by Hussain Kamani
An important aspect of religion that must be observed is the Islamic code of dress for both men and women. The appearance is a sign of what one has in the heart. Therefore, the unique Islamic code of dress is one of many things that differentiate Muslims and Non-Muslims.
From amongst the infinite bounties of Allah Taa'la, clothes are also a great bounty. Allah Taa'la mentions this fact in the Holy Qur'an expressing his favour on mankind. The Almighty says:
“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 A'araf, Verse 26)
Today, people are dressing totally against what Allah Taa'la has mentioned.
The first dress ever worn by a human on earth was leaves. As can be seen in the words of the glorious Qur'an:
“And when they tasted the forbidden tree, their private parts become exposed and they began to cover themselves with leaves.” (Surah Al-A'araf)
Allah Taa'la is mentioning in this Qur'an verse about the story of Hazrat Adam and Bibi Hawa that when Allah had forbidden them to go near that particular tree, they committed an act that had been forbidden by Allah; 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.
These are the words of a new convert:
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 you because you are not caught up in the constant changes of fashion, which in their own way bring about social problems. Young men and 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 goes. We should be proud of being Muslims. It also allows Muslims to know one another and greet each other with ‘Assalamu-Alaikum', or ‘Peace be upon you'.
Being a Muslim brings discipline, as you will want to be on your best behaviour and guard at all times, to respect your Lord and religion. What all society can see are, ‘Your clothes', which gives you your identity.
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. 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 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 ankle. It has been reported by Ibn Umar that the Prophet said:
“When a man lets flow his trousers out of vanity, Allah Taa'la will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection.”
It has also been reported by Abu Huraira that the Prophet said:
“Whatever flows of trousers below the ankles will be in the hell fire.” (Bukhari)
It 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.
The Holy Prophet used a single long robe and recommended it for others, as it covers the major portion of the body.
The Holy Prophet 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.
There are a few traditions about the use of a cap and turban. Hazrat Mughaira ibn Sho'ba narrates that the Prophet performed Wudhu and made Masah of the front portion of his head as well as of his turban and leather socks. (Muslim Shareef, Vol 1, pg 134).
The Sahaba 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 Sahabas and Masha'ikhs wore this. So it has a symbol for Muslims. Should we ignore wearing them?
It is proven from Hadith that the Prophet wore a black coloured turban and also a white turban from other narrations.
It is reported from Ibn Umar that Nabi wore a white topi.
The colours of cloth most favourable to the Prophet were white and then green 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. He also prohibited men from the wearing of red coloured cloth, as it is indecent.
It is reported in Muslim Shareef that that he disliked yellow as it is associated with women.
The most important points in the Hadith of Rasullullah regarding dressing are:
1) The clothes should conceal the body adequately.
2) They should impart dignity and good looks.
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.
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 the disbelievers.
Allah Taa'la mention 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 Ahzaab, Verse 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 Ahzaab)
Rasullullah 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. He said,
“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 Rasullullah's remark 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 Taa'la and one should wear them and express thanks. Undoubtedly if all clothes are worn whilst taking heed of the divine laws of Allah, it will assume a degree if Ibadah and lean to the nearness of Allah Taa'la.
The Prophet 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.”
The object of this discussion is to encourage the Ummah of Rasullullah to act upon the divine ordinances of Allah and to be concerned about the spiritual and physical reformation of all of us.
“And Only Allah gives divine guidance and He is the True Helper.”
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