Imam W. Deen Muhammad Urges Muslims To Cover Heads In Dignity And Intelligence
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim:
FOR MANY reasons, people cover their heads. In the land where our Prophet (PBUH) preached the message of Al-Islam, the climate is such that it makes it necessary for the people who go outside to cover their heads. The sun is very severe, especially in the summer months, and it will damage your hair.
Perhaps many Muslims who read this statement of mine on covering the head also will be aware that the sun, the extreme heat of the sun shining on the hair, can damage the hair; drying it out can cause problems for the hair. I don't think anyone who knows about hair care will tell you that the sun is good for your hair.
NOW WHEN I FIRST became aware that the sunlight was not good for my hair I began covering my head. I had discovered that the sunlight was not good for it especially when the heat of the sun was intense and strong. For that reason I kept my head covered.
Many times, I would go with a cap on and I would keep the cap on because of the sun shining on my head. And I'm sure some Muslims wondered why I kept the cap on or was so insistent that I have a cap, and I would ask the brother on security, "Where's my cap?" I would say to the security, "I need my hat, I need my cap.
And it was because I was aware that the sunlight, the sunshine was not good for my hair, for my scalp.
BUT IN THINKING it over, I'm convinced, and I've heard hair care specialists say that exposure to the sun is not good for hair so you have to use a lot of preparations to protect the hair from exposure to sunlight if you want to keep the hair texture nice.
So I do believe that the people of the Middle East covered their hair to protect it from the environment, especially the heat of the hot sun, and from drying. But I'm also aware that it's tradition, it's religious tradition that women cover the hair — especially in the mosque, when gathering for mosque — and also it is traditional that men cover their hair.
WHEN YOU SEE MANY MUSLIMS, in fact the great majority of the Muslims, who have not been influenced by Western dress, you will find them covering their hair when they gather in the masjid or mosque.
Here in the United States of America, in this society, there are too many people who dress to be seen. And actually hair now has become a part of their dress. Hair has become a part of the Average American, of the average person's dress.
What I mean by that is that when people don't think their own hair is attractive, then they go buy a wig, they change their hair style; I'm talking about men now, not women—they change their hair style.
And now the curly look, the wet, shiny, curly look is in style. You find a lot of men wearing that style.
Even the brothers who wear their hair closely cut, closely cropped, most of them if they have a nicely shaped head and if they think their hair looks very nice, they will wear their hair like an attractive dress. So we have to accept that hair is not only a problem for women, it's a problem for men.
Men who are balding are vain or they are ashamed of their bald spot, so they go and buy a little patch of hair to cover the bald spot. So this kind of competition to look good or to be attractive, or to look better than the next person also has involved the hair.
And if we come to our service—Jumah service, Talim service—with our runny, wet, curly locks and others come with their toupee-cover for the head, all of this is a burden on us that we don't need. If we cover our hair, if we just wear a separate cover, and all of us wear the same, then it protects us as the sisters are protected.
No brother who respects his sister and respects the Islamic tradition of covering the hair will laugh at his sister with her head covered. So we can learn to value and appreciate the covering of the male or the man's head now like we have long appreciated the covering of the woman's head.
And men can buy the type of scarf that I see the men buying in the Chicago area. Those are masculine scarves and are very dignified to me. In fact, I find brothers wearing dark brown scarves with dark brown suits and some have white on and some black. They are matching them up and they look very attractive.
ANY NEW THING is going to be rejected by the silly-minded so let's not pay too much attention to the rejection of our scarves. But let us understand the practical benefit in wearing one especially in the heat of the sun and let us understand the religious benefit in having all of our heads look alike when we are sitting in the masjid. After all, hair is more common in the animal world than it is in the human world.
So let's not make a big thing about the hair and showing it.
When the African-American man was struggling for freedom and dignity from the situation of physical or chattel slavery, the African-American man wasn't vain and he wasn't trying to dress like a peacock or look like a peacock. He wasn't glamorous, he was a man.
IF YOU HAVE READ books on the history of our people in the South, you will find that many of them, even on a Sunday, were found wearing handkerchiefs or scarves on their heads. And it kind of marks a time in our history or it points to the time in our history that represents for us, or says to us: the people, the African-American people, were practical minded people, were work conscious people and valued work.
They were not ashamed to let people see them in their work look, in their work guise, in their working outfit. They were so proud of their work that they would keep one piece of the work garment with them even though they had left the field—that was the handkerchief or the scarf.
They perhaps would be dressed casually or dressed up on Sunday but they would still be wearing that handkerchief or that scarf, and I think they wore it because they were proud of their manly work that they were doing in the field.
I THINK IF WE wear that now we are not only saying that we are Muslims and that we follow the male traditional dress of the majority of Muslims of this Earth or the world, but I think what we should be aware of is that we are saying we want to go back to the practical life, to the real life, not the show-off life, not the showy life.
We want to go back to the real life and we see great dignity in work, and we want to be people who are promoting the dignity of work. We think we have wasted too much money in showy kinds of dress.
This handkerchief to us is dignity, it's a symbol of manliness and many other things to us. Please don't laugh at us because you put yourself among the sissies. Now here at Masjid Honorable Elijah Muhammad we're wearing scarves, head coverings, at every Talim service and at every Jumah service.
I ASKED the community to do this some weeks ago and the community accepted to do it. Some of them right away enthusiastically joined the wearing of the scarf or headpiece. But after a few weeks I saw more and more. And it has just done a wonderful thing for the spirit of our congregation here.
I hope that the believers, Muslims, who identify as supporters of my work and my leadership in the Muslim community and in the genera] community, I'm hoping that the men will join us in wearing the head covering, the scarf.
Please note the way we wear them. I'm sure you've seen a picture of myself and other brothers in the American Muslim Journal and noted how we wear them. We want to wear them all the same way. We don't want to have any difference in the way we wear them on our heads.
PLEASE KEEP to the colors of brown, white and black. If you wear other colors on other occasions, then its OKAY, but for Jumah and Talim, please keep to those colors—the brown, black and white.
And don't forget, we are setting our own standards and our own style. It's going to save us a lot of money, especially during the spring, summer and fall time of the year.
It's easy to buy a scarf or a handkerchief large enough (you have to get a scarf-like material), or get some material. Make the material large enough to cover your head because most of these handkerchiefs they're making now are not big enough to cover the head. They've economized on the size of the handkerchiefs. I've looked around myself and it is very difficult to find large handkerchiefs.
But if you can find handkerchiefs large enough in those colors—in white and the other colors—they will be suitable. If not, then you have to do what many of the brothers have done here, and they have gotten the material and cut it to size and made them available to the rest of the brothers here.
So we are asking that we all wear the head covering for the Jumah and the Talim service.
I never asked that the brothers wear the head coverings on regular occasions, only for Talim and Jumah. But I do see a benefit in wearing them and it was the Prophet's own habit to go out with his head covered.
THE PROPHET did not walk tn the public with his head uncovered. So if someone is wondering if it's sunnah, then I'm sure the majority of authorities in the religion will say it is sunnah. But it's not one of those requirements in sunnah that are of very great importance.
It is not one that has been given a lot of attention, but for the humble and pious, strong, firm believers in this religion throughout the world, I have to repeat—covering the head is traditional.