Awrah Awareness 101: A Closer Look at Modesty in Islam

Awrah means the secret part of our body that we keep covered for both men and women. Awrah is an Arabic word that means the intimate body parts that must be covered with clothing to preserve dignity and self-respect, promote humility, foster healthy social interactions, Preserve family values and spiritual development, etc.

Just like we protect our minds from negativity and evil activities, we cover our bodies with clothes to protect and keep things private that are meant to be kept secret.

Our body acts as a messenger, continuously talking to our minds and hearts. For Instance, when someone looks at us with strong feelings, our body parts like eyes, brains, and emotions join in a conversation.

Our brain, the boss of feelings, starts working. It reads faces and bodies, activating our emotional side. How we feel—maybe uneasy or even excited—depends on our personal thoughts and the world around us.

These feelings can affect how we think about ourselves, like a mirror reflecting our worth. Similarly, when other humans around us look with lust and desire to one body because of inappropriate clothing, it creates a negative environment around us.

Sometimes, it even triggers stress, making our hearts beat faster. Cultural rules also have a say, shaping how we see and respond to these looks.

Most of the time, it leads one to indulge in bad relationships, and then later on in life, it becomes a habit, which often becomes hard to quit for most of us.

Islam is the religion of freedom, wisdom, knowledge, equality, peace, and anything that harms humans. It has been regarded as Haram in the Holy Quran.

Abu Huraira reported that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “Among the inhabitants of Hell are two distinct types: the first uses whips resembling the tails of oxen to lash people, and the second consists of women who, despite being clothed, appear naked. They are led astray and lead others astray, their hair piled high like camel humps. These women will not enter Paradise, nor will they experience its fragrance, despite its perceivable scent from a great distance.”

Source: (Sahih Muslim Book 40, Hadith Number 6840)

What is considered Awrah?

Contrary to misconceptions, the emphasis on modesty in Islam is not a means of suppressing women but rather a way of empowering them.

Many women may have a belief about what parts of a woman’s body should be covered when in the presence of other women, often suggesting that it is the area between the navel and the knee.

Consequently, some may not hesitate to wear tight or revealing clothing, exposing significant portions of their chest and arms.

In Islam, it is emphasized that Muslim women are required to uphold modesty and shyness, setting an excellent example for their fellow Muslim sisters.

They should reveal only what is considered normal and appropriate among righteous Muslim women. This practice is not only an initial expectation but also the safest approach.

Concerning wearing tight clothes in front of other women, it is asserted that such attire, revealing alluring body parts, is not permissible except when worn for one’s husband only.

Even in the presence of other women, it is not allowed, as it may set a bad example and lead others to follow suit.

Modesty beyond physical appearance

A woman has many roles in society. She is a sister, wife, and mother; therefore, a woman plays the most crucial part in shaping the future for a better community to excel. Consequently, a woman must have what it takes to be content and live a happy life.

A woman or man needs to know their rights as a Husband or wife (read more), but also, there are certain limitations set by Allah (ﷻ), which he has warned us about in the Quran. In today’s world, all those things have become widely spread, and no one pays attention to their consequences.

Islam is the only religion that will take an individual to the excellence of humanity. Awrah predominantly deals with the physical aspects of modesty; Islam places equal importance on modest behavior, speech, and conduct, which we Muslims also call Adab.

In Arabic, “Adab” (أدب) means more than being polite. It’s like a mix of good behavior, doing the right thing, and how we act with others. Adab is about being kind, showing respect, and understanding how to behave in our community.

Imam Mawlud initiates his treatise by emphasizing the significance of courtesy, as he recognizes that exemplary conduct and demeanor serve as gatekeepers to spiritual purification.

It is imperative to demonstrate courtesy in one’s relationship with Allah (ﷻ), behaving appropriately and showing respect in His presence for those aspiring to cleanse their hearts.

Imam Mawlud identifies two essential qualities to attain this courtesy: modesty (ḥayā’) and humility (dhul). These qualities are integral to cultivating the respectful and humble attitude necessary for pursuing spiritual purification.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) emphasized, “Each religion possesses a distinctive quality, and the defining trait of my faith is ḥayā‘,” an intrinsic sense of shame that includes bashfulness and modesty.

Goodreads

Societal Influences on Interpretations

In today’s world, women are being treated as if they are not equal to men by comparing women to men. This is complete garbage. A woman is very important, and she must be respected no matter what.

It is entirely wrong to compare a woman to a man because a woman in Islam is valued for her intellect, character, and contributions, with Islamic teachings emphasizing respect, dignity, and empowerment within the framework of modesty and equality.

Sometimes, our minds get caught up in this materialistic world, following what most people say and treating it as the only truth.

But if we take a moment to think, do some research, and set our own standards, we might realize that our society, built on certain beliefs, not heading in the right direction.

It’s essential to question and think for ourselves instead of unquestioningly accepting things that might not benefit us.

Many of us may remember hearing “Shame on you!” during childhood. Regrettably, in recent times, the concept of shame has acquired a negative connotation, being seen as something bad.

Parents are now cautioned against “shaming” a child and advised always to make them feel good, irrespective of their behavior.

However, this approach may inadvertently eliminate natural deterrents to misbehavior.

Some scholars categorize cultures into shame and guilt cultures. In this context, guilt is an inner mechanism that generates strong feelings of remorse when someone has done something wrong, prompting them to make amends.

In Islam, feelings are not based on guilt but on shame. It’s not just about not wanting to feel guilty; it’s about not wanting to bring shame to ourselves or our families. Islam values the idea of shame and raises it to a higher level, where we feel a sense of shame in front of Allah (ﷻ).

When we understand that Allah (ﷻ) knows everything we do, say, or think, that sense of shame goes beyond what we can see. It reaches the hidden world where there’s no hiding. In fact, we might even feel a sense of shame in front of the angels.

Empowering Women through Modesty

Islam encourages women to be leaders in education, work, family, and society. And the sole purpose of humans is to live like humans, which means learning to differentiate between good and evil.

Islam has set principles through which women or men can achieve whatever they wish.

Can a woman show her face in Islam?

In Islam, my dear brothers and sisters, a woman is indeed allowed to show her face. The teachings of Islam guide us with kindness and understanding, emphasizing the importance of modesty while also acknowledging the diversity of cultures and practices among Muslims.

You see, Islam teaches that modesty is a beautiful virtue, and it encompasses various aspects of a person’s life, including how one dresses.

The face is generally not considered an area that must be covered, but the emphasis is placed on dressing in a manner that preserves one’s dignity and promotes respect.

Conclusion.

Imam Mawlud describes the concept of freedom according to Islam. The true freedom this corrupt society has kept hidden from us comes from attaining the virtues of shame and humility.

True freedom comes when one learns to sacrifice one’s inner desires for one’s opposites, namely shamelessness and arrogance.

The reward Almighty Allah (ﷻ) has kept in this is excellent. By reaching this level, you can feel genuine tranquility that brings freedom, wealth, and honor, requiring liberation from the bonds of one’s desires.

Author

  • Arish Husain

    Assalam Alaikum beautiful people! someone who loves Prophet Muhammad and his family a lot. I like finding new ways to teach important stuff, so everyone can understand what Allah wants from us and His plans. We learn to listen for whispers from Allah, understand big plans, get ready for whatever Allah has for us, and try our best. I hope Allah's blessings guide us on this special journey.Allah hu Akbar!

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