Salaam, and happy Friday!
Don’t worry, I know you are looking at the title and stressing a bit, but no, I’m not advocating men dressing up like Muslim women or some such (that’s not even Islamically allowed).
What I do want to talk about, however, is the fact that we never really talk about how men dress. Everybody can go on for hours about how the sisters need to fix this, that, and the other. They need to stop doing this, they need to start wearing this, and on and on. Imams talk about it in the khutba, men talk about loudly on the street, women whisper about other women.
But what about the standards of modesty for men? Why do we all seem to think that they can run wild and free, wearing whatever?
Were not men mentioned first in the verses of the Qur’an that specifically refer to modesty?
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their head-covers 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 […]”
This is such an understated issue in the community, that when I first converted, I actually thought that there was no specific awrah for men, except the actual “private part” area. But really, men should be covered at all times, from navel to knee, in front of anyone except their spouse. That includes their parents, their kids, their siblings (something I also didn’t know for a long time). And if they have the means to cover further, than that is encouraged.
Plus, the same standards apply as for women’s clothing: it should be loose and not show the shape of the area to be covered, and be opaque so that you can’t see through it.
So what exactly is going on in our ummah with the skin-tight jeans, the sagging pants, kids at the age of puberty still running around naked as the day their were born, shorty shorts, and all of these camel/sheep emulating haircuts that I see on pretty much every man (at least here in Algeria)?
Even here in a Muslim majority country, basic standards of male modesty are not often observed.
Everywhere, men in pants so tight it leaves literally nothing to the imagination.
I went to an extended-family member’s house just recently, and a bunch of kids were sitting around playing video games. Normal enough, until one of the boys stands up, a cousin of my husband around the age of 13, and I find that he is not even wearing pants, just tiny little boxer briefs (that one was a bit traumatic).
The pants sagging is still a thing too; I recently saw a guy with super tight little jeans, and the waist came up to just above his knee. Under those he was wearing slinky athletic shorts, and the waist of those came up to just under his bum. Under those he was wearing the most bright and decorated underwear I have ever seen, and the waist still barely came up to his hips. Ummmmm, what?
Thank goodness my husband has seem my mouth open, I-can’t-even-process-what-I-am-looking-at-right-now face so he knows I’m not looking at some guy for my own enjoyment…
And that isn’t even to mention all the men I see walking around with their hands doing who knows what, and staring women up and down.
These are, coincidentally, the same men who lecture their mothers and their sisters on how to dress, and complain that there is no properly covered woman to be found for marriage.
Which is why it is such an important topic to bring up: Islam makes modesty of both dress and conduct a main branch of piety for both sexes, but unfortunately in our day and age the spotlight (and intense pressure) is directed at only one side of that.
I think there needs to be a gentle reminder, and a call for abandoning the skin tight jeans, for belts to hold pants up at the right height, for t-shirts that don’t have profane slogans or sexy women on them, for haircuts that don’t look like a work of abstract art, for clean, neat appearances while upholding standards of modesty.
And just like with women, that doesn’t take one specific, cultural shape. My husband personally likes to wear a thobe around town, but a three piece suit can hold to the same standards. A salwar kameez or just loose jeans and a t-shirt, it is up to your personal style.
And, even before the external appearance is taken care of, I think there is a lot of work to be done on the internal aspect of practising hijab: the lowering of the gaze, the softening of the speech, the respect towards a woman not as “your mother or your sister or your wife,” but as a fellow human inhabitant of this world, and your sister in Islam.
“Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and the fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so—for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.”