Sharia, the set of divine laws put forth by the Quran, provides Muslims with instructions on how to comport themselves in their spiritual and corporeal lives. With regard to clothing and adornment, there is a clear distinction between what men and women may wear. Modesty laws affect both genders, but Islamic law also includes restrictions regarding the composition of garments and adornments. While women may augment their beauty with luxurious fabrics and jewelry, men may not wear silk or gold.

History

Muslims believe that Allah revealed his will to the Prophet Muhammad, who documented the word of Allah in the Quran. Within the Quran, "haram" translates as "prohibited by Allah," while "halal" means "permitted by Allah." According to On Islam, "the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, took some silk in his right hand and some gold in his left hand and then he said, 'These two are haram for the males among my followers.'" Due to the prophet's declaration, men may not wear gold jewelry, clothing embroidered with gold or other adornments made of gold.

Rationale

According to the Imam al-Bukhari, an influential ninth-century Islamic scholar, "Allah's Apostle cursed those men who are in the similitude (assume the manners) of women and those women who are in the similitude (assume the manners) of men." As such, men who wear gold jewelry would essentially be cross-dressing, which is unacceptable according to Sharia. Upon further inspection, the prohibition indicates the rationale behind the strict gender roles themselves. Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen, a 20th century Islamic scholar, stated that "man, who is complete with his masculinity, has no need to complete himself with extrinsic adornments such as gold." Essentially, al-Uthaymeen holds that men are complete by virtue of their gender and that any additional decoration is unnecessary.

Haram Gold Items

Modern Islamic scholars and clerics must sometimes interpret the Hadith to determine whether a gold item that did not exist during the life of the prophet is halal or haram for men. On Islam states that "Besides the jewelry, the Muslim jurists also forbid men to use golden pens, golden watches, gold cigarette cases and lighters, golden cutlery." In other words, the prohibition extends to utensils and other possessions. However, Al-Islam notes that gold alloys and white gold are sometimes acceptable, as are gold-plated items. Because interpretations on this subject may differ, Muslim men with questions may consult their imams or other religious authorities before purchasing items containing gold.

Exceptions

Traditionally, Muslims are allowed to break Sharia when their health or livelihood is in jeopardy. For example "The National" reports that doctors and clerics alike advise pregnant women to eat during Ramadan, even though the holy month requires fasting between dawn and dusk. With regard to the prohibition on gold, Muslim men were permitted gold caps and fillings when this was the norm in dentistry. Likewise, Gold Facts states that many life-saving medical devices, including surgical equipment, contain small quantities of gold. Though they may still wish to consult with their imams, as a general rule, male Muslims may utilize gold devices out of medical necessity.