Review – The Definition of Haya’
What does Haya’ mean?
In Urdu, the word for haya’ is sharam.
Having Haya’ With Allah
Istahiyi min Allahi ta’ala kama tastahyi min rajulin salihin min qawmik.
“Have haya’ from Allah as you would have haya’ from a religious person you know.” – the Prophet (s)
Allah subahanhu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) knows what is hidden, so we need to have the most haya’ with Him. How do you develop haya’ with Allah?
- Learn about Allah: Why aren’t we as excited to know Allah as the people in the past? Why was the Prophet (s) the most attached to Allah? Because he knew Him the most.
- Read and study the Qur’an, the words of Allah.
- Perform qiyam (supergatory night prayers). This will cause resistance to haram (unlawful) things. It is a way to redeem yourself with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala after sinning.
- Do dhikr (remembering Allah with your heart and tongue) This should compensate for prayer if you cannot pray!
- Remembering death and the hereafter.
- Be with those that remind you of Allah.
- Reading the inspiring stories of the Prophet (s) and other righteous people.
How to Avoid Sin
A man would sin; al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali counseled him, if you wish to continue, then do these five things:
- Do not eat from the sustenance of Allah
- The man responded he cannot.
- Escape the Kingdom of Allah
- The man responded he cannot.
- Commit sins where Allah cannot see you
- The man responded he cannot.
- When the Angel of Death comes, escape death
- The man responded he cannot.
- If you are sentenced to hellfire on the Day of Judgment, refuse to go there
- The man said thank you, that is enough! Allah will never see me sinning against Him.
Kamal El-Mekki was speaking to someone about really connecting with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. So she says, “I’m convinced.” He asks her to take her shahadah. She says, “I’m not ready, I want to take my time.” He says, “That’s fine, I don’t want to pressure you. But until you make your decision just make sure you don’t die. Don’t drink and drive, fasten your seatbelt, because you’ll have no excuse once you die!”
Yahya ibn Mu’ath said to his students that if you really want to develop haya’ from Allah then develop haya’ when you do something good. When someone is always nice to you, humble and respectful – you let it go if they ever wrong you. “If you have haya’ with Allah when you do something (you’re humble and realize His role), Allah will forgive you and look over when you sin.”
Haya’ With the Angels
The second type of haya’ is that which is with the Angels. There are angels with us always, recording what we do.
Wa inna ‘alaykum lahafithin, kiraman katibin.
And indeed, [appointed] over you are keepers, Noble and recording. (Quran, 82: 10-11)
We are always “tapped” by the angels. Or do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private conversations? Yes, [We do], and Our messengers are with them recording. (Qur’an, 43:80) Be shy of the angels, never do things or be an environment that would hurt the angels or bother them. Angels are commanded by Allah to wait before they write down the evil things humans do, so that we are given a chance to repent. So keep in mind, even when you go to the restroom, that the angels are with you. Avoid things like bad smells, or crass language, or sexually illicit activity.
Inna al-malaikata tata’atha min man yata’atha minha bani adam.
The Prophet (s) said, “He who eats onion and garlic and leek, should not approach our mosque for the angels are harmed by the same things as the children of Adam.” (Muslim)
Myths when dealing with the Angels and Shaytan:
- Angels do not wait outside when you go to the bathroom.
- Do not worry about leaving the Qur’an open – if Shaytan reads it, that is good for him.
- Spaces between salah are not filled with Shaytan, but they can be used by Shaytan to sow seeds of discord or distrust.
Haya’ With People
There are three types of haya’:
- Sincere Haya’: Those who have haya’ naturally, and have haya’ in public as well as private; this is authentic, sincere haya’. This is the best type of haya’.
- Haya’ Deficiency: Those who have selective haya’ – haya’ in public, with certain people, but they do not have this haya’ in private.
- No Haya’: There are those who don’t care and will act in any way in front of people – they do not have haya’ at all. Your natural, instinctive haya’ was killed. It is better to have haya’ in front of certain people and work towards haya’ with everyone, then to have no haya’ at all.
The Role of Culture
A lot of the variation of haya’ is because of the culture you are raised in. Culture either nurtures haya’ or destroys it. An example of this is the story of a brother who was raising his children in America. He walked into see his daughter sitting in a position he did not feel comfortable with – she was eight years old. Afterward, he asked his wife and kids to spend sometime overseas to study and gain some of the culture. When he visited them a year later she was sitting in the same position – but when he entered the room, she adjusted the way she was sitting. Some things must be picked up from the culture. Shaykh Faqih could never imagine lying on his side when his father walks in; he would have to sit-up and change his position.
We need to adjust our level of haya’ and recognize what is needed and what is not. The worse of people are those who broadcast their sins, who have no shame in front of people or in front of Allah.
Areas in Which Haya’ Should be Excercised
Between a husband and a wife, there is little haya’ because they know each other so well. But in private, you are supposed to still maintain a minimum level of haya’. You also do not share your personal relationship with others.
This is for people who are not married or related through blood; a level of haya’ is meant to be exercised between them. Some of the gender relations you will never understand until you are married. There is a level of haya’ that you won’t be able to connect to until you are married or you grow more mature. Once you get married you will see the wisdom of Islam. There was a sister that said she didn’t have a problem talking to guys, even married ones, and then she got married. One year after she got married she got bothered with sisters that talked to her husband. She would see things that she would say or do being done with her husband and she couldn’t believe it.
Haya’ is also being content with who Allah made you AND how He made you. If you are beautiful, you should not be shamed of your beauty but you should humble because it is a blessing from Allah. Sh. Faqih: “I personally think everyone is beautiful. Since the beginning of creation, there has been no one like you. Something that is unique must be beautiful.” When you look into the mirror, make the du’a’:
Allahumma anta Hassanta khalqi fa-hassin khuluqi, waharrim wajhi ‘al-an-naar. Alhamdulilahil-lathi sawwa khalqi fa’adalah, wakarrama suurata wajhi fa’ahsanaha, waja’alna minal-Muslimeen.
O Allah! You made my physical constitution good so make my disposition good too and keep my face safe from the hellfire. Praise be to Allah Who fashioned and made me proportionate, and honored my face and made me of the Muslims. [at-Tabarani]
When anyone of us dies, we won’t refer to your body except as the body of so and so.
What is Not Haya’?
There is a type of haya’ that is not really haya’ – is it negative, it comes from shyness. This haya’ is the type of haya’ that prevents you from doing what is right or from seeking knowledge. This can be cowardice, riyaa’ (showing off), lack of confidence, ignorance or low self-esteem. When it is the truth, you should not shy from it, you should learn about it and share it.
Inna Allaha la yastahyi min al-Haqq.
“Allah does not have haya’ from the truth.” (33:53)
Do not take advantage of another person’s haya’. Someone who has haya’ will be sensitive and considerate of others, and will be shy of making fun of others. An example of this is when you compliment something of another and they offer it to you out of haya’, you should not take it. If you obtain something using the sword of haya’, it is haram.
Haya’ vs. Being Firm?
Haya’ does not mean weakness. The Prophet (s) was not weak, but he had haya’. An example of this is the Battle of Uhud, where the majority of Companions wanted to do something, and the Prophet (s) disagreed but went with the shura (general consensus). Afterwards, some of the companions were worried that they pressured the Prophet (s), but he (s) said:
Fa ‘itha ‘azmata fa tawakal ‘ala Allah.
If you make a decision, have reliance and faith in Allah.
The Prophet (s) taught the companions to be self-dependent and not rely on other people. If someone would drop his siwak, or his horsewhip, they would get down and get it themselves.
Question & Answer
How do we break the barrier of the culture aspect of ‘ayb* with our parents?
We should identify what is truly ‘ayb or not. For example, if parents say “Oh, you are talking to some boy, that’s ‘ayb.” When the Prophet (s) was in a dark area with his wife, two companions saw him talking to her. He (s) hastened after them to clarify that he was speaking to his wife – they replied, we would never assume anything of you! But in Islam we should always clarify; if there is room for doubt, Shaytan will try to whisper and cause conflict.
One time, Shaykh Faqih ran into a brother and in his car he had a six-pack. The brother waited for the Shaykh outside of the market and explained that the six-pack was non-alcoholic beer that was prescribed to him by his doctor to help with a bowel problem. The Shaykh loved this because the man respected him, and the man followed the sunnah (tradition of the Prophet (s))! As Muslims, we should not do anything suspicious. We should avoid shady things, in order not to put doubt in the other people’s minds and hearts. Shaytan is always the third. If you are in a suspicious situation, you should always explain it. You have to earn trust and respect.
*`Ayb means something that is shameful or inappropriate.
Can we have friends of the opposite gender?
The believing men and the believing women are awliya’ of each other. Wali (which is singular of awliya’) means protector, guardian, custodian, friend, steward. Steven Covey talks about how we are stewards of each other. If we violate something or do something wrong, we are putting each other at risk. Examples of this are drinking and driving or running a red light. Be respectful of each other – you are brothers and sisters. Be protective and considerate of each other. Do not be overly considerate and nice (i.e. “you look cute today!”) Do not cross the line and share intimate feelings or become too friendly. How would you want your husband to talk to you if he was not married to you? How would you behave in front of your spouse with the opposite gender?
How do we learn about how to act in haya’ in front of each other?
We must inculcate an environment of haya’; we need to discuss what is haya’ and how to develop it. We must be a functioning unit, with decent relationships, that respects its boundaries. Make sure you will never have regrets. NO FLIRTING! Anything that you would accept from your spouse but that you would not expect him/her to do to someone else, that is something you should not expect from someone else.
If excessive haya’ is never bad, what if someone takes advantage of it?
Let it go, unless they are doing it viciously. Then address it. Deal with them on their mental level (khudi ‘ala ‘addi ‘alu).
What about different boundaries for gender relations? Some people do not think complimenting the opposite gender is wrong.
In American culture complimenting the opposite gender is flirting, so how is that acceptable? At one of the national conferences, Shaykh Faqih and Imam Zaid Shakir were with an auntie, a guy and girl in an elevator. The auntie says to Shaykh Faqih what you said about the Qur’an was so beautiful! The girl turns to the boy and says, nice shoes. He laughs and respond, yes I got them from this place. They started flirting with each other in front of Imam Zaid and the Shaykh! This is an example of why converts get turned off by the behavior of Muslims at these conferences