“If you do not feel ashamed (of doing something), you can do whatever you like” (Al Bukhari, Hadith No 2044).
This saying of the most revered Prophet (SAW) must serve as an eye opener for all the Muslims. Haya is one of the most important ingredients of faith. One who does not feel ashamed of doing what has been forbidden is not a believer.
The term Haya covers a large number of concepts, It may mean modesty, self-respect, bashfulness, honour etc. Besides fear of Allah the most beneficent, it is Haya which prevents one from committing sins, from usurping the rights of others, from doing what a Muslim is otherwise not supposed to do, or refraining from what a Muslim is otherwise supposed to do.
Hazrat Umer (RA) once came across a couple who was joking on the roadside. The great Caliph (RA) took cognizance and sought an explanation from them. He did not spare them even after they disclosed their relationship. After punishing them, the great Caliph said, “This behavior would send wrong signals to the people”. This is how Umer (RA) the great enforced Islamic code of conduct during his times. And this is how the code needs to be enforced in the contemporary times when the youth are looking, rather getting influenced by the West.
When a person reaches a stage where he does not feel ashamed he is at liberty to do anything. This means Haya binds one to Allah and once this special trait is gone, Allah the most exalted does not care for such a person. He can do what he likes.
The wording and the meaning of the hadith merits serious consideration. If the Muslims apply this hadith to their lives, they will come out with flying colours, they will abstain from for doing what has been forbidden, they will refrain from committing sins.
Whom should people feel ashamed of? A million-dollar question indeed. Haya from Allah the most gracious and people. Both are important. Some people say if they are not ashamed of Allah the most exalted they need not feel ashamed of the people. This is a dangerous statement and leads to destruction. Such thinking has caused massive damage already. The society is becoming permissible slowly but surely. What was shameful yesterday has become a fashion today. In the name of fashion or so-called modernization people are losing a trait which used to distinguish them from animals.
Haya from Allah the almighty is something, which a few people can boast of. Such people refrain from committing sins even when the are all alone. When nobody but Allah is seeing them. For the rest of the lot, it is the Haya from people which makes one a human being.
Imran bin Husain (RA) quotes the most revered Prophet (SAW) as having said, “Haya does not bring anything except good” … (Al Bukhari).