Immodesty in Islamic Perspective

Chapter No.: 

Immodesty in Islamic Perspective

نحمد و نصلي على رسوله الكريم أما بعد

Islam is the religion of nature and it wants to see a person in an extremely pure, modest and righteous state. That is why it made pure and nice things lawful for a person and impure and malignant ones as unlawful. The Islamic Shariah desires the attributes of modesty and chastity in a person and at the same time it regards immodesty and wickedness as odious. It has considered the adultery as an extreme level of immodesty. Allah Ta’ala says in Qur’an:

وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنَى إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا

And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way. (17:32)

Hadhrat Hakeem-ul-Ummah Mawlana Thanvi (RA), while commenting on this Aayat writes:

And do not come near to adultery i.e., near its domains and elements and without any doubt it is immodesty in itself and also a very evil way in comparison to other immoralities because it serves as a basis for enmity, ordeals and perished lineage. (Bayanul Qur’an)

Adultery has been prohibited because of two reasons, first—it is immodesty and if a human being is immodesty, he gets deprived of humanity and loses his capability to differentiate between right and wrong. This has been mentioned in a Hadith as:

إِذَا لَمْ تَسْتَحِي فَافْعَلْ مَا شِئْتَ (بخاري)

“When your modesty goes on reducing (and there remains no veil of hindrance in between you and immorality), then do whatever you wish”. (Bukhari)

And that is why by saying:

ألحياء من الإيمان (بخاري)

“Modesty is a branch of Imaan” (Bukhari)

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) regarded modesty as an important branch of Imaan.

The second reason is that of social disorder which has no limit when it spreads because of adultery and which sometimes results in the destruction of a whole tribe and even a nation. If investigated, the reason behind the rise in half of the cases related to theft, robbery and murder in the world today, will be a man or woman who has committed this crime of adultery.

Though this crime is not directly related to the human rights, but here, it may have been included with the decrees related to these rights because of the fact that this crime is contagious and brings along with it other such crimes which affect the rights of fellow human beings through loss of lives and properties. Therefore, Islam has declared this crime as more serious than any other crime. Further, it has also fixed its punishment as the harshest of all crimes because this one carries with itself hundreds of other crimes. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)

Therefore, the Holy Qur’an declared its punishment in the following manner:

الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِي فَاجْلِدُوا كُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا مِائَةَ

“(As for) the adulteress and the adulterer, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred lashes”. (24:2)

And this act of people who commit it was considered such a bad and abominable that their establishment of relationship with pure and chaste people was not tolerated; its level of detestability is of such a severe nature. Allah Ta’ala says in Qur’an:

الزَّانِي لَا يَنْكِحُ إِلَّا زَانِيَةً أَوْ مُشْرِكَةً وَالزَّانِيَةُ لَا يَنْكِحُهَا إِلَّا زَانٍ أَوْ مُشْرِكٌ

“The adulterer shall not marry any but a adulteress or idolatress, and (as for) the adulteress, none shall marry her but a adulterer or an idolater”. (24:3)

Allaama Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani (RA), while commenting on this Aayat writes:

After mentioning the punishment for adultery, the purpose of its detestability is stated i.e., such men or women who indulge in this evil act are in reality incapable to be associated matrimonially with chaste Muslims. It is suitable as per their polluted nature that they establish relationship with similar kind of immoral and ruinous men or women or even worse than these i.e., with an idolater or an idolatress.

Allah Ta’ala says:

الْخَبِيثَاتُ لِلْخَبِيثِينَ وَالْخَبِيثُونَ لِلْخَبِيثَاتِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ لِلطَّيِّبِينَ وَالطَّيِّبُونَ لِلطَّيِّبَاتِ

“Bad women are for bad men and bad men are for bad women. Good women are for good men and good men are for good women”. (24:26)

While commenting on this Aayat, Mawlana Uthmani (RA) says:

i.e., the immoral and wicked women are for immoral and wicked men. Similarly, the immoral and wicked men are only capable to establish relationship with same kind of women. What concern is there between moral and good people with the immoral ones?

This is what their act rightly demanded. It is a separate question why Allah Ta’ala, because of other considerations and sagacity, did not make it lawful for a so-called Muslim to marry an idolater or idolatress or did not declare invalid the Nikaah between a moral woman and an immoral man.

Now, the question arises, the way Allah Ta’ala in His infinite wisdom has kept the inherent desire of hunger in a person, He has in a similar way deposited in him the sexual desire, then what is the way to satisfy it? The answer to this is that the Islamic Shariah has for the satisfaction of this desire and continuation of human race, decreed Nikaah as lawful; and not only has it (the Islamic Shariah) encouraged a person to marry but has also warned him if he avoids it without any valid reason. Accordingly, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says:

ألنكاح من سنتي

“Nikaah is my Sunnah” (Mishkaat)

And further, it has been commanded to make it as much easy as possible and also extremely simple. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says:

إِنَّ أَعْظَمَ النِّكَاحِ بَرَكَةً أَيْسَرُهُ مُؤْنَةً

“The most blessed Nikaah is that in which there is less expenditure” (Mishkaat)

It is evident that this injunction that has been commanded to be performed with extreme ease and simplicity by the Islamic Shariah, if made difficult with regard to unreasonable customs, outward pomp and show, hereditary and timely formalities, is an extremely heinous crime; for which not only a definite penalty is to be paid in the Hereafter, but due to its negative impact on the society, the punishment is to be suffered in this world itself. Anyhow, the Islamic Shariah has commanded its followers to go for Nikaah in order to remain safe from sins. The Imaan of a person remains safe with Nikaah, and so remain his roaming thoughts. It is in nature of a human being that whenever he looks at any lovable thing e.g., a thing to eat, drink or wear, the desire to have it evolves in him. Similarly, if due to inattentiveness or all of a sudden, one looks at a woman and a sexual desire evolves in him, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has prescribed to approach his wife.

There is a Hadith in Muslim Shareef, which says:

إِنَّ الْمَرْأَةَ تُقْبِلُ فِى صُورَةِ شَيْطَانٍ وَتُدْبِرُ فِى صُورَةِ شَيْطَانٍ فَإِذَا أَبْصَرَ أَحَدُكُمُ امْرَأَةً فَلْيَأْتِ أَهْلَهُ فَإِنَّ ذَلِكَ يَرُدُّ مَا فِى نَفْسِهِ

“The woman advances and retires in the shape of a devil (i.e., her mode and movements may act as a means of satanic immorality), so when one of you sees a woman, he should come to his wife, for that will repel what he feels in his heart”. (Muslim)

Now, after this explanation and showing an alternative way, if a person, who is already married, looks at a woman prohibited to him, is definitely committing a heinous crime. It is for this reason that the Islamic Shariah has administered severe punishment to a married man or woman viz., if an unmarried person commits such a crime, he/she is to be punished with lashes, whereas a married person is to be stoned to death.

It is narrated in a Hadith that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

“The seven heavens and the seven earths curse an adulterer; and in the hell, such a bad smell will spread from their sex organs that the other habitants of the hell will become perplexed because of it. This disgrace will be in addition to their punishment in the hell”. (Bazaar from Mazhari)

In short, adultery is a grave sin whether committed by a married or an unmarried person. It is simply intolerable and its mere thought is horrible for a Muslim. So, when Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was directed to accept the allegiance of Muslims and also make Dua for them, it was, along with other things, also demanded from them to pledge their allegiance not to commit adultery. Allah Ta’ala says in Qur’an:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا جَاءَكَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ يُبَايِعْنَكَ عَلَى أَنْ لَا يُشْرِكْنَ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَسْرِقْنَ وَلَا يَزْنِينَ

“O Prophet! when believing women come to you giving you a pledge that they will not associate aught with Allah, and will not steal, and will not commit adultery” (60:12)

In the Holy Qur’an itself, where the attributes of Mumineen have been mentioned, it has also been said at that particular place that they have nothing to do with adultery. Allah Ta’ala says:

وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ وَلَا يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا يَزْنُونَ

“And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay the soul, which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit adultery” (25:68)

So, it is the dignity of a Muslim man and woman not to even imagine about adultery. Hadhrat Mawlana Muhammad Idrees Kandhlavi (RA) writes:

In short, adultery is an evil thing. It is the act of fire worshippers. Allah Ta’ala has commanded us not to go even near it, which means that one should not look at a woman prohibited for him as per Shariah. It is near to adultery to look at such a woman. The lineage gets intermixed because of adultery and it is not possible to say anything with confidence about the parentage of a particular child and also no one is there to hold responsibility of such a child. There is no difference between a Zaani (adulterer/adulteress) and an animal; the way an animal satisfies its sexual passion with any female, likewise is the case of an adulterer who commits adultery with any woman he wishes. The way an animal doesn't need Nikaah, similarly a Zaani (adulterer) is in no need of it. It is worth to mention that the ‘Muta’a’ of the Shias is a kind of adultery.