The concept of modesty is addressed from many angles in Islamic teachings. Both modesty and shyness play a role in Islamic faith, intended for the creations of Allah. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) encouraged modesty to his followers. Perhaps, the most addressed form is physical modesty, in which modesty is connected to the awra’, an Arabic term meaning “inviolate vulnerability’ or ‘what must be covered’ which consists of the private body parts of a human being. The awra’, for men, is from the navel to the knee, while for women, it is an entirely more extensive and complicated matter. The awra’, for a woman, consists of her entire body, except for her face and hands. A women’s awra’ is only in respect to men outside her mahrem and non-Muslim women. Mahrem is a term that means a woman’s family members and those forever ineligible for marriage to her. People in a woman’s mahrem may see a woman’s ears, neck, hair, upper part of the chest, arms, and legs; while other parts of her body such as her back, abdomen, thighs, and two private parts, are only to be seen by her husband and, if necessary, a doctor. These parts are not to be seen by anyone else, man or woman. Modesty, in terms of clothing is another component of modesty. Many resources on modesty focus on women’s clothing and clothing that is worn in front of strangers or those who are non-mahrem. Clothing has two purposes from the Islamic view: to beautify the appearance and to cover the body. It is prohibited for women to wear clothes that are transparent and reveal what is underneath. It is also prohibited, in Islam, to wear clothing that is tightly fitting and delineate parts of the body.
Modesty can be viewed or seen as how the society carries and properly maintains its morality and ethical foundations.
There is a standard component of Islamic clothing requirements for women; a head covering and clothing that is loose-fitting, non-transparent, and covers the whole body, with the exception of the hands and face. Surat Al Nur, specifically referring to the Islamic dress code for Muslims, “Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do” (Qur’an 24:30). “And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known; and turn to Allah all of you, O believers! So that you may be successful” (Qur’an 24:31) Modesty is more than a person’s appearance; modesty starts from a Muslim’s heart. In respects to modesty, Prophet (SAW) said, “Modesty is part of faith, and that part of faith must lie in the heart.” Another way Muslims can be more modest in everyday life is take reservation in speech. Therefore, speech should be moderate with either Muslims or non-Muslims. The prophet said, “A strong person is not the person who throws his adversaries to the ground. A strong person is the person who contains himself when he is angry” (Sahih al-Bukhari) Therefore, the right thing to do would be to detach from the situation completely before emotions took over the situation. Modesty is more than just how a person dresses; it is reflected based on a Muslim’s dress, speech, and moral conduct. Therefore, modesty can be viewed or seen as how the society carries and properly maintains its morality and ethical foundations.