About Shyness in the Way of Learning when it came to the Women in Islam

The women did not allow shyness to prevent them from seeking the knowledge that would strengthen their faith and practice and prepare them for the Hereafter. Mujahid said: “The shy one (mustahyi) and the haughty one ( mustakbir) cannot attain to knowledge.”[1]

Hafiz Ibn Hajar has commented on that: “Shyness (haya, shame) is part of the faith. And that is the lawful kind that happens as respect and reverence for elders and great people and it is praiseworthy. As for that shyness which leads to abandoning a legal matter that is a rebuked and not a lawful shyness; rather it is timidity and lowness, and that is what Mujahid means when he said: “The shy one cannot attain knowledge”[2]

Thus the women companions established the example for those after them of determined seeking after knowledge. They did not shy from asking even about what women feel shy to hear mentioned in front of men.

Umm Salamah Radhi Allaahu Anha, narrates that Umm Sulaym Radhi Allaahu Anha, came to the Prophet Sallalaahu Alaihi wa Sallam and saidc: “O Messenger of Allah, Allah is not shy of saying the truth. Is a bath compulsory on woman when she has a wet dream? The Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam, said: “Yes! May your hand be dusty! How otherwise does a woman’s child become like her?”[3]

‘Aishah Radhi Allaahu Anha, once said: “How good are the women of the Ansari! Shyness did not prevent them from acquiring understanding of their Din.[4]


[1] Al-Bukhari Sahih Ilm/ Bab Al-Haya Fil’Ilm.

[2] Ibn Hajar Faith Al-Bari  Ilm/ Bab Al-Hayah Fil-Ilm

[3] Al- Buhkari  Ilm/Bab Al-Haya Fil’Ilm ( “May your hand be dusty” Literally rendered from the Arbic is typically used , though it seems otherwise, to express criticism in an affectionate tone; there are similar usages in most languages)

[4] Taken from “Al-Muhaddithat” The Women Scholars in Islam By Muhammad Akram Nadwi page 50

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