Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim

Men And Jewelry

As'salamu 'alaykum,

Regarding men and jewerly: I have a silver bracelet that my mother bought for me to wear. She is studying medicine in the Caribbean and purchased me and my two brothers jewelery to wear to help her with her loneliness. She bought me a silver bracelet because the Muslims there must have informed her that Muslim men cannot wear gold. I do not wear it for fashion or as adornment, only to please my mother. Consider the 'urf in the country (America) that I live it, would is still be considered effeminate for this reason?

If so, could I just wear it when I know she is going to be around?

Wa `alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

The short answer is that it is unlawful for a man to wear a silver bracelet, even if only to please his mother, and even if doing so is not effeminate in a particular culture. In order to understand why this is so we must first learn a bit about the rulings and their evidence.

The base ruling for using gold and silver is that they are unlawful to use. This is because of the hadith narrated on the authority of Hudhayfah (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Do not drink from silver and gold containers, and do not eat from platters [made from] them since they are for them [the non-Muslims] in this world and for you in the Afterlife" [Bukhari (5426), Muslim (2067), and others]. Another narration from Umm Salamah (Allah be pleased with her) indicates that the sound of bioling Hellfire will be heard emanating from the bellies of whoever eats or drinks from such utensils and containers [Bukhari, Muslim (2065)].

The evidence directly indicates that it is unlawful to eat and drink from things made from gold and silver. The jurists understand this to indicate that what is unlawful here is the general use of gold and silver in general and not simply its use with food and drink. The jurists further understand that it is also unlawful to acquire these items since whenever something is unlawful to use it is also unlawful to obtain in a form prepared for its use.

There are several exceptions to this base ruling, including

  1. women wearing gold - because of the hadith "Gold and silk are lawful for the women of my Ummah, but unlawful for its men" [Al-Tirmidhi (1720), Al-Nasa'i (8.161); Al-Tirmidhi said that it is a hasn sahih hadith]

  2. men wearing a silver ring, because of the hadith that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) wore a silver ring [Al-Bukhari (65), Muslim (640)]

Jurists understand the reason [Ar. `illah] for the base directly from the hadith: anyone who wears these things in this life will be denied them in the Afterlife.

Jurist understand that the the reason for women being permitted to wear gold is because it is part of their adornment. This is one reason why silver jewelry is permitted for women, even though it was not specifically mentioned in the above hadiths.

Jurist differ somewhat concerning the reason for men being permitted to wear a ring.

As for the issue of whether or not a man can wear silver if doing so is not considered effeminate: The cause [Ar. `illah] for the specific ruling has nothing to do with effeminate men or masculine women, rather it has to do with the simple fact that whoever uses those things in this world will be denied them in the Afterlife. This is something that has nothing to do with custom or culture, and cannot change from one generation to the next. So the issue of whether or not it is effeminate does not come into play.

Even if the issue did revolve around whether or not it is effeminate, namely is being a matter of custom [Ar. `urf], such custom would be rejected. The reason for this is that customs are divided into:

  1. those that contradict the Shari`a (such as declaring lawful that which is unlawful)

  2. those that do not (such as the validity of minor commercial transactions where not verbal phrase is used for initiating and accepting the sale)

Only customs that do not contract the Shari`a are taken into consideration. The custom in question here clearly belongs to the former since it declares lawful something which clearly is not.

This, in sha Allah, answers the issue of whether or not a man can wear a silver bracelet, even if not done so in the manner of adornment, and even if doing so is not effeminate in a given culture.

As for the issue of doing this to please one's parent(s): While it is obligatory to obey one's parents - even if non-Muslims - it is only obligatory to do so in things that are not disobedience to Allah. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said that we are not to obey other people in matters which are disobedience to Allah Most High [Ar. La ta`ata li makhluq fi ma`iyat al-khaliq] - which is conveyed in hadiths which are rigorously authenticated [Al-Daraqutni, Abu Dawud, Al-Nasa'i, Ahmad, and Malik - see Al-Jami` al-saghir].

This still leaves you in somewhat of an uncomfortable situation with your mother. Is it possible to ask her for something that you can use? My father brought me a nice taqiyah from Belize. I make a point of having it with me when I visit.

[Sources: Al-`Umdah Sharh Al-`Uddah, pp27-8; Nail al-ma'arib, pp14-15, pp172-74; Al-Raud al-murbi`, pp18-19, pp158-60; Al-Salsabil fi ma`rifat al-dalil, 1.246-47; Al-Dhakha'ir li sharh manzumat al-kaba'ir, pp395-97; Al-Jami` al-saghir, hadiths no's. 9930-31]

And Allah knows best.

Wa al-salamu `alaykum,