Male Modesty

As-salamu'alaykum and hello everyone!

Before I begin this post, I just want to greet everyone, Ramadhan Kareem! It is sad to know that Ramadhan has just gone by in a blink of an eye, and now we are very near to celebrating Eid.

So far, fasting here, well... let's just say it is way more challenging that it is in Brunei. We fast for almost 19 hours here, and we do not have cars to go around. We walk and use public transport to go from one place to another. Moreover, it is not an Islamic country, you will see a lot of other people eating and snacking food in front of you, and the hardest part (at least for me, ha) is to watch people guzzling down cool slushies! I love slushies... – oh well, what is life without a challenge? It would not be called life right?


Anyways! I am actually back again earlier than I should be, and that is for a reason actually. I have just finished my master's degree examination, and I no longer have any essays to submit. However, I do have one final thing to do – dissertation. Yep, you heard it. I am going to take a mini hiatus until I finish with my research, InshāʾAllāh by October.

However, before I take my research leave. I have decided to do a post that I have always wanted to do, and it will be similar to the earlier post called "Thawb/Thobe", which I published last year, in July 2015. 

Film Photographed by: The Rustic Trove
As you can see, the title is called "Male Modesty". I have also had the opportunity to work again with Fifi Hasman from The Rustic Trove where in this post, I will also show how talented Fifi is with her film photography skills, she has never failed to impress and surprise me. Both Fifi and I have agreed that this is our favourite collaboration to date. We were trying to figure it out, why was this shoot better than the rest? Then we realised that it holds a special place in our hearts and beings because it just transcends and resonates with our faith. A faith that we did not just passively accept, it involves an ongoing struggle, continuous questioning, and filled with unnerving doubts. However, all of that has led to a slow surrender in the acceptance and belief of the faith – Islam.

I have not really explained my background as much besides the fact that I have a BA in International Relations and Politics, as well as doing a Masters Degree in Political Science at the moment. My area of interest revolves around religion, gender, identity and politics. I find the intersection between religion and politics very very fascinating, if I ever decide to enter the realm of academia and research, this will be it. Anyways...

Some would ask, why have I engendered the universal concept of modesty? What inspired me to write this post?


"Do they not look at the sky above them? - How We have made it and adorned it, and there are no flaws in it?" [Qur'ān, 50:6]
One day, I was in Selfridges, and I couldn't help but notice that there were a couple of times when I saw Muslim women, all veiled, walking side by side with their respective male relative, wearing a contrast of wear of clothing, just casual tight shirts and some even wore shorts. Since I had the opportunity to study about the veil in one of my recent modules. Let's talk about the veil, before I move on to the topic of modesty because they are both interlinked with one another. 

The veil, which is commonly referred to as the 'hijab', is an Islamic concept that cannot and should be simplified to a single definition. The literal meaning of the word 'hijab' can be derived from its Arabic root word, 'hajaba', which means to "to veil, cover, screen shelter..." (Wehr and Cowan, 1994, p.184). Although, in the modern context, the word hijab has often been reduced and limited to being defined as the material headscarf for Muslim women. Other than the headscarf, there are different types of material veiling for Muslim women, which includes 'abāyah, burqa, chādor and niqāb. 

Most important question that I am going to raise is that have we forgotten that the hijab is also required for men? Or is it not perceived as equally important?

The rationale behind the concept of hijab in Islam is that it acts as an indicator of 'haya' (modesty) for both men and women, and modesty is seen as an important pious virtue to being closer to God.

"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof..." (Qur'ān, 24:30-31, Translated by Yusuf Ali)


"Be like the flower that gives its fragrance to even the hand that crushes it" – Ali ibn Abi Talib
There are other Qur'ānic verses and Prophetic ahadīth that connects modesty with faith, which reinforces the importance of hijab. However, I would also like to point out that, hijab is often focused on the visual/physical level, when in actuality, the hijab is more than beyond that. There is also "the spatial – but also an abstract reality in realm of ideas" (Mernissi, 1991, p.93) 

Modesty has many different manifestations in the Islamic paradigm, ranging from an eye gaze, thoughts, social behaviour to speeches. We need to strive to have a modest behaviour,to be truthful, sincere, humble, patient, forgiving, charitable, moderate, compassionate, kind and considerate. It is promised for these behaviour will be rewarded:


“For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise - for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.” (Quran 33:35)

Beautiful isn't it? Both gender are always addressed to the same, signifies such gender equality. 

Unfortunately, the term modesty has always been much more fixated and hurled on the physical level especially towards girls and women, rather than towards their male counterparts. The expectation for women to dress 'modestly' is higher than it is for men, and based on my own experience. Men get away easily for dressing 'immodestly'. And truth be told, I, for one am guilty of doing so. 

Both are asked to do the same, guard their own individual modesty. Although it varies regarding interpretation, that is another discussion for another day, and I am in no position to debate at the moment because I only specialise in political science, not theology. The whole point is, we should both guard our modesty, regardless if you're male or female. However, the double standards can be seen, women get called out for wearing 'immodest' clothing more often than men. 


Let us look at the clothes and items that are considered to exhibit modesty for men in Islam, we'll look at it from head to toe. 

Film Photographed by: The Rustic Trove
This is a "topi" in Hindi, Urdu and it is also commonly used in the Malay language. Specifically, it is called a "ṭāqīyah" in Arabic, which in English literal translation, it is a cap or a hat. A ṭāqīyah is a short and rounded skull-cap. It is often worn for religious practices, especially for the five daily prayers. It also believed widely by Muslims that should be worn because it is a sunnah, where it is said the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) kept his head covered (Kabbani, 1998). Thus, it is commendable and recommended to wear it, in order to emulate the ways of the Prophet. In other religions, head covering is also prominent, whether in Judaism called 'yarmulke', also known as 'kippah'  or in Sikhism, the 'turban'. 

The ṭāqīyah that is shown above is beautiful, both colours white and light brown just complements one another. It's just soothing on the eye to see it. The little intricate design and how it is meticulously sewn as well makes it even more unique. 


Film Photographed by: The Rustic Trove
I will then move on to the thawb/thobe or better known as the 'Jubba' or 'Jubah' in Malay. It is a robe-like garment with ankle-length. It is usually loosely designed as if it is tight, it loses the whole essence of a 'modest' type of clothing. You might notice that this particular jubba is a slightly big on me (I guess fasting for 19 hours just definitely caused us to lose weight quickly). 

I will leave everything up for you guys to see how beautiful the thawb is. An off white with gold and black embroidery. It also comes with a classic zipper instead of buttons! 


Film Photographed by: The Rustic Trove
I notice that the black linings around the collar and the shoulders give a contrast to the off-white garment with the golden yellow embroidery as shown below in the close up. In addition to that, the black linings also give a more of a masculine look, as well.

Film Photographed by: The Rustic Trove

Film Photographed by: The Rustic Trove


The good thing about the looseness about the garment is that not only it exudes modesty, but you get to really have much more free space making it really comfortable, as compared to my skinny jeans and chinos that I wear most of the time. 


"Guard your eyes. They are the direct pathway to the sacred land of the heart. Would you pour garbage into a house and expect a king to enter? Allāh does not enter a dirty heart." - Yasmin Mogahed
As for the shoes, you guys have seen it before! Yep, it was featured in the Thawb/Thobe post! The off-white cream Lacoste shoes. 

A full on simple outfit.

One thing I learn studying abroad was that you can pray anywhere. Since there are very limited praying facilities, I would pray in the fitting room, an empty spot and if desperate, I would just pray while I'm sitting. The whole earth is a place of worship. Through prayers is how you connect with the Creator, it is how you build a relationship with God, it is how you get to know Allāh swt. As Yasmin Mogahed would refer it to as "A Sacred Conversation".

Film Photographed: The Rustic Trove
Film Photographed: The Rustic Trove
Before I end this post, I would like to share a really happy moment for me. I have been to three of Yasmin's talk. A huge fan because of her book. Usually, after her talk, I would try to get a signature of the book and talk to her. However, usually the events would be filled with 99% women, so I couldn't really go see her because it would be very uncomfortable for myself and the ladies. But, this time, and during this Ramadhan, I got to finally achieve what I've always wanted to do! Get a signature and thanked her for the book because it has helped me so much in understanding a lot of things and ultimately, fall in love with our Creator. I also told her to come to Brunei and she said, "make du'ā" – so guys and girls... let's make lots of du'ā. 

Since this post resonates around faith, spirituality and God. I might as well, share something that I posted on Twitter recently. The lecture I attended of Yasmin's touched on the concept of "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon" – the response on Twitter was just humbling and touching, just to see how it has transcended with people is amazing. 



If you guys haven't read this book, I'd recommend reading it. Even for people of other faiths. It is very relatable.
I would also like point out that this post is not about me trying to impose my view about wearing 'modest' clothing, the whole point is to raise awareness of that men do need to step up their modesty. I do believe that people can choose to wear whatever they want, the physical appearance of a person do not illustrate anything about what they are on the inside. What is most important is the heart, the physique comes in much much later. 

By the way, since it is still Ramadhan, let us all strive to be best version of ourselves. There is also a chance for us to chase Laylatul Qadr – the night of Destiny. Let us pray to God:

We are told in the hadith qudsi: “Our Lord descends during the last third of each night to the lower heaven, and says: ‘Is there anyone who calls on Me that I may respond to him? Is there anyone who asks Me that I may give unto him? Is there anyone who requests My Forgiveness that I may forgive him?’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

God will always be there for us, waiting for us to ask for forgiveness and come back to Him. That is where our Home is. And that is all we need to do – to return Home.

And that is pretty much it! I will be back guys – InshāʾAllāh! 

WEARRIOR M


3 comments:

  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. I am also fascinated by the fact that we share the same interest - that is - Politics. An area I wouldn't mind exploring. Fifi was also able to capture male modesty so effortlessly with the beautiful pictures. One worth reading!

    Mervyn
    themervynmonologues.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Mervyn!

      I am glad that you have enjoyed reading this post. A bit surprising because it is heavily based on Islam.

      It is refreshing to see a Bruneian male blogger on the rise! And you can talk, discuss and debate about politics with me anytime!

      Fifi is indeed a talented film photographer. Will definitely tell her about this.

      I do apologise for the late reply! I am not currently active until the time is right.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Regards,
      Wearrior M

      Delete
  2. Wa Alikum slam brother,and Eid Mubarak in advance.Hope your Ramadan is going well. Interesting post and also I love your dress.thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete

 

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