Hijab for Men
A lot is said about women wearing hijab, and most of this talk comes from men. Even I had a go at giving my 2 cents on the issue a while back.
Now there are many reasons for that. One is that there a lot of sisters who just don’t plain know what hijab is. You only have to go for a stroll in an Asian area of East London to see that for yourselves. At a recent talk by Shaykh Ahmad Babikr he jokingly described them as being ice cream cones – Big and round headscarf on top with skinny jeans and shirts to match. Another reason is we don’t have enough female leaders in Muslim communities to teach other sisters, so we end up with men doing all the talking. That’s the fault of both men and women, but it is something that is slowly starting to change.
But one thing that peeves me off more than sisters trying to wear hijab and be Vogue models at the same time, are brothers who don’t even know the basics of their hijab. Yes there is hijab for men. The fact we have degraded the word ‘hijab’ to just mean a piece of clothing women wrap around the head is testimony to the fact we don’t really know much about hijab in the first place. Look up the root for hijab, h-j-b and you will find it has a number of different connotations: “Veil, cover, screen, seclude, shelter, hide, obscure”, the list goes on and you get the idea.
Why am I bringing this up? Because a new trend has entered our Mosques. It seems now it’s OK for men to come to the Masjid (Be it for Juma’a or any other prayer) and not give a crap about the clothes they’re wearing. So now many a time I have to put up with seeing men’s hairy backsides in the Masjid. For any sisters reading this, yes there are men exposing their backsides in the Houses of Allah, on a fairly regular basis, and it’s not a pretty site. This trend has started ever since it became cool to look gay (The “metrosexual” look), and that entails wearing t-shirts and jeans that do not fit. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is very anti-t-shirt, though it may seem a little strange to be against a piece of clothing, he makes fair points. In the past t-shirts were considered underwear, you wore them under your shirt. As a Christian he would have to wear his Sunday best when going to church, so why can’t Muslims do the same for Fridays? Although nowadays this tradition in Christianity has pretty much come to an end, it doesn’t mean that we should imitate them by also giving up our best clothes on the most blessed day of the week. Fiqh and manners aside, I just don’t want to see people’s backsides, especially when they’re going into sujuud.
The bare minimum a man has to cover in public is between and including the navel and the knee, his whole body should be covered at all times in general, and he should only expose the parts he is allowed to in public if there is a necessity to do so. The Prophet (SAWS) would sometimes greet guests by coming out of his house while only wearing his izaar (lower garment) as a sign of humility to show that he did not live like a king. Otherwise he would wear inexpensive yet modest clothing with a turban at all times. He would then wear his best clothes on special occasions such as Eid and Juma’a. It’s a strongly emphasised Sunnah to wear some of your best clothes, shower and put on perfume when coming to the Masjid for Juma’a. So I don’t understand why some brothers, and I have to say especially the fresh desi ones, come for prayer like they just woke up (Maybe they did). Once I had someone praying in front of me at Juma’a who didn’t even have underwear on. I mean seriously!
The Hadith about a person imitating the kuffar as being one of them, is very misconstrued and misunderstood by a lot of people to mean it refers to wearing clothes that are not deemed “Sunnah”. One of the Prophet’s (SAWS) best pieces of clothing was a cloak from Yemen, which at the time was not a Muslim territory. What the Hadith refers to are people who imitate and perform actions that are contrary to the sacred law. Such as acting camp or dressing “metrosexually”. So what does this say about Muslims who are dressing in a way that completely undermines that most basic requirements for our type of dress?
If you want to take it a little further, the Hanafi school considers it disliked to uncover above the elbows. Then Hanbali school and some of the non-Hanbali adherents of the Qadri Tariqa even consider it obligatory to have the head covered at all times.
I think an effort is required from both men and women in our communities to fix up their hijab. I think everyone would agree that if we started working together, rather than having a certain group work against another we would get a lot more done. In the meantime I’m thinking of carrying a packet of straws with me everytime I go to Juma’a. So whenever I see someone exposing themselves I can give them a surprise lesson in modesty. Though I think if I did it on my own it wouldn’t go down too well. Maybe if someone started a Facebook campaign?
For more detailed information on the the awra and hijab for both men and women from the perspective of the Hanafi school, the following is a good resource:
And to Him is our return.