Since this month’s topic seems to have a lot of people stumped, we decided to have each member of our staff reflect on the question: What is Modesty? Our Writing Intern, Nermine Mohamed, offers her perceptive today as Muslim and as a woman. Her answer shows incredible wisdom and gives us all a touching image of modesty to consider.
When I think of the word “modesty” what comes to mind is not a specific appearance, dress, or behavior, but more like a combination of everything: a certain lifestyle, a certain aura that surrounds and frames a person. It is a tone that is never too loud or too self-assured, it hovers between confidence, uncertainty and accepting that you can always be wrong. Being ready to listen more than talking, feeling no need to stress your own ideas among a group, always thinking before speaking, making sure that what you say is of value and not just noise to fill in the silent gaps. It is knowing when to talk and when to be silent and also knowing that silence is not a bad thing at all! Not everything has to be spoken. It is being comfortable with oneself. The way we look, the way we talk, the way we behave among people. Modesty does not mean not drawing any attention to ourselves, but it means drawing attention to the right things, the meaningful things. It is how we behave as if no one is watching us, seeking no praise or compliments for being who we are: natural, unassuming, effortless, no need to be anyone but ourselves. It is like a breeze, caressing one’s skin. Always soft, nice, kind, and caring, it spreads out positive and good feelings and makes you feel at ease, never making a fuss, but simply passing by without you even noticing.
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What you describe stands quite apart from so much of our consumer culture outlook.
I’ve seen it, too, in Mennonite, Brethren, and Quaker women today — not all of them maintaining the historic Plain Dress, either, but nevertheless living along the lines you define.
Thanks for helping raise the awareness.
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