The Meaning of Bashfulness
Haya’ linguistically: is reservation and seeking solitude. It is said: istaha yastahi (he was and is being bashful) with a single ya, as well as istahya fulanun yastahyi (So-and-so was and is being bashful) with two ya.  Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (14/218); al-Misbah al-Munir, al-Fayyumi (1/160).
Haya’ technically: is a quality which drives its possessor away from what is ugly, and prevents one from having shortcomings in giving due rights.  Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar (1/52). It is also said: it is a change and brokenness in one which incites him to fear what is shameful and blameworthy. It takes place on one’s face, though its origin whence it outpours is the heart.  al-Tibyan Tafsir Gharib al-Qur’an, Ibn al-Ha’im (p. 61). The Difference between Bashfulness and Embarrassment (Khajal)  al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah, Abu Hilal al-`Askari (p. 244).
Embarrassment is what manifests on one’s face due to grief that reaches the heart when one lacks or misses a social response, or appears in a questionable way, and the like of that. It is something which does away with one’s gravitas. Bashfulness is succumbing to the strength of shyness. For this reason, it is said: so-and-so is bashful to do such-and-such, but it is not said: he is embarrassed to do it, since his appearance does not change prior to doing the thing. Embarrassment is brought about from what was, whereas bashfulness is of what may be. Bashfulness may be used to mean embarrassment in loose usage.Commandments of Bashfulness and Encouragement towards it in the Qur’an and Sunnah
❖ Allah, exalted, says: “Children of Adam, We have given you garments to cover your nakedness and as adornment for you; the garment of piety is the best.” al-A`raf: 26 the garment of piety has been interpreted as bashfulness, as narrated by al-Hasan  Tafsir al-Alusi (4/344). and Ma`bad al-Juhani.  Tafsir al-Tha`labi (3/19).
❖ He, sanctified, also says: “Believers, do not enter the Prophet’s apartments for a meal unless you are given permission to do so; do not linger until it is ready. When you are invited, go in; then, when you have taken your meal, leave. Do not stay on and talk, for that would offend the Prophet, though he is shy to ask you to leave. Allah does not shy from the truth.” al-Ahzab: 53.
❖ Abu Mas`ud, Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Prophet of Allah ﷺ said ‘Among the earliest statements of prophethood that reached the masses was: “If you are not shy, then do as you please.”’”  Reported by al-Bukhari (3484).
❖ Abu Hurayrah, Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Prophet of Allah ﷺ said ‘Faith has over seventy-something - or sixty-something - branches. The most excellent of them is the declaration that there is no god but Allah. The humblest of them is removing what is injurious from pathways: bashfulness is a branch of faith.’”  Reported by Muslim (35). Bashfulness prevents its possessor from sinning and acts as a barrier therefrom, and therefore is a part of faith.  Ma`alim al-Sunan, al-Khattabi (4/312). Quotes of the Predecessors and Scholars on Bashfulness
❖ `Umar, Allah be pleased with him, said: “Whoever’s bashfulness diminishes, so will his awe; whoever’s awe diminishes, his heart dies.”  Reported by al-Tabarani in al-Mu`jam al-Awsat (2259) and al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman (4994) from the narration of al-Ahnaf ibn Qays, Allah be pleased with him. al-Tabarani said: “This report is not narrated from `Umar except with this chain. Ibn `A’ishah Ahmad ibn Mujahid al-Qattan is unique in it.” al-Haythami said in Majma` al-Zawa’id (10/305): “In its chain is Duwayd ibn Mujashi` and I do not recognise him. The rest of its narrators are trustworthy.”
❖ al-Sari said: “Bashfulness and affability knock on the heart’s doors. If they find no asceticism and awe therein, they depart.”  Reported by al-Qushayri in his Risalah (2/368) on the authority of Abu al-`Abbas al-Mu’addib, Allah have mercy upon him.
❖ Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Depending on the life of a heart it will have bashfulness within it. Little bashfulness is the death of the heart and soul: the more life a heart has, the more perfected its bashfulness is.”  Madarij al-Salikin, Ibn al-Qayyim (2/259). Categories of Bashfulness  al-Akhlaq al-Islamiyyah, Hasan al-Mursi (p. 146).
Intrinsic bashfulness: which is what new-borns come into this world with. An example of this is the child’s shyness if his privacy is exposed to others. This type of bashfulness is a gift Allah endowed His slaves with. Acquired bashfulness: which is what the Muslim acquires through his religion, preventing him from committing what is legally impermissible, fearing Allah will see him where He prohibited him from being, or misses him where He commanded him to be. Benefits of Bashfulness and its Virtues
❖ Bashfulness is from the characteristics of faith.
❖ Leaving sin out of shyness from Allah, sanctified and exalted.
❖ Ardour in obeying Allah out of love for Him, honoured and majestic.
❖ Makes one far from the scandals of this life and the next.
❖ The origin of branches of faith.
❖ It adorns one with dignity, such that one does not do that which compromises decency or poise, and does not harm those who are deserving of honour.
❖ Whoever is bashful of Allah, Allah will conceal his faults in this life and the next.
❖ The possessors of bashfulness are loved by Allah and the people.
❖ It inspires one towards all that is good and beautiful, and repels one from all that is evil and ugly.Forms of Bashfulness
● Forms of Praiseworthy Bashfulness
❖ Bashfulness from Allah: by fearing Him and being watchful of Him, doing what He commands and leaving off what He forbids.
❖ Bashfulness from the Angels: by realising that angels are always with one, and never leave him except when relieving oneself and during intimacy.
❖ Bashfulness from the people: which is a sign of one’s virtue. The believer is shy to hurt others, whether with his tongue or hand. He is shy that his privacy is exposed to the masses.
❖ Bashfulness from oneself: this is when one is by oneself, isolated away from others. He is still shy to commit lewdness and sin, out of bashfulness of his own self. This type of bashfulness reaffirms one having bashfulness in front of Allah, honoured and majestic.
❖ Bashfulness from guests, rushing to honour them.
● Forms of Blameworthy Embarrassment which Islam Rejects
❖ Bashfulness to seek knowledge, especially if it is to do with religious matters. One must ward off this type of timidness which prevents one from having knowledge of Allah and calling to His way. This applies to both men and women.  al-Mar’atu al-Muslimah al-Mu`asirah, I`daduha wa Mas’uliyyatuha fi al-Da`wah, Ahmad Abu Bittin (p. 388-389).
❖ Bashfulness to enjoin what is right and prohibit what is wrong. Shyness does not stop the believer from saying the truth, or from commanding what is right and forbidding what is wrong. Allah, exalted, says: “Allah does not shy from the truth.” al-Ahzab: 53.
❖ Bashfulness which leads one to fall into the prohibited. Whoever’s bashfulness drives him to do what is unlawful or leave the obligatory is not justified in doing so. It is, for example, not legitimate bashfulness to miss prayers due to having guests to host, and so on.Manifestations of a Lack of Bashfulness
❖ Openly and publicly sinning, and not fearing Allah.
❖ Women wearing clothes that reveal their body shapes or skin.
❖ Using obscenity and profanity in speech, words that hurt others.
❖ Talking to others about his private marital relations.
❖ Not covering private parts.Barriers to Acquiring Bashfulness
v Singing. Yazid ibn al-Walid al-Naqis said: “Banu Umayyah, beware of singing, for it decreases bashfulness, increases basic desires, and destroys decency.”  Ruh al-Ma`ani, al-Alusi (11/68).
v Sinning. Sins and wrongdoings does away with bashfulness, which is the life of the heart and the origin of all good.  al-Jawab al-Kafi, Ibn al-Qayyim (p. 68). Means to Acquiring Bashfulness
❖ Following Allah’s commands, fearing Him, being conscious of Him at all times.
❖ Following the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ and his model.
❖ Averting one’s gaze from what Allah has made impermissible, and not seeking out others’ privacies.
❖ Being patient away from sin, since patience against sinning aids one towards bashfulness.
❖ Raising children upon bashfulness.
❖ Accompanying those who have bashfulness.Examples of Bashfulness
❖ Allah, exalted, says about Adam and Hawwa’: “Their nakedness became exposed to them when they had eaten from the tree: they began to put together leaves from the Garden to cover themselves.” al-A`raf: 22. This is evidence that man is inherently dispositioned towards being bashful. Lack of bashfulness is against one’s inherent disposition, but rather from following Satan.
❖ The Prophet ﷺ was the most intense in bashfulness. He used to be “more bashful than a virgin in her chamber.”  Reported by al-Bukhari (3562) and Muslim (2320) from the narration of Abu Sa`id al-Khudri, Allah be pleased with him.
❖ From the bashfulness of `A’ishah, Allah be pleased with her, is when she narrated: “I used to enter my chamber wherein Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and my father were buried, and change my clothes. I would say to myself: ‘It is but my husband and father.’ When `Umar was buried with them, I never would enter it except that I am well covered, out of abashedness from `Umar.”  Reported by Ahmad (25660) and this is his wording, as well as al-Hakim (4402). It is authenticated according to the conditions of the Two Sheikhs. al-Haythami said in Majma` al-Zawa’id (8/29), al-Albani in Takhrij al-Mishkah (1712): “Its narrators are those of the authentic.” Bashfulness in Poetry
❖ The poet said:
“If you fear not the consequences of nights,
Nor are you bashful, then do as you please.
Man lives well so long as he is bashful:
The branch remains so long as it is covered.
For a man to live brings no goodness
If bashfulness departs from his face.”
❖ Another said:
“Your bashfulness, preserve it over you, for it is
a sign of his virtue, the bashfulness of the noble.
If his face-saving decreases, so will one’s bashfulness.
There is no good in a face, if it is no longer honourable.”