In the Muslim clothing world, there are two contexts that they need to be concerned of: Daily clothing for inside and outside of the house and clothing specifically required in the religious contexts or religious events.

To quote what is written in the Qur’an, Sura 24 (An-Nur), ayat 30-31, Qur’an[1], bits of it stated that,

“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. ….”

Here, actually it is emphasized that Muslims should wear modest clothing. Non-muslim usually misinterpret the term ‘modesty’, hence, it is essential to understand what modesty in this particular context means.

CAIR Chicago websites stated that one of the most obvious questions being asked by non-Muslims is, ‘if a Muslim woman is mandated to wear hijab, then why is a Muslim man being exempted from such obligation?’

The reality is that, the Muslim men are equally required to follow hijab.

Islamically, the term “hijab” does not mean headscarf only, as, in a general and wider scope of the term, it surrounds the modesty and chastity of both genders’ garments, which is crucial in guarding one’s gaze. By gaze here, it refers to avoiding “checking out” the opposite gender, to walk with the down-to-earth attitude that does not invite any undesirable attention, in order to remain virtuous throughout life.  The stereotypical perception of a “Hijab” being only a fabric that covers the head of Muslim women must be terminated and the term must be explained and articulated with eloquence, to better benefit Muslims and non-Muslims alike, as well as to avoid unnecessary speculations about the Muslim lifestyle and modest fashion.

On a slightly different note, the perception that ‘ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORIST’ must also be addressed because this backwards way of thinking does more harm than good. The sight of a man in a long, white robe and an alien looking headgear that  one usually sees on Arabic men, strikes terror and fear in most Westerners. Immediately their minds jump to this conclusion: terrorist! This fear is uncalled for, and  to be perfectly honest, this man in the white robe is just as terrified of being seen as a terrorist when he is probably just taking a short walk to the hotdog stand because he’s feeling a little peckish.

A famous quote must be known and kept in our minds: “All” terrorist are Muslims BUT not all muslims are terrorists”. This is particularly important for the non-muslims in regions where this perception of Muslims as terrorists prevails.

This kind of issue piqued my interest in fashion for the male Muslims, particularly in evolving their daily outfits with the current, global fashion trends, as well as blending my own country’s identity into the designs.

From there, I started to create a clothing enterprise called Al-Ra’ed which derives from the arabic word that means ‘leader’ or ‘pioneer’. In Islam, the male is the leader of any situation.In an Islamic organization, the leader must be a male muslim and  in an Islamic country like mine – Brunei Darussalam, the country’s leader is a Muslim, His Majesty the Sultan. So this enterprise aims at helping and showcasing the trends and styles that I have designed, with the hopes of bringing out the masculine features of Muslim men in Brunei, and hopefully, outside of Brunei as well.The best part about my business is that, although it generally caters to male Muslims, it could be worn by non-muslims too.

Kurta

Al-Ra’ed Collection consists of two styles- Kurta and the male Islamic robe or Jubah. Kurta, an Indian inspired clothing for men, has a straight cut and loose shirt falling just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer. In Brunei, traditional Cara Melayu nowadays has evolved in terms of style and design, which often resembles the Kurta.  Male Islamic robe or Jubah is a long straight gown that falls to the ankle of the wearer or lower. It was made famous in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India but recently, Jubah is worn by male Muslims throughout the globe.

Jubah

Al-Ra’ed Collection infuses the traditional style of the Kurta and Jubah which distinguishes it from all the other existing enterprises that sell these garments. The approach of using Brunei’s traditional woven fabric, Kain Songket, is done to preserve the Bruneian identity. The woven fabric of Kain Songket is knitted with elaborate details, thus resulting in gracefully and beautifully woven Songkets of high quality threads in vivid colours.

Hence, the patience and love of fine workmanship which Bruneians weavers possess in producing exquisite work of art must be appreciated and introduced through this kind of approach- such as through Al-Ra’ed’s uniquely designed Kurta and Jubah fashion which with time and perseverance, could one day be made known internationally, and worn by not only the male Muslims, but the non-muslims too.