Ustadh Farid Dingle explains the rulings concerning the awra for men, how that applies to swimming, and suggests ways to make it halal.
Assalam alaykum wa rahmatuLlah wa barakatuh.
I would like to start swimming as a way of staying fit. However I can’t find trunks that cover the awra. Also the pools are mixed gender.
As the majority of the time would be spent in the pool, would it be permissible to go swimming in normal shorts, not trunks.
Jazak Allah khayr.
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
The Letter of the Law
There are number of websites and companies that sell swimming trunks that conform to what Allah wants from us. See, for example, Kap Swim.
A mixed pool is completely out of the question. Whether you like it or not, you will definitely see men and women exposing themselves, and being around more than half naked women is not exactly something Allah wants for us. You just have find a pool that has men-only times. Or even better, go for a swim in a river, lake, or sea.
Sayyidina Umar once saw some men and women making wudu from large water container and ordered that they be separated. I somehow doubt he would be very keen on mixed swimming pools.
As Muslims who believe that Allah is true and His religion is true, we have to stick by the truth come what may.
The Wisdom of the Law
This world has always been a bit crazy, but we are now seeing it at one its craziest times, a time when society, families, and marriages are really struggling to survive.
Allah has commanded us to clothe ourselves and protect our eyes for many, many reasons: it ennobles and spiritually uplifts us and those around us, it maintains healthy relations, protects trusts of chastity, and above all sets rules and standards for our relationships.
The Sacred Law preserves our communities, and ultimately, our minds, by clearly outlining who is who and how each interacts with the other. This is your father and this is your mother, so you see such-and-such of their body, and your can interact with them physically within such-and-such parameters; this is your wife or husband, so you can so you see such-and-such of their body, and your can interact with them physically within such-and-such parameters.
All of these parameters preserve certain spiritual, psychological, and societal needs, and when they are transgressed people and their relationships really suffer. The story of King Oedipus, and many, many other social trials and ailments that we all see on a regular basis, are all a testimony to this.
The Chapter of Light
To understand this all more clearly, let us look at a few verses from the Chapter of Light in the Qur’an.
Tell the believing men to lower their gave somewhat and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do.
And tell the believing women to lower their gave somewhat and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which appears thereof and to wrap their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women ... (Sura al-Nur 24:30-31)
Notice how these societal measures deal with clothing and nakedness, and measure very, very clearly who is to see who, and what they are to see of each other. Notice too that these societal strictures are followed almost immediately by some of the profoundest spiritual words in the whole Qur’an.
Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Unfathomable light upon unfathomable light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.In houses that Allah permitted to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings[Are] men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allah and performance of prayer and giving of zakah. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will [fearfully] turn about. (Sura al-Nur 35-37)
Dress and social decorum are linked inseparably to religious vibrant and flourishing communities and families that produce people who love Allah, and seek Allah in all that they do, and strive with might and main to fulfill their slavehood to him.
I pray this helps.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.