Haya itself is derived from the word hayat which means life. But that is something that we will get into later on in this essay. This term covers a large number of concepts. In English, it may be translated as modesty, shyness, self-respect, bashfulness, shame, honour, etc. The original meaning of Haya according to a believer's nature refers to a bad and painful feeling accompanied by embarrassment, caused by one's fear of being exposed or censured for some unworthy or indecent conduct.
Islamically Haya is an attribute which pushes the believer to avoid anything distasteful or abominable. It keeps him/her from being neglectful in giving everyone what is due upon them, and if for any reason he/she is not able to keep up with his/her commitment then they will feel extremely bad and ashamed about this. The reason being that he/she will have displeased Allah by breaking a commitment. Haya plays a huge role in the lives of Muslims because it is a very important part of our eeman (faith/belief). If we do not have any form of haya then it is most likely that our eeman is very weak.
Narrated by Abu Huraira (RA): The Prophet SAW said, "Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And Haya (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.) is a part of faith." (Bukhari)
We also learn from the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) the importance of having Haya and how it is not something to be ashamed of, but instead one should be ashamed if they do not have it. Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar (RA): The Prophet SAW passed by a man who was admonishing his brother regarding Haya and was saying, "You are very shy, and I am afraid that might harm you." On that, Allah's Apostle said, "Leave him, for Haya is (a part) of Faith." (Bukhari) Now the above hadith is also a form of proof that "shyness" is not just something regarding women but also an attribute that believing men should have, for it is an indication if their fear of Allah and an indication of the value of their deen. Now to discuss the different types of haya. How many types of haya are there?
Haya' is of two kinds: good and bad:
The good Hayâ' is to be ashamed to commit a crime or a thing which Allah and His Messenger (saw) has forbidden, and bad Hayâ' is to be ashamed to do a thing, which Allah and His Messenger (saw) ordered to do. Firstly, to talk about the types of Good haya. For example, one should build one's personality and character with the good dimensions of haya. The most important is that one must be shy of doing ANYTHING displeasing to Allah (azw), with the belief that one would have to answer all one's deeds.
If one develops a sense such as this, it would help one to obey all of Allah's commands and to stay away from sins. Once one realizes that Allah (azw) is watching all the time and one would have to answer to every move one makes, then one would not neglect any order from Allah or His Messenger (saw). The stronger this sense of haya becomes, the more it motivates one to make sure that Allah (swt) doesn't see one doing anything forbidden. The way to develop this haya is to keep learning and absorbing more and more knowledge of Deen.
Another type of haya is more of a social aspect concerning others besides Allah (swt). Normally these things often come in regard with ones relationship with family. For instance a child not wanting to do something displeasing to his mother, or a wife not wanting to do something displeasing to her husband or even a student who is careful about saying something incorrect in front of his teacher (dai'i). And finally, the type of haya in which one becomes shy of oneself. This is when one reaches the peek of eeman. What this means is that if one does, says, or sees, anything wrong or even commits the tiniest of sin, one starts to feel extremely bad and embarrassed and feels extremely guilty in the heart. This builds a high degree of self-consciousness and that is what strengthens one's commitment to Allah (azw).