The Precious Haya’

In these trying times of where everywhere we turn, everywhere we go, messages through ads, TVs, internet sites as well as magazines tells us that showing the beauty and freedom of rights is the new way of life. Whilst preserving to the ways of Islam is a backward step that we should avoid. This is a trap full of lies that we Muslims should thread with caution.

“Every religion has a distinct call. For Islam it is Haya’.” [Ibn Majah].


Haya’ (Shyness) is a quality that we today have lost. It is not only for women but also for men.


Narrated by Abu Huraira (ra): The Prophet said, “Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And Haya is a part of faith.” (Bukhari)

We often find that shyness, humility and bashfulness is frowned upon by our society as a weakness or a lack of confidence when, In fact these are quality of a dignified upright human being, who is conscious of their actions and their responsibilities in life.

Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said: “Indeed haya (modesty) and Iman are Companions. When one of them is lifted, the other leaves as well.” (Baihaqi)

Long before human neither knew how to fly nor learnt how to communicate with others around the world. But as times goes by, humans learn to do all sorts of advance stuffs, but worryingly we have lost the essential part of being human. This narration is not just about the patience of Moses nor it is highlighting about the kindness of Moses and the weakness of women. It is also not merely about the preparation that Moses has to go through to become a future prophet then. What is it about then?


23. And when he arrived at the water of Madyan (Midian) he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: “What is the matter with you?” They said: “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man.”

24. So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: “My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!”

25. Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: “Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us.” So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said: “Fear you not. You have escaped from the people who are Zalimun (polytheists, disbelievers, and wrong-doers).”

(Al-Qasas 23-25)

Within these short verses there lies a deep meaning (ibrah) for us to learn. This happened hundred of years ago. Allah has highlighted about the interaction of men and women though the shyness of the women mentioned. This is what we have lacked today. The elusive shyness within ourselves.

We don’t feel shy anymore when committing sins, nor do we feel shy when we have betrayed someone. We need to find that shyness again. Because being shy is not a weakness. But rather it is a strong point that keeps us from going astray.

These are the few points that I want to highlight.

1) Precious Shyness

Lets look back at these rightful women, said to be the daughters of the prophet of Allah, Syu’aib a.s. mentioned in the verses of the Quran. (It is not narrated in any hadiths nor from any verse of the Quran, but there is a strong opinion from many of the Mufassirin/scholars that the old man mentioned was Prophet Syu’aib.) Even though they had urgent and pressing matters on their hand that is to give their flocks water, they avoided being in close contact with the men that are tussling over the water. Instead of barging in or asked the men to move aside, they patiently waited for the men to leave even though their flocks were in dire need of the water then. It is not the case of being weak nor women aren’t strong enough to fight for the water, but instead it is the case of preserving their akhlak by not mingling with the men.

Today, men and women tussle and hustle over everything, even when boarding the buses or trains. Touching, pushing and pestering with each other. Where has the shyness gone to?

So the daughters of the prophet Syu’aib waited. This is of course a loss for them and may lead to the effect in the growth and well-being of their flocks. But why did they chose that choice? This is what made them even more precious.

2) Doesn’t prolong the conversation (asked to converse)

Moses, who was so exhausted and tired and barely could walk from the long travels that he had endured from the events in Egypt, looked on. Baffled at first at the sight of the events unravel in front of him. Because of the personality of Moses who would not let any mistakes pass by, he wanted to see why these two women were not taking the water. What’s certain is that, they weren’t waiting for their husbands nor their fathers because they brought along their own flocks.

Concerned by the events, Moses stood up and asked,

“What is the matter with you?” They said: “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man.”

Look closely at the answer given to Moses. Short, but yet full. In short, their answer was straight to the point. Closing all areas of further questioning with the remark at the end.

Therefore, Moses did not press on with the matter nor asked further questions. Furthermore, he had no more reasons to ask because all the answer he needed was threaded within those short and precise answer. The words “And our father is a very old man” had answered to further potential questions such as, “Where is your father?” or “Do you not have a brother as your companion with you?”  and so on.

So righteous they were in preserving their modesty. Not interested in pursuing the conversation with a man that has no relation to her, and also note to how Moses conducted himself, not looking nor thinking of how to prolong the conversation but instead helped them straight away. Bearing in mind that Moses was so exhausted and tired in the first place, he still managed to help those women.  After finished helping, he made a doa to Allah asking for help.

So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: “My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!”

Before he had finished his doa, Allah has already sent down the help in the direction of Moses.

3) Doesn’t prolong the conversation (starting a conversation)

And after Syu’aib saw that both of his daughters returned home earlier than normally, he was curious and asked them. So, Syu’aib ordered one of his daughters to ask Moses to come to their house. It is described in the verse that she was walking with shyness.

Look at how she handled herself. Even though she was then alone, no family members to accompany her, she didn’t misuse the chance to get-to-know the man who helped her.

Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: “Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us.”

She didn’t beat around the bush, nor she asked anything else except to that what she was ordered to do by her father. She didn’t even know his name but it didn’t matter, because with that, she had told him all he needed to know. Full stop and no more reason to further the conversation, be it from her nor Moses.  She did what her father told her to do without any other intentions or misuse of the opportunity that may have arose from the situation.

How are we today?

Looking back at the way of the prophet and the daughters of Prophet Syu’aib, we should ask and question ourselves. How are we today?

When giving help, when receiving help, when discussing in a meeting be it in for a good cause, when having a study group discussion, when in Facebook, when chatting, and the list goes on and on. How do we conduct ourselves? Is it in line with the teachings of Islam?

There is a special reason, for why Allah has shown to us this story. Moses representing how a man should behave and the daughters of Syu’aib of how a woman should conduct herself. It shows of their situation, their interactions, their akhlak and their personality.

Most of us, mistaken this story about love. But instead, it is all about how we should interact and conduct with each other, especially towards the opposite sex. Shyness is the key.

Abu Mas’ud ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amr al-Ansari al-Badri, radiyallahu ‘anhu, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:

“Among the things that people have found from the words of the previous prophets was: ‘If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.'”

To conclude, we must understand that Hayaa is important for both men and women. Men are to control themselves by getting married as young as possible or if they cannot afford that they should fast.

Women are told to conceal themselves so that the men will not be over taken by the whispers of shaitaan and will not disrespect or take advantage of the women. There are many verses in the Qur’aan that have clearly explained how we have to behave and Allah is All-Knowing therefore He knew that we would face these problems living in this society, and that is no excuse to change Islaam and only practice what we feel is right. Allah has told men how to guide their modesty and has told women how to guide their modesty.

“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allaah is well acquainted with all that they do.

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty…”

(an-Noor (24):30-31)

Author: Idris Mahzan

Grew up in the UK. Studied in Japan. Malaysian at heart.

5 thoughts on “The Precious Haya’”

  1. Very conscientiously written, yet beautifully and wittingly.. 🙂

    Haya’ is self-respect. It is like a protective film against fitnah.
    Allah the All-Knowing has made it innate in mankind but as we grow, haya’ becomes optional piece by piece.
    Thanks Abang, you remind me to choose haya’ and iman 🙂

    1. I couldnt have do it without the inspiration that you have given me 🙂 And you continue to inspire me 🙂
      You persuaded me to finish writing this article 🙂 Thank you 🙂

      Yup, Haya’ is what can conceal and protect us from the fitnah of this world.
      Haya’ and Iman goes hand in hand.
      Haya’ plays a huge role in our lives because it is a very important part of our Iman. If we do not have any form of haya’ in us then it is most likely that our Iman is very weak. To have haya’ is to have Iman. 🙂

      The most important thing is that we must be shy of doing ANYTHING displeasing to Allah,to our spouse, to our family with the belief that we will have to answer to all our deeds.

      Ayang, May Allah protect us from all of the fitnahs of this dunya, protect our haya’ and thus protect our Iman. 🙂

  2. mashaAllah. 🙂

    A wonderful article brother, may Allah (SW) Bless you and help us all to keep our modesty (hayaa), Ameen.

  3. a superb article.
    haya’ is not actually ‘shyness’ though. for shyness, in this society, is somewhat negative, in a way. It is more rightly translated to modesty. being modest, ain’t about being shy, but rather, about guarding one’s self in our acts, with self respect, as u said earlier.
    had the girl been shy, she possibly would have spoken too softly to prophet moses, or maybe even not go and deliver the message. But she did. with dignity, and accordingly, as well.

    just my two cents.

    haven’t come here in a while..
    may Allah bless

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