What’s with men wearing bracelets like these on their wrists?
According to the manufacturer’s website, these kind of bracelets are supposed to endow the wearer with some kind of magnetic energy. Not only that, the magnets supposedly helps “tissue alkalanization” and “oxygenation”, and also “calms the nervous system”.
Well, not so it seems. (Emphases are mine.)
- Journal of American Medical Association says that
Static bipolar magnets embedded in cushioned shoe insoles do not provide additional benefit for subjective plantar heel pain reduction when compared with nonmagnetic insole.
- “America’s anti-fruitcake journal” notes
A double-blind study found that magnetic necklaces produced no relief of neck or shoulder pain (Hong 1982).
- Others state that
Another study found no effect using magnets to treat back pain (Collacott et al. 2000)
A review of the world-wide scientific literature regarding magnet therapy found that “the scientific evidence to support the success of this therapy is lacking. More scientifically sound studies are needed in order to fully understand the effects that magnets can have on the body and the possible benefits or dangers that could result from their use” (Ratterman et al. 2002).
And the sarcastic
There is no scientific evidence that magnetizing your water, coffee, wine, fuel, etc. does anyone any good, except for improving the wealth of those hawking these products (Barrett 1998).
So what’s the hukm (religious ruling) on men wearing one of those magnetic bracelet?
Here’s the argument of Ustaz Mohamed Kadir bin Sahak who elaborates comprehensively on the topic, with rehashes here and there:
- A hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad, Ibn Majah, al-Bazzaar and Ibn Habbaan:
أَنّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَبْصَرَ عَلَى عَضُدِ رَجُلٍ حَلْقَةً أُرَاهُ قَالَ مِنْ صُفْرٍ , فَقَال : ” وَيْحَكَ مَا هَذِهِ ؟ ” قَالَ : مِنَ الْوَاهِنَةِ , قَالَ : ” أَمَا إِنَّهَا لَا تَزِيدُكَ إِلَّا وَهْنًا ، انْبِذْهَا عَنْكَ ، فَإِنَّكَ لَوْ مِتَّ وَهِيَ عَلَيْكَ مَا أَفْلَحْتَ أَبَدًا “
“The Prophet – Peace be upon Him – saw a man wearing a copper bangle and said: “What is this?” Said (the man): “This is from al-waahinah (elaboration below).” (The Prophet) said: “Remove it. It doesn’t add anything to you except weakness. And if you died while wearing it, you will not ever be successful.” (takhrij)
- Conflicting opinions regarding the authenticity (صحّة) of the hadith: The hadith is narrated by al-Hasan (الحسن) from Imran bin Hussain (عمران بن حصين). Scholars have differing views whether the former did hear it from the latter. Also, there is a narrator in the hadith by the name of Mubarak bin Fadhalah (مبارك بن فضالة) whose disparagement and credit (الجرح والتعديل) is somewhat inconsistent among Hadith scholars. More here.
- In short, there is no consensus on the status of the hadith; whether it is weak (ضعيف) or authentic (صحيح).
- However, for those who accept the authenticity of the hadith, a deeper understanding of its meaning is required before applying what is being stated.
- As it is clearly shown that the man was wearing a copper bangle, the question posed by the Prophet when he asked: “What is this?” (“ما هذه؟“) carries other significance. According to al-Sheikh Salih bin Fauzan bin Abdullah al-Fauzan:
فيه دليل على أن الإنسان لا ينكر شيئا حتى يعرف مقصود صاحبه إذا كان الشيء محتملا، فإن كان مقصود صاحبه شرا فإنه ينكره
“There is proof that a person doesn’t deny something before knowing what is its purpose. If the purpose is (for certain) bad, then it should be denied.”
- When the man answered: “Al-waahinah” (“الواهنة“), the same commentary stated that it means “I’m wearing the bangle to protect myself from al-waahinah“. Al-waahinah is a type of disease that affects the hand, and some Arabs believe that wearing such a bangle will protect them from the disease. Others view that al-waahinah also means weakness, i.e. the user believes that wearing such an item will protect him from being weakened.
- Still, al-Sheikh Abdul Hakim Belmahdi stated here that
واتفق العلماء على أن علة النهي هي أنها عند العرب تتخذ بمثابة التمائم التي ورد النهي عن تعليقها، انظر في ذلك: غريب الحديث للخطابي (2/445)، وغريب الحديث للحربي (2/1056)، وغريب الحديث لابن الجوزي (2/486) ـ
“The Ulama’ agreed that the reason for the prohibition of wearing such bangles are due to the Arabs regarding them as forms of amulets (that offer protection), which usage were forbidden. See Gharib al-Hadith by al-Khatabi (2/445); Gharib al-Hadith by al-Harbi (2/1056); and Gharib al-Hadith by Ibn al-Jauzi (2/486).”
- From the views above, it is apparent that the prohibition of wearing al-wahinah is not solely because it is bangle, nor is it a prohibition from healing by wearing bangles (if it is possible). Instead, the prohibition is when it is taken or regarded as a protective amulet. Usage of protective amulets are not supported at all in the Quran nor Sunnah, and is not substantiated from scientific discoveries.
- So the question that comes again, what are the evidence supporting the effectiveness of magnetic bracelets? None. Refer to the starting of this post.
- Then, what’s the religious ruling or hukm on men wearing bangles? There are various opinions of the scholars regarding this. Egyptian’s Darul Iftaa’ (Sheikh Hasan Ma’mun, here) quoted Imam al-Rafi’i from his book Syarh al-Wajiz that men are only prohibited from adorning themselves with gold, while other materials are allowed, even when wearing bangles.
- Also in the same fatwa, the mufti noted from Abu Sa’id al-Mutawalli that since rings are permissible on the fingers of both men and women, there should be no difference between the fingers and any other parts of the body, such as wrists. So adornments are allowed on men, except those made of gold.
- However, there are also fatwas that viewed men shoudn’t be wearing bracelets (and here). A well-known standard in Islamic ruling is the clear distinction between the attibutes of men and women. This is based on the hadith narrated by Imam al-Bukhari, from Ibn ‘Abbas RA, that the Prophet PBUH said:
لَعَنَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْمُتَشَبِّهِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ بِالنِّسَاءِ، وَالْمُتَشَبِّهَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ بِالرِّجَالِ
“Allah curses the men who imitates women, and women who imitates men.” (takhrij)
Of course this doesn’t mean that women can’t wear pants. Instead, it goes back to the normative practice in that particular community, of what is accepted as exclusively women’s clothing, and men’s attires, and those which are shared between the two.
But since normative ideals evolves from one generation to another, it may be just a couple generations from now when we will see every single person to have tattoos. So does that mean that tattoos will be acceptable in Islam? It goes back to who you want to follow. Is it the customs of the consumer-based culture of the generations, or is it the ideals and norms exemplified by our early predecessors, the Prophet Muhammad and his Companions, who led the Muslim way of life, void of material trappings and worldly adornments?
Frankly, I’m more inclined to just say that these bracelets are a rip-off and real men shouldn’t be wearing bracelets. The are various opinions, granted, but Allah has already provided us with so much. Yet, I dare not say it is haraam or prohibited.
قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ
“Say (O Muhammad ): “Who has forbidden the adoration with clothes given by Allâh, which He has produced for his slaves, and At-Taiyibât [all kinds of Halâl (lawful) things] of food?” (al-A’raaf:32)
But as a sign of our faith in Allah, let’s err on the side of piety, once in a while. :-)