Modesty in Islam

Bismillahi ar-rahman ar-rahim

hijab woman png

I was discussing with my wife about the hijab when I said the following which I wanted to share with everyone else:

The fact is it’s not about the “hijab” per se, it’s about the intention. A hijab is in my opinion the best form of modesty and Islam is a religion of modesty. So in essence the goal is modesty, so whatever achieves modesty is in fact Islamic, and whatever takes away modesty is un-Islamic.

But then we come to the question of what is modesty?

In my understanding, modesty is not desiring praise. So, any action that comes from a desire for praise is not modest. This is the essence.

Quran (24:30-31) Yusuf Ali translation (underlined is my own emphasis):

30) Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.

31) And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.

So, modesty is connected with spiritual purity and Allah’s pleasure.

As a final note, what I have found is that “looking pretty” is a tremendous pressure on women (and girls) and basically what do they get for all their efforts? Sexual objectification. In truth it is a pointless endeavour to look pretty when it leads to shallow praise for your outside beauty but never any real engagement with the inside soul.

Fundamentally these drives stem from a deep-rooted desire to connect with the other person. For the man, the sex is just the surface drive but the inner drive is peace when connected with a woman, and vice versa, a woman’s drive to beautify herself is the surface drive  to attract a man but the inner drive is to connect at a deeper level and find peace with a companion that can fulfill the physical and emotional needs.

But if there is no protection the surface drives will be the main focus thereby exposing both men and women to dangers of uncontrolled sex (or even worse things like rape). So, practicing modesty in looks is an important protection that builds respect between the two sexes.

Comment your opinions about this topic below as I really enjoy reading and engaging with them. 🙂


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