اَلْحَيَاءُ شُعْبَةٌ مِنَ الْاِيْمَانِ (رواه البخاري ومسلم)

“Modesty is a portion of imaan.”

حياء  (hayaa) comes from the root حى (hayya), which means “to live” and حىي (hayiya) “to be ashamed of or because of”. It is from this root that حياة (hayaah) the word for “life” derives, and also يحيى (yahya), the name for the Prophet John the Baptist (عليه السلام).

إيمان (imaan) means loosely faith, and it comes from the root امن (amuna) which means “to be faithful, reliable, trustworthy, to be safe, to feel safe”. Other words from this root include آمين (aameen>, related to the English word amen), مؤمن (mu’min) which means a believer, and أمَانَة (amaanah) – a trust. But because so much of the root of amuna is related to safety, we can see that imaan is much more than just faith but the security and safeness which results from tawheed and taqwa. Imaan is definitely not faith in the Christian sense, meaning that one ignores all doubts in order to rectify one’s belief system with the reality around them.

Therefore, this hadith means more than just modesty is a portion of faith. It is saying that modesty, which is part of life itself, is a portion of imaan, the safety and security one needs to implement Islam.

While this modesty includes modest dress, hijab etc is not the totality of modesty in Islam. Modesty of character, modesty in spending, modesty in dealings with others, all of these things and more are part of modesty.

Let us all take a moment and reflect on our lives, and find at least one way we can increase our modesty so that we can deepen on Islam.

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