Editorial, The Review of Religions, November 1988
Different cultures and religions have their own ways and habits. What appears right or harmless to one is considered wrong or harmful to another. Let us take the subject of nudity. Some persons see no harm in displaying their private parts in the presence of other people; others feel that there is no harm to do so on certain occasions or under certain circumstances, while others are against it altogether. As far as Muslims are concerned it is forbidden because it is immodest and contrary to the principles of Islam, The Quran says:
Say to the believing men that they restrain their looks and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. And say to the believing women that they restrain their looks and guard their private parts. (24:31, 32)
The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has said on the topic of modesty:
Verily modesty and faith are related to each other; when one of them is taken away, the other also is taken away.
It is the normal and general practice in the West, and elsewhere also, for students, sportsmen even people in general to strip in front of one another when taking a bath or a shower and quite often, a communal bath. This is not the practice of Muslims who, when in the presence of others, wear shorts when changing or bathing. Recently a case arose of an Ahmadi Muslim boy who was expelled from an English school for refusing to comply with the instructions of the head master to remove his shorts when sharing a communal bath with other boys.
What needs to be stressed is that every regard should be given to the religious beliefs and sentiments of a person irrespective of his faith. They should be respected.
On the matter of nudity the Holy Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has unequivocally forbidden the exposure of one’s private parts. He forbade males to show and look upon one another’s genitals and also forbade women to look upon one another’s private parts. (Kitab-ul-Hamam)
During the course of his speech at the Annual Conference of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in 1925, The Supreme Head of the Movement Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad said that children should not be allowed to remain naked.
For further details about the case of the expelled school boy; turn to Press Desk on page 38 (copied below)
PRESS RELEASE: NUDE BATHING
(Rashid Ahmad Chaudhry)
Hashim Ahmad, an eleven year old boy, was expelled from school a week after he joined the fee paying Friern Barnet Grammar School, North London, because he objected to participate in communal nude bathing after the P.E. and games session.
Hashim, son of Mr Rashid Ahmed of North London, said that he believed that Islam does not allow its followers to go naked in the company of others. Hashim’s parents approached the headmaster of the school and tried to resolve the situation. They requested that their son should be allowed to take bath in swimming trunks, but the headmaster refused to give such permission.
During the first week at school when Hashim was forced to take a shower in the nude, he was so upset that he started to vomit when he reached home. His doctor, therefore, wrote a note to the headmaster asking him to reconsider his stand and find a compromise in the situation, but this request also fell on deaf ears.
The Muslim community of Great Britain is furious about the incident and is taking the case to the Race Relations Council.
The father of another Muslim boy, who also paid the fees, has withdrawn his boy from the school after his similar request was turned down by the headmaster.
The Imam of the London Moque, Maulana Ata-ul-Mujeeb Rashed, has issued a statement on the issue: “Communal nude bathing is completely out of the question for a Muslim. It is compulsory for all Muslims to cover the private parts of their bodies and make sure that these are never exposed to others at any time. It is incumbent upon every Muslim to adhere to these teachings and rules most faithfully and there is no room for any exception in it.”
Mr Rashid Ahmad Chaudhry, the Press Secretary of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, when contacted remarked: “Compulsory group nude bathing in a school is a gross infringement upon the civil liberties of a child. Private parts are just what their name implies and are not for indiscriminate viewing by others, whether at a young age or old.I wonder why such a practice is allowed to continue in British schools when other dehumanising rituals such as corporal punishment have all been stopped. I wonder how in this modern age and in a multicultural society such as ours, a headteacher can force the youngsters in his charge to partipate in nude bathing. The sensible teachers who care for children have realised this problem and have dropped the requirement of having group showers in the nude, specially in the case of children who express their distaste for such a practice. However, regrettably, here is a headmaster who was obstinate enough in his approach to expel a young promising boy from school simply because he refused to take part in the parade of naked bodies.”