Shaykh-ul-Hadīth Mawlānā Fadl-ur-Rahmān Azmī hafizahullāh, the master Hadīth scholar based at Dār-ul-‘Ulūm Azaadville, South Africa, had delivered a heartfelt message to the Ummah in Durban on 6 November 2021. The translation of this lecture is presented below for the benefit of the Ummah.
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Rasūlullah sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Īmān comprises of more than seventy branches. The most virtuous of them is saying: Lā ilāha illā Allāh and the lowest of them is to remove anything harmful from the road and Hayā’, i.e., shame and modesty is a branch of īmān.”
This is a Hadīth of Sahīh Muslim. In this Hadīth, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam has mentioned the branches of īmān with great brevity and conciseness. This is such a comprehensive Hadīth, that in order to explain it, Imām Bayhaqī rahimahullāh had written a work of eight volumes titled Shu’ab-ul-Īmān. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam had mentioned such comprehensive words before departing from this worldly realm, that it is as though he filled the ocean in a cup.
If a Muslim has to practice on this one Hadīth, then the entire religion will come under its umbrella. This Hadīth exhorts us to do certain deeds and instructs us to leave some actions. The Sharī’ah covers both spheres. The Sharī’ah commands us to do certain deeds, to do the Farā’id, Wājibāt, Sunan, Mustahabbāt. At the same time, it tells us to abandon sins, to the extent that we are told to leave out the doubtful too.
The Hadīth tells us that īmān has more than seventy branches. The detail of them is indeed vast. The Muhaddithīn have gone into the detail and counted up to seventy-nine branches. In fact, if they are spread out further, there will be more branches. If they are brought together, then they will be lesser.
The most virtuous and important of these branches is Lā ilāha illā Allāh, Muhammad Rasūlullāh. This means that whatever has reached us from Allāh Ta’ālā and Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam, we must have full conviction in it. When a person will have conviction, then he will practice accordingly. Īmān is in the heart. Saying the words ‘lā ilāha illā Allāh’ verbally is a branch of it. Original and pure īmān is in the heart.
The lowest level is to remove anything harmful from the road. No difficulty should be caused to any Muslim. If there is something harmful on the road or path, then it should be taken away and removed. Those people who are treading the wrong path and have fallen astray, to take them away from the wrong path and bring them onto the straight and correct road is an even greater branch of īmān. One should never cause any harm to any person. A Muslim should always have a well-wishing nature. The Hadīth says, ‘Religion is well-wishing’, bringing benefit to others. This benefit can be in terms of the worldly life as well as in terms of religion. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam explained the highest level and then the lowest level, and in-between them there is a quality that covers them all, it is Hayā’ Shar’ī, i.e., modesty as required by the Sharī’ah.
Hayā’ Shar’ī is a very huge and great branch of īmān. It contains many branches within it. Hayā’ is a necessary component of īmān. Without it, the īmān of a person cannot be perfect and complete.
Definition of Hayā’
Whatever is forbidden in the Sharī’ah, a person will experience a straitened condition in his self on account of them; this straitened condition will stop him from committing sin. This definition covers abandoning every sin.
When a person will have Hayā’ Shar’ī in him, then he (or she) will stay away from every sin, even if he is in solitude. Mulla ‘Alī Al-Qārī rahimahullāh says in the commentary of this, ‘that Allāh Ta’ālā should not see you in a place where the sin is carried out.’ There should be no intermingling of the sexes. Do not go to the places where this happens. Save yourself from every sin.
In Jāmi’ Tirmidhī, there is a Hadīth that serves as an excellent explanation and commentary. Sayyidunā ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd radiyallāhu ‘anhu narrates that on one occasion,
Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to the Sahābah radiyallāhu ‘anhum, ‘Adopt Hayā’ from Allāh according to the right of Hayā’.’
The Sahābah radiyallāhu ‘anhum had a very high level of īmān. They responded, ‘O Rasūl of Allāh, indeed we adopt modesty from Allāh, Alhamdulillāh.’ Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam explained further, ‘Not this. The person who adopts modesty from Allāh, he should protect his head and whatever is in its surrounds. He should protect his belly and what is in is surrounds. He must remember death. Whoever intends the hereafter, he should abandon worldly glamour. Whoever has done this, he has adopted modesty before Allāh.’
See how many sins have been covered in this Hadīth. Adopting modesty before Allāh Ta’ālā according to its right entails that we abandon every sin. We must save and protect our eyes, our tongue, our ears. If our heart and mind think of sin, then we must protect and save ourselves from it too. Do not harbor hatred and malice in the heart and think of ways to vent it. All the organs related to the head, a person must stay away from the sins committed by them. Similarly, the belly and whatever surrounds it must be saved and protected. This includes the private parts. One should save himself and herself from the sins of the private parts.
People visit and go to places of immodesty. They become immodest and commit sins. They do not care about the effects and the consequences.
From the teachings and words of the previous Ambiyā’, one of the important things is, ‘when you lose modesty, then do whatever you want.’ However, the way of the world today is immodesty. To become immodest is counted as an achievement. People proudly say that their value lies in being immodest and shameless. It is our status to become shameless like animals. If a person stays in an immodest environment, then after a short while, he or she will become immodest. After this, his sins do not bother or trouble him.
Related to the belly is the sin of consuming Harām, drinking Harām, fulfilling desires in the Harām way. A person will adopt the right of modesty when he refrains from these sins totally.
We have to stand before Allāh Ta’ālā, and we have to give an account of our deeds. Therefore, we must think of death. We will decompose in the soil. After this, we will be brought to life and have to give an account of the deeds we have done. If we have the modesty from Allāh Ta’ālā, then we should start having concern from now. If proper and true Hayā’ is built in the heart, then even in solitude a person will not commit sins.
Sometimes, people leave sins out of shame for others, so he goes where no one can see him. However, if he has proper Hayā’, he knows and realizes that Allāh Ta’ālā is watching him, he cannot hide from Him, so how will he commit sins in front of Allāh Ta’ālā? When perfect Shar’ī Hayā’ is in a person, he knows that Allāh Ta’ālā is watching, he will not sin. This is a very great instruction.
The person who has a concern about the hereafter will abandon worldly glamour and décor. He will live a simple and modest life. He will perfect his character, he will control his desires, he will protect his gaze, he will protect his ears, eyes, belly, etc.
The enemies of Islām want to destroy us upon this. By intermingling of the sexes, immodesty is created. Today in schools, colleges, and universities it is understood to be the “in” thing. In fact, it has become mandatory and it is understood as perfection.
In this era of Corona, Allāh Ta’ālā has shown us the results of immodesty. In Ibn Mājah, there is a Hadīth reported from Sayyidunā ‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Umar radiyallāhu ‘anhuma in which Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is reported to have said, ‘O group of Muhājirīn, I have apprehension of five things. When you are tested by them, I make du’ā’ to Allāh that you remain protected from them. When immodesty becomes common in a nation, to the extent that people do it openly…’
Now, immodesty has come into the homes, people do not even see the need to go anywhere. They even perform Salāh quickly to go home and consume the immodesty shown on television.
‘Then, Allāh Ta’ālā will send a plague upon them and sicknesses that were not heard of in previous times.’
Who knew of covid? Who knew of corona? It is highly possible that because of the extreme levels of immodesty prevalent, this sickness has spread worldwide. Our conviction is in the words of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Whatever he said is true.
For this reason, the entire Muslim society must stay completely away from immodesty. Wherever there is the intermingling of the sexes, immodesty affects it. Even if we run a Muslim school, then it can be called Muslim when the rules of Islām are applied. If not, then it will be counted as oppression. Another name should be kept, not ‘Muslim’. If ‘Muslim’ is kept in the name, then there must be the separation of the sexes. When matches are lighted near firewood, a fire must spread.
We are seeing the Hadīth of Ibn Mājah in front of us. We must stay away from every sin, outward and inward. Shar’ī Hayā’ is desired. Sometimes there is Hayā’, but according to the ways and customs of people. People feel that if they do not do something, then what will people say. This is not what is meant. Hayā’ must be brought in line with the Sharī’ah.
Some men feel that if they keep a beard, people will start taunting them and calling them names. People feel that they must remain modern. They feel that being a doctor requires them to be modern, being an engineer requires that they be modern and have a modern mindset and attire. Whereas, a person can be a master of the worldly sciences and remain firm on his religion at the same time. There are many worldly sciences that were founded by Muslims. Study history and you will find many sciences to be founded and developed by Muslims. Non-Muslims took control of it and claimed the glory for themselves.
It is absolutely necessary for a prosperous life to leave all sins. We have to make effort in our homes, Masājid, and localities that everyone, 100% of the people, come onto Salāh. Allāh Ta’ālā has placed the strength and power in Salāh, if according to the Sunnah with punctuality, then this Salāh will save us from immodesty and immorality. This is clear in the Noble Qur’ān. Moreover, we must adhere to the remembrance of Allāh Ta’ālā on a daily basis. Fulfill our monetary obligations like Zakāt – properly. Find out the rulings of Salāh and Zakāt.
Our earnings and what we consume must be Halāl, not Harām or doubtful. Riba and all related things have spread very far in the world. Muslims have also been caught in its trap. It is not an excuse to say that one has to go with the ways of the people.
We understand that this Hadīth is very important and critical for our time. We must repent to Allāh Ta’ālā and fix up our entire society, with a special effort upon the youth to remove the immodesty and immorality. All Muslims are called to engage in efforts of the Madāris, the Masājid, Da’wah, and so on.
May Allāh Ta’ālā bless us with the divine ability to do this. Āmīn