Narrated Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu:
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
“Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And haya [This term haya covers a large number of concepts which are to be taken together; amongst them are self-respect, modesty, bashfulness, and scruple, etc.] is a part of faith.”
[Volume 1, Book 2, Number 9]
A little about the hadeeth narrator: Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu met the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in his later days. He got to spend only three years with the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam but he made the best of this time. He is the Companion who narrated the most ahadeeth, after him it is ‘A’ishah radhiAllahu ‘anha. Imam Bukhari recorded 446 narrations from Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu in his Saheeh.
The Scope of Righteousness is Broad
In the hadeeth, it has been said that there are more than 60 branches of emaan – the exact number of branches has not be specified. Furthermore, it has been said that one of them is haya meaning there are many other different types of branches. This tells us that the scope of righteousness is broad, as we learn in ayah of Al-Birr, we cannot limit emaan to one thing and call it the entire religion. One thing that must be remembered is that every action should be done sincerely for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and on the way of Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Any action that is done with some other intention than the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala or in a manner that is not supported by Sunnah, then that action will be rejected.
The Virtue of having Haya
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam could have named any branch of faith but why did he choose to tell us about haya? For this we will first have to understand what haya means.
Haya is a term covering a large number of concepts. It may mean modesty, self-respect, bashfulness, honor, etc. It is of two kinds: good (praiseworthy) and bad (blameworthy). Good haya is to be ashamed of committing a crime or a thing which Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has forbidden whereas bad haya is to be ashamed to do a thing which Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayh wa sallam have ordered to do.
Haya leads one to other branches of emaan or to other good deeds. A person who has haya from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will be encouraged to perform good deeds and stay away from the sins. A person who has haya fears humiliation in the dunya and also in the Hereafter. A person who does not have haya has no fear of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and lives a life of immorality. He has no regrets for disobeying Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and considers himself free of reckoning.
Boldness is not Praiseworthy
Imagine haya is called a branch of emaan and how lightly do we treat it. We bash people who are shy and modest and praise those who are bold in immodesty. We call those women who are dressed modestly, backward and those showing their flesh, confident.
Boldness is not only in dress but also our speech and conduct. Some people are shy of using a certain language in their homes and in front of elders, whereas others do not think before speaking or who they are addressing. They do not pay attention to the words that come out of their mouths and say anything to their families and elders. This is not a praiseworthy trait.
A Muslim is a respectful person who watches his words, his actions, his dressing, etc. He doesn’t shed his clothes in public to be called a modern person. Neither does he use swear language to be considered educated.
Although haya is a praiseworthy trait, it becomes blameworthy when a person is shy of performing righteous deeds because of the fear of people. For example, you are sitting with your friends or family and no one gets up to pray. You know it’s prayer time and you want to pray, but you do not pray fearing what people are going to say to you. Similarly, you are traveling and everyone is talking, listening to music and enjoying themselves. You know that you do not have to indulge in what is futile or forbidden. You can recite the Qur’an or your adkhar but you do not take out your mus-haf, being shy of people. This is blameworthy shyness; a person only needs to be shy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and not fear what people are going to think of him.
A person should also not be shy in seeking knowledge or asking questions. Don’t hold yourself back. Ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for praiseworthy haya.
Haya Not a Women-Only Virtue
This hadeeth also tells us that haya is not limited to women. It is necessary for all Muslims – men and women. Haya is not optional. All men and women should live a dignified, modest life. Therefore, in the Qur’an when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded the women to cover themselves, He instructed the men to lower their gaze. In Surah Hujarat ayah 11, He commanded men to not make fun of other men and women to not make fun of other women. This ayah tells us that it is not acceptable for unrelated men and women [non-mahrams] to sit together and crack jokes. How common this action is in our families and at our work places and most importantly in our educational institutes? Male and female cousins, class fellows and work colleagues are seen together and talking about more than what is necessary. Anything comes out of our mouths, having no shyness.
Notice that it was not said: Choose whether you want to live a dignified, respectful life or be as immodest as it pleases you. Haya is part of our emaan. If we reflect on our lives, do we find haya in ourselves, in our dress and in our speech?