Advice: Wish my wife would cover up

Dear Love Inshallah,

My wife is a beautiful, smart and desirable woman. She wears low-cut, tight blouses and skirts that end just below the knees. She laughs and converses with men at social events that we attend together. I get uncomfortable when other guys stare at or talk to her. I’ve explained this to my wife but she just gets upset and tells me that I have no reason to be insecure. I don’t think this is Islamic or fair for me to watch as other guys check her out. What should I do?

Signed,
Wish my wife would cover up

Shy Desi Boy replies:

When I started writing this column, I made a decision that these columns would not offer a virtual hug. But, sometimes, a virtual slap is in order and that, Wish my wife could cover up, is what I am giving you right now.

You are “uncomfortable when other guys stare or talk to your wife”? Say what?

So when you go out with your wife, do you just expect (or want) people to pretend she is not there?

Even if this is something you want, is this fair to her? You wife is, after all, beautiful and smart—these are your own words. Why would you not want others to engage her in conversation? It seems to me the issue here is control: you are exercising an unfair—and heck, I will just say it, un-Islamic—amount of control over your wife.

Now as for what she wears, consider this: when a women walks in public and is taunted by sexual advances or stares, we men have a tendency to do one of two things: 1) blame the women for what she is wearing/doing, or 2) insist that the women do not go out at all.

This attitude deflects attention and culpability off of men and places the burden squarely on women. The question we should ask instead is this: how can we men curb men from behaving like jerks?

I am not sure I know the solution but an important step is to grant women greater (not lesser) autonomy and for each of us men to examine how we look at women.

If you are out with your wife and you find men staring at her, you should not be angry with your wife. You should be angry about why so many men think it is not a form of sexual harassment to violate a woman’s body with their eyes.

We live in a curious society: we Muslim men often extol the virtue of wearing hijab and yet I know plenty of hijab wearing Muslim women who say Muslim guys do not find them attractive because of their hijab. How many times have I heard Muslim men say: “I respect the hijab but I do not want my wife to wear it.”

Conversely I know some Muslim women who tell me Muslim guys assume they are “irreligious” because they wear skirts or tank tops.

We men have no idea what women go through. We also have no idea why a woman decides to wear what she wears. It might be that your wife dresses the way she does because she wants to feel good about herself, or she likes the way she looks in a certain skirt, or she wants to feel sexy (and there is nothing wrong with that), or maybe she likes that others pay attention to her when she dresses like that (in way, ahem, that you do not pay attention to her). Or perhaps it may be none of the above.

The real question to ask is this: what makes you insecure?

I find that many men often object to something their wife does and then later find an Islamic justification for their views. Seems to be me you are doing this right now.

Moving ahead: I recommend going for a long walk with your wife. Leave cell phones, iPads, whatever in the car. And ask your wife a series of questions you have maybe never asked her before: what is your idea of dressing? What kind of clothes make you happy? How can I be more supportive of the way you want to dress? What makes you feel most comfortable in public? How do you feel about your body and how can I be more supportive of making you feel better about your body and the choices you make.

And until you have this talk with your wife, my advice is simple: keep quiet. Please.

Ms. Sunshine replies:

What is “Islamic” is largely a matter of opinion. Some would argue that it’s un-Islamic for your wife to leave her house under any but the most pressing circumstances.  They  could cobble together verses of Qur’an and hadith to support their argument. Most of us recognize that line of thinking as unjust, and contradictory to the principles of love, mercy, and reciprocity the Qur’an proposes for a happy marriage. If religion is about anything, it’s about increasing our awareness and love of the divine and manifesting that love through our interactions with Allah’s (swt) creation.

There are a multiple reasons your wife may choose to dress the way she does.  Maybe she likes the feel of wind and sun against her legs. Maybe she wants to impress you.  Maybe she feels her clothing is most practical for her lifestyle. Skirts that cover the knees in a mini skirt world are often considered modest — even a little quaint in some circles.  Regardless of her reasons for dressing the way she does, if she tells you that you have no reason to be insecure, you need to believe her. If there is doubt in your heart about your wife’s fidelity, then that’s a serious issue and that is the issue you must address.  Fidelity is about actions, not clothes.

I’m sorry you feel discomfort with the way men look at your wife. I imagine it must put you in a very unpleasant position. But how others look at your wife is about those people, and not her. As someone who spent well over a decade in butterfly abayas and headscarves that covered half her body, I can tell you that no amount of covering and gaze-lowering will stop men from staring at or talking to a woman.  That’s okay, most of us have to look at and talk to people of the opposite sex in order to function as adults in society. If someone is undressing your wife in their mind, it’s their problem, not hers and not yours.  Focus your energies on working through your insecurities  and concerns in ways that don’t blame your wife for the actions of others, and you’re more likely to find peace and satisfaction.

 

UPDATE – Shy Desi Boy responds:

Thank you all for the comments and feedback. In reading your comments (and in re-reading my own column), I realize that I was indeed needlessly harsh and presumptuous. I apologize for that.

When I read the question, I wanted to make a point how we too often place the blame solely on women. I wanted to stir things up a bit and flip the table for once, to show that as men we should be more compassionate to the women in our lives. We men often tell a woman what to wear/what not to wear, how to behave, who to talk to or not to talk to, and even what makes a woman virtuous. I am a bit tired of that and as a man I wanted my column to show my exhaustion and frustration with that line of thinking.

That said–as many of you pointed out, the questioner should not be slapped and I regret using that language.

In the future, I will work on being a bit more compassionate and I thank you all for pointing out my error.

And thank you again to all of you who chimed in.

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45 Comments on “Advice: Wish my wife would cover up”

  1. I absolutely love what Shy Desi Boy states here. It is so refreshing to read of a Muslim man who does not solely place the blame on a woman as regards to gaining attention from males that are not related to her. Unfortunately, as you suggest, all too often the emphasis is placed on the woman and her “need” to cover up or shy away to a point where she practically renders herself non-existent. This in itself is clearly not a balanced, and dare I say it, permissible approach towards women in general, as Allah created us to exist in this world too- and not just for the purpose of procreation! Whatever happened to men lowering their gazes?? May I add to Shy Desi Boy’s advice and suggest that this is not just about control, but insecurity too. The problem does not lay with his wife and her choice of clothing and behavior, but with his own sense of confidence- or should I say lack of it- and low self esteem. I suggest these type of men need to stop pinning the dissatisfaction for their own selves on the women that surround them and focus on developing themselves to a point that they have a self-sufficient ego that does not need to be massaged, pandered to and babied by the women in their life.

    Peace,
    Leila xo

  2. ZKM says:

    Nice response Shy Desi Boy. Really nice to hear from a man that – some men have a need to “control” women and think its the easier way to deal with the situation. And that they often blame women for the attention she gets from men and do not think about how men should change their behavior and how they look at women. Islam does teach both men and women to lower their gaze and to dress modestly. There is alot of pressure within the community for women to wear hijab – but then those women who comply or believe in hijab – are sometimes deemed unattractive by those same muslim men. Couples -muslim and non-muslim- come across this issue – where one partner is getting attention from members of the opposite sex – and the other partner is jealous, feels insecure, and angry at their partner. This is not just an issue muslim couples face. However, in this case a muslim wants to turn to Islam to see if he can use it to guilt and shame to control his partner’s behavior instead of examining his feelings of jealous, insecurity, anger and talking to his partner about it.

  3. Modern Muslim Moderate says:

    I am absolutely shocked by the above comments especially shy desi boy. Why dont you read some Quran and Hadiths instead of your cultural bs. You will find how important modesty is in Islam for BOTH men and women. Any practicing Muslim man will feel uncomfortable if his wife doesn’t cover up or talks to other men. He finds his wife as a treasure, by the compliments I can see he truly cares and cherishes his wife which is why he wants her to cover up. It has nothing to do with his feeling of insecurity. Dont you hide your pin number for your bank account? Would you want to walk around with your most valuables for everyone to see? Carry your wallet around full of your money open for everyone and see that it doesn’t get stolen. This is a story of a loving practicing Muslim man who really loves his wife. Don’t bash him for it.

    • nanners86 says:

      With all due respect a wife is not the money in your wallet or the pin number to your debit card. She is a living, thinking, breathing, independent creature who CHOSE to marry you. She is not your possession. His insecurity is just that: insecurity. Also, why are you assuming he is practicing? I have met a lot of Muslim men who use Islam only when it is convenient for them. The rest of their life is completely non-religious.

    • aurooba says:

      Whoa whoa whoa. You just made his wife into a thing. Let me remind you that she is an independent, autonomous HUMAN BEING way before she is his wife. She is not an object to hide. He doesn’t own her. His question screams of insecurity and objectification that is RAMPANT in Muslim cultures around the world.

      The fact that both columnists gave the advice they did shows that they are mature people who respect the dignity and independence of a human being regardless of sex, and realize that it’s not HER fault other men look at her that way. It’s the men’s fault. I lived in Saudi Arabia, covered up TOTALLY, and let me tell you, I still had men leering at me..and I was REALLY young. With zero skin showing, what were they leering at? Some men are idiots.

      Don’t blame a woman for that.

      • Lila says:

        I really don’t see this as a “blame him” or “blame her” situation. I don’t see why it must come to that. If he (the husband) feels insecure about anything within their relationship (no matter what it is), it’s his duty to talk to his wife and voice his feelings. And then, it’s her duty as his wife, to listen to his feelings and the both of them, together, figure out a solution or a compromise or something. Vice versa if he does something that bothers her. That is a basic foundation of a long lasting and healthy relationship.

  4. Moderate? says:

    Modern Muslim Moderate, you’ve come here to comment on what you see as a de-emphasizing of modesty and chastity. I agree that the advice given, especially by Ms. Sunshine, is a bit trite and very unhelpful to the conversation. Her solution is basically: Deal with it.

    But there is a problem with what you wrote, oh Moderate Man who has come to set us straight. You see, women aren’t property. All these things you’ve listed: ATM pin number, valuables, wallet, are personal property which you and only you have a right to. But she is not a pearl in an oyster or some other form of expensive jewelry that will lose her value of other man see her beauty. She is an independent person with her own rights and mind. Comparing her to your pin number is insulting and casts serious doubts about this self-proclaimed moderation of yours.

    There are criticisms that one can offer of the advice these Love, Inshallah folks have given and I see that you mean well in posting your comment. But please, from one Muslim man to another, get it into your mind that you do not own your wife. She has her own agency.

    • Modern Muslim Moderate says:

      Obviously women are not property nor was I comparing her to one. I was only giving examples of valuable things. Women are priceless, they are the daughters of Aisha RA and Khadija RA. If we dont respect our women then no one will. Please read the Quran and understand its meaning. Please read Hadiths and understand their meaning. A believer would agree that the Quran, the word of Allah SWT has the answers to our problems. Yes his wife is independent but she should also respect her husband, as of course he should respect her.

      • Hyde says:

        Well said fella…all the comments here on this blog by both commenters seem to be very liberal in nature (something that I proudly was in the past, but recently came out of the closet as a classical conservative) so I am not surprised “Shy” desi boy or miss sunshine targeted this guy. They have the right to I guess, and the way Islam is heading in general, perhaps it is wise as well,

        I will as a husband tell my wife whether she dresses inappropriately or not and my wife will tell me if I should be talking to other women at workplaces ,etc, etc. In Islam men and women are equal before God, but the roles are not the same. Overall the commentary was extremely biased to one side. And reading some of “shy” boy’s comments, especially concerning relationships in other posts, I was not surprised, but then again this not a place for Islamic answers per se right.

        You for some reason I feel like submitting a questionnaire asking “Is there a place for young (under 25) conservatives in the “liberally saturated atmosphere ?

  5. first i would like to thank Nura Maznavi and all the contributors at Love, inshAllah for providing a safe space for which muslim men and women can converge. secondly, the responses from shy desi boy and ms. sunshine BOTH surprised me. for the record, i was pleasantly surprised to see shy desi boy redirect Mr. Wish My Wife Would Cover Up to identify and address his objectification of women. i was also very surprised that neither columnist touched on the accountability of the wife in question. if marriage in islam is rooted in the principles of love, mercy, and reciprocity, then wife in question should also be more compassionate and show more mercy to her husband (without being an enabler to unhealthy objectification of women) and offer a better compromise than to tell him he has “no reason to be insecure.”

    ciao

  6. Amy Amir says:

    Dear Muslim community, do your souls a favor, and Don’t seek advice from the ignorant (Desi boy and miss sunshine) Turn to your own books, and go to men and women of knowledge. Seek from those who have studied the deen and practice it. Not from the cultural and ignorant.
    Both men and women have to cover and be modest. Sorry if you can’t deal with it, but Desi boy and Sunshine girl, please know that the advice you put out in this web site, it will re visit you in the hereafter. If you want to practice Islam “Your” way, go ahead, but how dare you advise others with your ignorance. In Islam, everything is a choice. You can choose to disobey God or not. If you want to disobey God, so be it, but don’t advice others to join you. Sad web site, run by sad , sad Muslims.

    • Hyde says:

      Oh voice of reason through the ashes! Thank-you so much sister Amy for telling a young man that all is not lost. I did not read this book, but thought the blog had some interesting values to contribute…may God forgive us…the blog seems to be exonerating the people who commit zina or have pre-marital or even extramarital sexual relationships. What in name of this deen are these people doing? Somebody answer me please!

  7. wow some of these responses are horrible (desiboy)..one of the reasons why I chose Islam is because the respect they have for women..Think about it. Why won’t you want to have a woman who wants to cover herself up? who respects herself?

  8. lexsali says:

    For the sake of mental exercise, let’s say the wife soon decides to wear a skirt above the knee and a tank top. Just a hypothetical. What then? Is the husband still only reflecting his insecurities onto her? If at a certain point, it does becomes about modesty and not about his insecurities, then it is really about modesty, and not about his insecurities. He is not complaining that she is wearing an abaya and flirting with men, she is clearly crossing some limits set by God. Furthermore, she has probably noticed this behavior makes her husband uncomfortable, and in a marriage, you MUST take your partner’s feelings into account or it is no longer a marriage, just a partnership of convenience. It is NOT unreasonable for this husband to feel she is crossing some limits. This is not just about Islam, it is also about a healthy marriage. And if you have children, or are planning to, there is even more at stake.
    My advice to the husband: tell her, and be straightforward, that her behavior is unsettling you. Tell her you love her, and you know she loves you, and this is making you uncomfortable. Ask her to really examine how she would feel if you began to talk to other women as freely as she talks to other men. DON’T be overbearing, or needlessly angry. Just put it out there, and see what she does. If she really values your marriage above her need for skirts and getting comfortable with other men, then she will back down. Otherwise, you might need to seriously reassess her commitment to you.

  9. Bravo Shy Desi Boy🙂 Why can’t there be more Muslim guys like you😦
    I loved how you put the accountability on the husband’s shoulders. I know way too many guys who go so far as to simply tell their wives to change their clothes, “help” them pick out their clothes, criticize them to death in public and private… and one guy who actually told his wife that if she didn’t start wearing hijab (knowing full well she was a non hijabee when they married) that he would stop talking to her, i.e. forced her to wear it against her better judgement. I wish more guys would take themselves to account before they cast negative aspersions on non-hijabee women in general, esp someone you have decided to take as your wife…. and personally I have always wondered why men simply don’t lower their gaze??! The Muslim ones are the ones that are the worst, not the non-Muslim men who are making conversations. The Muslim ones should know better… and should treat women like the grown up adults they are who have the ability to reason and make their own choices in life, instead of women like they are still little girls who need to be told what to do – or what to wear, in this case. I would rather listen to Stacy and Clinton’s advice on that🙂

    • nahmed7 says:

      Exactly. Obviously this is one-sided (his) and we may not even know *his* whole story. The important question I want to ask though, which is something you mentioned, is why has he just now begun having a problem with this, how did he not know she dressed a certain way before marrying her? And how long have they been married?

      It’s one thing if he married a hijabi or very conservatively-dressing woman and she has slowly become less conservative, but if he married her knowing full well that she is NOT conservative then why is he making an issue now? Third option, he didn’t know her well enough to have married her….that would be really sad.

  10. I covered because my husband wanted to and because I saw it as a “cultural performance” and a way to project my Islamic identity into society, including the one in America and in the Muslim world. I never regretted wearing the hijab, not for a day. But the de-hijabing coincided with my marriage’s decline. And why did my marriage end? Because I could not be my authentic self, religiously and culturally, within the marriage.

    Hijab is Allah’s (swt) gift to women. It really doesn’t belong to men. I have no desire to virtually bitch slap the husband who wants his wife to cover up. Rather, I want to give him a gentle hug and say, “Love your wife for who she is. Let her be who she needs to be, and she will love and cherish you forever.” Don’t let the success of your marriage rest on a piece of fabric. Islam is bigger than that — and so should be a marriage.

  11. Reblogged this on PostModern Muslima and commented:
    Oh, for all the Muslim brothers who want their women to cover…

  12. Krista says:

    This is a great response. There isn’t enough writing out there that places the blame for men looking at (or harassing) women *on the men* and not on the woman being subject to their looks/comments/whatever, and I was really happy to see this. Major respect also to Shy Desi Boy for acknowledging that “We men have no idea what women go through.”

    For those commenting about how the advice should have looked more at the wife’s actions, or about the ways that she’s supposedly at fault, I think it’s important to acknowledge that it wasn’t the wife who wrote in for advice. They’re telling the man what to do, because he’s the one wanting to know what to do. Maybe they would have advised the wife to have a conversation with her husband about what really makes him uncomfortable, or to try to listen openly to his concerns, or something, but it doesn’t really matter, because she’s not the one who asked the question.

    And maybe more importantly, the husband is asking for advice on asking his wife to cover up primarily because he “[gets] uncomfortable when other guys stare at or talk to her” and because it’s not “fair for [him]” – the question of whether it’s “Islamic” seems like a side issue, as Shy Desi Boy points out. For example, even the question of protecting her, as has been raised in other comments, doesn’t actually come up – he wants her to cover up for his sake, not for hers. And that’s disturbing.

    Of course, as Ms. Sunshine and some of the commenters point out, covering is not actually a particularly effective way of protecting anyone from male attention, stares, comments, etc. If you believe that Islam tells women to cover more than what this woman does, then that’s fine, and you can dress accordingly, but it won’t make any woman vanish into thin air where no man will talk to her.

  13. Asifa says:

    Although I see Shy Desi Boy & Sunshine girl’s point of view, I think ‘Wish My Wife Would Cover Up’ has a right to ask his wife to dress more appropriately / not talk to men so openly (if he feels she is not doing the part).

    I suggest you discuss this issue with your wife openly. Explain to her how you feel about her dressing and your insecurities and also try to understand her reasoning behind her dress code / etc.

    If you expect your wife to dress the way the daughter and wives of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and this companions dressed / acted, then you too are expected to act like the sahaba and the prophets.

    I think ‘dress code or talking to men’ is just a symptom of an underlining issue. You need to get to the root of the issue rather than hack at the leaves to truly solve it.

    Good luck!

  14. Kayleigh Bouamoud says:

    I am literally burning hot mad and I am an American Irish Christian born woman who reverted to Islam 5 years ago…are you fffricking kidding me…haram on you brother haram on you for promoting the wrong message of Islam. Do you know the consequences of spreading lies about your dean? I can not believe you would be so ignorant to post this kind of horrible falsehood upon the religion of Islam.
    Brother, tell your wife to stop acting like a hoe because the only reason she dresses like one is because she wants attention and haram 3layha the only attention she should want is that of her husband and of her Lord.
    I am still burning mad!
    Istagdr’Allah

    • Aicha says:

      I 100% think this is spam. How could a Muslimah EVER virtually swear at another Muslimah ? Women who work in prostitution often do so because of their incredibly horrible situations, and how dare you demean them? I’m very upset that a response like this was posted. We both know that if the brother followed this advice, that would only further deteriorate the situation in household, so why try to break up a couple even more?

    • nanners86 says:

      Wow this response is unbelievably low and ignorant. How dare you call her a hoe? You don’t even know her. If he were to take your advice I can guarantee you that they will not stay married. Marriage isn’t supposed to be a power struggle!

      • Hyde says:

        Though harsh and pontificating, in a roundabout it is no different from the one-sided drool coming from the commenters.

  15. Sumaya says:

    Even if you don’t believe hijab to be fard, men and women ARE both directed to dress modestly. Like it or not, it’s the deen, gang. If his wife is wearing low-cut tops (which he says she is) then that ain’t modest.

    We can talk about the male gaze all we want (and it’s certainly valid) but Muslims ARE supposed to dress modestly, even if they’re not wearing a head-covering hijab and abaya. And no amount of post-modern argumentation can change that.

    • Sabir says:

      “And no amount of post-modern argumentation can change that.”

      Bingo. And that’s exactly what this nonsense is: an effort to shoehorn Islam into a set of pre-conceived, Western-rooted liberal values. According to this line of thinking, Islam has no real essence.

  16. Lila says:

    “Shy Desi Boy”- your answer came off a little too harsh and presumptuous. The whole point of giving advice is not to angrily jump on someone if they say something you might not like. You should be a little more calm and state your advice in a manner in which the asker will stop and think”Hmm maybe he is right”. After reading your reply, I don’t think you’re convincing the asker to rethink or reevaluate his ways.

    Let’s assume everything the asker is saying is true (as we don’t know his wife’s side of the story). He is simply a husband, and religious Muslim man, who feels his wife should be more modest in her dress and behaviour. The truth is, I’d be hard pressed to find a guy (Muslim or not) who WOULDN’T be insecure or upset if his wife was garnering the attention of other males due to her dress or behaviour.

    According to him, she is wearing low cut blouses or showing off her legs, I think he, as a husband and Muslim, should be able to tell her his dislikes and she, being his wife and also a Muslim, should at least listen, try to understand and not completely dismiss his feelings. In a healthy marriage, there should be room for discussion and compromise. She doesn’t have to throw on a niqab and ignore all her male friends, but she should, as a Muslim, understand the importance of modesty. So wear longer skirts or a tank underneath the low cut shirt. Seriously, is that hard?

    What is equally as annoying as those uber Muslims that go around preaching Islam to everyone are the equally liberal, Westernized and ~free Muslims who say things like “your wife dresses the way she does because she wants to feel good about herself, or she likes the way she looks in a certain skirt, or she wants to feel sexy”. NO just NO. If you’re a Muslim woman, you just do not wear a short skirt because you want to feel “sexy” or “good”. One of the most basic components of Islam is modesty and if you can’t even do that, then what can you do?
    There should be a balance, come on.

  17. I’m inclined towards Shy Desi Boy’s and Ms. Sunshine’s views.

    Fact is, it isn’t for us to measure her iman; there can be someone who dresses in revealing clothes but has a better iman than all of us who’ve commented. This is not for us to judge; only Allah knows.
    The writer– as her husband, can ask her to dress differently, but he can’t force her. If she refuses to change her way of dressing then that’s her decision. And the way she chooses to dress is between herself and Allah.

    On the Day of Judgement we are all answerable for our own deeds. Not for the deeds of our family.

    If the writer believes that covering up is the Islamic thing to do, then by simply asking her to dress differently he has done his part. If his intentions were not based on his insecurities and instead based on what Allah has decreed then he will be blessed for asking her to change. But that’s all he can do. If she refuses, then he has to deal with it and try to make his marriage work, or if it’s that much of a problem he can divorce her.

    That said, I believe it would be unfair for him to divorce her given that when he married her she dressed in the same manner. It’s unfair, once into the marriage to ask someone to change and divorce them if they don’t. He should have thought about this before he married her. If he loves her he should try to make it work.

  18. Oh dear God! The majority (there are a few exceptions) of people’s comments here highlight everything that is going horridly wrong within the Muslim community today. Isn’t our faith supposed to be a very personal thing and is it not true that there is no compulsion in the religion? The choice of this women’s level of physical modesty is entirely a personal relationship that she has with her Creator. She should not be seeking to cover up more merely because a fellow creation has requested this from her, albeit her husband. That would render her intention of worship insincere and God is knowing of that which is in the breasts. We can only ever encourage goodness from one another and not enforce it. And as humble, patient believers we should not judge the speed or lack of speed with which someone chooses to implement certain practices into their lives. A pious man may become corrupt tomorrow and viceversa. A thief may steal to feed his dying starving child. Let’s leave the judgment to God hey. Guidance is a gift from God and God alone.

    Moreover, just because she is not fully covered does not mean that she does not guard her modesty in other senses. There are plenty of women who are fully covered and still commit atrocious sins, including adultery. God is All Forgiving. If we all went back to basics and became more selfish with the faith and were eager to implement its tenets first and foremost upon ourselves, rather than noseying around upon other people’s conducts and trying to enforce our desires upon them, we would reach a happy equilibrium. The women would remain modest and the men would lower their gazes (having said that this kind of perfection is reserved for paradise). I merely supported Shy Desi Boys response because it is the first time I have come across a view about this topic from a man who acknowledges that its not all on the woman! Hence I reiterate my initial comment, if the husband can focus on his own personal relationship with God, The Sufficient One, he would not have these grievances since he would be devoid from need and expectation of others with his contentment from the love he has with God-something that is incomparable to any other kind of love. Thus the solution is to seek emotional self-sufficiency.

  19. Ashi Munri says:

    Why do I have a feeling your wife wore low necklines and knee length dresses before marriage? If you change things about her then you change the person you married…why did you marry her? There is no harm in asking her to change her necklines but if you married a modern muslim woman to begin with, this should be a non issue if she doesn’t feel inclined to acquiesce your request. Why do you feel threatened. A little jealousy now and then is healthy but too much of it stems from other issues including insecurity or perhaps you need some more together time and communication. Of course, there are many who feel that after a certain stage, people should eg mellow down from one extreme (liberal/progressive attitude) and follow another (conservative attitude) and their level of religiousness goes from low to high as well. I’ve seen people who go from drinking and partying (one extreme) to constantly talking about hadith and religion (other extreme). Its fine just don’t feel the need to impose it on others.

  20. Neemarie Alam says:

    What I love about both responses is that they remind us to take a pause and examine our own feelings. When you have a strong emotional response to any situation, I think it’s smart to time to question what your response says about you and your own imperfections. We all have them-jealousy, hatred, prejudice- but what we do with them, how we prevent ourselves from spewing our internal insecurities onto the people we love- is a true testament to our humanity. All the people who are keen to point fingers at the woman, or the man, or both, are missing the bigger picture. These two individuals owe it to themselves and each other to really listen to what their psyche is saying and why.

  21. Sabir says:

    The fact that this is even a matter of debate is a testament to a sad, sad state of affairs. A man is entitled to be uncomfortable and upset if his wife behaves immodestly with other men, just as a woman is entitled to be uncomfortable and upset if her husband behaves immodestly with other women. Having to explain why is like having to explain why you shouldn’t insult your parents. This has nothing to do with patriarchy or any perceived double-standard. It’s depressing that so many people in this thread with Muslim names seem to have no concept of gheera or honor. There are Christians and Jews whose values are more Islamic than that.

    “Shy Desi Boy” and all who agree with “him”, you and your ilk are the ones who deserve a “virtual slap”. Shame on you.

    • aurooba says:

      I think the issue here is what one considers ‘immodest’, Sabir. We all interpret it differently, even as Muslims. One woman may think modesty is a niqab and never speaking to a non-mahram. Another may wear the hijab and just never touch a non-mahram or be in close company with him. Another may not wear the hijab, talk to men easily, but choose not to be in isolated situations. Another may think modesty means not having sexual relations with a non-mahram.

      Let’s not virtually slap ANYONE (that’s something I do have to say to the advice givers. Be a little gentle, please.) Let’s present our opinions/views, and respectfully disagree if need be.

      • Hyde says:

        So I guess if your wife (or even your husband) was visiting night clubs for the sake of work or whatever reasons, you had no right to accuse them of anything ? how long is this “God is in my heart” excuse going to work ?

  22. I’m sad to see that all the reactions are very emotional ones. Yes, I get why ‘Shy Desi Boy’ spent his whole answer talking about not blaming women for men’s behavior, but if we want to really help the husband/ couple in question, then there really ought to be a more balanced and holistic answer.

    1) The husband needs to talk to his wife and voice his concerns.

    2) Why does the husband want his wife to cover up? Because he thinks she’s being immodest and it’s resulting in other men’s advances, or because he thinks that hijaab is obligatory and she should observe it out of a sense of love for God?

    3) Ask why the husband cares about her covering up now. Is it because of jealousy (which is implied), or because he has recently realized the importance of modesty/ covering up/ obedience to God (for BOTH genders)?

    I have to say that I’m very disappointed by the answers provided. Although I am a staunch of supporter of telling men to lower their gazes, keep it in their pants, and stop blaming women for their own lack of self-control, I also disagree with using a sincere question-and-answer column to bash someone who is being vulnerable enough to ask his question on a public forum.

  23. […] This particular edition of the advice column at Love Inshallah got a lot of attention. The post itself is great, but the comments are even more illuminating. They show the different messages and issues that different people read into the question the advice column answered and how different people (both women and men) focussed on different things. Krista’s comment, in my opinion, was one of the best when I last read all the comments. If you pop over and read it, come back and let me know what you thought of it. […]

  24. From Shy Desi Boy:

    Thank you all for the comments and feedback. In reading your comments (and in re-reading my own column), I realize that I was indeed needlessly harsh and presumptuous. I apologize for that.

    When I read the question, I wanted to make a point how we too often place the blame solely on women. I wanted to stir things up a bit and flip the table for once, to show that as men we should be more compassionate to the women in our lives. We men often tell a woman what to wear/what not to wear, how to behave, who to talk to or not to talk to, and even what makes a woman virtuous. I am a bit tired of that and as a man I wanted my column to show my exhaustion and frustration with that line of thinking.

    That said–as many of you pointed out, the questioner should not be slapped and I regret using that language.

    In the future, I will work on being a bit more compassionate and I thank you all for pointing out my error.

    And thank you again to all of you who chimed in.

    • Not Your Average Muslim College Student says:

      I’ve been reading all the comments, all 32 of them, and waiting for your response. As a young female college student on campus, I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU for your original response. I didn’t think it lacked compassion, but rather faced reality. Look, it’s 2 feet of snow in Boston now, and I just left to get a meal from the dining hall. I was just harassed by a group of guys on my way there, literally just to get a plate of food and cup of tea. People need to realize that men, regardless of religion or place in the world, have always told women what to wear/act/live, and clothing has nothing to do with harassment. I was covered from head to toe in snow gear with only my eyes showing, and I was harassed while trying to get food. While you should have emphasized communication between people, esp in a marriage, I don’t think you were wrong in pointing out the flaws and power of men in society.

      Thank you for giving your candid remarks, thank you for providing for input, and thank you for keeping it real.

      • Fighting for my faith says:

        Wow. For years I’ve sat through lectures in which male shayukh talk about just what kind of hitting is permissible against disobedient women. Is it shaking, tapping, or smacking? Is the smacking permissible with a toothbrush-wide twig or something with a little more heft?

        But, Allah forbid that an advice columnist should have the gall to give a man a VIRTUAL slap and ask him to examine his heart and intentions *before* speaking to his wife. THAT audacity calls for the outrage riddling this thread.

        Not one of the traditionalists on this thread who have spouted off about feminism, post-modernism, liberal Muslims or progressive agendas have paused to take a look at themselves and examine male privilege/the male gaze in the Muslim community.

        Until guys like Modern Muslim Moderate, Dave Aquino, JC and Sabir step up and examine their male privilege within the community (e.g., of being able to sit in front of walls and curtains while women sit behind them; of holding power when women are barred through mosque constitutions from voting or holding elected office; or of being able to be heard and seen when women are expected to be invisible and silent, etc.), and also share exactly how they are holding themselves and other men accountable for the way they look at, speak to and about women, their statements will continue to come off as the sort of self-righteous, short-sighted stuff that is driving women & youth out of the mosques/faith/community.

  25. JC says:

    I was very surprised to see the reactions here, particularly by ShyDesiBoy. As many people have pointed out, marriage is a partnership. Both spouses are in this together and they have to be sensitive to each other’s opinions. Wish My Wife Would Cover Up never suggested he was angry, and he said he in fact DID discuss it with his wife. The problem is with both of them – it’s flatly wrong to place the blame on solely one of them. The husband should have an open and positive enough relationship with his wife that he could gently, in a flattering manner, encourage her to wear certain clothes – that will make her feel loved, wanted and that her husband is interested in her. The wife should be considerate of her husband, particularly in light of how he views other mens’ interaction with her, not because she owes him anything – but because she cares about his feelings. Men are visual, jealous beings by nature. Even the most docile, modest guy will turn green with envy if his gorgeous wife is being oogled by others. She should want to make sure her choices don’t cause resentment and tension between her and her husband. But for this husband to have spoken with her about it speaks volumes – that he didn’t fly off the handle, but tried to discuss it with her openly. Her response that he needn’t be insecure is a way of blowing him off. That too speaks volumes.

    The issues of how she dresses from an Islamic perspective are quite clear cut. At minimum they should be modest, which is not what he is describing as her attire. But that is ultimately between her and Allah (swt), but her husband has a stake in it too. He has a responsibility, just as if he were walking around in inappropriate attire, she has a responsibility to correct him. Our standards of modesty do not and should not flow from what the society around us finds as acceptable – a skirt just covering the knee is NOT sufficiently modest; a woman’s calves can be extremely attractive to those who look. Low cut tight blouses will do only one thing – draw attention to her chest and cleavage. That has only one purpose – to make people look; to show off what you’ve got. And showing off our “adornments” is something that is a privilege reserved to our spouses only.

    So each person should ask, is why are they dressing a particular way? What makes a person feel good by wearing something specific? Perhaps she *likes* the attention she gets from other men – and THAT is what makes her husband insecure (who could blame him if that is the case). To say that perhaps she likes the feeling of the wind on her legs is a cop-out. If that were the case, then I’d only give that legitimacy if she also does NOT shave her legs before wearing such a skirt. Otherwise, she MEANS to show off her legs (else why shave?). Again, showing off those things that make us sexually attracted (like bust, legs, buttocks, etc.) is something meant to be a privilege of marriage.

    Still, a person will wear what they want to wear. But, if they’re married, and actually CARE about their spouse, they will take their spouse’s opinions and feelings into account. Wish My Wife Would Cover Up needs to sit with his wife and really reexamine their relationship and where it’s going.

  26. You know, it’s really interesting to hear such things. I’m a Muslimah who strives to practice deen in a dunya where people don’t accept my actions at all. I seldom am approached by men because of me being too ‘religious’ or ‘covered up’ which doesn’t make sense to me at all. I never though that by me reading namaaz and following Qur’an in a moderate way would land me in such a situation. I don’t even do a lot of the things that ‘religious’ people do yet am still blamed for being too ‘uptight’ or ‘old-fashioned.’ It’s come to the point where my own parents are telling me to ease up because they notice how others are reacting towards me. I go to school, drive, work, etc. yet when I tell men about how I perform my religious duties they take a step back.
    Let me remind those men like ‘Wish my wife would cover up,’ YOU were the one who chose to marry the spouse you are with now. I don’t think that the two of you were blindly handed off to each other at the start of your marriage since that’s now how things work anymore. Both were aware of how the other acts, so why are you complaining now? There are plenty of girls like me who are good but are rejected BECAUSE they are GOOD. You have to be very careful about who you wish to marry, some men are satisfied with whatever their wives do but if you’re not like that then make your decision wisely. Don’t be fooled by what you see before marriage, it may be desirable to you then but it won’t be for long after the two of you are married.

    Honestly, it’s just sad. Men put a lot of expectations on women and want them to fit their own version of what they should be but never take into consideration whether or not we want the same thing. To those men who aren’t yet married, open your eyes and reevaluate what it is you want in a woman AFTER the two of you are married.

    • Hyde says:

      Oh yeah men do put women on pedestals while themselves they allow to have fun. But this post was just ridiculous and one-sided.

  27. bobsmydad says:

    Finally some sanity on here. I think the bigger issue is the fact that it appears his wife is engaging the flirtations and continuing to engage in convos w men who are checking her like that..my advice sit Down with her explain. How it hurts u and what u can both do to remedy it.