“Every religion has a quality characteristic of that religion, and the characteristic of Islam is modesty.” – Ibn Majah
How remarkable and astonishing it is that the way Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala created Islam, every detail in it has deeply rooted meanings, values, and effects. So much so, in fact, that each letter found in the Quran is a carefully placed treasure. If anything in it was even slightly altered, misplaced, or mispronounced, this completely changes the original meanings it was intended to have. The hasaanat, moreover, for pronouncing each letter are also mighty because they are multiplied by ten.
Overall, nothing in Islam, even washing in between the toes during wudu, is insignificant. Some matters are simply more important than others, but everything revealed to us by our Lord is noteworthy. Subhan Allah.
In addition to this, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala specifically chose for this blessed religion to be conveyed in Arabic because of the incredible richness the language carries, which is parallel to no other language. For instance, much can be expressed in the ancient Arabic language by a few words, but the quality of rhetoric never wanes. Arabic words have multiple meanings, they can quickly stir vehement emotions, draw vivid pictures for us to clearly visualize, and be strung together flawlessly like the beads of a necklace to create eloquent verses, all by the power and grace of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Not to mention, each word in the Quran has been preserved for over 1400 years, and yet, everything in it is just as applicable today as it was in the past and will be in the future. After all, the religion of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is meant for all of humankind, for all times.
With these things in mind, it would be committing a severe injustice to appreciate the letters, words, verses, rulings, and all the other blessings of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala only at face value. Doing so would be more ignorant than appreciating the human body by what only the naked eye can see, when there are a myriad of miraculous functions, designs, networks, and complexities found only inside the body. Similarly, beneath the surface of every letter, word, verse, and ruling in the Quran, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has placed infinite priceless jewels waiting to be discovered. To unbury them, we are commanded to seek ilm (knowledge) and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth and all that is in between.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the commandment of hijab is meant to teach us a lot more than willingly throwing sheets over our bodies in front of non-mahram men – just like salah is supposed to teach us far more than the physical actions of salah, we should learn humility and elimination of racism from it too, for example – if we grasp the spirit of it.
In addition to dressing modestly outdoors, hijab is also meant to teach women to fully honor the bodies they have been blessed with by embracing hayaa at all times, in front of every type of person, in all different situations.
Therefore, before anyone of us hijabis dares to point a finger criticizing the sister that doesn’t wear hijab properly, be it because of tight clothes, ostentation, glamorous abayas, hair showing, or whatever else the reason may be, let us thoroughly examine ourselves first. Have we seriously, truly, allowed hijab to teach us all it is meant to teach? Do we express genuine modesty not only outdoors, but in the presence of our fellow Muslimahs, siblings, parents, and husbands as well?
Islam does not define hayaa as embarrassment or humiliation a woman (or man) feels about herself. Rather, it perceives it as the care and concern she has about persevering her modesty at all times through dressing appropriately in front of all people.
Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, I honestly cannot thank my Lord enough that hijab has actually taught me this. I have learned that hayaa is more close and beloved to me than my very own garments themselves. Although, of course, there is always room for improvement, I have certainly come a long way.
Even in front of people allowed to see me unveiled, I do not have the heart to wear immodest clothes. I can never wear pants that have some awkward saying displayed grossly on the rear end to emphasize the hips, or shirts that do similar to emphasize the chest, or low cut tops, excessively tight clothes, and the list goes on and on.
Truth be told, I also have an aversion towards lingerie for quite a few reasons. Although, as I have learned, it is mubah in and of itself, there is great haraam that engulfs it. The entire culture surrounding it – from the provocative display of near-naked models, to the inappropriate poses, to the messages sent out to women about their bodies – is a culture that kills the very essence of hayaa. As I have also learned, the righteous people of the past would have frowned upon and abstained from the various ways we attain sexual pleasure nowadays, particularly because in absolutely everything in our religion there is modesty. There is modesty in worship, talking, and even love. Hence, for a deeper and more conservative hayaa, just the mere thought of lingerie puts a foul taste in my mouth and gets me naturally uncomfortable.
It has been revealed to us repeatedly in Islam that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has honored the children of Adam alayhi assalam, so we should not lower ourselves. Alhamdulillah once again, I strive to never degrade myself by subjugating my body as a toy. I try to dress respectfully and elegantly, and further manifest these qualities through my conduct, as hijab has also taught me to do.
As a matter of fact, it would destroy me to lend a single penny supporting utterly immoral companies that go against the hayaa Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has placed in all His slaves’ fitrah, especially in females; companies that promote unbelievably tremendous fitnah, disrespect, and dishonor; companies that raise money and earn success by proliferating indecency and the overall devaluing of women and their bodies. The pious women of our Ummah, such as the wives (may Allah be pleased with them) of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam, deeply cared for their hayaa and honor every minute of the day. Beneath the modest outer garments (or jilbabs) they wore outdoors, they wore very modest clothing, even when they were in the seclusion of their homes.
This does not mean they were unkempt, unconfident or uncaring about their appearance, especially in front of their husband, salla Allahu alayhi wasallam – far from it. These women spoke their opinions, were extremely knowledgeable, helped greatly in social affairs, and also beautified themselves (decently and indoors), and kept clean as well as presentable, as Islam urges all women to do within appropriate limits. At the same time, however, they understood far better than any of us that, although hijab is removable, hayaa is not, and they honored this enormous blessing of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala placed even more in His female slaves than His male ones.
These are the worthy women we must emulate.
Sisters, our hayaa is such a precious, delicate, and priceless gift from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that requires the utmost care and concern. To execute justice in receiving this invaluable gift, we really have to ponder over the additional lessons hijab is supposed to teach, and then apply them graciously to our lives so we can unbury those jewels and increase our own value. Insha’Allah, in our efforts to dig deeper and change for the better, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will love us more, because He wants for us to reflect over His commandments and live our lives as nobly as possible. After all, we are the best nation ever created, so let us be deserving of this honorable title by exemplifying modesty in every aspect of our lives, just as the righteous women of the past, may Allah be pleased with them, did.