Thursday, September 21, 2006
I am reluctant to use this picture with this post as I don't want to suggest that modesty is only for women, or in the same breath, that modesty = hijab. The latter of the two notions is actually what I wish to discuss this morning. More specifically how I struggle to remember the full definition of modesty and how to apply it in my life.
One of the elements that drew me towards Islam was the component of modesty. That women and men would guard themselves against explicitness or that which draws attention. I remember one instance when I walked into one of our local halal stores, a brother from the community who works there, greeted me, and asked if I needed assistance, all the while never making eye-contact with me. For some (especially in a North American society) this may sound like it would be something disrespectful. On that day however, let me assure you it was one of the times I felt most respected. Averting one's gaze, acting appropriately around others (especially when in the company of the opposite sex), and behaving in a manner that is humble with pure intention is what modesty is all about.
I looked the definition of modesty up in the dictionary this morning and here is what was written:
"Freedom from vanity, boastfulness etc. Regard for decency of behaviour, speech, dress etc. Simplicity and moderation."
Now let me start by saying that although I can write about modesty and provide definitions and examples, I am the first to say that putting it into practice on a daily basis has been a continual struggle for me. Maybe my goal in writing this entry is to seek accountability-- as though if I write in encouragement to others, I must certainly be ever-striving to achieve modesty in its truest form in my life.
It is a daily frustration for me... I understand the concept of modesty in its entirety but submitting myself on a daily basis to feel as though I incorporate it properly into my actions is another story. Maybe it is due to the fact that I was raised in a fairly vocal and lively family. I am certainly an extrovert, who likes to talk and to lead, and I often have to consciously think about whether my actions and speech are modest. I find myself looking at my friends who have that naturally quiet manner about them, and at times wish I had been given that personality. (Alhamdulillah I am not complaining, Allah knows best, and who I am is who He made me to be.)
But I believe that if I was able to master modesty then other aspects of my faith would be elevated to an entirely new and more sincere level. Take for example the concept of intention. Those who are modest have that aspect of humility and humbleness about them such that they don't want to be in the spotlight or draw attention to themselves. Praise often makes them feel uncomfortable as because of that their actions never (or very rarely) are for the recognition by others. Imagine living in a way that all of your actions are never for gaining praise or attention of others. You would be living as we are called to live. With intention only to serve and to worship Allah (SWT). You would have mastered such a huge component of living the perfect faith.
It is that point that makes my failure to attain perfect modesty so devastating for me. I know that the more I fail to encompass modesty in all aspects of my life, the more I fail to perfect my faith. That my intention can never be as pure and devoted as it should be.
May Allah guide me, and make this easier for me... for all of us. May He increase our sense of modesty and take away our pride. May He show us the areas of our life where we fall short. Ameen.
If we submit fully to Allah (SWT) it is then that we will be living the religion as it should be.. after all Islam means submission.