Monday, 28 May 2007

A Brief Tazkirah On How Muslims Should Dress

An important aspect that must be observed in Islam is how we dress. This applies for both - male and female. Indeed, the outer physical appearance of a person usually is also a sign of what one has in the heart. Therefore, the unique Islamic way of dress is one of many things that differentiates Muslims with non-Muslims.

The Bounty of Clothing

Clothing definitely counts as one amongst the infinite bounties of Allah SWT, and this is described by Allah SWT in the Qur'an:

"O Children of Adam! We have sent down upon you a dress which may conceal your shameful parts and sent down feathers (or splendid garments) and the dress of piety (Taqwa) that is the best of all." (Surah Al-A'raaf: Ayat 26)

The above ayat literally shows what clothing is permissible and what clothing is prescribed as best in Deen. It is so unfortunate today that even Muslim men and women are totally ignoring this Divine Commandment.

A Brief History of Clothing

The first dress ever worn by humans on earth was - leaves.

This is again mentioned by Allah SWT in the Holy Qur'an, again in the same Surah:

"And when they tasted the forbidden tree, their private parts become exposed and they began to cover themselves with leaves." (Surah Al-A'raaf: Ayat 22)

In the above ayat, Allah SWT is mentioning about the story of the Prophet Adam AS and the mother of mankind: Hawa AS - that when Allah SWT had forbidden them to go near a particular tree, they committed an act that had been forbidden by Allah; and then their satr (private parts) became visible. So in an act of modesty, they began to cover themselves with leaves.

As times changed, the style of clothing also changed. Slowly, it changed to two pieces of clothing. Then came three pieces of clothing. Then slowly came the trousers, sleeves, collars and cuffs which is what is worn today.

Even those people who revert to Islam like the Muslim way of dress:

"I like being a Muslim because of the unique code of dressing, which is also set down by Allah for us to follow. This code of dressing sets a lot of moral standards in this world where morality is lacking greatly."

Dressing in an Islamic way attracts a few remarks but also a great deal of respect. It also benefits us because we are not caught up in the constant changes of fashion, which in their own way bring about social problems. Young men and young women today find themselves caught up in bad happenings just to keep up with the trends of fashion.

Dressing Islamically also allows one to be easily recognised wherever he/she goes. We should show the dignity of the fact that we are Muslims. It also allows Muslims to know one another and greet each other with "Assalaamu'alaikum".

Another beauty of the Islamic dress is that it brings about discipline; thus, when dressing Islamically, we will always want to be on our best behaviour and guard our manners at all times, to respect our Lord and religion. What all society can see are "your clothes", which gives you your identity.

Sunnah Clothing

In general, Islam has got no fixed standards of dress, as dress is regulated by necessities according to geographical conditions of countries. In cold conditions, warm clothes are necessary for the protection of the body. Similarly, in hot countries, thin clothes are mostly the norm. However, in hot countries, this does not mean that we take to wearing clothes so thin, that wearing just them reaches almost to nakedness, which is undoubtedly unlawful in Islam.

Our main object of wearing clothes is covering our satr (private parts) and protection of the body from hot and cold conditions. The satr has been defined as the parts of the person which is indecent to expose. For a man this is what consists between the navel and the knee. It is the entire body for a female except the palms.


The Prophet SAW recommended the use of trousers to the length of the lower portion of the leg. It may however, be lengthened above the ankle and shortened below the knee.

Abdullah ibn Umar RA narrates that the Prophet SAW said:

"When a man lets flow his trousers out of vanity, Allah Ta'ala will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection."

It has also been reported by Abu Hurairah RA that the Prophet SAW said:

"Whatever flows of trousers below the ankles will be in the Hell fire." (Bukhari)

This clearly shows that our trousers should not exceed below our ankles as it gives an air of vanity and also catches dirt of the way.

Shirts and Robes

The Holy Prophet SAW used a single long robe and recommended it for others, as it covers the major portion of the body.

Stockings and Socks

The Holy Prophet SAW used socks for protection of his feet from heat, cold and pricking shrubs on the way. He also wore leather socks. He also showed us how to wear shoes by wearing the right shoe first then the left. And when removing them vice versa.

Turban and Cap

There are several traditions about the use of a cap and turban.

Mughairah ibn Shu'bah RA narrates that the Prophet SAW performed Wudhu and made Masah of the front portion of his head as well as of his turban and leather socks. (Riwayat Muslim)

The Sahabah RA also used to wear caps depending on the weather too. In the hot days, the cap used to be of thin material and on cold days it used to cover their ears. The Sahabah RA and the Mashaa'ikh / Pious Scholars RA wore this. So it has a symbol for Muslims. Should we ignore wearing them? It has also been proven from Hadith that the Prophet SAW wore a black coloured turban and also a white turban from other narrations. As for the cap, it is reported from Abdullah ibn Umar RA that the Prophet SAW wore a white cap.

Colour of Dress

The colours of cloth most favourable to the Prophet SAW is white because it shows purity. Dirtiness is manifested more vividly in white cloth which therefore requires constant cleaning. White will be the colour which we take to our graves. This is good from a sanitary point of view.

The Prophet SAW also prohibited men from the wearing of red-coloured cloth, as it is indecent.
It is reported in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet Muhammad SAW disliked yellow as it is associated with women. These are just some brief points. We will cover this topic in more detail in the future, InshaAllah.

Important Points to Ponder

The most important points in the Ahadith of Rasullullah SAW regarding dressing are:

1. The clothes should conceal the body adequately.

2. They should impart dignity and good appearance.

3. They should not fail to satisfy the requirements of adequate concealment of the body.

4. Nor should they be so ugly and clumsy that instead of enhancing beauty, they mar the wearer's appearance.

Women Clothing

A woman must ensure that her clothing does not resemble that of men and vice-versa; nor should the clothing resemble the peculiar dress of disbelievers.

Allah Ta'ala says in the Qur'an:

"O Prophet ! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the Believers to draw over them their cloaks (veils). That in the least so that they be recognised and not be molested." (Surah Al-Ahzaab: Ayat 59)

"And remain within you homes and do not make an exhibition (of yourselves) like the displays (of the immoral women) of former times of ignorance." (Surah Al-Ahzaab: Ayat 33)

Rasullullah SAW has given a warning against wearing transparent clothing which makes the body visible or light clothing which emphasizes or highlights the figure of the body.

Rasulullah SAW said (mafhum):

"Many women are clothed but naked in reality. Such women will never enter Paradise nor will they smell its fragrance."

Even transparent and netted scarves are worn to deliberately display hair and parts of the body. Women who wear transparent or tight-fitting clothing should reflect over the remark of Rasulullah SAW that such women are infact naked! How shameful indeed to remain naked in this world and as a consequence, they won't even smell the fragrance of Paradise.

Clothes should be considered a great bounty of Allah SWT and one should wear them and express gratitude to Allah SWT. Undoubtedly if all clothes are worn whilst taking heed of the Divine Laws of Allah, it will be considered as a form of Ibadah too and will become a means of nearness to Allah SWT.

The Prophet Muhammad SAW said:

"Whomsoever utters the following supplication after wearing clothes, all his past sins will be forgiven-

"All praises are due to Allah who clothed me with this and which He bestowed upon me without any toil and effort on my part"."

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