Gold and Pure Silk Are Forbidden for Men: Why?
As regards the question we’d like to cite the words of the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, in his well-known book, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam. He states:
“Beautification and elegance are not merely permitted but are required by Islam, and in general it repudiates any attempts to prohibit them. Almighty Allah says, “Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of His providing?” (Al-A`raf: 32)
Islam has, however, prohibited two kinds of adornment for men, while permitting them to women. These are, first, gold ornaments and, second, clothing made of pure silk. `Ali reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) took some silk in his right hand and some gold in his left, declaring, “These two are haram for the males among my followers.” (Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i, Ibn Hayyan, and Ibn Majah, who reports the additional phrase, “but halal for the females.”)
`Umar reported that he heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) say, “Do not wear silk, for those who wear it in this life shall not wear it in the Hereafter.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim) On another occasion, referring to a silken garment, he said, “This is the dress of a man who has no character.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) once saw a gold ring on a man’s hand. He immediately took it from him and threw it down saying, “Does a person pick up a piece of burning coal and hold it in his hand?” After the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had left the place, someone asked the man, “Why do you not pick it up and benefit from it?” He replied, “No, by Allah! I shall not pick it up after the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) has thrown it away.” (Reported by Muslim)
The same prohibition which applies to the gold ring likewise applies to what we observe among conspicuous spenders, i.e., the gold pen, gold watch, gold cigarette case and lighter, gold teeth, etc.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), however, permitted men to wear silver rings. On the authority of Ibn `Umar, al-Bukhari reported the former saying, “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) wore a silver ring. After him, Abu Bakr and then `Umar and `Uthman wore it, until it fell off his finger into the well of Arees.” (Reported by al-Bukhari)
As for other metals such as iron, there are no sound texts prohibiting them. On the contrary, in the Sahih of al-Bukhari we find that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) advised a man who wanted to marry a woman to, “Present her with a gift, even if it be ring made of iron.” On the basis of this hadith al-Bukhari inferred the permissibility of iron rings.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made concessions in the wearing of silken garments for medical reasons, as he gave `Abd ar-Rahman ibn `Awf and az-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam, both of whom suffered from scabies, permission to wear silk. (Reported by al-Bukhari)
The Wisdom of These Two Prohibitions Concerning Men
By means of these two prohibitions which concern men, Islam’s aim is to achieve certain noble educational and moral objectives.
Since it is the religion of jihad (striving) and strength, Islam must safeguard the manly qualities of men from any show of weakness, passivity, and lethargy. Allah has made the physique of the man different from that of the woman, and it does not befit a man to wear clothes made of fine material or to adorn his body with costly ornaments.
There is, however, a social aim underlying these prohibitions. The prohibition of gold and silk to males is part of a broader Islamic program of combating luxuriousness in living. From the Qur’anic point of view, luxurious living leads to weakness among nations and to their eventual downfall; the existence of luxury is also an expression of social injustice, as only a few can afford luxurious items at the expense of the deprived masses of people.
In addition to this, luxurious living is an enemy of every call towards truth, justice, and social reform. The Qur’an says: “And when We intend that We should destroy a township, we permit its luxury-loving people to com
mit wickedness therein. Then the word is proved true against it, and We then destroy it utterly.” (Al-Isra’: 16) and again, “And We did not send a warner to any township without its luxury-loving people saying, ‘Assuredly we are disbelievers in that with which you have been sent.'” (Saba’: 34)
In keeping with the spirit of the Qur’an, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade Muslims any indulgence in conspicuous consumption. He not only forbade the use of gold and silk to men but also forbade men and women alike the use of gold and silver utensils.
Finally, economic considerations also carry some weight here. Since gold is a universal medium of exchange, using it to make household utensils or ornaments for men does not make sense in economic terms.
Why Gold and Silk are Permitted to Women؟
Woman has been exempted from this prohibition out of consideration for her feminine nature, as the love of jewelry and ornaments is quite natural and becoming for a woman. However, she is not to use her adornments to attract men and arouse their sexual desires. According to a hadith, “When a woman puts on perfume and goes among people so that its scent reaches them, she is an adulteress, and any eye which is attracted to her is that of an adulterer.” (Reported by an-Nasa’i, and also by Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hayyan in their respective Sahihs) And Allah Almighty warns women: “…that they should not stamp their feet in order to make apparent what is hidden of their adornment…” (An-Nur: 31)”