Religious Wisdom: Modesty & Modest Dresses in Islam & Christianity

Modesty:

Modesty, sometimes known as demureness, is a mode of dress and deportment that intends to avoid encouraging sexual attraction in others. Modesty” has multiple meanings, the definition for modesty goes like this

  • the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.
  • regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
  • simplicity; moderation.

Modesty in Christianity:

In Christianity, Christians believe that their bodies are the temples of their spirits. It is to this bodily temple that they invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost. and also, they believe that when they choose to wear modest clothing and behave with a modest demeanor, they wear and they live our testimony of God the Eternal Father and of His Son, Jesus Christ. they witness by their physical appearance that they are disciples of Christ and that they live His gospel.

The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17)

Modesty is a very important trait for Christians to cultivate and develop in his or her own life. All people, whether male or female, need to have the character trait of being modest.

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines modesty as “an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity” (2521, emphasis mine). Clothing isn’t meant to protect someone else from our bodies; rather, it is to protect us from someone else’s lust. Catechism makes only a passing reference to clothing when it says that modesty “inspires one’s choice of clothing”.

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array (1 Timothy 2:9)

The Church allows the individual to discern, according to a rightly formed conscience, what kind of clothing is or is not permissible. Furthermore, the Church tells them that modesty is first and foremost an interior disposition, and one’s outward appearance and behavior stem from that disposition.

“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”

Paul is telling all people to dress “modestly, with decency and propriety.” When a woman wears braids, nice clothes, or pearls, it does not mean she is being immodest in her heart.

Believers should never seek out sexual attention by the way they dress (Proverbs 7:10)

In Bible Says; that Christians should always be modest and exercise self-control (1 Timothy 2:9). Similarly, the Bible says their bodies are temples of the Lord.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)

They believe that Believers can wear the clothing they choose, but everything should be done in a spirit-filled manner. Believers need to abstain from presenting themself in the same way as the world does.

“We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path so that our ministry will not be discredited” (2 Corinthians 6:3)

Paul also cautions Christians, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9). Christians believe we need to cultivate self-respect and understand that God does tell us that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13–16). God does not make mistakes as each person is a wonderful creation.

In everything we do, we need to do it to the glory of God whether that be in the way we dress, behave, or communicate with others. “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Christians Believe that Dress reflects Jesus. Just like our actions and speech, how we dress can bring glory to God or draw it away from Him.

1 Corinthians 6:19–20 says our bodies are not our own. We have been bought with a price, and we are called to glorify God with our bodies, including how we clothe them. Do we dress to draw attention to ourselves, our possessions or our Jesus? How we model this for our kids will impact the way they learn to dress themselves. Instead of giving attention to how clothes make us beautiful, let us emphasize how we can dress to glorify God.

Modesty in Islam:

In religion, Islam modesty is seen as a sign of respect for oneself and others. Islam and modesty have a similar relation which soul bears to the body. In literal meaning, modesty is the behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency.

“O children of Adam! Surely, we have bestowed upon you a garment to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you, and the garment of piety is the best” (Quran, 7:26)

In Islam, men and women share responsibility in upholding modesty and controlling their desires in society. Whether someone dresses or behaves modestly or not, the obligation to guard one’s own chastity rests with each gender. While many people think that there is excessive emphasis on modesty for women, God’s command for men to maintain modesty precedes the one for women in the Quran:

“Tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do” (24:30)

From this verse of the Holy Quran, we came to know that dressing with modesty is very important for all of us. Allah (SWT) has allowed people to wear nice clothes and put on a good appearance, as doing so is one aspect of remembering Allah’s blessings upon them.

“Say, ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants and the good things, clean and pure, which Allah has provided for them?’ Say, ‘They are [lawful] for the believers in the present life but they shall be exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.’ Thus, we explain Our signs for people who understand.” (Quran, 7:32)

Allah (SWT) has mentioned reasons for clothing: to cover the body and cover up what should not be revealed in public. To beautify the body so the person looks better. Islamic clothing is known for its modesty. In Arabic, the word used for modesty is ‘Haya’. The concept of modesty in Islam defines the boundaries with respect to decency that is set for every Muslim in terms of attire, speech, actions, and behavior.

“tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to wrap their outer garments around themselves. That is more suitable so that they will be known as pious women, and not be harassed.” (Quran, 33:59)

modesty in the Quran is different from piety. Piety and modesty in the Quran are both forms of self-control. Piety is a general term that includes all other forms of self-control such as Haya, patience (Sabr), swallowing one’s anger (Kazm Gheiz), forbearance (Hilm), and fear (Khowf). Hence, modesty in the Quran is a sub-branch of Taqwa.

The concept of Haya:

The concept of Haya is considered a major Islamic virtue and an integral part of human character. Haya can be translated to mean modesty, shame, shyness, or bashfulness. The word haya is derived from the word “hayah”, which means life. Implicit in its meaning is that the person without haya is like a dead person.

“Haya and īmān are two that go together. If one is lifted, the other is also lifted” (Al-Hakim)

Haya is a term covering a large number of concepts. It may mean modesty, self-respect, bashfulness, honor, etc. It is of two kinds: good (praiseworthy) and bad (blameworthy). Good haya is to be ashamed of committing a crime or a thing that Allah and His Messenger Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have forbidden whereas bad haya is to be ashamed to do a thing that Allah and His Messenger Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have ordered to do.

The Awrah ( intimate parts):

Awrah (Arabic: عورة) is a term used within Islam which denotes the intimate parts of the body, for both men and women, which must be covered with clothing. The definition of awrah is the parts of the body that should be covered and this does vary in different situations among different groups of people.

Prophet Muhammad PBUH said, “No man should look at the ‘awrah of another man, and no woman should look at the ‘awrah of another woman.”

(Reported by Muslim)

Neither men nor women should uncover their genitals at any time except when in privacy. Men and women should at all times wear garments that are loose and made of material that is not transparent enough to see the skin color and shape of the other (male or female). Not only that, but they must also protect their gaze from the awrah of those unlawful for them.

O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness — that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember. (7:26)

the awrah of a man refers to the part of the body between the navel and the knees which must be covered when in public and also during prayer.

Final Thoughts:

Islam is a religion of moderation and balance; it does not expect women alone to uphold society’s morality and dignity. Rather, Islam asks men and women to strive mutually to create a healthy social environment of practical values and morality. In short, the concept of modesty in Islam is holistic and applies to both men and women. The ultimate goal is to please God and to maintain a wholesome and stable society.

“In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware” (49:13)

Islam clearly establishes that men and women are equal in front of God. At the same time, it does recognize that they are not identical. God created men and women with unique physiological and psychological attributes. In Islam, these differences are embraced as vital components to a healthy family and community structure with each individual contributing their own distinctive talents to society.

I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective and until next time, keep reflecting.

Thank you for reading!

Finally, I pray to Allah to benefit those who read this article and others, grant me truthfulness in what I say and do, preserve my thoughts and my pen from deviation and guide me in all my affairs.

And all praise and thanks are due to Allah, without Whose help and guidance nothing can be accomplished. May Allah bless you with happiness, success, guidance, health, and knowledge. May Almighty Allah give us the strength to follow the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and make us part of the group who is among the most righteous! Ameen.

Be patient with yourself. And Keep learning!!

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Raja Muhammad Mustansar Javaid

Raja Muhammad Mustansar Javaid

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Writer | network engineer | Traveler | Biker | Polyglot. I’m so deep even the ocean gets jealous