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Muslim Man’s Guide to Style

555993_waterboy.jpg I thought I should address an important issue with which I have been blessed with some moderate level of expertise, namely, a Muslim man's fashion sense. I have been motivated to write this after seeing many men coming to the masjid clothed improperly, or wearing things that they might be embarassed to even go to bed in. We live in a society where your appearance is oftentimes the first-impression left on people, and with the Muslim image as it is, we should do everything we can to improve that image.

A Small 'Style' Knowledge-Base

From 'Abdullah Ibn Mas'ood (radiyallaahu 'anhu) who said that the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “No one will enter Paradise who has an atom's weight of pride in his heart.” A man said, “What if a man likes his clothes to look good and his shoes to look good?” He said, “Allāh is beautiful and loves beauty. Pride means denying the truth and looking down on people.” (Muslim)

O Children of Adam, wear your beautiful adornment when you go to the mosque

Those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor stingy, but maintain a medium way.

It is related in Sunan al-Nasâ\'î that a man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) wearing a poor-quality garment. Allāh\'s Messenger (peace be upon him) asked him: “Do you have any wealth?” he replied: “Allāh has given me all kinds of wealth.” So Allāh\'s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “If Allāh has given you wealth, let us see on you the effects of Allāh\'s blessings and generosity.”

My understanding from the Sunnah is that having nice clothing is allowed (and perhaps in some cases encouraged) assuming that it does not reach the level of extravagance. However, I also understand from the salaf that many preferred simple clothing out of humbleness. We have examples of some of the pious predecessors who owned only 1 or 2 garments, and we have examples of some Imams (like Abu Hanifah) who were very fashionable (reference).

How Muslim Men Actually Dress

It is very easy to take a sampling of Muslim men and how they dress, especially when they come to the masjid. At Jumu‘ah time you see everyone in their work clothes. Many are in their prim and proper slacks with dress shirts. Or if your masjid is near an IT building, the ever popular Dockers/Polo shirt is a never miss. Come Maghrib or Isha time though, the tide turns. You start seeing people in strange combinations of clothing. Adidas sweatpants with a Brooks Brothers button down oxford. Raggedy T-shirts that expose their undergarments when they make sujood. Thobes with mismatching pajama bottoms (this is especially popular at Fajr time). The ever popular Arab Men's abaya thing worn on top of Western clothes for the Khateeb on the go. And don't forget, the outfit every sister dreams of seeing her knight in shining armor wearing: the shalwar top with jeans on the bottom.

We need to start giving proper respect to the masjid when we attend. I'm not saying you need to get a suit and tie for ‘aṣr prayer, but at least make sure your clothes are clean, matching, and would not embarass you if you had to walk into Walgreen's in that outfit.

It wouldn't hurt us to get some nice clothes for going to the masjid, or even for going to work. People do notice these things. It doesn't mean you have to go to Banana Republic and buy a $90 shirt (not when you can get it on sale for $20), but do take a bit of pride in how you look and know that people are going to judge you based on your appearance one way or another, so you may as well make it a good one.

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Another thing that bothers me is the etiquette of rolling your pants/jeans. At the masjid you will see the guy in his dress shirt and sweat pants rolling up the pants during prayer up half the leg on one leg, and haphazardly rolling it up 1/4 of the other leg. Would you ever go out in public looking like that? Take care of rolling your clothes properly so they look nice. I for one, when I am trying on pants at the store, will roll them up to see how they look. You can make yourself look very “stylin and profilin” while following the Sunnah if you put in a little bit of effort.

Some clothes, like dress slacks, are not made to be rolled. In this case, try to plan ahead and tailor your clothes accordingly. I bought a suit once where the tailor wanted to strangle me because he kept telling me I would look ridiculous with the pants as high as I wanted them, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Another part of the Sunnah is making sure your 'awrah is covered. For this I actually recommend dressing a bit 'hip-hop' as their shirts are usually larger and will cover more of your derriere and other places. The jeans are also a bit baggier.

This might not work for the 9-5 professional though. If your office has a business casual dress code (as most do), then I would recommend wearing nice pants and shirts, but not tucking them in. This is fashionably acceptable these days, and you can still look very suave doing it (I know I do). If you're at a slacks/belt/tie kind of place, then Allahu 'ālim, I don't know of anything to say other than get your slacks a bit on the loose side :)

Hygiene

Make sure that you are properly trimmed up. Grow your beard, but take care of it the best you can. Your beard can be more than fist length and still properly maintained. At the same time, it can be less but look extremely unkemptly. Also make sure to cover the parts of the fiṭrah outlined in the Sunnah, most specifically clipping your nails. If you yourself are disgusted by the sight of your own feet, maybe you should wear socks when you go out. These are really simple things but they make a big difference.

Smell

This is self explanatory. Make sure you're not so stank that brothers don't know whether to give you an Altoids or a lota. I am a strong believer that every masjid bathroom should have a can of air freshener and a can of Lysol. Let's keep it clean, it's half our faith.

If you smoke, get a breathmint until you can quit. There's nothing like praying in a spot where a smoker just spent 8 sajdah's breathing nicotine into the carpet, much less 'shoulder to shoulder foot to foot' for 23 rakats in Ramadan with a smoker. I've actually forfeited my spot in the front row and moved to the back to avoid such a situation.

Make sure you are wearing nice cologne or something when you go out. It is the Sunnah to smell nice. Regarding Attar oils and such, use this rule of thumb: If someone gave you this as a sample at a department store and you thought it smelled rank, then buying it out of the trunk of someone's car bottled up in a cheap plastic vial, and rubbing it on the back of your hand, is not going to make it smell any better. I remember once at a convention someone rubbed some on my hand (unsolicited) and the first words that came to mind were “farm animal.” This should be a red flag not to rub it all over yourself. You will only be hurting your own marriage, or whatever marriage prospects you have left.

I'm not saying everyone needs to go out and get some Acqua di Gio, but just make sure it's not something funky smelling. For colognes, I personally recommend Acqua di Gio, Armani Mania, Polo Black (and Double Black), Burberry Brit, Vera Wang, Dolce&Gabbana, and others..

Parting Notes

This is by no means any kind of an exhaustive list. There's a lot to be said and studied regarding this issue. There are plenty of hadith on the subject, as well as plenty of different examples from the salaf to be studied on the issue. This post does not do justice to any of those. What it does do, I hope, is at least make Muslim men a bit more conscientious about how we look. Allāh(swt) is most deserving of our looking nice when we pray, when we go to the masjid. We also have an image problem, especially in the West. Reforming that image is going to take a whole package of reform. This may seem like an extremely minor part of it, and it is, but it is also the first thing that will be noticed about you.

alim allaah allah asr fitrah juma masjid

About ibnabeeomar

Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters, Qalam Institute, Muslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims. He is a regular khateeb and has served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow him on Google+ or on Twitter @ibnabeeomar.

39 comments

  1. In terms of formal office wear, my husband wears a nice, long-ish sleeveless vest (waiscoat) with his business clothes. He had a bunch of them made “back home” in smart suit fabric. I think shukr does them too.

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  2. Whoever called you a ‘metro’ was right…:)

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  3. MashaAllah you look good in the picture. :)

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  4. This post cracked me up.

    “for the Khateeb on the go.”

    “rolling up the pants during prayer up half the leg on one leg, and haphazardly rolling it up 1/4 of the other leg.”

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  5. Imam Malik rahimuhullah had more than a hundred shoes and many more thawab and turbans. He would wear new clothes whenever he would teach a class on hadith.

    And who can forget the story of the man who would fall down on his way to the masjid and he would go back home so he wouldn’t attend the masjid with a dirty garmet, and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala loved him because of it.

    This is one of those issues that really irks me. I hate seeing people dressing like bums while praying infront of Allah azza wa jal, I mean it’s one thing to not know…but come on…. wa Allahul Musta’aan.

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  6. ROFL!!!
    That definitely made me laugh… you sound more than a little like my dad, who used to work in clothing retail before he went off to Medinah.

    But in all seriousness (hard to do, actually, since I keep cracking up over it!), good advice, masha’Allah!

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  7. LOL….this post just GAVE IT, FULL FORCE!

    @ ibnabeeomar:

    “I personally recommend Acqua di Gio, Armani Mania, Polo Black (and Double Black), Burberry Brit, Vera Wang, Dolce&Gabbana, and others…”

    –You’ve quite an “eclectic” mix of eau de cologne there.

    Might I recommend BVLGARI Aqva (Bulgari Aqua) — it is a personal favorite of our dear brother, ExEx Blogger.

    http://www.bulgari.com

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  8. khawla hurayrah

    Good post and it is the truth!!! I will surely forward this one to my male relatives to read.

    However, the same goes for Muslim sisters. Some would come to the Masjid in the same clothing that they had been cooking the whole day in the kitchen. They smell so oily and garlicky.
    Some would put on perfume thinking that it is ok to do that to go out of the house.
    But worst of all that I have noticed, when an older grandma coming to the masjid, with full made up face, complete with painted faked acrylic nails on!!! All in the name of looking good.

    Anyways, very metro indeed, that fancy hat not just looks good on you br Ibnabeeomar, but helps deter flying critters from diving on you.

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  9. As hilarious as this post it, this is actually a serious issue. Not only in terms of da’wah, but in terms of how much pride we have in what Allah has given us.

    “Make sure you’re not so stank that brothers don’t know whether to give you an Altoids or a lota.”

    LOL! This made me do a double take, awesome :P

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  10. Metro is not a good thing brother to begin with and I will leave it at that. I think it is important to dress nice, as nice as your money will allow, but fashion can also be in the eye of the beholder.

    Let me give you an example, take the metro fashion which can be found on a show like Queer Eye for The Straight Guy, the style of those on The Sopranos, and that of say the African-American sitcom Girlfriends.

    The men from any of these three shows can walk down any street and it will be said they are dressed fashionably and well; but if they look at each other they will not like the others outfits.

    Queer Eye reflects the fashion sense of effete urban yuppies and as a Muslim I have to take issue with that look because, amongst other things, the tight form fitting clothes that the men wear.

    The Sopranos and Girlfriends have fashionable clothes for more traditional men, one for mostly white men and the other for mostly black men, and the clothes are looser fitting and actually closer to the Islamic ideal and make men look like men.

    In the Muslim community I see a lot of people dressed in crazy ways. White Americans dressed like Hindus from South Asia and wearing African kuffess and hush puppy shoes, African-American Salafi brothers going to work in pajamas from Saudi Arabia, and the like.

    Amongst the professional Desis and Arabs I see the effort to try and dress to impress but it is mostly bland. I mean, if you go to work and have to wear a polo and khakis, try and rock it, and pick a unique pol, or a unique button-up shirt. I see 100 Pakistanis at jummahu all wearing the same outfit.

    There is also a stlye to dressing casual, and many brother dress better out of work than they do at work.

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  11. I agree with Umar Lee on the metro part. Man if people refer to you as ‘metro’ then for the sake of Allah change it to at least the ‘GQ’ style.

    The most common type of style in the Muslim ummah, is the urban-ghetto style: baggy jeans/pants and big T’s.

    I personally like going traditional to the masjid wearing a thoub, jalabiyya, or those hooded Moroccan ones.

    Cologne and ‘itr is a must.

    But by far the best dressed type of clothing for the masjid is rocking this long suit/cape thing here over a white thoub or just a regular pants and shirt. Halal GQ status right there.

    I bet the sisters love this post.

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  12. Just wanted to add this from IslamQA about clothes of fame and vanity:

    It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever wears a garment of fame and vanity, Allaah will dress him in a garment like it on the Day of Resurrection.”

    According to another version, “…then set it ablaze.” And according to a third version, “will dress him in a garment of humiliation.”

    Narrated by Abu Dawood, 4029; Ibn Maajah, 3606 and 3607; classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 2089.

    The Shar’i guidelines for men’s dress are given here:

    http://islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=36891&ln=eng

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  13. @ Abu Bakr:

    Thanks akhi for giving us an Islamic perspective on the matter. We kind of got side tracked by The Sopranos and “urban-ghetto” …

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  14. Another part of the Sunnah is making sure your ‘awrah is covered. For this I actually recommend dressing a bit ‘hip-hop’ as their shirts are usually larger and will cover more of your derriere and other places. The jeans are also a bit baggier.

    I don’t care about the hip-ho, yo, just cover yo damn backsides when making sujood – have you no shame? Serious, dawg, it’s messed up!

    I have a few nice abayas, mashallah, that are easy to slip on and off, for when i pray in the house. Are there not easy on/off male garments that a brother could keep handy somewhere, especially for the mosque, to wear over his work clothes/pyjamas/whathaveyou, and still look smart?

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  15. There are some nice Moroccan thawbs that go easily over pretty much anything. Theyre kinda nice but casual.

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  16. Salaam ‘Alaikum

    //I bet the sisters love this post.//

    Yeah! It’s about *time* someone talked to the men about what you all should be wearing. (It did not escape me, however, that someone brought up women’s dress… because we don’t hear about it often enough).

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  17. if anybody can send me a construct of boys Islam Clothes to besi_i3@hotmail.com

    Selam ALejkum

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  18. what do you mean by a construct?

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  19. “I was ordered to prostrate on seven bones and to roll up neither hair or garment.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (809) and Sahīh Muslim (490)]

    I asked the IslamToday people about this hadith and they said:

    “The person should leave his clothes as they are when he starts praying. He is not allowed to roll up his garments above the ground or roll up his sleeves upon commencing his prayer or because of his prayer. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the authentic hadīth: “I was ordered to prostrate on seven bones and to roll up neither hair or garment.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (809) and Sahīh Muslim (490)]

    What is mentioned in the hadīth about not to tucking up the clothes means not to fold or tuck up one’s clothes or his hair to avoid it touching the ground. The understood meaning is to avoid any act of arrogance like disliking one’s clothes or hair to touch the ground.

    When one bows or prostrates, one should have no problem with one’s clothing bowing or prostrating as well. The person needs to be humble.

    However, if a person rolls up his pants to avoid personal discomfort or for some genuine benefit, then we do not see this as being a problem. “

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  20. Yus from the Nati

    What would be nice would be some pictures of how a muslim man can dress slick and still on the sunna. I just bought a pair of khakis and about to hem them up. But I know there’s got to be tricks people know of how to make them look “normal”. Like wearing dress boots so the ankle isn’t so obvious. or something like that. Or buying a particular type of pant (wide legged vs tapered vs anything else) while still not falling below the ankle (for those who follow this opinion). Or maybe ideas of types of shirts that look good and also can untuck and will cover your rear that when you go in sujud.

    PS. Please don’t reply with “looking different from the disbelievers” and “Why you trying to fit in with them?” type stuff unless you read this first:

    http://www.islamtoday.com/showme2.cfm?cat_id=2&sub_cat_id=769

    The article on islamtoday.com titled “Emulating and resembling non-Muslims”

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  21. Wow interesting post!

    I know this is a little off topic, but I was wondering, is always wearing your trousers above the ankle truly necessary in Islam? Now before anyone starts copying and pasting hadith, I am well aware of them, thanks. My issue is with the way in which they have been interpreted.

    My understanding of the matter was that Allah (swt) asked men to shorten their garments in order to avoid arrogance, hence it is the arrogance which can send a man to Hell fire, rather than an extra inch on his trousers. Since the length of one’s garment today no longer equates to being able to show how rich you are, is it really necessary to always wear short garments? Especially since it looks so ridiculous? And to be honest I’d rather not see some man’s hairy spotty legs as he does salah. It’s rather off-putting.

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  22. I actually used to follow the opinion that a man is allowed to wear his garments below his ankles as long as he does not do it out of pride. However after researching into the issue, I had to leave the opinion I was following due to the overwhelming evidence of it being forbidden for a man to let any garment hang below his ankles.

    If anyone would like to look into the issue in more detail, I recommend Shaikh Saleh as Salehs (may Allah have mercy on him) treatise called ‘Isbaal.’

    Isbaal is the arabic term for the sin of allowing your garments to hang below your ankles. In the treatise the Shaikh refutes all the points that people bring allowing you to wear your garments below your ankles with evidence.

    The thing that hit my heart was when I read the hadith where the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned that Allah will not talk too or even look at a person on the Day of Judgment who used to wear his garments below his ankles.

    Also when I heard the following narration, it brought tears to my eyes. When Umar Ibn Khattab (peace be upon him) was laying on his death bed, and blood was flowing from his wounds after having been stabbed, he saw a youth who had his garments below his ankles and ordered him to pull up his garments to above his ankles.

    An important point to note is that we should not make the issue of ‘Isbaal’ an issue where we as Muslims argue and fight over. If someone holds the opposite opinion to you, it’s up to you to advise them with the best of manners and gentleness. Not allowing yourself to get into arguments, mocking others and MOST importantly, not looking down upon those who follow a different opinion on ‘Isbaal’ to your opinion.

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  23. Once I was wearing some ithar at the office and I got in the elevator, and this american older dude asked me about it, so I told him that its musk from overseas, subhanAllah I had the bottle in my pocket, he noted the name (Al Rehab Store), I told him to google it. But he loved the smell! :D
    Alhumdulillah

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  24. Where does it say that folding the pants is sunnah? As far as I’m concerned, it is actually completely makruh and that your namaaz doesn’t even count if you fold them. Unfortunately the modern day muslims have turned this into a good thing, even though it is not. It is better to just let the pants fall below the ankles or perhaps tuck them in your socks.

    http://www.hizmetbooks.org/Endless_Bliss_Fourth_Fascicle/Endless_Bliss_Fourth_Fascicle_Chapter_18.htm

    Jazak’Allah for the good read though.

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  25. Akhee Nabil- I have one question for you whichis, having read the article u have posted, I wonder how it is possible to accept any of the things written in it as there is not a sinlge iota of evidence either from the Qur’an or a hadith to back up any of the things mentioned within it. As for the issue of isbaal then there is much evidence to support this by way of ahadith in both Bukhari and Muslim, the two most authentic books of hadith.

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  26. As salaamu alaikum

    Good article even if it doesn’t have citation of any supporting verses from the Quran nor hadith. I say this because it is past time to address the manner of brothers’ dress in the masjid (and even outside of it). I mean honestly; the way some of the brothers dress it’s like they were doing yard work moments before entering the masjid. And it’s worse for those who are married; like how did their respective wives let them out in public like that? It’s tragic when brothers dress however they please (usually mean totally Western attire so they blend in with non-Muslims) but insist that their wives or daughters dress in absolutely confining/bulky/uncomfortably hot/drab garments so that they stand out in the crowd as being Muslim.

    I’m one of those people that has a problem with anyone who dresses shabby-looking. You don’t have to spend a lot of money but you can still be decently dressed (clean; pressed; mended/no rips nor stains nor wrinkles and for crying out loud no thread bare socks).

    There needs to be not only more talk about this (even if it means admonishing the brothers for their disregard to appearance) but there needs to be actual actions taken to correct it.. We sisters don’t need to hear any more about how we should dress; we’ve got it covered (no pun intended but we really do have it covered and then some). My closet contains enough to take me from work to dinner or speaking engagements to errands to sports practice/games with my children to doing yard work or running errands and I always blend while still reflecting that I am Muslimah. Now if only I could find a brother that could keep up and match me but that’s another subject.

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  27. Great article lol. It’s just so easy and comfy to wear the addidas pants with the random grey hoodie :(

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  28. http://www.askimam.org/fatwa/fatwa.php?askid=9ff75f1516ff1c5dc74aed1b6615d7a6

    Here’s the evidence. It is in the Sahih Bukhari and the Sahih Muslim. Clothes and hair shall not be folded while praying salaat. Therefore one should either let the pants stay below ankles but not out pride or tuck them in their socks. I’m not here to start arguments or say “I told you so.”

    I just saw something that corrected me and I feel as if it is my obligation to tell others as well.

    If there is something wrong with the fatwa I have posted. Let me know.

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  29. Hmm. This has always been a HUGE issue for me.

    Im only 14 and with the kids my age, appearance matters a lot.

    I mean I always think of the hadith about Umar(R) going to Jerusalem and when he got there he was wearing his one clothing which had like fourteen stitches showing how humble he was, that he had been wearing this garment and everytime it ripped he would just stich it even though he was the Kalifa of the Muslim Empire.

    I think it makes sense to look nice and clean though yet not be TOO extreme about it.

    Good Post!

    -The Muslim Kid-

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  30. Good article – jazakallah khair.

    One thing I would like to add, especially to us Canadians who have to wear jackets in Winter: please make sure the jackets don’t reek curry and other food smell. For some reason the jackets tend to save the smells forever. Take care to keep them in closed closets away from the kitchen.

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  31. Let’s not forget the issue of shaking hands with an interviewer of the opposite sex. It’s a particular sticky situation but one that has to be dealt with. When I refused to shake a co-workers hand once, she went to our supervisor and said she would have a problem working with me. Needless to say, I had some fence mending to do but it was touch and go for some time.

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  32. As salaamu alaikum

    Often the problem with men getting away with the “oddball” look in the masjid (and in public in general) lies with the iman. Especially here in the West where the iman has many roles for the ummah; one of which is to serve as the scholar. My ex-husband asked an imam why he permits the men to dress as they do and the imam told him that it would be wasted breath to address it because it would fall upon deaf ears. Like excuse me? This out of the mouth of an imam of a masjid that insisted that women remain totally separate from the men during prayer and didn’t seem to want sisters there anyway because we were expected to enter through a back door (that was usually locked) that faced a desolate looking street frequented by some shady looking characters.

    Me beng the “rebel in hijab” that I am (so named by my eldest daughter – go figure) is notorious for breaking boundaries. In tthe case of this masjid I was the lone female presenter during a discussion panel and sat right in the midst of the men and did not pray in the segregated area but in the back row behind the men. Amazing how the other sisters present followed my lead.

    Islam is about empowerment and male/female equity so brothers need to get right because there are many “rebels” just like me that will not only make them hang their heads in shame over their arrogance and cluelelssness but will also empower other women to stand firm on what is right and can be proven; whereas the “creativity” men display in their manner of dress cannot be supported from righteous sources.

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  33. Brothers, Forget about the cologne. Just wear deodorant. Seriously!!

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