Modesty in the digital age: An Ahmadi Muslim woman’s perspective

Zainab Abolaji Oladapo, Student, Kwara State University, Nigeria

In today’s age of the internet, the concept of modesty can seem like a relic of the past. Yet, for Ahmadi Muslim women, it is a core value that is as relevant as ever. In an era where anything and everything can be shared online, how can women maintain modesty and dignity in the digital age?

We live in an age where the internet shapes most of our daily interactions and influences societal norms, which is why maintaining modesty can be a challenge, especially for Muslim women. The digital landscape presents a myriad of opportunities and temptations, often testing one’s commitment to Islamic values. However, for many Ahmadi Muslim women, embracing modesty in the virtual realm is not only possible but essential for upholding their faith and identity.

Understanding modesty in Islam 

Modesty or haya in Islam, in addition to physical appearance, also encompasses behaviour, speech, and interactions. It is a symbol of dignity, self-respect, and devotion to God. The true essence of purdah (hijab) also requires a Muslim girl or woman to show humility, decency, and the preservation of their chastity. The conduct of a Muslim woman is an essential part of observing purdah. Whether at work, or school, a Muslim woman must conduct herself with great respectability and decency. It is advisable to avoid indolent chitchat and shaking hands with the opposite gender.

The teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa provide guidance on modesty and proper conduct in all aspects of life. Ahadith address various aspects of this topic such as lowering the gaze, guarding one’s speech, and avoiding inappropriate behaviour – all of which are relevant to maintaining modesty in this age (of the internet).

The Holy Prophetsa once said:

“Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e., parts). And haya is a part of faith.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-iman, Bab Umur il-Iman, Hadith 9)

This term “haya” covers a large number of concepts which are to be taken together; amongst them are self-respect, modesty, bashfulness, and scruple, etc. This indicates that modesty – in all aspects of life – is an essential aspect of one’s faith. Therefore, as Ahmadi Muslim women, we must remain steadfast in our devotion to Allah – guided by the light of faith and the principles of haya.

The Holy Quran also gives specific and detailed instructions to women on the issue of decency and modesty. It states:

“And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women.” (Surah an-Nur, Ch.24: V.32)

At another place in the Holy Quran, we read:

يٰۤـاَيُّهَا‭ ‬النَّبِيُّ‭ ‬قُلْ‭ ‬لِّاَزْوَاجِكَ‭ ‬وَبَنٰتِكَ‭ ‬وَنِسَآءِ‭ ‬الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ‭ ‬يُدْنِيْنَ‭ ‬عَلَيْهِنَّ‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬جَلَا‭ ‬بِيْبِهِنَّ ۗ ذٰلِكَ‭ ‬اَدْنٰۤى‭ ‬اَنْ‭ ‬يُّعْرَفْنَ‭ ‬فَلَا‭ ‬يُؤْذَيْنَ ۗ وَكَا‭ ‬نَ‭ ‬اللّٰهُ‭ ‬غَفُوْرًا‭ ‬رَّحِيْمًا

“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah al-Ahzab, Ch.33: V.60)

This verse indicates the emphasis laid by Islam on modest dressing. Islam requires modesty in dress, with the arms and legs covered. Clothes should be loose and the curves of the body should not be perceptible, especially in public. A Muslim woman should not feel unconfident about the way she dresses as long as her dress follows the Islamic code of modesty.

Guarding one’s gaze

Allah the Almighty commands in the Holy Quran:

قُلْ‭ ‬لِّـلْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ‭ ‬يَغُـضُّوْا‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬اَبْصَا‭ ‬رِهِمْ‭ ‬وَيَحْفَظُوْا‭ ‬فُرُوْجَهُمْ ۗ ذٰلِكَ‭ ‬اَزْكٰى‭ ‬لَهُمْ ۗ اِنَّ‭ ‬اللّٰهَ‭ ‬خَبِيْرٌ‭ ‬بِۢمَا‭ ‬يَصْنَـعُوْنَ

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is aware of what they do.” (Surah an-Nur, Ch.24: V.31)

While Allah commands men to lower their gaze in this verse, He addresses the women in the following verse to also do the same – and also make sure not to expose their bodies except to those deemed lawful.

Modesty in speech

It is the teaching of the Holy Prophetsa to “Speak good or remain silent”. This teaches Muslims to choose their words carefully and avoid vulgar or inappropriate speech. This is an important teaching in this age – especially for Internet users. One must refrain from posting sentiment-hurting content and hateful or abusive comments – as this is against the teachings of Islam. The Quran asks us to pay evil with goodness. (Surah Ha Mim as-Sajdah, Ch.41: V.35)

The principles of modesty apply to all aspects of a Muslim’s life, including their behaviour. Ahmadi Muslim women must be guided by these teachings, strive to maintain their modesty and uphold righteous conduct in both physical and virtual realms.. 

The Holy Prophetsa states: 

إِنَّ‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬أَخْيَرِكُمْ‭ ‬أَحْسَنَكُمْ‭ ‬خُلُقًا

“The best of you are those who have the best manners and character.”  (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-adab, Hadith 6029) 

This emphasises the importance of treating others with kindness, respect, and dignity.

Modesty and Ahmadi women 

For Ahmadi women, modesty is an important concept – encompassing both outward appearance and personal conduct. They must then ensure to adhere to principles of humility, decency, and chastity, guided by the teachings of Islam and the example set by the blessed wives of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa and the Promised Messiahas. They must prioritise digital literacy, equipping themselves with the knowledge and discernment needed to navigate the online landscape responsibly, and critically evaluate content and platforms, all whilst being mindful of their impact on their faith and values.

Cultivating virtual communities

Building supportive online communities allows Ahmadi Muslim women to connect with like-minded women who share their commitment to modesty. These communities provide a sense of belonging and encouragement in upholding Islamic principles amidst digital distractions. Ahmadi Muslim women must strive to stay in virtuous online communities that align with their values and beliefs. These communities serve as sources of support, encouragement, and spiritual growth, fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie in the digital realm.

Embracing modesty as empowerment

It should be understood that “modesty” is not a form of oppression, but rather a source of empowerment for Muslim women. By adhering to Islamic principles of modesty in the digital age, they assert their autonomy, self-worth, and agency. Modesty allows Muslim women to transcend societal pressures and embrace their identity with confidence and dignity.

Educating others

Ahmadi Muslim women should understand that they have a vital role to play in educating others about the significance of modesty in Islam. By sharing their experiences and perspectives, they can challenge stereotypes and misconceptions, fostering mutual understanding and respect.

Guarding modesty in online presence

In the contemporary age of the internet, maintaining modesty poses a distinctive challenge for Ahmadi Muslim women. Media platforms, in particular, can promote superficiality, materialism, and immodesty. Images, videos, and messages that contradict Islamic principles are easily accessible, making it challenging for Ahmadi Muslim women to maintain their values in a digital world driven by trends and likes. Amidst the vast expanse of online content and interactions, preserving the values of modesty, dignity, and piety becomes not just a personal endeavour but a profound reflection of one’s faith and identity.

Huzooraa once said that our girls should stay away from such professions that require them to dress immodestly. (Report on the inaugural address at Jalsa Salana France, delivered on 5 October 2019, Al Hakam, Issue LXXXII, 11 October 2019, p. 5)

Ahmadi Muslim women must maintain a modest online presence, mindful of the content they share, the interactions they engage in, and the impression they leave on others, dress modestly in virtual spaces and uphold principles of decency and respect in their digital interactions. They must use social media as a tool for positive engagement, sharing content that reflects modesty, empowerment, and faith. Ahmadi Muslim women must actively contribute to the online discourse by sharing content that reflects Islamic values, promotes modesty, and inspires virtue, utilising their platforms to spread messages of compassion, empathy, and righteousness, and striving to counteract the negative influences prevalent online.

With regards to pictures displayed on the internet, Huzoor’saa guidance is that:

“Women should not display their pictures on their profiles. Not only girls. but grown-up women also.” (Al Hakam, 4 March 2022, p. 6) 

This is in accordance with the Quranic statement:

وَلَا‭ ‬تَبَرَّجۡنَ‭ ‬تَبَرُّجَ‭ ‬الۡجَاهِلِيَّةِ‭ ‬الۡاُوۡلٰي

“And do not show off yourselves like the showing off of the former days of ignorance.” (Surah al-Ahzab, Ch.33: V.34)

Embracing modesty as spiritual strength

Modesty is not merely a set of outward practices but a manifestation of spiritual strength and commitment to God. By upholding the values of modesty in the digital age, Ahmadi women must assert their identity as followers of Islam and ambassadors of peace, morality, and righteousness.


In a digital landscape rife with challenges to modesty and morality, Ahmadi Muslim women must stand as beacons of virtue, resilience, and faith. Through their unwavering commitment to modesty, they must exemplify the timeless teachings of Islam and inspire others to embrace values of decency, dignity, and piety, in both the physical and virtual realms.

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