On Modesty (Gems by Usama Canon)

The Taleef Collective is a space in Fremont, California that offers the space, content and companionship necessary for a healthy understanding, embrace and realization of Islam.  I’ve been following their Video Reflections for a while now, and each one offers food for thought, reflection, and discussion with others. Earlier this week, I discovered the multimedia section on their website and heard a beautiful lecture on modesty that was both full of important reminders, and made me even more excited for “Taleef Live!” a  project to make Taleef’s weekly, monthly and quarterly programs accessible worldwide through Live-Streaming. To help make this project a reality, please see here, and give generously.

On Modesty – Ustadh Usama Canon

Two things become incumbent on you when you learn something.

1) Incumbent that you implement it. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said. “Whoever acts according to what they know, Allah will give them knowledge of that which they did not know.” And he, peace and blessings be upon him, sought refuge from Allah from knowledge that did not benefit. So if you learn something and do not implement, that is knowledge that will not be of any benefit.

2) Incumbent to teach other people. Disseminate and share with other people.

  • Modesty: that’s a thesis topic, not a seminar.
  • Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said that every religion has a defining quality, and the defining quality of my way is haya (modesty). So if something is the defining quality, what does it deserve in terms of time and what does it deserve in terms of reflection?
  • The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is the pinnacle of altruism. He, peace and blessings be upon him, is the paragon of selflessness.
  • He peace and blessings be upon him, is the imam of the people of mercy.
  • He is the foremost of the people who have modesty.
  • The thing with the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is that any one of his attributes is enough for you to annihilate yourself trying to understand.
  • So when you look at all of his attributes put together, and how they complement each other, it’s like any which way you turn, you’re like, Ya Rasullah! Look at this man. Look at his character.  Sallallahu alayhi wasalaam.
  • Main question we should be asking ourselves is when we say that we are following this man, how much work do we have to do?
  • It’s an ongoing process, and it’s a lifelong journey. It’s not that you go to jummah, hear the khutba, and come out as sunna-man, or sunna sister.
  • We don’t just become humble, we don’t just become sensitive, we don’t just become modest. It’s a process. Because any of the attributes of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would take a lifetime to gain the least bit of. So when we’re trying to implement all of them, how much work do we have to do?
  • We have a lot of work to do. Sayyiduna Musa, alayhis salaam, just heard about the virtues of the Prophet’s, peace and blessings be upon him, community and was ready to forego his prophecy to be of his ummah, peace and blessings be upon him. Musa alayhis salaam. He keeps asking Allah, “who is that?”, and finally he said, make me of his community!
  • May Allah make us more grateful. We have no reason to be cynical, Wallahi. We have no reason to be pessimistic except for our own shortcomings, wallahi. Alhamdullilah, Allah sent this light giving lamp amongst us, sallahu alayhi wasalaam.

  • The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was more modest than a virgin girl in her veil. Now things are different, this is talking about earlier societies.
  • He, peace and blessings be upon him, would rarely make eye contact and keep it.
  • Maybe a few times that Sayyiduna Umar and Abu Bakr looked the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, in the face (in their whole life!) The Prophetic characteristics are narrated by young sahabas. So haya wasn’t limited to him, peace and blessings be upon him, it transferred to his companions.
  • Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was modest with his own wives. In the heart of the bedroom, modesty was alive.
  • In every waking moment, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was modest. One of the ways to get knowledge is to be modest with Allah, even when alone. Be modest because you recognise that Allah never leaves you. The angels are with you. One of the reasons we don’t talk in spousal relations, in the bathroom is because there are places that the angels don’t want to go. Be modest before humanity, the angelic realm, and ultimately before Allah.
  • Hadith: Indeed, from the remnants of the early prophesy, is that if you don’t have shame, then do whatever you want.

2 meanings

First meaning:

  • If you look at something and don’t feel ashamed to do it, possible indication that that thing is ok. If we used this, how many fatwas would we not need to ask? Muslims! Don’t forget about common sense. So 1 meaning is to seek an answer, a fatwa from your heart even if people tell you. Have to use your common sense and think about what you’re going to do. How many things do we do that we’d be embarrassed if people saw us do them? And that’s enough of a reason to leave them.
  • We are not people who say, ” I have to do me, and I don’t care what people think, and I just have to do what I gotta do. Because we recognise that Allah has another attribute called sitr. He is a Sitar. He Veils things. So you do a wrong deed and Allah covers it up.
  • Story of a student who visited a marketplace and saw a pheasant protecting her chicks. The teacher said this is a parable of the least of Allah’s veils upon you.
  • As you’re sitting here, how many diseases is Allah preventing from entering your body?
  • Your progress in the spiritual path is not about what you see, it’s about what you don’t see. You don’t recognise the things that aren’t happening to you, because you don’t recognise the things that you think aren’t there. May Allah veil us, ya Rabb!
  • So we are people who value modesty.

2nd meaning:

  • If you don’t have modesty, then it doesn’t matter what you do. Because if modesty is lost, then virtue follows shortly thereafter. If you’re not modest, it’s a wrap.
  • Nations are nothing more than the character that makes them up. So when they lose their character, they are lost.
  • People are now criticizing modesty as if it blameworthy.
  • The women are a proof for Islam, though modesty is not limited to them, it’s for both genders.
  • People say, don’t you want to be known, don’t you want people to appreciate you? And the answer is yes, my brother, my dad, my husband.

Practical steps:

  • Social networks are way to test our modesty.
  • Our whole life is public now.
  • Think about what you put on your status, because just as you have Facebook, one day you will have to face a book. This book doesn’t leave out anything, small or large. Every last detail.
  • On Facebook, put something meaningful. Please, please, do not make riya on the internet, where your status is “Praying….”
  • Since when did we announce our ibadah to the world? What are you doing? Seriously. “Thinking deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth.” Why are you announcing that to 500 people? Maybe I’m missing something.
  • Facebook is a practical way to test your haya. Your status, your photos. What do you want people to know about you? Someone adds you, you go click on their photos.
  • What is your haya when it’s you and Allah alone?
  • Another practical step for haya: Think about the blessings of Allah. Sit down quietly, do this without any announcement or FB status, maybe even get a pen and paper, and enumerate the blessings of Allah. Existence. Sustenance. 50% of the people in the world do not have potable water. 24,000 people die everyday from hunger. And you’re complaining? The blessings of food, of water, of clothes.. Wallahi, this list will never end. Eyelashes. Eyebrows. A family that loves me, a loving family. If your heart is healthy, will engender a sense of haya. Because you’ll think, I didn’t do anything to deserve this, any of the blessings. Nay, in fact, I’ve been ungrateful and used His blessings to disobey him.



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