Haya': Part One

The Definition of Haya’

Haya’ comes from hayat (life). It is that which keeps you ethically and spiritually alive. Just like a body gets its value from being alive, the spirit, soul, character and person gets their value from having haya’. Haya’ covers a large number of concepts which are to be taken together: amongst them are self respect, modesty, bashfulness, and scruple, etc.

Words that encompass aspects of haya': shame, humility, self-respect, honor, bashfulness, shyness

The reality of haya’ is that it is that trait which motivates you to do what is good. That same trait discourages you from doing anything shameful. It is the one quality that make Muslims stand out.

The Prophet’s Statements on Haya’

- The Prophet (s) said, “Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And Haya’ is a part of faith.” (Bukhari)

- The Prophet (s) passed by a man who was admonishing his brother regarding Haya’ and was saying, “You are very shy, and I am afraid that might harm you.” On that, Allah’s Apostle said, “Leave him, for Haya’ is (a part) of Faith.” (Bukhari)

- Prophet (s) said: “Haya does not bring anything except good.” (Bukhari)

The Relationship Between Iman and Haya’

What does haya’ have to do with iman?

  • Your conviction determines how you see things and how you react to things
  • Whatever you have faith in will produce haya’ in relation to that thing
  • The stronger your belief in Allah, you realize you’re always in the presence of Allah subhaanhu wa ta’ala. The connection is there and thus that triggers haya’
  • The more haya’ you have and exercise the stronger your iman becomes
  • Haya’ will encourage the things that strengthen your iman and discourage things that weaken your iman
  • They increase each other all the way until you reach a level that Allah is pleased with you (i.e. no limit)

The Prophet (s) said, “Iman and Haya’ are like twins, they go hand in hand .” (Hakim)

Various types of haya’ that we should have:

2 types (in terms of origin):

  1. Innate, natural haya’ that we’re all born with(from your fitrah)
    • This type of haya’ comes from Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala; you can see it in nature and in animals. An example would be if you say “bad dog!” the dog will whimper – this is a reflection of it’s natural haya’ (shame).
  2. Acquired haya’ (from your belief system, environment, etc.)
    • This is your code of ethics, and comes primarily from your culture and environment. If a person cultivates it, it will make him the best person he could be. If a person’s natural haya’ is destroyed, then it will be difficult for them to get this type of haya’.

Note: You can never have excessive haya’ – it has no limit.

Al-haya’u la ya’ti illa bi khayr.

Haya’ will not bring anything except good.

- the Prophet (s) | Sahih al-Bukhari

Al-haya’u khayrun kulluh.

All of haya’ is good.

- the Prophet (s) | Sahih al-Muslim

Areas to Excercise Haya’

There are three areas in which to exercise haya’:

  • with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala
  • with people
    • some scholars also say with the Angels
  • with yourself

Our Relationship with Allah

Yastakhfuna min an-nasi wa ma yastakhfuna min Allahi wa hu ma`ahum.

The hypocrites are those that hide their sins with people but not in front of Allah. (4:108)

This ayah, of course, applies to all those who are dishonest and hypocritical; they act one way in front of people and another way in front of Allah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala protect us from hypocrisy. Ameen!

‘Alam ya’lam bi anna Allah yara.

Does he not know that Allah sees? (96:14)

Are we not aware that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala sees? Do we not realize how insignificant and weak we are in the sight of Allah? When a person loses their respect of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala and does not revere Him, they they will do whatever they want.

Ma lakum la tarjuna lil Lahi waqra.

What is [the matter] with you that you do not attribute to Allah [due] grandeur? (71:13)

Inna Allah kana ‘alaykum raqiba.

Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you. (4:1)

Why can’t we fear and respect Allah subahanhu wa ta`ala as much as we fear and respect the FBI? Do we not know that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has placed angels recording who comes to jumu`ah? Or that the angels are writing everything we do?

Be shy with Allah as you should be. – Muhammad (s)

The Prophet (s) told the Sahaba: “Have haya’ of Allah as you should.” They replied, “We do. We even made a nasheed about it.” The Prophet (s) said, “That is not true haya’. Rather, true haya’ is:

  • Preserving your head and what it contains;
    • This includes your mind, your senses, your thoughts, emotions, and your heart.
    • Wala taqfu ma laysa laka bihiAAilmun inna assamAAa walbasara walfu-adakullu ola-ika kana AAanhu mas-oola. “And follow not that of which you have no knowledge. Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those you will be questioned. (17:36)
  • Preserving your belly and that which it carries;
    • This includes what people consume of food, drink, money and that which is connected to it (lust, desires).
    • Be modest, moderate and balanced.
  • Remembering death and what comes after it;
  • Preparing for the Akhirah (Hereafter).
    • Fa man kana yarju liqaa’ rabi f al ya`mal `amalan saliha. “Say, “I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God. So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.” (18:110)

The hadith does not say “prevent” rather “preserve” – this means do things properly, not avoid them all together.

The Best Strategy

The best strategy, no matter how much you have sinned, is always to run back to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. When Adam and Hawa  ate from the tree lost their privileges, Adam (as) knew he had sinned against Allah. Adam started running away and Allah asked him, “Adam are you running away from me?” A firaran minni, la haya’an mink. No matter how ashamed you are of Allah, you can’t run or hide from Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala.

The Story from Ibn Kathir

Ubayy bin Ka`b said, “Adam was a tall man, about the height of a palm tree, and he had thick hair on his head. When he committed the error that he committed, his private part appeared to him while before, he did not see it. So he started running in fright through Paradise, but a tree in Paradise took him by the head. He said to it, `Release me,’ but it said, `No, I will not release you.’ So his Lord called him, `O Adam! Do you run away from Me?’ He said, `O Lord! I felt ashamed before You.'”

How to Increase Our Haya’ with Allah

  • Learn about Him
    • Everything we do and have is from Allah.
    • Sometimes we don’t even like to talk about Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala!! How do we even forget about Allah?
    • Sometimes we think that we can forget about Allah so that He will forget about us, but that will not happen.
    • Haya’ will lead us to ihsan (worshipping Allah as if we see Him) because we will constantly think of Him.
  • Remember Him continuously – dhikr;
  • Read His Message – the Qur’an;
  • Pray Qiyam al-Layl (the supererogatory night prayer).
    • This is a private connection with Allah.
    • When you get up from sleep, just get up and remember Allah and just think about Allah. Say la ilaha illa Allah, don’t think about anything else, your exams, your friends, your phone
    • If this was the day I was going to go back to Allah, how would I would want to go back to Him?
    • If this is the first day that you’ve EVER had to do anything, how would you spend it? What things would you start doing for the sake of Allah?

Whosoever remembers Allah and it brings them to tears, that eye that sheds tears will never be punished.

Exercising Haya’

Ask: What shows me that I really have haya’ of Allah?

  • If you really like someone, you will always think what will he/she think before you say or do. Do you do that with Allah?
  • Watching your behavior when you’re alone!
    • The Prophet (saws) was asked about people being naked and the Prophet (saws) said avoid exposing yourselves in front each other. What about when you’re alone? Allah has a greater right for you to have haya’ in front of Him.
      • When you get too comfortable with yourself you won’t maintain your haya’.
      • Prophet (s) was advising the sahabah (his companions, may Allah be pleased with them all) to conserve water. One the sahabah asked the Prophet (s) about conserving water in times of abundance. The Prophet (saws) said conserve even if you are at a flowing river. It is all about the attitude – be shy and cautious.
      • Don’t be undressed or in a compromised position longer than you need to!
      • Abu Bakr (ra) would cover his face when would relieve himself because he would remember that Allah is watching.
      • Uthman (ra) would never took a shower standing upright.
        • We get really comfortable, we admire ourselves, we do crazy things in front of the mirror…some people even in front of their roommate!
      • Some of the sahabah never looked at their own private parts out of haya’.
      • Fudayl ibn `iyath said, “I have met a generation of people too ashamed of Allah to sleep the whole night.” We’re talking about qiyam here.

Try to do anything that will raise your haya’. Hold yourself more accountable, raise your standards with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala.

Yahya ibn Mu`ath said, “Who ever obeys Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala out of haya’, Allah will have haya’ of punishing him on the Day of Judgment.”

Inna Allahu hayyiun Kareem. Allah is so generous and so gracious, He will be too shy to punish or reject that individual too ashamed to do a sin EVEN if He will forgive you. And if you do it, your haya’ will let you know that He will forgive you no matter the sin (except associating partners with Him – shirk).

There are people that lose their haya’ with Allah subahanhu wa ta`ala and Allah covers it up for them. When someone’s haya’ is TOTALLY lost, then they’re willing to expose their own sins

Assignment: Go through your phonebook, your texts, your emails, your facebook, etc. Look at all the things only Allah knows about….the files that you have saved up on your laptop or computer or phone. How many of those would you be very comfortable sharing with ________(individual that you respect the most)? Delete the ones that you would not share. Then write down how you felt afterwards.

  1. #1 by Zoya on March 21, 2010 - 9:00 pm

    jazaki Allahu khayran Marya :D

  2. #2 by Amatullah on April 11, 2010 - 9:52 pm

    baarak Allahu feeki.

    SubhanAllah i was working on an article on hayaa and my notes look exactly like this!

  3. #3 by Islamic Heart of Light and Faith on May 1, 2010 - 6:09 pm

    Masha’Allah this helps me soo much.

  4. #4 by Anwar on August 5, 2010 - 10:58 am

    jazak allahu khayr.Sister its a great work may allah bless u with more guidance.Allah hafiz.

  5. #5 by Abida nasreen on March 11, 2011 - 11:44 pm

    Jazak Allaho Khaiyran – It is a good article. I will gift it my daughter because her name is Al-haya.

    • #6 by verbage on March 13, 2011 - 1:47 am

      wa iyyaki masha’Allah that’s wonderful!

  6. #7 by Shahirah Elaiza on July 4, 2011 - 8:58 am

    Amazing entry. Just had to share it! JazakAllah khair

  7. #8 by Abu Aasia on December 30, 2012 - 4:39 pm

    Can u provide a reference for what was carried out by both Abu Bakr (ra) and Uthmaan (ra) with regards to covering the face and not standing whilst bathing/showering. I’ve heard this else where but havent been able to verify this.JazakAllah khairi.

  8. #9 by Huda Munawwar on February 16, 2013 - 1:09 am

    Thanks. This helped a lot because I am doing an Islamic Project on Hayaa’

  9. #10 by 'Reema♡ (@PureHaya) on March 23, 2013 - 3:38 pm

    One of the best blogs I have ever come across! JazakAllah Kheir!!

  10. #11 by zaheen on October 15, 2013 - 10:17 am

    mashallah ,eloquently written a must read for every muslim.
    JazakAllah Kheir

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