Shaykh Daoud’s Blog

The Kilt Is A Sunnah?

with 4 comments

Quite a few years ago now, in 1962 while stationed in Singapore, I nearly got caught in a downpour.

I was near the Padang by St Andrew’s Cathedral and the Singapore Cricket Club and I’d been collecting some shirts. Fortunately there was a bookshop handy in Stamford Road, so I ducked inside. About half and hour later I emerged, having spent a small fortune; such is the price of shelter from the rain.

About three years ago, in SheBu in west London, a similar thing happened. So I ducked into a nearby bookshop and started browsing. This turned out to be one of those Islamic information service places, and I found some of the titles fascinating.

Among all the works in Arabic and Urdu there was quite a small section of English publications.

One booklet in particular struck me by its massive irrelevance to the actual needs of Muslims living anywhere in the world, but especially in the West. Some character in Saudi Arabia had apparently felt driven to put word processor to paper and compose a tract on the importance of men’s lower garments coming above the ankle.

And someone else had felt motivated enough to render this tract into English.

This essential document seems to have contributed to a style of dress that my daughters named “mujahid chic”: trainers (usually Nike, but sometimes Adidas) or Timberland-style boots, ankle socks, trousers that end about mid-calf, a t-shirt (obscured in winter by a massive duvet anorak), long scruffy beard, shaved – or perhaps a Number 1 – head occasionally covered by a white or black qubba’a.

In the intervening time between then and now, a large Antipodean population has moved into the area and the normal dress – winter and summer – has become boardies, thongs, shades, and t-shirt. Sometimes a ball cap is added. And “mujahid chic” has metamorphosed into a sort of Muslim “GBR chic”: boardies, thongs, shades, and t-shirt.

The long scruffy beard is still there and so is the close-cropped normally bare head. Oh, and the angry faces. Unlike the Aussies who are a cheerful, terminally optimistic crowd.

Sadly one never seems to see the local Mussies frequenting the Aussie shops. Well, one wouldn’t expect them in the Walkie, or the local pubs, with the constant satellite feed TVs showing rugby (Mussies don’t seem to like rugby for some reason). But a local Australian pie shop has gone to the trouble of putting halal meat in their product – still no Mussies. Sad, really.

The key text of this peculiar booklet, above, was that hadith that contains the statement izaratu-l muslim ila nisfa saqihi (the lower garment of the Muslim comes half way down his leg).

The first (and probably second also) thought that struck me was that the author had completely missed the point. There are a couple of related hadiths that together give a complete picture. The Companion Abu Bakr al-Siddiq complains to the Prophet that he can’t keep the garment in question from slipping so that it often hangs below the ankle. To which the Prophet replies, ‘but you’re not one of those who wears it bi-l batar’. And in another hadith he condemns people who let anything trail bataran.

This phrase – bi-l batar or bataran – means “nose in the air”, “snootily”. In other words cockily, an arrogant ‘I’m better than you’ sort of thing, which is the Operative Concept of the whole. And should have been seen by the author as the point that he completely missed.

It strikes me that one can wear ‘mujahid chic’ – or niqab – in this manner, too.

Among the justifications trotted out for giving religious sanction to the niqabi face veil is that certain classical scholars considered it mandoub (desirable) in the contexts in which they were opining a couple of centuries and a different world ago.

Clearly the hadith of the booklet makes the wearing of the kilt mandoubfèileadh beag or fèileadh mòr would be a matter of choice. So Scots and Irish – and those Welshmen and Bretons who’ve adopted the cilt – can rejoice that what they’re wearing has religious sanction.

We always knew that these were The Blessed Isles. And that Gàidhlig was the Language of Eden.

© D Rosser-Owen 2009 All Rights Reserved

Written by David Rosser Owen

July 1, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Asalamu’alaikum brother Daoud,

    I’d just like you to know that I’m deeply hurt by your sentiments. Believe it or not it takes some of the pain away. May Allah forgive us.


    July 1, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    • Naqsh1, I don’t actually follow what it is that you’re saying.

      Daoud Rosser-Owen

      July 15, 2009 at 7:12 pm

  2. As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    The pride in question was specifically purse-pride – the tendency of some of the wealthier Arabs to drag their thaubs or sarongs along the ground to demonstrate that they could afford to get perfectly good cloth dirty when cloth was expensive.

    I once asked a Hadrami (who may or may not have been a scholar, but was certainly related to several and would have learned quite a bit) whether trousers were covered by this, and he said that trousers were not an `izar – an `izar is a skirt, as in a thaub or sarong (or kilt if you like) for a man. Obviously I mostly wear trousers, and I prefer them to be on average slightly below the ankle, as it stops them ending up on the dirty floor but also from slipping up my leg when I raise my leg. W’Allahu a’lam.

    Yusuf Smith

    July 1, 2009 at 4:57 pm

  3. As a Scot/Irish American Muslimah, this makes me smile 🙂

    Alba agus Erin go Bragh! We need more kilted Muslims in this world 🙂


    October 4, 2011 at 2:52 am

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