There was once a person who diligently monitored his health. Periodically, he checked his blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, Vitamin D and other similar markers which indicate to good or ill health. However, after many years, the person was diagnosed with an illness which he had never thought to check for, a silent killer of which he had thus far been unmindful – cancer. His health rapidly deteriorated, and in a matter of months, he seemed to be at death’s door.

In the same way, most of us take stock of our lives, at some point or another, such as the auspicious occasions and big days and nights of Islam. We turn to Allah Ta‘ala in repentance, shed tears of remorse and resolve to change our lives. When making taubah, we remember the salaahs that we missed, the lies that we spoke, the music that we listened to and other similar sins.

However, being most sly and cunning, Shaitaan causes us to forget about certain sins and evils and become oblivious regarding them. These sins become ‘normal’, to such an extent that even many of those who are regarded as Deeni-conscious forget that these actions are sins. The destructive outcome of this is that one never repents for these sins. Hence, at some point in his life, or after his death, this deadly cancer will surface, leaving havoc and destruction in its wake.

Among these overlooked evils is the evil of shamelessness and abandoning hayaa. The command of the Quraan Majeed is for women to remain within their homes and not leave their homes without a need. When leaving the home to fulfil a genuine need, women are commanded to dress unattractively, clad in loose fitting and concealing clothing, donning the purdah (niqaab) and not applying any type of fragrance or perfume.

Sadly, our hayaa has deteriorated to such an extent that many women leave their homes multiple times a day, for non-essential purposes, with their hair blowing in the breeze, flaunting the latest fashions, and drawing the eyes and attention of one and all. Together with leaving the home, many women casually speak to strange men, and even joke and jest with them in a familiar manner! Many women work with strange men and interact with them constantly, and instead of making taubah for the sin they are involved in and making du‘aa for Allah Ta‘ala to help them to leave this environment and to give them their sustenance with hayaa, they instead feel “grateful” and so to say feel thankful for the wrong they are involved in!

The same applies to many men as well. They employ female secretaries and staff, thereafter interacting with them, and sometimes even remaining in seclusion with them, despite being able to employ men to fulfil the same work. Unfortunately, the fact that this is a sin does not seem to cross the mind.

Even worse is when a person who is a respected and known figurehead of Deen in the community enters a Muslim-owned business for some need, and despite the male owner being present, he casually says to the ‘Aalim, “Moulana! My girl will attend to you in a few moments!”

The hayaa has become so eroded that it is practically non-existent. Does the man feel no shame whatsoever to tell the senior, pious ‘Aalim that he is leaving him with his ‘girl’, and she will ‘attend’ to him in due course? At the very least, can he not arrange for one of his male staff to attend to the ‘Aalim?

This does not mean that this type of hayaa should only be upheld in the case of a senior ‘Aalim – it should be upheld for one and all, across the board – but undoubtedly, it is far more reprehensible when even the sight of a senior, pious ‘Aalim fails to evoke some sense of hayaa and shame within one’s bosom.

In essence, the lack of hayaa and predominance of shamelessness is a type of cancer lying undetected in most people. In some cases, this cancer appears during their lifetime, breaking the marriage when the husband has an affair with the secretary, or the wife gets involved with someone in the gym, workplace, etc. If not in this world, then this cancer will certainly destroy us in the Hereafter. Thus, it must be treated and eradicated without delay.

May Allah Ta‘ala save us from the cancer of shamelessness, aameen.