There are numerous Hadiths of the Prophet (SAW) that advise parents in regards to raising children. These include Hadiths on nurturing children, Akhlaaq and Adaab, as well as instilling the importance of Islam within them from a young age. Many parents focus on Hadiths that advise kids to obey their parents (kids have rights too!), or ones on the importance of Salah.
If we look at Muslim children, we notice many young girls wearing the hijab not only on their way to madrassah, but at school, at malls, on the street, etc. If you look at their brothers, you don't see much covering up. Some of you may read that and think, “what would boys need to cover?” (Well, clearly their knees...obviously.) But back to the more serious version of myself, we don't really find much focus on men covering up. Many cultures focus so much on girls and women covering up, that we forget that “Men can (read: must) be modest too.”
Although less strict than women, a man's awrah/satr (an Arabic word that literally means nakedness) is from the navel to the knee. Imam al-Tirmidhi narrated from ibn Abbas (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said, “The thigh is awrah.” From this, and other Hadiths, scholars have concluded that the awrah for a man is from the navel to the knee, meaning that this area must be covered in front of others (although, there are obvious exceptions, which we won't get into).
At Kap Swim, we believe in “starting 'em young.” Imam Malik said, “my mother would dress me up in the clothes of the scholars while I was still a young boy and she would tell me, ‘go to the Masjid and seek knowledge from Imām ar-Rabiʿah. Study his manners before you take from his knowledge.’” There is also a Hadith that stresses the importance of having kids start to pray Salah as early as seven. From this, we can see the significance of “starting 'em young”. A poll on our Instagram page showed that 95% of our own community agree with us.
Throughout the Ramadan Market, we noticed many people confused by what Halal shorts meant. “How can shorts be Halal?” was a question we heard quite a few times throughout the weekend. Growing up in the community that we did, we assumed that everyone knew about the awrah, and those that didn't cover were just ignoring it. Well, we all know what assuming does. That's right, it leads to assumptions.
After realizing that many people were unaware of a man's awrah, we decided to write this post not only to inform but also to encourage parents to have their kids learn about covering up before it becomes an obligation. This is true with Salah and good manners as well. Though we haven't looked into this, we are confident that there are plenty of studies that prove that instilling good behaviour in children from a young age will ensure that those values stick with them for life. As they say, old habits die hard.
Parents, have your young (pre-teen/teenage) boys start covering their awrah while they're young. Don't just focus on the girls. If kids realize the importance of coverage from a young age, it'll only be of benefit to them. We often overlook small deeds and brush them off as unimportant, but it only takes a spark to start a fire.