Explaining Modesty in Islām: An Important Branch of Īmān

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.

RELATED: Non-Muslim Judge Orders Muslim Woman: Obey the Sharia!

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.

RELATED: The 7 Ways Some Muslim Men Contribute to Immodesty from Muslim Women

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.

RELATED: The History of Hadīth Rejection: The Roots of Modernist Deviance

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

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If you don’t like what you claim is the “immodest” culture of the cities, then you have every legal right in most countries of the world, including both in America (home of the Muslim skeptic) and South Africa (home of the Mufti who originally made this “heartfelt message”), to make hijra to relocate to the countryside and live in low-tech villages off the grid like how the Amish and Haredi peoples have been doing for centuries.

In that way you can completely avoid the immodest city culture and live exactly like how you preach, and preserve your traditional religious Conservative lifestyle. This is also in line with what Resoolullah PBUH advised in the hadeeth and the main story of Quran Surah 18 of isolating from mainstream society (whether in a cave or elsewhere) to avoid the big fitna of urban society. No one is forcing you to live in the immodest city society.


But what is wrong and unethical is if you support armed political-military factions to completely take over and hijack entire countries and governments, then they start abusing the levers of state power (such as police and judiciary) to make a wild berserk rampage all over the country of arresting, beating up, torturing, jailing and killing people (both judicial executions and extrajudicial murders) JUST for not following your own standard of “modesty”, or just for doing many other things that you claim are haram or worthy of criminalization,

For example the ruling regime beating up, torturing, jailing and killing millions of city people just for doing the following things; Men Not having beard and not going to mosque 5 times daily, Women going out alone or driving or not wearing burka, or just for listening to music or watching movies, or men and women studying or working in the same workplace or school/university as colleagues in a mutually respectful way without inappropriate interactions. If you believe these things are haram, stay away from it yourself and live in your isolated Amish-style villages to avoid it, and encourage people to move into your modest villages to live modest lifestyle. But don’t beat up, torture, jail or kill millions of mainstream people in cities for doing these things, otherwise you become sadistic oppressive tyrants and maybe khawarij.


The fact is that what is modest to one person is immodest for another, since there is no such thing as one universal standard of modesty for everyone, including even within the Muslim ummah or even amongst hardline ultra-Conservative Muslims. For example, in South Africa where this mufti is from, there is a group called “Majlis Ulama South Africa” (MUSA) who are the world’s strictest and most Conservative Muslims because they declare nearly everything haram.

I insist that Daniel Haqiqatjou is a great Muslim and hero of Islam. However he showed his wife to talk on screen. That is something which hardline Muslims like MUSA (not me) would call Daniel a “Dayyooth” (cuckold) for, because they have a much higher standard of what is modest and immodest (i don’t agree with them btw). From the viewpoint of these ultra-hardline Muslims, the Muslim skeptic is “immodest” because he shows his wife on camera and doesn’t say that women driving is haram, nor does he refrain from mentioning women’s names in public which MUSA also insist is haram immodesty. They also insist that it is haram immodesty for women to go to masjid, cemeteries, weddings, girls schools, or to “prostitute her voice in public” such as on radio or YouTube like what Daniel allowed. All of this proves that standards of modesty are largely arbitrary and subjective, and not monolithic universal everywhere.


Walaikumsalam warahmetullahi wabarkatuhu
Beloved mufti and other fans of Muslim skeptic,
I never said or even insinuated that any of you are khawarij. You are absolutely not khawarij since you are nonviolent and you are not a political group. There is nothing wrong with the good advice posted here.

However the point that I’m making is that in some parts of the Muslim world in recent times there are some armed political-militant groups who violently seize power over a Muslim country, then they start imposing a very harsh cruel hyper-strict set of laws that they claim is the “one and only true correct version of sharia”. In this system, which I call “hard sharia”, they haramize and criminalize so many things (or almost everything) under threat of savage beatings, jailing, and killings, just for doing simple things like what I mentioned above. Afghanistan and Syria+Iraq (2014-2017) are areas where this happened. Muslim skeptic supports Таlіban who is imposing this hard sharia system, because he clearly likes their harsh cruel hard sharia system and their domestic laws criminalizing nearly everything.

I’m not against hard sharia per se. I support it only if it is imposed in some local areas like rural Afghanistan where the local people are ultra-conservative Muslims who support it and want it. However, if hard sharia is imposed in major cities outside Afghanistan where the local population are overwhelmingly “moderate” Muslims and nonMuslims, then this is totally wrong and unethical since the population don’t want that hard sharia. It’s wrong to force this harsh draconian system on populations against their will. “There is no coercion in the Deen” (Quran 2:256). But Muslim skeptic seems to support the view that hard sharia (the Таlibаn system of beating up and jailing and killing people just for not being hardline ultra-conservatives) must be forcibly imposed on everyone everywhere in the world even if against their will, which is what (he thinks) jіhаd is for, which he used the “Firstworldism” analogy to explain this. Basically Muslim skeptic wants to see an Іslаmіс Stаtе who does exactly what Dаеsh’s stated objective is.


Fortunately (Alhamdulillah) the Іslаmіс Emіrate of Afghanistan are (at least for now) sane enough to not demand the imposition of their domestic system (that they claim is shаria) on the rest of the entire world against the will of the local peoples who don’t want to live under such a harsh cruel draconian system. For now, they don’t care if the rest of the world outside Afghanistan are secular/liberals or “moderate” Muslims.
However, a year ago brother Daniel Haqiqatjou (hafizahullah) published a video on his YouTube channel where he used the analogy of “Firstworldism” to promote the idea that there must be a expansionist Islamic empire who tries to conquer the rest of the entire world and annex lands of even nonMuslim counties, so that this empire can forcibly impose sharia on everyone everywhere, even if against the will of 99% of the locals.

When he says sharia, he means the Таliban system of beating up, jailing, chopping body parts and killing people just for things like; women not wearing burka or covering the head or face in public, women going out without family man, women working in male-dominated professions, men not having big beard or going to mosque 5x daily, making or consuming music and movies, having co-ed schools colleges and workplaces, getting tattoos, dating boyfriend-girlfriend, and so on. All of these things are part of established mainstream city culture worldwide, especially for nonMuslims. If you try and impose this Таlibаn hard sharia system on everyone everywhere to completely destroy their established local culture and lifestyle, then the only way to do that against the will of over 95% of the locals is to literally torture and genocide millions of them into submission. This is what would make such a ruling regime into khawarij.


It is on the video Daniel uploaded on June 8, 2020, and also in his debate against “Aроstаte prophet” AKA “Apuss Ridvan” at time-stamp 33:40 in the video on Daniel’s channel, where Daniel promotes the idea of an expansionist Islamic empire invading and conquering the whole world for the sake of forcing Таlіbаni laws down everyone’s throats even if they don’t want it.

A commenter on this blog (under the recent article about the rave party in Saudi) said that everything which is haram in Islam must be a crime in a real Islamic sharia state (I presume Muslim skeptic agrees with this idea), and everything which is fardh (such as salah, Ramadan fasting, hijab and maybe beard) must be forced on everyone by the state through harsh punishments. I strongly disagree with this idea. There is no worldly state-imposed punishment mentioned in Quran or Sunnah for doing any of these above-mentioned haram things or not doing any of the fardh deeni things. Why? Because not everything that is haram must be literally a crime punishable by beating, torturing, jailing and killing.

Instead, discouraging and preaching dawah against these smaller haram things is more than enough for Amr Bill Maaroof wa Nehia Anill Munker. Many of those hard sharia supporters accuse the “moderate” Muslims (like the current ruling regimes of most Muslim countries) of imposing “man-made law according to their whims and desires”. But the reality is that it is these hard sharia fanatics who want to force their own man-made laws and punishments according to their hardliner whims and desires to beat up/torture/kill people for things which Quran and sunnah don’t demand any punishment for.


If you believe this idea that “everything which is haram must be criminalized under sharia by an Islamic state”, then that opens floodgates for those who are much more conservative/draconian and stricter than you (such as Majlisul Ulama South Africa) to demand criminalizing even more things that they claim are haram, such as photos/videos/TV (idolatry), all sports and games, all leisure activities, entertainment, wearing suit/tie, clapping, fireworks, microphones in mosques, Quran competitions, eating with knife+fork while sitting on chair at table, girls schools, women driving or doing anything other than home lockdown (purdah nasheen), all vaccines, and many types of medical procedures including organ transplants. All haram haram haram according to MUSA.

Imagine if people who agreed with their views came to power ruling over a country or an Islamic empire, then they would make mincemeat out of even you and Таlіban (let alone the secular/liberal or moderate majority), because they claim that even you and Таliban are not halal or modest or Islamic enough, since you don’t haramize as many things as they do. In fact, they declare so many extra things haram that they make even you and Таlibаn look like westernized woke secular liberal immodest feminists compared to them. How would you feel then? Won’t you feel oppresed and tyrannized by their harsh excessive legal restrictions?

They will just respond to your complaints by saying that they are only implementing Allah’s law the true sharia, by criminalizing everything including many things that you do. That’s how the over 80% to 98% of Muslims and nonMuslims of big cities feel if people with hardline Tаlіban-like views come and take over their cities. So please don’t support invading our major cities to impose Таlіbаn-style draconian hard sharia system on everyone everywhere in all cities, because we don’t want it. Instead please keep your draconian laws confined to your little towns, villages, and regions like Helmand and FATA where everyone there are ultra-conservative hardliners. In the cities where the vast majority are liberals or “moderate” Muslims or nonMuslims, let the people live pious pure modest lifestyle voluntarily out of their own free will, without coercion or punishments.


As I said above, I’m NOT against hard sharia, and I’m not even against the strictest and most harshest and draconian version of sharia which is run according to the ideas of Majlisul Ulama who declare nearly everything haram including even haramizing many things that Muslim skeptic and his beloved Таlіbаn do openly, such as photos/videos of people (idolatry), showing veiled women talking on screen, sports, sitting at tables on chairs, eating with knife and fork, and supporting non-covid vaccines. How would you like to live under a sharia where even these things are haramized and criminalized?

I will happily support this draconian “everything is haram and crime” version of sharia as long as it is imposed only inside small towns, villages, and regions like Helmand, FATA, and rural Somalia and Yemen tribal areas where the all local populations are hard-line ultra-conservative Muslims who are comfortable with this system. In these kind of areas there are more or less no secular/liberal people or nonMuslims or so-called cosmopolitan “moderate” Muslims living there at all. So keep your harsh draconian version of sharia in those areas only. I am also in favour of building many new greenfield cities from scratch that are exclusively dedicated for hardline ultra-orthodox Muslims and their “everything is haram and crime” version of sharia to be implemented within the walls of those cities.


I’m supporting sharіа as long as it is imposed in local areas with local popular consent. However it is not strictly necessary for a Muslim to live under sharia to be able to live a lifestyle given by Allah or go to jennah paradise like what you are insinuating. Muslims can still live pure Islamic lifestyle and go to jennah paradise even without living in sharia. For example all the Sohaba rodiallahuanhum in Mecca before the Hijra, Acia the wife of the evil Pharaoh, and even Daniel Haqiqatjou. All of them are good Muslims who will (inshallah) go to jennah despite not living under sharia. It is even possible for one to live as a good Muslim in the most sinful decadent city such as Las Vegas or Amsterdam’s Red light district and still go to jennah. Why? Because those Muslims there can still legally pray solah, fast, wear hijab/burka/beard, go to mosque daily, and voluntarily abstain from all the haram things including the vices just around their doorstep, since no one is forcing them to do those haram sins at gunpoint or knifepoint or threat of jail.


You can give as much dawah as you like but it will never change the hard reality on the ground that in the big cities all over the Muslim world and the rest of the world, the vast majority of the population (especially those who are born and brought up there), or at least 70% to 99% of the general urban population, are a mix of “moderate” practicing Muslims, secular-liberal people and nonMuslims, all of whom will never want the Taliban-like harsh draconian version of sharia.

The population of big cities overwhelmingly want either secular rule, or (in many Muslim-majority cities) a mild tolerant version of Islamic law or what I call “soft sharia” which has far less social and cultural restrictions than Talibanism. In soft sharia, the government may discourage haram things and promote and encourage conservative Islamic lifestyle through dawah like you mentioned (e.g. adverts and school education), but does not FORCIBLY IMPOSE it on everyone.