When the topic of hayaa is discussed, it is generally aspects such as hayaa in dressing or speech that come to mind. However, although these aspects are fundamental to the topic of hayaa, there is more to hayaa than just these aspects. In essence, we tend to restrict the concept of hayaa to our relationships and interaction with other people, whereas an often overlooked aspect is hayaa before Allah Ta‘ala, our Creator.
Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that on one occasion, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) addressed the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) and said, “Adopt hayaa before Allah, as hayaa ought to be adopted.” The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) replied, “O Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! Alhamdulillah, we do have hayaa before Allah Ta‘ala.” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) responded, “Adopting hayaa before Allah, as hayaa ought to be adopted, is not what you understand it to be. Rather, adopting hayaa before Allah, as hayaa ought to be adopted, is for you to safeguard your head and all that it includes, and your belly and all that it encompasses, and you should remember death and the disintegration of the body (in the grave), and whoever intends acquiring the Aakhirah, he should shun the adornment of the world. The one who holds firmly to these qualities has adopted hayaa before Allah Ta‘ala as hayaa ought to be adopted.” (Sunan Tirmizi #2458)
In the hadeeth above, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) explained to the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) that hayaa before Allah Ta‘ala entails one safeguarding all his limbs from sin, whether internal or external.
Hayaa of the head and all that it includes refers to safeguarding the head itself from sin, as well as the related organs such as the brain, ears, mouth, nose, eyes, etc. Hence, one should not think of haraam (whether it is relishing memories of haraam, planning haraam or even entertaining haraam fantasies). One should not use the eyes for haaram (whether through viewing haraam, or even winking at someone flirtatiously). One should not use the ears for haraam (such as listening to music, backbiting, etc.). One should not use the mouth for haraam (such as speaking lies, backbiting, etc.).
Hayaa of the belly and all that it encompasses refers to safeguarding the belly from haraam, as well as the surrounding organs such as the legs, hands, private parts and even the heart. Safeguarding the belly refers to abstaining from consuming haraam food or food purchased with haraam wealth. Safeguarding the various limbs from haraam entails not using them for any sinful activity, and safeguarding the heart from sin refers to one keeping his heart pure of sin and the intentions of sin, and free of haraam love as well.
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) then advised the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) to ponder over death and think of how the body will decompose and disintegrate in the grave, as this will lessen one’s inclination to the world and encourage one to prepare for the everlasting abode.Finally, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) advised that if one wishes to acquire the Aakhirah, his heart should not be attached to the attractions of this world (be it in clothing, food, holidays, furniture or other attractions), as this will definitely hamper his progress and be an obstacle in his path.
We must remember that Allah Ta‘ala is our Creator and Sustainer, and at every second of the night and day, we enjoy innumerable bounties and favours from Him. It is generally accepted that a person will express gratitude and appreciation in proportion to the favour that is received. Since the favours of Allah are the most and the greatest, the demand of gratitude is that we show Him the greatest loyalty, faithfulness and appreciation by fulfilling all His commands and striving for His pleasure. If a person cannot express appreciation to his greatest Benefactor by obeying Him and pleasing Him, it will be said that he has no shame (hayaa).
It is for this reason that when Junaid Baghdadi (rahimahullah) was asked regarding hayaa before Allah Ta‘ala, he replied, “A person should consider the innumerable favours of Allah Ta‘ala, and then he should consider all his shortcomings in fulfilling the commands of Allah Ta‘ala. Through doing so, he will feel ashamed of himself and develop the sense of hayaa.” (Shu‘abul Imaan #7348)
May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all with true hayaa in every facet of our lives, and enable us to be appreciative, grateful and obedient servants, aameen.