بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

At several places in the Qur'an, Allah has described events in history by mentioning some details and leaving others out. It is interesting to note, especially for any ardent student of knowledge who loves to ponder on the Qur'an, how Allah chooses specific Arabic words to describe actions, objects, events, or all,  in a way that reveals certain details.

Arabic is a very comprehensive language, in which, for example, you will find several words apparently used to denote the same thing, yet, each is unique because it describes a particular aspect or characteristic of that thing. Just as an example, the words قلب and فؤاد are both used for “heart” in the Qur'an, yet, each has subtle differences that would necessitate entire sentences in English to get the full translation of their meaning across!

When I was an official student of Qur'an tafsir [exegesis] for the first time in my life, I used to wonder how a Muslim woman, who observes full hijab, should behave in front of non-mahrums.

I had a myriad of confusing notions in my mind, which became endless questions that I wish someone could answer for me in detail.

As we know, hijab is not just the physical attire that a Muslim woman dons before men who are not her mahrums. It also includes her mannerisms, gait, tone of voice, facial expression and overall demeanor/body language, when out and about in public.

After some years of pondering on the Qur'an, I have realized that this Book doesn't always provide direct, clear-cut instructions to us. For example, it repeatedly commands us to perform salah, but doesn't provide step-by-step do's and don'ts for it, despite it being an obligation. The Glorious Qur'an is a Book that invites us to ponder and reflect; to use our intellect to try and grasp the inner meanings of the verses that Allah has revealed to us.

I love the way Allah mentions people in the Qur'an – highlighting their good points when He is pleased with them, so that we indirectly identify the stamp of approval He has given to their behavior, in order to incorporate that behavior of theirs in our own actions.

As a young Muslim woman who had just started hijab, who was seeking answers to questions about how women should carry themselves in public, I was fortunate to grasp the innate meaning of a two-word phrase (highlighted below) used by Allah to describe a shy young woman's praiseworthy demeanor, whilst narrating an incident in the life of Prophet Musa [عليه السلام] in Surah Al-Qasas [28: 23-28].

Below is the explanation of these verses taken from Tafsir Ibn Kathir at tafsir.com:

وَلَمَّا وَرَدَ مَآءَ مَدْيَنَ وَجَدَ عَلَيْهِ أُمَّةً مِّنَ النَّاسِ يَسْقُونَ وَوَجَدَ مِن دُونِهِمُ امْرَأَتَينِ تَذُودَان

And when he arrived at the water (a well) of Madyan,” which means, 'when he reached Madyan and went to drink from its water,' “for it had a well where shepherds used to water their flocks,” meaning he found there a group of men watering, “and besides them he found two women who were keeping back,” which means, they were stopping their sheep from drinking with the sheep of those shepherds, lest some harm come to them. When Musa saw them, he felt sorry for them and took pity on them.

قَالَ مَا خَطْبُكُمَا

He said: “What is the matter with you?” meaning, 'why do you not water your flocks with these people?'

قَالَتَا لاَ نَسْقِى حَتَّى يُصْدِرَ الرِّعَآءُ

They both said: “We cannot water until the shepherds take…” meaning, `we cannot water our flocks until they finish.'

وَأَبُونَا شَيْخٌ كَبِيرٌ

And our father is a very old man,” which means, “this is what has driven us to what you see.'

فَسَقَى لَهُمَا

So he watered (their flocks) for them,

ثُمَّ تَوَلَّى إِلَى الظِّلِّ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّى لِمَآ أَنزَلْتَ إِلَىَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ

Then he turned back to shade, and said: 'My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!”'

إِلَى الظِّلِّ

Towards the shade,” Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud and As-Suddi said: “He sat beneath a tree.” `Ata' bin As-Sa'ib said: “When Musa said:

رَبِّ إِنِّى لِمَآ أَنزَلْتَ إِلَىَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ

'My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!' the women heard him.”

When the two women came back quickly with the sheep, their father was surprised that they returned so soon. He asked them what had happened, and they told him what Musa [عليه السلام] had done. So he sent one of them to call him to meet her father. Allah says:

فَجَآءَتْهُ إِحْدَاهُمَا تَمْشِى عَلَى اسْتِحْيَآءٍ

Then there came to him one of them, walking shyly” – meaning, she was walking like a free woman, as it was narrated from `Umar bin Al-Khattab [رَضِىَ اللهُ عنه]: “She was covering herself from him with the folds of her garment.”

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Amr bin Maymun said, `Umar [رَضِىَ اللهُ عنه] said: “She came walking shyly, putting her garment over her face. She was not one of those audacious women who come and go as they please.” This chain of narrators is sahih.

قَالَتْ إِنَّ أَبِى يَدْعُوكَ لِيَجْزِيَكَ أَجْرَ مَا سَقَيْتَ لَنَا

She said: “Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us.”

This is an example of good manners: she did not invite him directly lest he have some suspicious thoughts about her. Rather she said: “My father is inviting you so that he may reward you for watering our sheep,” i.e., give you some payment for that.

Imam Sa'di [رَحِمَهُ الله] says in his tafsir“This [description] points to her proper upbringing and her good character, for indeed haya is from the most honorable of manners, and is a special trait in women. It also shows that Musa [عليه السلام] did not assist them to receive a payment; but rather, it was because of the honorable and strong nature of his soul and his upright manners.”

فَلَمَّا جَآءَهُ وَقَصَّ عَلَيْهِ الْقَصَصَ

So when he came to him and narrated the story,” means, he told him about his story and why he had to leave his country.

قَالَ لاَ تَخَفْ نَجَوْتَ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّـلِمِينَ

He said: “Fear you not. You have escaped from the people who are wrongdoers.”

He was saying: 'calm down and relax, for you have left their kingdom and they have no authority in our land.' So he said:

نَجَوْتَ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّـلِمِينَ

You have escaped from the people who are wrongdoers.

قَالَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا يأَبَتِ اسْتَـْجِرْهُ إِنَّ خَيْرَ مَنِ اسْتَـْجَرْتَ الْقَوِىُّ الأَمِينُ

“And said one of them: 'O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.'” One of the two daughters of the man said this, and it was said that she was the one who had walked behind Musa [عليه السلام]. She said to her father:

يأَبَتِ اسْتَـْجِرْهُ

O my father! Hire him!” as a shepherd to look after the sheep. `Umar, Ibn `Abbas, Shurayh Al-Qadi, Abu Malik, Qatadah, Muhammad bin Ishaq and others said: “When she said:

إِنَّ خَيْرَ مَنِ اسْتَـْجَرْتَ الْقَوِىُّ الأَمِينُ

Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.

Her father said to her, `What do you know about that?' She said to him, `He lifted a rock which could only be lifted by ten men, and when I came back with him, I walked ahead of him, but he said to me, walk behind me, and if I get confused about the route, throw a pebble so that I will know which way to go.”'

`Abdullah (Ibn Mas`ud) said, “The people who had the most discernment were three: Abu Bakr's intuition about `Umar; the companion of Yusuf when he said, `Make his stay comfortable'; and the companion of Musa, when she said:

يأَبَتِ اسْتَـْجِرْهُ إِنَّ خَيْرَ مَنِ اسْتَـْجَرْتَ الْقَوِىُّ الأَمِينُ

O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.”

[End quote Tafsir Ibn Kathir at tafsir.com]

Lessons for us in Haya:

There are several points to glean from the above narrative for our own actions:

– The two women strove to prevent their sheep from mingling with those of the other shepherds. They were ready to wait, adding to their already difficult task of herding the sheep (a job usually performed by men), so that they would have more privacy and ease whilst watering their sheep. What other reason could there be for their waiting? This shows to us modern-day Muslim women that places in which crowds of men are found thronging to get to something, should be avoided until there comes a lull, in which we can achieve our objective without fear of being touched/shoved/pushed within the crowd of men.

– The women had the confidence of speaking to a non-mahrum man when he asked them a question about their situation. This shows us that when the need arises, women should possess the self-confidence to speak to a non-mahrum in a business-like, dignified manner. As was the case with our mother A'ishah [رَضِىَ اللهُ عَنهَا] in the incident of Ifk, there can be times when a lone woman needs the help of a non-mahrum man to get her to safety. At such times, Muslim women, even if they are unmarried and shy, should possess the skill needed to communicate confidently with a man.

– Neither of the women endeavored to stick around to talk to Musa [عليه السلام] after he did them a favor that saved them a lot of trouble and time. Rather, just as he shied away from them, and returned to the tree's shade without asking for any compensation, they also likewise hurried back home to their father, after the errand for which he had sent them was done. This is a vital point to be noted, especially for the single youth of today: even in situations when you need to interact with members of the opposite gender to get help with something, you should not hang around chit-chatting or flirting after the favor has been done. You should also not expect or demand any compensation in return.

– As the shyness of both the old man's daughters and Prophet Musa [عليه السلام] (all three of whom were single) shows, haya entails that we minimize any unnecessary communication with the opposite sex, even in situations when we are thrown together out of necessity, and are unsupervised by elders or mahrums.

– For Muslim women, this incident shows that returning home after outdoor errands have been done, is something they should hurry in doing. Loitering around in public places without necessity goes against another Quranic command that was sent down by Allah, when addressing the wives of the Prophet Muhammad [صلى الله عليه و سلم]:

وَ قَرْنَ فِى بُيُوتِكُنَّ

“And stay quietly in your homes…” [33:33]

– When the time came for Prophet Musa [عليه السلام] to be summoned to the two women's father, the daughter who was sent to ask him to come walked with shyness towards Musa. The words عَلَى اسْتِحْيَآءٍ imply that her gait and demeanor when walking towards a strange, lone man sitting under a tree was one “seeking haya.” The Arabic Grammar words based on the structure of استفعال imply the action of “seeking” in their meaning. E.g. استغفار means seeking forgiveness. So her manner of approaching Musa was such that she sought haya. This proves that when the need arises, a woman can become an intermediary between men, especially for a noble/good cause, but she should seek the maximum possible haya when she appears before a man who is not her mahrum, particularly if they both are single, young adults.

– This daughter also gave her advice to her father after Prophet Musa finished telling his story. It was a fact that their family needed a 'manager' to do the outdoor work, as the father was weak due to old age. She saw an opportunity to do a good deed too i.e. provide Musa with a livelihood and shelter, as his story had revealed that he was, at that point in his life, on the run and homeless. This shows us that despite being shy, women can, and should, give their opinions to the mahrums in their house, when major decisions are being made. She recounted her observation of Musa's physical strength and his trustworthiness which became apparent by his handling their sheep well. Furthermore, her father took her counsel and accepted her testimony. Haya therefore, does not necessitate complete silence before non-mahrums, especially with a woman's mahrum in the same room. It should also not become a barrier in the sharing of knowledge, in consultation and decision-making, or when negotiating the terms of a contract.  Haya should, by no means, negate self-confidence and elocution.

It is thus beautifully apparent that, when Allah narrates a story in the Qur'an, it is not just for mere transmission of information or of facts related to events that took place in history. Just like the parables He puts forth for us to ponder on, His recounting of historic events in the Qur'an involving people gone by, hold valuable and insightful lessons for us to benefit from and apply in our day-to-day lives. Each and every word, line of dialogue, detail, or physical description that our Creator has recorded in His Glorious Book is meaningful and important.

However, He opens up the wonderful secrets and innate lessons of the Qur'an only for those who reflect:

كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُوْلُوا الْأَلْبَابِ

(This is) a Scripture that We have revealed unto you, full of blessing, that they may ponder its revelations, and that men of understanding may reflect.” [38:29]

85 Responses

  1. Umm Bilqis

    Masha’Allah sister Sadaf, what a beautiful article. May Allah bless your studies and we look forward to more articles dealing with tafsir.

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  2. M. Shahid Farooqi

    Masha’Allah Sadaf, your writing expression is improving steadily. Drawing lessons & guidelines from the holy Qur’an and putting them in simple, easy-to-understand words for implementation in our lives is the need of the time, which has been done nicely. May Allah help you improve further, Aameen.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      Ameen! Thank you for the encouraging words, ابى. :) Like the father of the 2 women in these verses of the Quran, you too, have always consulted me and valued my opinion while making family decisions.
      Jazak Allahu khairan.

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      • Bushra

        Awwwwwwwwwwww…that is so sweet, masha’Allah! It’s endearing to see a lovely father-daughter relationship…may it always remain strong and beautiful…Ameen!

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    • Amad

      Welcome to MM, Uncle Shahid. You have done well with your daughter mashallah, who continues to provide MM and its audience wonderful gems. jazakumallahkhair

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  3. Abu Abdayn

    Baarakallaahu feeka yaa ukhtii.

    This topic is an important one that needs to be addressed in our various muslim communities so that we do not fall into the 2 extremes of total seclusion and overexposure of the women folks. You have really done a good job.

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  4. Amatullah

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran Sadaf! mashaAllah, one of my favorite stories in the Qur’an. I really love the lessons you’ve derived from it.

    Hayaa is a lost virtue these days, and subhanAllah, the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam called it the khuluq of islam!

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  5. aarij

    Jazakillahi khairan. Also notice how swiftly Allah [SWT] answered the dua of Musa [AS] by giving him a family, a job and shelter. Truly amazing, alhamdulillah.

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  6. ankaboot

    MashaAllah, beautifully written and much needed reminder. It addresses the subject with depth and completeness.
    Unfortunately this level of haya, which used to be the norm amongst people of good character and up bringing in the Muslim communities, is now very hard to find. Nowadays both brothers and sisters seem to think that haya is a just piece of cloth that you put on your body. Thus it is quite common to see Muslim girls wearing a ‘hijab’ and running, playing, laughing, blowing kisses etc. in public completely unaware of the inappropriateness of their actions. And nor do their mahram relatives, their father, brother and husbands feel any protective jealousy (gheerah) when they see such actions.
    In fact one gets accused of extremism when one broaches this subject and tries to remind people of the high standard of haya that our deen requires. Sadly, I feel that people who hold on to such standards have become or are soon becoming ‘the strangers’.
    Using the shadow of anonymity, I’d like to add that on a personal note, this is an issue that my wife and I often get into arguments about. Somehow we do not seem to understand each other. Either I do not convey my arguments cogently enough or else she does not want to buy them from me. She thinks these ideas stem from my culture (I was born and raised in a Muslim country while she was born and raised in a Western one) and that I’m being extreme. Alhamdulillah, this article reflects my thoughts in a beautiful and eloquent manner and I pray that on reading it inshaAllah she’ll be able to see where I’m coming from.
    May Allah reward the author for their efforts.

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  7. ummahmed

    Assalamualykum sr.Sadaf,

    Jazakillahu khairaa .Mashaallah .Indeed Islam is about balance.Subahanallah you have written so well.May Allah increase in your ilm.

    salaam.

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  8. Waleed

    JazakAllahuKhair,

    Even though this is for sisters, I learned a lot from this. I think there should be something similar for brothers as well.

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  9. Mariam E.

    Asalamu Alikum warahmatu Allah

    MashaAllah! This is one of the best articles I’ve read on the topic. The ayaat really show us that hayaa is not a cultural trait, as some like to categorize it.
    The fact that Allah ta’ala mentioned this particular character of hers in the Quran to be recited until the Last Day is evidence of how virtuous it really was.

    May Allah reward you and increase you in khayr.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      Indeed, are those women not the most fortunate, who have been mentioned favorably by Allah in His Book? *Sigh* What an honor! No worldly award is even slightly comparable to such a status.

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  10. Sally

    Beautiful Beautiful article! Thank you for shining the light on this particular story as it contains a plethora of gems. She was brave to go back by herself to talk to Musa (AS) and behaved appropriately, which is another excellent point highlighted in the analysis. Haya is meant to help facilitate tasks of daily life, not hinder, and it keeps us a safe distance away from sin.

    Jazaki Allahu Khairan!

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      Yes, for an unmarried young woman, it is indeed courageous to walk balk alone to a lone young man to deliver her father’s message. Good point, Sally!

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  11. regedit

    Well written, I think you should do a separate piece on the command from Surah Al-Ahzaab that you mentioned “And stay in your homes…”

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  12. BrownS

    Jazakillahu khair Sr. Sadaf. I really like how you expanded on the mention of this incident in the Qur’an. May Allah SWT reward the scholars who studied these texts, and may He reward you for bringing it to us.

    @Waleed: I thought there are a lot of lessons for brothers in this writeup.

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  13. Umm Ismael

    Asslam u alaikum wr wb,
    MashaALLAH very well written. May ALLAH Provide greater barakah in your expression -ameen. I would for one love that all females understand this concept before they are put into a situation where male interaction is unavoidable specially college/university. We don the hijab yet act free of its limitations. Or we become recluses portraying no intelligence whatsoever. Jazakumullah u khairun

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      Yeah I know what you mean about the 2 extremes. Some sisters do tend to ‘freeze’ as soon as a man appears any where; others perhaps consider it enough that they are physically covered according to the requirements of hijab.
      Knowledge of the Quran and of the incidents from the lives of the female Companions in Seerah, especially those that occured after the revelation of the commands of hijab, can enlighten us modern-day Muslim women on how to behave in public and whilst dealing with non mahrums anywhere, at any time. Knowledge truly is like a light ‘showing the way’.

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  14. Tariq

    MashaAllah, a very good article for men and women both. Among the lessons for men, stop seeking the company of women in a manner that attacks their haya — which women? All the women who are not mehram to you at work or in your extended family or in public. Look at the example of Musa and learn from it: he interacted with the women to the extent necessary, in a public place, in the pursuit of justice, but he did not break the veil of haya.

    And as men, each of us either has haya ourselves, or we may as well do as we please, to paraphrase hadith — judge yourself before you will be judged, and ask at which end of that spectrum do you reside?

    Finally, among the practical benefits of not mixing flocks are not having to sort out flocks later, a process that would definitely have required interacting closely with men who would be doing the same and who might have taken advantage of the women either claiming they were bumped into them by a sheep or by claiming one of the women’s sheep as their own. These points would only complement the reasons discussed in this article.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      I really appreciate your pointing this out. May Allah reward you for this. What an enlightening way to look at and analyze the reasons why the women were not mixing their flocks with those of the men!
      Jazak Allahu khairan for your valuable input.

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    • Sally

      Also, Musa’s hayaa didn’t prevent him from being a gentleman and stepping in to help. This story can be an example of modest chivalry as well!

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  15. tabassum

    jazakallah :) nicely written, i think i need to take this lesson home

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  16. SA

    Jazakallah for writing about this.Its so hard to define what haya is and I always feel I am on either extremes of the spectrum.You defined a middle ground and even though its clear enough its still a bit fuzzy in my head.I guess I might have to do some more research on the topic.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      Insha’Allah! I am beginning to love writing tafsir articles, because they allow me some deep pondering on the verses of the Quran. Especially when I look up the meanings of Arabic words in the lexicon, a whole new realm of understanding opens up. It is just amazing to experience.
      My next article in the pipeline here on MM is also on tafsir, insha’Allah.

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  17. Farhan

    While I enjoy the articles on contemporary issues, Tafsir and the like are my favorite articles.

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    • Gibran

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      I love it when I have something in common with another brother.

      Yeah me too bro. AWESOME. ALHAMDULILAH.

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  18. Qamar

    This shows to us modern-day Muslim women that places in which crowds of men are found thronging to get to something, should be avoided until there comes a lull, in which we can achieve our objective without fear of being touched/shoved/pushed within the crowd of men.

    ^ I completely agree with this point. However, I think on the flip side, brothers should also be aware of when they do start to crowd in a public area, as this can be quite uncomfortable for sisters who need to pass through or get to the same thing the men are crowded around. In this day and age both brothers and sisters don’t have the luxury of “waiting around” until the pathway becomes clear. Common examples of when brothers crowd around is Jummah, or when food is present, etc. If brothers or sisters need to talk they should be aware of their surroundings and go to an area where their huddles won’t be blocking main hallways, staircases or entries/exits.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      Very valid point. I agree about Jumuah especially. Our Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] would wait a bit after prayer, perhaps to let women easily leave his mosque first. However, brothers and everyone in general today need to keep your suggestion in mind, especially in public places.
      Jazaki Allahu khair for pointing this out. :)

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    • Bushra

      Absolutely. Masha’Allah, what a great point. This was a problem at my university, where the prayer room was the same room (with several 7ft removable boards in between and separate entrances adjacent to each other). During Jumuah, it would create problems afterwards for the sisters as the brothers would congregate outside their entrance, which would then overflow to in front of ours causing difficulties for us, such as waiting for the rush of brothers to clear, but then being late for lectures and tutorials.

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  19. Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

    I love all your articles. Keep up the good work and may Allâh reward you! Âmîn!

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  20. nighat shah

    assalam alaykum sadaf,amazing article mashallah! its true that haya is disappeared these days u ve shared the story in a beautiful way,its a need of time.keep it up! may Allah reward u and give u more knowledge….

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  21. Yahya Ibrahim

    Bismillah,

    Well written and easy to absorb.

    The beauty of Hayaa is that it is a word taken from the same root word that means LIFE.

    as such to possess hayaa it must be witnessed in ALL aspects of your life for the DURATION of your life throughout all circumstances.

    If you have it…it lasts and becomes the yard stick of your life.

    Truly, Hayaa is from Sincere faith.

    The woman exemplified hayaa even when unaware of Musa (s) and what he would later mean to them.

    Every day they would be late. Until Musa showed up ‘alihis Salaam.

    Musa (s) sat under a tree without asking for a deserved reward…while in poverty and in need.

    Hayaa – a life framework exemplifying moderation, morality, ascetism and unbridled love for our fellow man.

    Thank you for sharing and I look forward to more insha Allah.

    Yahya Ibrahim

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    • :)

      JazakAllah khairan for your beneficial comment! What a wonderful reflection, alhamdulilah :)

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      What a valid reminder of the direct relation between the word haya حيى and life — حيوة! Both have the same root letters. Jazak Allahu khairan for adding your input for our knowledge and benefit, Sheikh Yahya. We have been enlightened.
      I ask Allah to guide us to be able to practice haya both in our hearts and our actions throughout life. Ameen.

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  22. Abu 'Ubaidah

    Jazakhallah Khair for the reminder! May Allah(swt) reward you. Ameen

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  23. Hassan

    How to instill haya in our children and youth specially? It saddens me to see teenager girls even in masjid, either doing semi-hijab (head is covered, but rest of clothes are tight, I do not understand why), or even if somewhat proper hijab, yet their demeanour is lacking of hijab. For example freely mixing with boys, shouting and laughing (among themselves, but ofcourse everyone can hear them). Some boys come to masjid only on the day when there is some youth activity (I am assuming to see girls). Also the way boys and girls both address elders, is void of any haya.

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  24. shy

    Parking lots at the masjid pose a problem for me. I dislike them because brothers are always gathered there and sometimes I feel like I can’t get to my car. During some times I find crowds of men leaning on my car. it has become quite bothersome for me.

    I don’t know how to make them leave. They sometimes block entrances of the masjid too and at Eid they crowd around the food and refuse to let women and children in. I find myself waiting a lot. I don’t know how to address this problem at the masjid because I don’t want to seem as if I like to make complaints, so I just end up not doing anything.

    I am horribly shy around men and avoid them at all costs. Their glares and presence at the parking lot make me feel uncomfortable for that short period of time of walking in and out, even though I wear abaya and hijab. Alhmdulilah I feel much better once I walk in because there is a partitioned area for shy sisters in the prayer hall. But once i leave I feel awkward again.

    One day I left the masjid walking on foot because there were men leaning on my car after jummah. Why do men like to linger in the parking lots sometimes avoiding lectures and events inside the masjid, why are they so inconsiderate to shy sisters who want to avoid seeing them or being near them?

    I’ve come to the point where I avoid the masjid because of the lingering men who hang out in the parking lot and who enjoy staring at women. I know it’s better to pray at home but I teach Sunday school and want to attend tajweed and tafsir classes at the masjid as well as the occasional potluck.

    What should I do? I am unmarried and do not have a brother or any muhram man to help me. Can one of the brothers address lowering your gaze and giving women space and distance when they come to the masjid by writing a similar article for them. Maybe reminding them how the Prophet SAW would ask the men to wait until women left the masjid to leave would be a good idea.

    Jazaki Allah Khayr for all the great reminders Sadaf and MM.

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    • Sayf

      Jazak Allah khair for bringing it up. I’ll keep that in mind next time we chill outside Abu Huraira masjid after friday prayers. Sometimes guys can be naive about what they’re doing and need a reminder to correct their faults.

      One day I left the masjid walking on foot because there were men leaning on my car after jummah.

      That worried me a bit. Shyness is a very good thing, but as stated in the article, a person should still be able to deal with necessary interactions.

      At such times, Muslim women, even if they are unmarried and shy, should possess the skill needed to communicate confidently with a man.

      I can understand how hard it is to deal with though. I used to be so shy my face would turn bright red almost anytime I would talk to someone of the opposite gender, and when I realized my face was turning red, it would just make me more uncomfortable and I would turn redder.You can imagine what that’s like to deal with!

      At the end of the day though, these interactions are very limited anyway and there are a lot of alternatives (tell on them to their mom = P), BUT, a person should be able to deal with them appropriately when they do occur. My advice for honing those skills is to maybe picture as best as you can that very same situation of asking the guys to get off your car, it could possibly bring up those same feelings that you can learn to cope with. I think sisters would be able to give better advice at this.

      Allahua ‘alm.

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    • Bushra

      Sister, I think it is incredibly important for you to be confident in these matters, because it is a matter of your own safety with regards to getting home by car.

      You have every right to access your car and if brothers are leaning against it, then it is important for them to know that they are blocking it.

      In such a situation, if you see brothers standing around or near your car, approach your car closely but ensuring that most of the brothers backs are to you (so that they don’t see you too blatantly) and clear your throat loudly so that they know that someone else has approached near their group. Once they realise that somebody else is there, they will move away. If they don’t hear you, then try again and then speak in a firm, polite yet confident tone that you need to get to your car. Something like “Excuse me, can I get to my car, please? Jazakallahu khair.”
      Insha’Allah, they will move away, you will not have offended anybody or exposed yourself and you will have also made du’a for them. It’s win-win! :-)

      If you look at one of my comments above, I mention the problems sisters had at Jumuah time at university trying to leave the prayer room because brothers would be hanging around outside. What I did a couple of times was stick my head outside the door (but with my head facing down) and stated loud enough that sisters want to leave the prayer room, so if brothers could move out of the way within the next 5 minutes, it would be appreciated. Alhumdulillah, this approach worked. The next thing I did was that I asked one of the brothers from my course to speak to the imam and get a message out to the brothers to not congregate outside the sisters’ entrance, and alhumdulillah, that worked too.

      Sister, don’t be shy about such issues. It is your right. Sometimes men can be a little oblivious about what they’re doing. It’s not their fault either…well, not completely. They sometimes need somebody to tell them what to do. They don’t ALWAYS get subtle hints…it’s the way Allah(swt) made them.

      You have to guard your own safety too, so think clearly in such situations. Don’t let your shyness overcome you so much.

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      • Sadaf Farooqi

        Thanks for the advice, Bushra. I would have given advice along the same lines, but you took away the reward! :)
        I drive too, and have met this situation a few times, when I needed to communicate to a non-mahrum to get his car out of the way (if it was parked in such a way that it was blocking mine) or to leave some way for me to get to my car. Alhamdulillah, sometimes just standing there silently in wait passes across this message, or clearing the throat, as you said, does the needful.

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    • Faraz Omar

      Masha Allah… may Allah reward u for ur shyness. And may Allah give u a husband who will go the extra mile to be protective and take full care of ur shyness and modesty.

      I hope we all (bros) realize this and give as much space as possible to non-mahram women so they dont feel uncomfortable….

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    • Amad

      Sister, if you want to mention the Masjid’s name and city, you never know if a reader is in authority there or has links to authority… and can do something to help. I am sure the brothers are completely unaware so all it may take is for someone to tell them.

      Alternatively, if the masjid has a website or email, you (and we could help) could email to request the same.

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  25. Ify Okoye

    Sadaf, just wanted to share that after jumuah today, I had my own Musa and the Shepherdess moment. :)

    A sister was selling food outside after the salah, the brothers had all crowded around the table, and another sister and I were trying to find some semblance of a line and staying a bit back looking for an opening to approach to buy our plates.

    While we were waiting, a brother who had just come up behind us quickly jumped in front of us into the fray to get two plates of food. So I began to think that we would have to be a bit more “aggressive” if we wanted to get any food before it was all gone but then the same brother turned around and handed us the plates and took the money from us to pay the seller. Ma sha Allah, tabarak’Allah, may Allah azza wa jal reward our modern-day “Musa” following the footsteps of such a blessed example. Maybe he’s been reading Surah Qassas and/or your article?

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    • Amad

      two cheers for the brother, mashallah. Would he ever have known that his little act of kindness would be posted on a website, visited by so many Muslims, who will be giving him du’a and kudos. Completely highlights the phrase, there is no such thing as a small act of kindness :)

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      Wow, that was such a relevant practical example, Ify. Jazakillahu khairan for sharing it with us here! May Allah reward that brother who thought of you both in that situation and helped you out so chivalrously. :)

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  26. Faizaan

    Sister Sadaf,

    This was a really really really well put forth article. Great job, topic and points. Amazing! Keep at it, and insha’Allah looking forward to more articles from you. This topic is a lesson and topic for brothers as well, very much so as it is for sisters I believe. It was heart refreshing to realize your points on the style of the Qu’ran, may Allah make you a means of helping others through knowledge and action.

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  27. Umm Haya

    Barakallahu feek. A truly inspiring post.

    Jazakallahu khairan

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  28. DawahIT

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Lack of Haya is huge problem among many Muslims. One major factor is that many Muslims think that free mixing is ok. They think just chilling with someone of the opposite gender is not haram.

    Things like these need to take for focus. This is the reason we are loosing so many brothers and sisters.

    **And anyone have any English resources for Tafsir. I’ve been to tafsir.com and its pretty bare bones. I’m looking for something like Ustath Nouman’s tafsir on Bayyinah.**

    Wassalamu alaikum.

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    • Yaqeen needed

      It is a big problem …bc we have been and are continuously desensitized.

      Daily, we see, hear and dwell in things that annihilate our haya index. Often these things are what make us modern, educated and ‘accomplished’. But at what price. To make things even worse, we may not be often aware of such desensitization and its evils. And we may indirectly or directly further such desensitization causes…wa hum laa yash’urun

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  29. Mariam

    Beautiful MashAllah

    JazakAllah khair

    love , duaz n regards .

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  30. Amreena Riaz

    very well written article..thank you for sharing so much valuable information.looking forward to reading many such articles inshaAllah!

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  31. Fareeda Bhatti

    Jazak Allahu khairun for wonderful analysis of ayat. It is an encouragement to young muslimat who have picked this path consiously to make their way through their peers’ heart breakening coments.
    Haya is life, lack of it brings all sorts of fatal consiqvences in the society.

    SubhanAllah, I was moved by the qualities of women of paradise in surat Ar Rehman, top most was their lowering gazes out of haya and limiting it to their husbands only.

    Keep sharing.

    Fareeda.

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  32. Syed Javed Akbar

    Jazak Allah Khairan.
    A well written article, Masha Allah.
    May Allah increase your ability to make others understand Quran better.
    Aamen.

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  33. Umm Abdullah

    Jazakillah khair Sadaf for sharing your reflections…it was alhamdulillah well written and well deducted….may Allah Ta’ala give us the taufeeq to ‘seek haya’in whatever we do, ameen

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  34. Tahira Afzal

    Jazakillah Sister Sadaf for the beautiful article. I look forward to reading more gems from your works.

    Looking at this article from another angle, I was thinking about Prophet Musa’s beautiful character and his own Haya and chivalry and how we can incorporate that in the upbringing of our children. Though it is challenging to raise children in this age of convenience and blessings, it is easy to assume that since Musa (AS) was raised in the Palace of Firaun he must have spent a life full of worldly blessings until he left for Madyan, yet what a character that Allah called him “Wajeeha” in the Quran.

    While young at the palace, he must have acquired the great Tarbiyyah not only from his own mother but also from Asiya RA, the wife of Firaun who became a Muslim at the invitation of Musa AS. It is hard to miss the fact that the very woman who raised him with such beautiful and modest character was among the few to accept Islam and was steadfast in the face of adversity. What a woman she must have been that Allah SWT mentioned her in the Quran. We need this character for us and for our children in this age. May Allah make it easy for us to be steadfast on our emaan.

    Indeed a lot of lessons can be learnt from this beautiful story.

    Wassalam Alaikum all.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      What a beautiful point! Thank you for pointing this out. Indeed, in the story of Prophet Musa [عليه السلام], which is so oft-repeated in the Quran, there are many, many interlinked lessons that can be derived for our own amal, for both men and women.
      Jazakillahu khairan.

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      • Tahira Afzal

        Jazakillah Khair for your prompt reply. Indeed Quran invites us all to ponder and lots of lessons are derived this way. May Allah make us among the “Qaumin Yatafakkaroon,” Ameen.

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  35. mrs habib

    aoa
    i recieved this artcile via email………….thank u for this favour………can any one let me know how i can contact dr farhat hashmi……..i am really confused abt certain matters in my life and would like to consult her………………sister sadaf…………can u reply me on email…..may be u can guide me

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  36. aaisha

    MASHAALLAH TRULY BEAUTIFUL AND INSPIRING,INSHAALLAH HOPE WE CAN READ MORE OF YOUR ARTICLES AND THE TAFSIR OF IMPORTANT STORIES FROM THE QURAN.MAY ALLAH TA’ALA INCREASE YOU IN KNOWLEDGE AND HELP SPREAD THE MESSAGE OF ISLAM THROUGH WRITERS LIKE YOU.

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  37. Farhath Hashmi

    Assalamu-Alaikum Sister

    You have wrote a very excellent article, Please can you do another article on women “On staying Quietly at home”. we need to hear from a scholar like you..

    Jazak-Allahu Kahiran

    farhath

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  38. arooooj

    aoa
    the article is really an eye-opener….it clearly answers the questions raised in the minds of many people and negates the thoughts of people who beleive that taking hijab is necessary and sole requirement of haya…….. they forget that Allah will reward on the basis of our innerself not on the basis of our outlook.
    thank you so much for reminding all that and providing new perspectives

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  39. Umm Musayb.

    Salaam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

    MashaAllah, tabarakAllah, this article is brilliant.

    It addresses a question I’ve been asking for such a long time: How can a Muslim women be confident and modest at the same time ? This has hit the nail on the head, as I don’t think a Muslim women should be weak, rather firm and strong so she can sustain the troubles and tests of life and come out stronger than before.

    Jazaakillahu khayrun for a beautiful reminder Sr. Sadaf and may Allah ‘azza wa jal allow us all to act upon that which is pleasing to Him, aameen.

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    • Sarah

      SubhanAllah, that’s exactly the question I’ve always had and this article addressed it so well. JazakumAllahu khayrn! Ameen to your du’aa Umm Musayb!

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  40. Moin

    Although written almost 2 yrs. back …. It was today only that I had the opportunity of going through’ this very ‘clinically sharp’ interpretation of the said Quranic Story.

    May the Almighty Allah accept your humble effort for the cause of “Amr Bil Maroof” …. and keep your Niyah PURE…doing so only and only for Allah! Ameen,

    Just would like to add : The same issue that you discussed here is round the year seen /esp. so in Ramadan and haj / in the most sacred place of all….i.e. BaituAllah . Trying to KISS THE HAJRALASWAD you see many females pushing each other and more so getting pushed and ‘possibly squeezed’ by others !!! It would be nice if you specifically mention this in any subsequent writings on related topic ! Though you (Sis. Sadaf) must be knowing, just for others reading this comment, Kissing Hajral Aswad is Sunnah but to protect yourself from push by other males if Fard ! So not kissing the black stone for safeguarding other fard will Inshallah give you more Hasnat (Thwab) than following the said Sunnah.<<>>.

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