When many of us think back and remember our grandmothers or even great-grandmothers, the picture that comes to mind is of an old woman wearing a shapeless, loose, long, flowing garment that also covered her arms and part of her neck. These standard and generic ‘nanima outfits’ were certainly not stylish, but they definitely represented the treasure which many Muslims of today have lost – hayaa, shame and modesty.

By and large, the old women hailing from that era had not received an advanced education (if any formal education at all), and even their Deeni knowledge was rudimentary due to the scarcity of maktab madrasahs. However, most of them possessed the core values of Islam in their lives, such as generosity, selflessness, humility, and most importantly – hayaa.

As we have been more and more exposed to the Western culture, through living among non-Muslims, attending schools teaching their syllabus, perusing Western literature, following Western media, etc. we have gradually become enculturated by the ideals of the West, causing us to lose our core Islamic values which make up our Islamic identity.

When something is part of a person’s identity, it cannot be separated from them. It is intrinsic and essential to them and remains with them at all times. When a person is a qualified doctor, then no matter where he may be, or even if he is on holiday or even retired, he will still be a doctor. It is simply part of his identity.

A Muslim woman’s identity is rooted in the bedrock of hayaa. No matter where she is or when it may be, she will conduct herself with hayaa. At all times, hayaa will guide her actions and conduct and will even shape her mindset and thinking.

In previous articles, many aspects of hayaa were discussed, however one aspect of hayaa which urgently requires attention is that of a woman’s hayaa within her home.

Obviously, when a woman is with her husband, children and other mahrams (e.g. father, brother, etc.) then sharee‘ah does not demand that she veil her face. However, it is STILL necessary for her to dress with hayaa within the home.

Unfortunately, within their homes, many Muslim women wear tight t-shirts which define the chest area, or transparent tops that expose the undergarments, or low-cut dresses that expose part of the cleavage, or short tops that lift up when she bends down, causing the upper portion of the buttocks to be seen, or tights (or other tight-fitting pants such as yoga-pants, etc.) which cling to the skin and clearly accentuate the buttocks, thighs and legs.

For a Muslim woman to dress in such an indecent manner before her children, her parents, siblings, etc. is extremely shameful and embarrassing, and reflects that she does not possess complete hayaa in her life. Had hayaa been a part of her identity, it would have constrained her from dressing in this manner. However, for her to do so in front of her own children is even more devastating.

We must remember that when a young child is growing up, his/her parents are the role models from whom he will take the cue. Their words, actions and conduct, directly and indirectly, shape and mould the values and mindset of the child. Hence, dressing in this manner leads to the child being raised with a severe deficiency and weakness in their sense of hayaa.

However, more worrying is the direct effect that this type of dressing has on the young boys growing up in that home. Hence, there have been many cases where young, confused boys have approached an ‘aalim, seeking guidance, and have confided and divulged that their mothers dress in such provocative clothing that they are attracted to their own mothers (with one youngster even admitting to touching his mother inappropriately by disguising it as an ‘accident’).

It should be borne in mind that the environment today is one that is sexually charged and filled with every temptation and stimulation that invites to sin. Growing up in such an environment, a young boy (and girl as well) will find it increasingly difficult and challenging to remain chaste, as nearly everything they are exposed to (billboards, adverts, media, etc.) is designed to incite lust in one’s heart.

When a youngster, struggling to control his urges and remain chaste, is then confronted by his mother or sister dressing in a revealing and provocative manner, then it is not difficult to see why he now entertains filthy thoughts over his own mother or sister.

Our Deen of Islam is a perfect and comprehensive religion. Thus, when we examine the blessed hadeeth, we find that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) taught the Ummah that when the children reach the age of ten, then their beds should be separated. (Sunan Abi Dawood #495) This is to preserve their hayaa and safeguard them from sin.

However, the lesson is not restricted to their sleeping places. Rather, the general lesson which we learn from this hadeeth is to exercise extreme caution through upholding hayaa in the home at all times. For example, parents should not make overt displays of affection for each other before their children (through kissing, etc.), and if there is a swimming pool at home, then special caution should be exercised as this is generally a time when bodies become more exposed.

In essence, we do not advocate that a young mother, in her twenties, should dress like a geriatric nanima before her time. Rather, she may dress in a manner that is pleasing to her husband, but MUST remain cognizant of the dictates of hayaa.

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us and our families with hayaa and safeguard us from all sins, aameen.