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On the Virtues of Humility, Modesty and Contentment

It shows that in every faith or canonic law, some particular aspect of moral behaviour receives paramount attention and an extraordinary emphasis is laid on it. Thus, compassion and forbearance form the cardinal point of the teachings of Jesus. In Islam, in the same way, modesty is of fundamental significance.

It needs, however, be emphasized that the word ‘modesty’ is used in a very wide sense in the special terminology of the Qur’an and the Traditions. In the common usage, what it signifies, simply, is that a man avoided lewdness and kept away from lustful and indecent acts. But, in Islam, it appears that it stands for a state of feeling which is intolerant of everything that is not desirable and produces a reaction of disgust and agony within anyone who, knowingly or unknowingly, falls into an error or behaves in a manner having a semblance of sinfulness.

We learn, further, from the Qur’an and the Traditions that modesty is not in relation merely to our own species, but the greatest claim, on it, is of the Supreme Being who created man and is sustaining him, from moment to moment, and from whom nothing is hidden. Or, let us take it this way. A modest man is, generally, inclined to feel shy in the presence of his parents and other elders and benefactors, and God being the King of Kings and the Benefactor of Benefactors, the: bondsman should, naturally, be modest and humble, in the highest degree, in respect of Him, the primary requirement of which will be that he felt pain and repugnance at everything that was displeasing to God, and, therefore, abstained from it.

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