Songkok Styles? Choices for the fashion-forward Muslim man
As a Muslim man, I often envy my sisters in faith. This is because they have far more choices in terms of fashion. Even as naysayers claim that dressing modestly and wearing the hijab is an imposition upon Muslim women and an infringement of their rights, scores of style blogs and magazines sprout up to prove them wrong.
While the questions of one’s intentions when veiling is a valid issue, there’s no doubt that should a sister make the decision to cover up, she has no shortage of avenues to turn to when trying to decide what to wear, especially with the proliferation of style guides, tutorials, online and offline shopping venues for hijabs, abayas and all manner of fashion accessories.
There is unfortunately very little on this front for fashion-forward brothers. Sure, there are trendy, non-traditional thobes and jubbahs from the likes of Lawung, Shukr and Kamani, and you might occasionally come across a video on Youtube on how to tie an imamah (turban), but we are otherwise limited to the fairly conservative choices of jubbahs, salwar khamez, kurtas, baju melayu et al. as far as “Islamic” dressing goes. For most guys, we just throw on a songkok on our heads, and whatever we wear instantly becomes MuslimwearTM.
This, to me, is unacceptable. Where are the magazine articles and blog posts telling us whether leopard print jubbahs are in this season?* How will I know how high my songkok should be, or what type of skull cap best suits my face shape? Are kaffiyahs, ghutras or turbans in style? Should I wear pants or a sarong under my shirt? Is sequined baju melayu suitable for a formal event? ** Just how high above my ankles should my pants fall?
Really, the fashion scene for Muslim men is so far behind in this regard. For any of the sisters who complain about how their husbands/brothers/fathers are not dressing well, blame the lack of style blogs/magazines for Muslim men. The sartorially inclined Muslim guy really has nowhere to turn for modest, yet stylish fashion advice.
In all seriousness though, while dressing well is important, obsessing over what you’re wearing (or worse, what other people are wearing) isn’t. This applies whether you’re wearing a thousand dollar designer suit, limited edition sneakers, custom-tailored jubbah or just a t-shirt and a sarong. What matters is that the clothing is modest and covers your awrah.
More important is that we, as mentioned in the Qur’an, adorn ourselves with taqwa, and behave in a manner that confirms God-consciousness both publicly and privately. We beautify ourselves inwardly, and insha-Allah what is inward will translate into outward beauty as well.
O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember.
Surah Al-A’raf, Verse 26
*I sincerely hope these are never, ever in style.
Ahmad Zhaki Abdullah
Ahmad Zhaki holds a degree in English Literature from the University of London. He is a full-time executive at a local research institute and a part-time writer.