The Haya' of the Prophet (s.a.w.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from The Exemplar Beyond Compare: Muhammad Mustafa by Shaykh Osman Nuri Topbas (q.s.).

The noble Prophet (s.a.w.) never spoke at the top of his voice.  In public, he would talk composedly, always with a smile on his face.  If someone uttered a coarse, offensive word next to him, the Blessed Prophet (s.a.w.) would never put him down in public; besides, since his facial expressions persistently reflected his inner state, people would be tentative in what they did or said next to him.  Owing to his haya’, he was never known to have laughed loudly, always content instead with a warm smile.

According to his companions, he was more reserved than a maiden enshrouded in her veil.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Haya’ is from iman, and whosoever has it, is in Paradise.  Lack of it is from a hardness of the heart; and a heart of stone is in Hellfire.”   This is recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari.

Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) recorded in his Awsath that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Haya’ and iman go hand in hand.  When one leaves, the other follows!”

Imam Muslim (r.a.) and Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.) recorded that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Vulgar words incur nothing but shame, while haya’ and manners adorn wherever they enter.”

True haya’ is acquired through a remembrance of death, a means to purge the heart of the love of the world.  The Prophet of Grace (s.a.w.) continuously advised his companions to develop a sense of haya’ for the Almighty as appropriate to His Majesty.  At one time, when they appreciatively expressed that they had haya’ for their Lord, the Prophet (s.a.w.) explained real haya’ as protecting all parts of the body from the impermissible and never taking the thought of death out of the mind.  The desire of the Hereafter, he then continued, necessitated the abandonment of the love of the world and that such were the only people filled with a proper sense of haya’ for their Lord.  This was recorded by Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.).

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) would never stare inquisitively at any one in the face.  His gaze spent greater time fixed on the ground than it did at skies.  Stemming from a supreme character endowed with such haya’, never would he use people's mistake against them.

As conveyed by ‘Aishah (r.a.), whenever the Prophet (s.a.w.) was heard a word he was not fond of, he would not react by saying, “Why is so and so saying these things?”  Instead, he would remark, “Why are some people saying these things?”  This was recorded by Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.).

And sometimes, to impart a feeling of dislike for certain inappropriate behavior, he would caution them in the most subtle manner, saying, “Why am I seeing such and such things committed?”, as if to figuratively turn the blame on himself.  This is recorded in the Shaykhayn.

Having imbibed such Prophetic morals, Mawlana ar-Rumi (q.s.), that illustrious friend of the Truth, swathes abstract realities in concrete words when he said, “‘What is iman?’ asked my reason to my heart.  Whispering into the ear of my reason, my heart replied, ‘Iman is but adab.’”


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