Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Modesty with boldness|
|09/03/01 at 23:56:15|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
[center]Modesty with boldness
Dr Muhammad Kamal Al-Shareef[/center]
Modesty is an essential element of Islamic moral behavior, but Islam attaches strong emphasis to courage in speaking out for the truth and freedom from subjugation by other people. Islam wants people to submit to no one other than God.
Modesty is a positive characteristic which protects man against being transformed into a heartless creature, and protects society against being infested with heartless characters. In contrast to modesty, there is a harmful characteristic which is shyness and fear of people.
A believer's modesty gives him a keen sense of trying to avoid any unbecoming position. He is keen to maintain his dignity and his moral superiority. Shyness, on the other hand, imposes unseen shackles on a person so as to dictate his behavior. It may lead him to do what God has forbidden and refrain from what He has ordered. To be able to break off such shackles, enjoy his freedom and live according to what he knows to be right, a believer needs to demonstrate moral courage and strong character.
That should make him able to declare the truth, fearing no one, other than God. Shyness is a worry to anyone who suffers from it. It is felt as fetters restricting one's movement. On the other hand, modesty is felt to spring from within and to be in harmony with one's character.
Thus we can visualize modesty as a commitment which does not detract from personal freedom. By contrast, shyness is a fear of people which restricts freedom of movement. Modesty is an inner conscience, while shyness may be viewed as an external conscience heedless of one's own interests. It simply wants to preserve customs and traditions approved by the strong for ulterior motives, or upheld by those who insist on following in the footsteps of past generations.
Modesty is the product of a positive sense of self-esteem and a feeling that other people have their own dignity and deserve respect. Thus a modest person is keen not to show any trait that detracts from his dignity or moral sense.
By contrast, shyness is brought about by a sense of inferiority and self-contempt. A shy person underrates himself, having little respect for his own personality. His sense of inferiority gives him a fear of people. His fear of blame prevents him from stating the truth he believes in, even though he does not expect any harmful result to himself, his property or family. He simply fears to irritate other people in order to avoid their blame or disapproval of what he says or does, even though he knows it to be right.
The Prophet was ahead of psychologists when he alerted us to the inner reason of shyness, calling it self-contempt and fear of people. He once said to his companions: "Let none of you look at himself with contempt." They asked him: "How can one be self-contemptuos?" He said: "He sees something which requires that he stands up and says something for God's sake, but he refrains from doing so. God will ask him on the Day of Resurrection, 'What prevented you from standing up to state what you knew to be true?' He will answer: 'It was fear of people.' God will say to him: 'You should have better feared me'." (Related by Ibn Majah). The Prophet also says: "Let none of you be prevented by fear of people from stating the truth when he knows it."(Related by Ibn Majah).
A shy person fears people's criticism and ridicule, because he is too critical of himself, always trying to find fault with himself. He then magnifies such faults to the exclusion of his virtues. He thus sees nothing of himself except what he considers to be his faults and defects. He fears that if he were to assert himself, people would be offended and they would punish him by looking for his faults and speaking about them. He leads a life of avoiding people. He fears that if he was to arouse people's attentions, they would start looking for his faults.
This fear of other people's criticism is implanted in us in childhood, as we hear adults criticizing, backbiting and ridiculing others in their absence.
Islam is keen to implant in its followers a sense of social freedom, so that a Muslim feels free to lead the life he believes to be best, paying little heed to what people may think, as long as he is not guilty of injustice or anything forbidden. God's prophets and messengers gave a good example for all believers, as they are described by God in the Qur'an: "Those who convey God's messages to mankind stand in awe of Him, and hold none but God in awe." (33: 39)
[i]"Islam in Perspective" - Arab News - 30 October 2000[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
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