Bashfulness: It is one of the great qualities that Islam enjoins; it is a characteristic that drives a person to do all that is good and stops him from committing that which is bad. Furthermore, it is one of the attributes of the devout slaves of Allah, and the best among those who possessed this quality was the Prophet .
Aspects of not possessing bashfulness: Why do some women shun the Hijab (i.e. Islamic attire for women) and walk around uncaring of their exposed heads and hair?Why do some women wear tight, transparent clothes? Why do many people use profane words in public places, stores, market places and in gatherings? Why do some people borrow money and act harshly with those who lent them the money; refuse to repay the debt at the due time and speak to the lenders in a deceitful manner? Why do men and women freely intermix and talk to each other as if it were a normal permissible situation?
What is the reason behind the spread of these phenomena and others like them? The answer is that many people have lost one of the great characteristics encouraged by Islam – namely bashfulness.
It is no exaggeration to say that bashfulness is completely lost from the hearts of many people nowadays, while it has considerably decreased in the hearts of others, and therefore, sinning openly has become a widespread behavior.
Types of bashfulness: Bashfulness either comes naturally to a person or it is something that is learned and cultivated. Bashfulness was created to be a natural character of our parents, namely Aadam and Eve. This was manifested when they rushed to conceal their private parts that became exposed as a result of their disobeying Allah and eating from the prohibited tree, using the leaves of the trees of Paradise. Thus, this was the undefiled, natural state in which man was created.
However, this inherent bashfulness gets corrupted due to many reasons, like parents dressing their daughters with indecent clothes and getting them accustomed to this from a young age. You may find in some families that the girls wear revealing clothes in the house in front of their brothers, and then relatives, until finally they venture outside the house in front of other people.
Another matter that destroys bashfulness is a woman going out to work without a pressing need, while she is in principle supposed to stay at home and concentrate on the upbringing of her children. Allah tells us the story of the two young ladies who were cultivated righteously and who were forced to go out due to their only supporter – their father – being too old and weak to go out. They were helped by Prophet Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, and when their father wanted to reward him, he could not go to him, so he sent one of these two righteous young ladies calling him to meet her father. Allah described her saying (which means): “Then one of the two women came to him walking with bashfulness” [Quran 28: 25]
She went to him totally covered – even her face was veiled, because covering the face was known even during the pre-Islamic era, as in the famous story of the wife of An-Nu’maan whose face cover fell down while walking past by a group of men, so she immediately placed one hand on her face to cover it, while picking up the face cover using the other hand.
Bashfulness is an inherent, natural quality in women, but nowadays we see many of them going out dressed in improper and un-Islamic garments; they laugh with men and joke around with them.
Bashfulness is so important in Islam that certain Islamic rulings have been based on it, such as the marriage of a virgin girl: ‘Aa’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “I asked the Prophet about a virgin girl being married off to someone, should her parents seek her consent or not?” He said: “Yes, her consent should be sought”. I said: “But she would be to shy to say her opinion when she is asked her opinion” He replied: “Her consent is if she remains silent (when asked).”
The Prophets are the most bashful people: The Prophet said: “Bashfulness and faith are paired, so if one of them disappears the second disappears as well.”
The Prophet said: “Allah Almighty is Hayiy (which implies bashfulness) Sitteer (which implies one who likes veiling) so when one of you is bathing he should veil himself (from others lest they see him)” [Ahmad]
The Prophet also said: “Allah Almighty is Hayiy (which implies bashfulness) and The Most Generous, He would be bashful to turn down His slave empty-handed (i.e. un-responded) when he raises his hands supplicating”
The Prophet further said: “From the sayings of the Prophets who were before: If you have no shame then do whatever you wish.” This is a warning for those who are shameless that they will find the outcome of their shameless actions and behavior on the Day of Judgment and will be punished for it. It is a natural result that one does anything he desires when he loses bashfulness, but then Allah will punish him for his ill conduct.
The Prophets and Messengers, may Allah exalt their mention, were extremely bashful, to the point that no spot of the skin of Prophet Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, was exposed or seen by others. Likewise, Prophet Muhammad was so bashful that he never named things by their real name when it came to talking about embarrassing things and he used figurative words instead. Once a woman came asking him how to perform Ghusl (ritual bath) after her menses, but he was so bashful that he could not explain to her how to clean her private parts, so he requested ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, to tell her how.
The Prophet said: “Every religion has a distinct characteristic it emphasizes on, and for Islam it is bashfulness.