11 Ways to Build Modesty in Young Muslims
by Samana Siddiqui
”Verily, there is a (special) morality of every religion. And the (special) morality of Islam is modesty”
-Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, Ibn Majah
Being shy or bashful, modest in dress, speech, and behavior is considered something archaic, even prehistoric today. Yet, this is a key virtue of Islam. It’s what distinguishes a person of faith and God-consciousness.
But it is particularly hard to be modest for young Muslims. Youth culture, especially in the last 60 years, has become marked by immaturity, along with licentiousness and sexual expression that laughs in the face of modesty. It is a whole package that glorifies dress showing off the body (especially for girls and young women), speech and songs marked by sexual innuendo and commentary, as well as approval of all kinds of sexual acts outside of marriage, not just sexual intercourse itself.
Whether it’s pop songs dripping with sexual lingo, or teen-oriented sitcoms dropping sexual references, the acceptance for immodesty is a cultural trend parents of all backgrounds in the U.S. and abroad have expressed alarm about.
1. Start with yourself – the parent
It’s been said over and over again, and it will always need to be said – a parent is a child’s first role model. So if we, as parents, enjoy watching television shows that show “mild” nudity or bikini-clad men and women, sexual situations (not necessarily pornography), and comment on how attractive certain celebrities, relatives or friends are “hot”, “cute”, or attractive, then it will be difficult to convey the importance of a Muslim being modest. We need to sit down today and do an honest assessment of our behavior. If we catch ourselves falling into these or other examples of immodest behavior, we should seek Allah’s forgiveness and resolve to try harder to commit to being a more modest Muslims. In this day and age, everywhere we turn, it’s almost impossible to avoid looking at something immodest. But if we are conscious and ask Allah to help us, we can do better in this area despite the challenge, thus setting the example our kids need to stick to this virtue as well.
A Muslim mother I know recently complained about how a Muslim girl had texted her teenage son and he had texted her back. When she was asked why her son did not ignore the girl’s text or tell her to leave him alone, this mother’s response was, “well, he’s a boy. What do you expect him to do? If a girl is giving him attention, he’s going to respond.”
I have no doubt if her daughter had done the same to a boy, this mother would have come down hard on her. Modest behavior is a requirement for both men and women in Islam (Quran 33:35) and it is wrong to focus all of our attention solely on our daughters’ level of modesty in dress and behavior while giving our sons free reign to do what they like, whether that is looking the other way if we find out they have been flirting-by-text with a girl at school, looking at pornography online, or talking to a woman or girl with disrespect. The standards of modesty are a requirement for both sexes in Islam, and we must set higher expectations of our sons, as we do of our daughters, to speak, dress, and behave modestly