Clothing from an Islamic Perspective

Clothing from an Islamic Perspective

Muslims are required to pay attention to their appearance, making sure that their clothing is beautiful and clean, especially when dealing with others and when performing the prayers, as the Qur’an states, “Children of Adam, wear your best clothes to every mosque.” (Soorat Al-A‛raaf, 7:31)

Allah ﷻ has permitted people to wear nice clothes and put on a good appearance, as doing so is one aspect of remembering Allah’s blessings upon them. As the Qur’an states, “Say, ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants and the good things, clean and pure, which Allah has provided for them?’ Say, ‘They are [lawful] for the believers in the present life but they shall be exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.’ Thus We explain Our signs for a people who understand.” (Soorat Al-A‛raaf, 7:32)

Clothing provides mankind with countless benefits

Clothing Serves a Number of Purposes

  1. It covers the parts of the body which must be covered in public, following the standards of modesty which are innate in all human beings: “Children of Adam, We have sent down clothing to you to conceal your private parts.” (Soorat Al-A‛raaf, 7:26)
  2. It covers the body against heat, cold and harm in general. Heat and cold are weather phenomena which can harm people. Describing the benefits of clothing which He has provided for His servants, Allah states, “He has made shelters for you in the mountains and He has made garments for you to protect you from the heat and garments to protect you from each other’s violence. In that way He perfects His blessing on you so that hopefully you may devote yourselves to Him.” (Soorat An-Nahl, 16:81)

Islam is a religion which lays down rules based on the dictates of the pure nature innate in all humans (fitrah), straightforward reasoning and sound logic.

The General Rule Regarding Clothing

Islam is a religion which lays down rules based on the dictates of the pure nature innate in all humans (fitrah), straightforward reasoning and sound logic.
The general rule in the Sharee‛ah is that all types of clothing and adornment are allowed.
Indeed, Islam does not require Muslims to wear a certain type of clothing. It considers all types of clothing lawful as long as such clothing serves the required purposes without exceeding the bounds set by Islam in this respect.
The Prophet ﷺ wore the same type of clothes prevalent in his time and did not order people to wear a particular type of clothing. He only warned them against certain qualities relating to clothing, for the general rule in Islamic Law regarding dealings in general, including clothing, is that everything is allowed unless there is evidence which states otherwise; this means nothing is considered forbidden except with evidence, as opposed to acts of worship, such as the prayer and fasting, which are governed by the principle of restriction, in that legally responsible people must not perform any act of worship unless it becomes clear to them that it is prescribed and approved by Allah Himself, and thus no act of worship may be performed without textual evidence from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Eat, drink, dress and give charity, but without extravagance or arrogance.” (Sunan An-Nasaa’ee: 2559)

While Islam outlines a code of modesty, it has no fixed standard as to a type of clothing that Muslims must wear. However, Muslims may use the same type of clothes commonly used in their respective countries, with the exception of those that Islam has declared forbidden.

Forbidden Types of Clothing

  1. Clothing that reveals the private parts: Muslims are required to cover their private parts with appropriate clothing, as the Qur’an states, “Children of Adam! We have sent down clothing to you to conceal your private parts.” (Soorat Al-A‛raaf, 7:26)
    Islam has fixed the standards of modesty for both men and women. For men, the minimum amount to be covered is between the navel and the knee. For women who are in the presence of men not related to them, they must cover their bodies except for their face and hands.
    Islam requires that clothing must also be loose enough to cover the body properly. Therefore, skin-tight and see-through clothes are not allowed in Islam. In fact, the Prophet ﷺ warned those people who do not observe modesty in dress, calling them “types among the people of Hellfire”, one of them being “women who are clothed yet naked”.
  2. Clothing that involves dressing like or imitating the opposite sex: This type of clothing is strictly forbidden in Islam and wearing it is considered one of the major sins. This imitation may be extended to include imitation in the manner of speaking, gait and movement, for Allah’s Messenger ﷺ cursed men who wear women’s clothes and women who wear men’s clothes. (Sunan Abu Daawood: 4098) He also cursed men who make themselves look like women and women who make themselves look like men. (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 5546) By directing men and women to observe different modes of dress, Islam takes into account the biological differences between them and encourages them to act in accordance with the dictates of reason and dictates of sound reason and the pure inner nature innate in all humans (fitrah).

It is prohibited to wear clothing which involves imitation of the dress traditionally worn by non-Muslims or clothing of religious significance.

    1. Clothing that involves imitation of the dress traditionally worn by non-Muslims, such as the type of clothing worn by monks and priests and wearing a cross. This also includes clothing that is specific to a certain religion, for the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (Sunan Abu Daawood: 4031) This imitation extends to wearing clothing of religious significance. Imitation of this type is a sign of weakness and lack of confidence in the truth one adopts.
      Imitation here does not include wearing clothing that is predominant in one’s country even if such dress is worn by the majority of non-Muslims, for the Prophet ﷺ used to wear clothing that was common amongst the Quraysh pagans with the exception of those clothing items that are expressly forbidden.
    2. Clothing that is worn with pride and conceit: The Prophet ﷺ said, “No one who has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart will enter Paradise.” (Saheeh Muslim: 91)
      It is for this reason that Islam warns against trailing one’s lower garments on the ground out of pride. The Prophet ﷺ said, “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will not even look at those who drag their garments on the ground out of pride.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaare: 3465; Saheeh Muslim: 2085)
      Islam also warns against wearing the so-called libaas ash-shuhrah (flamboyant, flashy clothing). In fact, this term refers to a number of things including any type of weird clothing which has certain qualities that attract the attention of the general public, making its wearer known for it; ‘notorious clothing’ due to its type or loud and repulsive colour; any type of clothing that makes its wearer an object of pride and fame, attracting too much attention to himself. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever wears clothes of shuhrah in this world, Allah will make him wear clothes of humiliation on the Day of Judgement.” (Musnad Ahmad: 5664; Sunan Ibn Maajah: 3607)

Extravagant clothing is forbidden, but this varies from one person to another depending on one’s income and financial obligations one has to fulfil.

  1. Silk clothing or clothing adorned with gold or silk for men: Referring to gold and silk once, the Prophet ﷺ said, “These are forbidden for men among my followers but permissible for women.” (Sunan Ibn Maajah: 3595; Sunan Abu Daawood: 4057)
    By silk is meant pure silk obtained from the cocoon of the silkworm.
  2. Extravagant clothing: The Prophet ﷺ once said, “Eat, give charity and wear clothes. Let no extravagance or pride be mixed with what you do.” (Sunan An-Nasaa’ee: 2559)
    The manner of dressing, however, varies from one person to another depending on one’s social position. If a person is rich, he may purchase clothing that a poor person cannot afford, given his monthly outcome, economic position and other financial obligations he has to fulfil. While a piece of clothing may be considered a form of extravagance for a poor person, it may not be considered as such for a rich person.

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