Shame and honor. These concepts can also be experienced as embarrassment and pride – or humiliation and success. Shame is foundational in Muslim societies because nearly all Muslims live in group-oriented cultures.
What people think of you and your family is what matters. Keeping up appearances is paramount. If one member of the family does something shameful, the whole family is dishonored. The fear of bringing shame on your family is a powerful motivation to conform.
Honor is akin to wealth: the more you and your family have, the better off you are in society. Honor is gained through family solidarity, property, courage, generosity, hospitality and – most importantly – the chastity of women. Caliph Ali (7th century) reportedly said that “Allah created sexual desire in ten parts; then nine parts are given to women and one to men.”
If a person or family is shamed or dishonored, they can, at a minimum, maintain a grudge for a lifetime. More extreme reactions to shame include revenge, shunning, or even murder.
In Egypt, everyone knows everything about everyone! Information is power. Gossip is fuel. I was lectured all the time about how my mother and sisters and I had to protect our family’s honor at all costs.
I learned about Jesus by secretly watching Christian programs on satellite TV. I discovered the source of true shame: my sin. Jesus forgave me and set me free! But when my family found out I was a Christian, they wanted to kill me. My father locked me in my room while he and my brothers planned what to do with me. I was terrified, but I knew Jesus would help me.
It was a miracle: I was able to escape! And after many months, with the help of a church, I started a new life elsewhere. I’m sorry my decision caused my family such pain, and I miss them very much. But I have the love of Jesus now, and the love of a whole new family.
Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.
To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
I am the Lord your God and there is none else and my people shall never again be put to shame.
Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.
Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth…
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.
Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name.
But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame. Hebrews 12:2
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one…
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… Ephesians 2:19
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Shame in the Muslim world
What does the bible say?
other regions Videos
Eastern South Asia
Western South Asia
Pray for those desperate for mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance to find it in Jesus.
Pray for Muslims to experience the honor of being adopted into God's family.
Pray for Muslims' shame to be replaced by everlasting joy through Jesus Christ.