlling and even abusive behavior from men. A better translation of gheerah is ‘honourable protectiveness’ rather than jealousy… A Muslim man’s gheerah is a deep sense of selfless honour that ensures his chivalric behaviour and respects the dignity of the women around him. It is a sense of sincere concern and protectiveness that doesn’t extend to being controlling or abusive.
One example of gheerah done right is illustrated in the famous story of Az Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam and Asma bint Abi Bakr. Though Asma refused a ride from RasulAllah ﷺ himself due to her consideration for azZubayr, her husband was the one who wept and told her that it would have been preferable to him if she had ridden with RasulAllah, than suffered the long and arduous journey she had been undertaking on her own.
This was a beautiful type of gheerah – one where he put his own personal preferences aside out of care for the wellbeing of his wife, where his sense of honour was *selfless*, not *selfish*.
What distinguishes honorable gheerah from selfish jealousy is that one is not feeling offended on account of their personal preferences, but on the basis of pleasing Allah and being aware of His boundaries.
It is a natural inbuilt feeling Allah has given men and women. The Prophet (SAW) had the most Gheerah for his wives and all of the companions were known for their Gheerah. All Muslim men should have a collective sense of protectiveness for Muslim women as Allah says in the Qur’an, the meaning of which is:
“The Men are the protectors and maintainers of women…” (Surah An-Nisaa, Ayah 34).
Men who do not care about how their women behave and appear in front of other men and don’t enforce hijaab upon their wives or women-folk are called Dayyooth.
“There are three at whom Allaah will not look at (with Mercy) on the day of Resurrection:
[Saheeh Al-Jaami’ As-Sagheer 3/74, hadith no. 3066]
Nurturing our sense of Gheerah
Sometimes Muslim women don’t understand if their menfolk want them to cover their faces or if they ask them to change something about the way they dress or speak in public, thinking that the men are being over-protective. But my dear sisters! If your husband asks you not to wear a certain colour of khimaar because it brings out the beauty of your eyes, or if he wants you to cover your face – by Allah, be thankful! Be proud of the fact that your husband has a sense of Gheerah for you and that he values you and cares for your hereafter. He knows what men can be like more than you do and so never try and suppress his Gheerah in these types of matters. And his concern for you should incite your own sense of honour!
There is a big difference between how Islam values and protects women and how cheaply women are treated outside of Islam! As Muslims we have to be careful that our Hayaa’ (sense of modesty and shame) and Gheerah don’t wear out in a society in which people have
The essence of being Muslim is being humble.
The word “Muslim” itself means to submit oneself in ultimate humbleness to Allah.
But it is a great irony of the human soul that when we become more humble and submissive to Allah, we fall into a grave trap. We tend to grow in arrogance because we feel our level of submission is better than that of others. It was this same trap that Satan fell into.
There are many reports which speak of the reward of humility. For example:
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: “Wealth does not decrease because of charity, and Allaah increases His slave in honour when he forgives others. And no one humbles himself before Allaah but Allaah will raise him (in status).”
The Prophet ﷺ said: “And no one humbles himself before Allaah but Allaah will raise him (in status).” This is understood in two ways: the first is that He will raise him (in status) in this world, and give him status in people’s hearts because of his humility, and give him a high status in people’s eyes. The second is that what is meant is his reward in the Hereafter, where his status will be raised because of his humility in this world.
The scholars said: It may be that both are meant, (and that his status will be raised) both in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allaah knows best.
Sharh Muslim, 16/142.
Humility may mean various things, such as:
1. Humbling oneself before the might, majesty and power of Allaah.
Ibn al-Qayyim said:
Every time he feels that he is great, he remembers the might of Allaah and that might belongs to Him only, and he remembers His intense anger against those who compete with Him in that, then he humbles himself before Him and submits to the might of Allaah.
The one who is truly humble is the one who is blessed when a person humbles himself to the might of Allah along with person humbling himself to the commands and prohibitions of Allaah, doing what He commands and avoiding what He forbids.
2. Humility towards one who is of a lesser status and helping him
It was narrated that al-Bara’ ibn ‘Aazib said: The Prophet ﷺ was moving soil with us on the day of al-Ahzaab, and I saw him with dust covering the whiteness of his stomach….” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6809; Muslim, 1803).
3. Humility in interactions with one’s wife and helping her.
It was narrated that al-Aswad said: I asked ‘Aa’ishah what the Prophet ﷺ used to do in his house, and she said: He used to serve his family and when the time for prayer came he would go out and pray. (al-Bukhaari, 644).
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar said:
This shows that we are encouraged to be humble and not arrogant, and that a man should serve his family.
Fath al-Baari, 2/163
4. Humility towards the young and joking with them.
5. Humility towards servants and slaves
The Prophet ﷺ said: “If the servant of one of you brings his food and he does not want to make him sit and eat with him, then let him offer him a morsel or two, because he has prepared it and served it.” (al-Bukhaari, 2418 and 5144; Muslim, 1663).
Contrary to humility is Arrogance and arrogance is a blameworthy characteristic which is the feature of Iblees and his cohorts in this world, those on whose hearts Allaah has placed a seal. Arrogance is one of the characteristics of Iblees, so whoever wants to be arrogant should realize that he is acquiring a characteristic of the devils, and that he is not acquiring a characteristic of the noble angels who obeyed their Lord and fell down prostrate. Moreover, arrogance may be the cause of a person being deprived of Paradise and may mean that the Lord of Glory will not even look at him, as it says in the following haadeeth:
The Prophet ﷺ said: “No one who has an atom’s-weight of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” A man said, “O Messenger of Allaah, what if a man likes his clothes and his shoes to look good?” He said, “Allaah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.” (Narrated by Muslim, 91).
Pride is an attribute that is not befitting for anyone except Allaah. Whoever seeks to compete with Allaah in that, Allaah will destroy him, wreak vengeance on him and make things difficult for him.
The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: “Might is His garment and pride is His cloak; whoever seeks to compete with Me concerning them, I will punish him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2620).
Everyone who tries to be arrogant and put himself above others, Allaah will bring him down among the lowest of the low, and will humiliate him, because he is going against reality, so Allaah will punish him by thwarting his aims; the punishment is to fit the crime. The one who is arrogant towards the people will be trampled beneath the feet of the people on the Day of Resurrection, as a punishment for his arrogance.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “On the Day of Resurrection, the arrogant will be gathered like ants in the form of men. Humiliation will overwhelm them from all sides. They will be driven to a prison in Hell called Bawlas, with the hottest fire rising over them, and they will be given to drink of the juice of the inhabitants of Hell, which is teenat al-khabaal.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi)
So a Muslim should abandon pride and seek to attain Humility. There are many means of attaining humility, which no Muslim adopts but he will attain this characteristic. They were explained by Imam Ibn al-Qayyim as follows:
Humility comes from knowing about Allaah and His names and attributes, and His greatness, venerating Him, loving Him and being in awe of Him; and also from knowing about oneself and one’s faults, and weaknesses. From that may develop the attitude of humility, which means feeling helpless before Allaah, and being humble and compassionate towards His slaves, so that the person does not feel superior towards anyone, or think that he has any rights over anyone else; rather he thinks that others are better than him, and that their rights come before his. This is a characteristic that Allaah gives to those whom He loves, honours and draws close to Him.
We ask Allaah to make us among those who humble themselves before His might.