Islam on Modesty

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Teachings of Islam

After adopting the teachings of Islam, the attitude formed in the believer is that of gentleness. In Islam he discovers the reality that God is great (Allah-o-Akbar). This discovery brings to him the realization that greatness belongs to God alone; it does not belong to him or to anyone else. As a result, modesty, humility and tolerance are engendered within him. Having a temperament marked by such virtues, in particular, tolerance to the maximum degree is a necessary condition for adherence to the path of gentle behaviour. In this present world we are repeatedly faced with unpleasant experiences as a result of the wrong thinking and misdeeds of others. Hence only those can firmly tread the path of gentleness that are able to refrain from the psychology of reaction. That is why true believers are described in the Quran as “those who curb their anger and those who forgive their fellow men” (3:134).

According to a tradition recorded by Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet once observed: “God is gentle and loves gentleness in every matter.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 6927) On another occasion, the Prophet expressed the same idea in these words: “God is gentle and loves gentleness. He grants to gentleness what he does not grant to harshness or to any other thing.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 2593) Similarly there is another Hadith to this effect: “One who is bereft of gentleness will be bereft of all goodness” (Sahih, Muslim, Hadith No. 2592).

In a contentious situation, if you treat people with haughtiness, you will awaken their egos, which will only escalate matters. If earlier you were confronted with bitter words, you will now be compelled to bear the brunt of stones being hurled at you. If instead, you opt for gentle behaviour in your dealings, you will awaken peoples’ consciences. Now the result will be quite the opposite. If earlier the person concerned was your opponent, he will now lose all his antagonism and will become your closest friend. Gentleness is an attribute of successful people, while haughtiness signals imminent failure.