Bayyinah TV : Shame Series Part 1

This series is available at Bayyinah TV. It addresses a very important issue, one that is disintegrating alarmingly through the age of time – and that is modesty.


  • Shame is a big problem in the world today.
    • The world is becoming increasingly shameless, obscene & indecent.
    • And it is hard to avoid because it’s on TV, web, mobile devices, billboards on the highway, work, everywhere!
  • The topic of haya / modesty / shyness is mentioned very rarely in the Quran. The word that is used in the Quran is al-istihya which means “to be ashamed”.
    • It is used in surah al-Baqarah 2:26 where Allah s.w.t. said: InnAllaha yastahya… “Verily, Allah is not ashamed (to set forth a parable even of a mosquito or so much more when it is bigger)”.
    • It is also used in surah al-Qasas 28:25: Then there came to him (Musa a.s.) one of the two women, walking shyly.
  • Interestingly while this topic is not dominant in the Quran, its opposite is the major subject and that is al-fahsha i.e. shamelessness, lewdness, indecency.
    • The word “Haya” i.e. shame is from the same root as “Hayat” i.e. life. What it means is that to be alive, it is natural to have shame – it is part of one’s life, it is natural for it to be. We don’t have to be taught what we’re supposed to be naturally anyway.
    • But those who take anthropology or sociology courses will learn the opposite! Students are taught that humans are originally from animals; since animals do not have clothing, they do not have shame. Even the Quraish during Jahiliyyah made tawaf without any clothing because they felt it was unnatural – their logic was that they wanted to worship Allah in their “natural” state.
    • But the Qur’an taught us that our natural state is to be clothed and to have shame – THAT is our natural state; it is the starting point of humanity from the very beginning.

Common Misconception of Shame in Islam

  • There is a common misconception that the focus of shame is referring only / directly to women’s clothing eg. hijab / khimar, i.e. that women have to be dressed properly. 
  • While Allah s.w.t. gives this subject importance, realize that the ayat for the women to cover was revealed about 16 years after the Qur’an started being revealed. The revelation came to Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam at the age of 40, and subsequently the ayat about khimar was revealed when he sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam was 55-56 years old. 
  • What it means is that the topic of shame has been talked about extensively in the Qur’an; that there are already subjects of Haya and Fahsha above and beyond the concept of clothing. 
  • This is clearly explained in surah #7 al-Araf, an earlier Makki surah.

Surah Al-Araf 7

1.       Alif-Lâm-Mîm-Sâd.

2.       (This is the) Book (the Qur’an) sent down unto you (O Muhammad SAW), so let not your breast be narrow therefrom, that you warn thereby, and a reminder unto the believers.

  • Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam was being told to not feel overwhelmed when he sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam present the Revelations; to not be uncomfortable because of it or because of the expectation it has from him sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.
  • We sometimes are put in situations where we have to say something but we get worried that we may offend someone. Eg. when we see our siblings doing something that they are not supposed to do – we know we have to tell them, but we don’t know where to begin because it’s uncomfortable. Similarly, it’s the same when we have to spread the message of Deen to people who do not believe / don’t appreciate.
  • This ayat teaches us that we should not feel any discomfort in the things that we are about to present – say the words of Allah without hesitation (and with good mannerism), we just gotta do our job. We have to follow the Sunnah of Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.

3.       [Say (O Muhammad SAW) to these idolaters (pagan Arabs) of your folk:] Follow what has been sent down unto you from your Lord (the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah), and follow not any Auliyâ’ (protectors and helpers who order you to associate partners in worship with Allah), besides Him (Allah). Little do you remember!

 4.       And a great number of towns (their population) We destroyed (for their crimes). Our torment came upon them (suddenly) by night or while they were taking their midday nap.

 5.       No cry did they utter when Our Torment came upon them but this: “Verily, we were Zalimun”. 

6.       Then surely, We shall question those (people) to whom it (the Book) was sent and verily, We shall question the Messengers.

 7.       Then surely, We shall narrate unto them (their whole story) with knowledge, and indeed We were not been absent.

 8.       And the weighing on that day (Day of Resurrection) will be the true (weighing). So as for those whose scale (of good deeds) will be heavy, they will be the successful (by entering Paradise).

 9.       And as for those whose scale will be light, they are those who will lose their ownselves (by entering Hell) because they denied and rejected Our Ayât.

  • All the above ayat until #9 stops where humanity ends. The very next ayat tells us where humanity begins i.e. with Adam a.s. In Ustadh Nouman’s opinion, this is the central passage about al-fahsha and al-haya & the ideal place to learn about shame. 

10.   And surely, We gave you authority on the earth and appointed for you therein provisions (for your life). Little thanks do you give.

  • As Muslims, we don’t believe that we are sent down to earth as punishment, the world is a gift from Allah s.w.t.
  • Allah s.w.t. Himself said: We settled you on the earth especially for you, We put all kinds of means to live a good life (مَعَـٰيِشَ – from the word ma’isha which means a life that is well lived).
  • That is also another misconception in Islam: where we think we’re not supposed to enjoy ourselves.
  • Important note: When we fulfill our cravings, like food or fun, we enjoy ourselves. Our temptations are also cravings eg. the attraction men have towards women. Allah s.w.t. said in this ayat that He gives us halal means on this earth where we can still enjoy and fulfill those cravings.

11.   And surely, We created you (your father Adam) and then gave you shape (the noble shape of a human being); then We told the angels, “Prostrate yourselves to Adam”, and they prostrated themselves, except Iblis, he refused to be of those who prostrated themselves.

  • Allah s.w.t. said He created & molded us, so He knows us well; our cravings and temptations.
  • Allah s.w.t. said: “Lam yakumminalsaajidiin” meaning that Iblis is never going to prostrate – Allah s.w.t. knew all along that he will never do it.

12.   (Allah) said: “What prevented you (O Iblis) that you did not prostrate yourself, when I commanded you?” Iblis said: “I am better than him (Adam), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.”

  • A kaafir does not believe that Allah s.w.t. created him, that Allah is al-Khaliq, yet Iblis said “خَلَقۡتَنِى – You made me”. Iblis believed in Allah and acknowledged that He created him. Iblis’ disbelieve is his disobedience.
  • There are people who do sins and tell themselves “It’s not that bad, at least I’m still a believer.” Well Iblis believed in Allah too! The point is: Shaitan doesn’t need to make you disbelieve, all he needs to do is make you disobey so that you’ll make the same mistakes as him. 

13.   (Allah) said: “(O Iblis) get down from this (Paradise), it is not for you to be arrogant here. Get out, for you are of those humiliated and disgraced.”

  • Allah s.w.t. said to Iblis: Get down from here, it is not appropriate for you to consider yourself big before Allah. 
  • When we pray, we say “Allahu Akbar” – Allah is greater, I am not. Hence what we learn from this ayat, when we disobey, we think we’re greater – that’s disobedience towards Allah s.w.t. 

14.   (Iblis) said: “Allow me respite till the Day they are raised up (i.e. the Day of Resurrection).”

 15.   (Allah) said: “You are of those respited.”

  • In Iblis’ perception, he got into trouble because of us – so he is blaming us and develops hatred towards us. He asked Allah s.w.t. for time to prove that Adam a.s. and humanity don’t deserve honor. 

16.   (Iblis) said: “Because You have sent me astray, surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path

  • After blaming Adam a.s., Iblis blamed Allah s.w.t. too.
  • When Iblis said “I will sit in wait” it means he will hide somewhere, waiting for the right moment to ambush – these meanings are all captured in this ayat.
  • What we learn here is that Shaitan won’t attack us all the time, he will find the right moment and he will slip in something and disappear before we realize he was even there. 

17.   Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).”

  • Before them: The straight path that leads to Jannah is infront of us – Shaitan will tempt us with short-term benefits on this path.
  • Behind them: When we make progress, he will pull us back so that we stop and fall back.
  • From their right and their left: This can be interpreted in many ways. One of it means that no matter if we’re either in good or bad company, he will still come to us. Even when we do good deeds, he will slip himself in. He will find every opportunity; Shaitan won’t stop!
  • Iblis continued that most of us are not grateful to Allah – referring to when we disobey Allah, and obey Iblis instead.
  • Remember ayat #10? Allah said He provides us means on this world especially for us. Compare to the vast of things that have been made halal, what is haram is minimal & countable! Allah s.w.t. has opened up so many halal means for us to enjoy. Yet, we find people still chasing those few things that we are commanded not to do – if we do this, it shows that we are ungrateful to Allah.
  • So Iblis said, he’s going to tempt us do the few things that are not halal and prove that we are not grateful, despite the vast earth that Allah s.w.t. has made open and halal for us.

18.   (Allah) said (to Iblis) “Get out from this (Paradise) disgraced and expelled. Whoever of them (mankind) will follow you, then surely I will fill Hell with you all.”

  • Very important condition: Allah s.w.t. didn’t say that Hell will be filled by those who disbelieve in Him, but it will be filled by those who will follow/listen to Iblis. It is very possible for Muslims to listen to Shaitan!

Part 1 ends here.