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The Bashfulness of the Prophet

Auther : Shaykh Hishaam Muhammad Sa‘eed Barghash
5677 2011/06/04 2024/06/13
Article translated to : العربية Español

How could the one who possessed a great moral character not be bashful when this trait was one of his most refined moral characteristics?

How could he not be so while bashfulness is a part of faith as the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 

“Faith consists of more than sixty parts; and bashfulness is a part of faith.”  [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

Bashfulness implies all goodness as the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:

“Bashfulness is all good.”  [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

Bashfulness is the most prominent moral of Islam because the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:

 “Each religion has a distinctive moral and the distinctive moral of Islam is bashfulness.”  [Ibn Maajah; Al-Albaani: hasan]

The bashfulness of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, reached the highest peak. It was easily realized at the first glance in the face of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. it was narrated that Abu Sa‘eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was more bashful than a virgin in her chamber.”  [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

The bashfulness of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was not accidental or casual; rather it was a deeply rooted and innate trait in his character at all times, in all conditions, day and night, while traveling and being resident, in his house, gatherings, with close and distant people, with friends and enemies, and with the scholar and the unlearned.

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, had the most perfect form of bashfulness. He was bashful with his Lord, with his nation and with his noble self.

He had the greatest and most perfect form of bashfulness with his Lord, for he is the one who said: “Allah is more deserving that you should be bashful before him.’” [Abu Dawood, At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah; Al-Albaani: hasan]

As for his bashfulness with himself, when the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, wanted to answer the call of nature, he would not lift his garment until he had squatted close to the ground. [Abu Daawood and At-Tirmithi; Al-Albaani: hasan]

Moreover, it was narrated that the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 

“Allah the Almighty is forbearing, bashful, and conceals faults, and he loves bashfulness and concealment. When one of you washes himself, let him conceal himself.” [Abu Daawood and An-Nasaa’I; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

The true meaning of bashfulness is as the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, explained to us how one can be bashful before Allah the Almighty. It was narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 

“Be bashful before Allah in the true sense of the word.” People said, “all praise be to Allah; we are bashful before Allah.”  He said: “That is not the way; the one who is bashful before Allah in the true sense of the word should be watchful of his mind and whatever enters it, and he should be watchful of his stomach and whatever enters it, and he should remember death and decay. Whoever hopes for the reward in the hereafter would shun the temptation of this world. Whoever does that is bashful before Allah in the true sense of the word.”  [At-Tirmithi and Ahmad; Al-Albaani: hasan]

Such is the way in which one can feel bashful before his Lord the Almighty. That was the bashfulness of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, before his Lord. In fact, it was greater than that, and how could he not be so while he had a sublime morality and refined manners.

The bashfulness of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, led him to establish prayers at night until his feet became swollen. When ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “Oh messenger of Allah! Are you doing this when Allah has forgiven your past and future sins?”  He said:

“Oh ‘A’ishah! Should I not be a thankful slave?” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

The most bashful and most thankful Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, felt too shy to sleep and without thanking his Lord the Almighty in spite of his great amount of righteous deeds and his noble status.

This bashfulness results from falling short with regard to worshiping Allah the Almighty. it is like that of the angels who glorify Allah the Almighty night and day and never slacken but who will nevertheless say on the day of resurrection, exalted are you, we have not worshipped you as you should be worshipped.

Furthermore, this is the bashfulness resulting from glorification. The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, had the most perfect bashfulness in that respect. An example of this is his bashfulness before his Lord on the night of al-Mi‘raaj (the ascent through the heavens) when he returned to his Lord the Almighty to ask him to reduce the number of prayers that he (Allah the Almighty) enjoined upon the nation of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, according to the advice of Prophet Moosa, may Allah exalt his mention. When the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, repeated this action several times, he said to Moosa, may Allah exalt his mention, when he urged him to go back again to his Lord: 

“I feel too shy before my Lord.” [Part of the long hadeeth on al-Israa’ narrated by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

In fact, what prevented him from asking his Lord was his perfect bashfulness and glorification of his Lord.

His bashfulness with his nation was evident in the way he, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, preferred his nation to himself and their comfort to his comfort such as when the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, married Zaynab bint Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with her, and prepared a wedding feast. Some people lingered in the house to talk after they had finished eating. Although this caused him inconvenience and annoyance, he did not forbid them to do so because he felt too shy. He preferred the convenience and comfort of his companions to his, until Allah the Almighty himself revealed that this was forbidden for the comfort and the noble status of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and educated them on how they should deal with the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam

In this regard, Allah the Almighty says (what means): 

{Oh you who have believed! Do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal, without awaiting its readiness. But when you are invited, then enter; and when you have eaten, disperse without seeking to remain for conversation. Indeed, that [behavior] was troubling the Prophet, and he is shy of [dismissing] you. But Allah is not shy of the truth.} [Quran 33:53]

Another example of the bashfulness of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, with his nation was that he would not tell them to their faces what they would dislike to hear. It was narrated that ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “when the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was informed that someone had said something (wrong), he would not say, what is the matter with so-and-so saying such and such (naming him) but would instead say:

‘What is the matter with some people who say such and such…?’”

 [Abu Dawood; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

Another of the incidents that indicate the great bashfulness of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam, is what ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated of a woman who asked the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, how to wash after her menses was over. The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, told her what to do and said: "Purify yourself with a piece of cloth scented with musk.” The woman asked, "how do I purify myself with it?" he said: "SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah)! purify yourself (with it)!” The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, felt shy and turned his face away. Therefore, ‘A’ishah pulled her close and told her what the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, meant. [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

His intense bashfulness prevented him from detailing the issue of washing for the woman, felt shy, and turned his face away, so that A’ishah, the mother of the believers, dealt with this matter, which is related specially to women.

His personal bashfulness was reflected in his chastity and preservation of the times of his seclusion. it was narrated that ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said describing the chastity of his tongue and the beauty of his speech, 

“he never indulged in obscene talk nor act rudely nor make a noise in the market-places.” [At-Tirmithi and Ahmad; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would say, magnifying the importance of bashfulness: 

“Bashfulness is a part of faith and faith will lead to paradise. Obscenity is a part of wickedness and wickedness will lead to the hellfire.”  [At-Tirmithi and Ahmad; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, explained that bashfulness is the opposite of obscenity and both traits cannot co-exist in any way.

As for his times of seclusion, ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated an incident about them, “one night I did not find the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in bed. I thought that he might have gone to one of his other wives. I searched for him, then came back, and found him bowing or prostrating, saying: ‘Subhanaka wa bi hamdika; laa ilaaha illa ant (exalted be your majesty, and all praise is due to you. I testify that there is nothing worthy of worship except you).’ So I said, ‘let my father and mother be sacrificed for you. I was thinking of one affair, whereas you are occupied in another different one.’”

Moreover, ‘Abdullah Ibn Ash-Shikheer, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated another incident saying, 

“I once went to the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, while he was praying and his chest was heaving like the boiling of a cauldron (meaning that he was weeping).” [An-Nasaa’i and Abu Daawood; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

There are numerous other examples that attest to the bashfulness and the refined manners of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in the times of his seclusion.

There is no doubt that the personal bashfulness of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was the fruit of his bashfulness with his Lord, and something very closely attached to it.

Allah the Almighty the most truthful says when describing him (what means):

{And indeed, you are of a great moral character} [Quran 68:4]

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