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A response to 5 objections regarding Islamic dress culture, By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

A response to five objections regarding Islamic dress culture

Compiled By: Mufti Umar Anwar Badakhshani


The Islamic teachings encompass within its orbit every branch of life. It is concerned with every part of social living and social activities without any exception. Dress is also an important aspect of human life. That is why it finds a detailed account in the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah.

(1) Objection: “Is the dress reflects the circumstances & environment of the nation and the country?”

Nowadays a propaganda campaign is being launched that Dress is something which is related to the specific conditions of every nation and community. It is, therefore, a matter of narrow-mindedness to involve the rules of the Shari’ah therein and apply them in cases in which men prefer dresses in accordance with their choice and their environment.

People are frequently heard saying that these Mullas have imposed conditions and restrictions on Deen which is something very easy and simple. Almighty Allah and His Prophet ﷺ did not prescribe these restrictions in Deen. These mullahs have imposed self-styled restrictions. Due to their short-sightedness, they themselves have avoided many restrictions and are involving others.

Every type of dress has its specific impact

Bear in mind that the question of dress is not so simple, that a man may choose for him whatever style of dress he prefers without being affected in his Deen, his conduct and character, his life and his behavior, by the dress he adopts. It is a fact admitted not only by the Shariah but by the scientists as well as the Psychologists that the style of dress does have its impact on the behavior, conduct, and character of the man. The dress is not only a few pieces of cloth sewn together. It is something that deeply affects the thinking, mentality, and sentiments of man.

(2) Objection: “There is nothing in a dress rather we should have a pure heart”.

We often hear a phrase nowadays that there is nothing in an attire, just have a pure heart” and if our heart is pure, our intention is good, and we have a relationship with God Almighty, we are doing the right thing” so what’s the harm in changing our attire  according to the trend? Because religion is not a name of your appearance but it is a name of your inner self, religion is not the name of the body, but the name of the soul, we should only understand and focus on the spirit of  Shari’ah & religion.  Nowadays these phrases becomes a fashion  and are circulating among the masses.

Inner and outer both selves are  required in Shari’ah

Remember that the injunctions of Deen are applicable equally to the soul and the body, the inside as well as the outside. The Qur’an says:

وذروا ظاھر الإثم وباطنہ (الانعام: ۱۲۰)۔

This means: Forsake the outwardness of the sin and the inwardness thereof. (6:120)

Almighty Allah has commanded His servants to give up the open as well as the hidden sins. Mind well that it is a deception of Satan to think that the inside of a man is quite sound, notwithstanding the unsoundness of his outside. Remember that the outside becomes spoiled only when the inside is spoiled. The soundness of the outside depends on the soundness of the inside.

One of our saints used to give an example to illustrate this point. When fruit gets rotten in its inside the effect of this rottenness appears on its outside in the form of ugly spots. If the fruit is not rotten in its inside, the outside remains sound and sightly. Similarly, if the outside of a man is unsound, it is a sign that his inside is also unsound to a certain degree. It is, therefore, not correct to claim that our inside is all right, no matter what is the condition of the outside.

Attention is paid to the betterment of the outside also in our worldly affairs

People take care to improve their inner as well as their outer appearance in the matters of their worldly affairs. It is a paradox to say that the betterment of the outside is not needed in the matter of “Deen”. Take an example. While building a house, you have raised the structure with its covered walls and then the walls are plastered. The walls as well as its doors and windows and decorate them with paints to render its external appearance attractive. Now when the main structure which is the inside of the house is safe and sound what is the use of decorating and beautifying its exterior? In the matter of your house or your car you are not satisfied with the soundness of its inside but spend large amounts on decorating its outside. Why do you not apply the same principle in the matter of Deen about which you say that when it’s inside is safe and sound, there is nothing to worry about its outside condition.

The notion that it is not necessary to take care of the outside as long as the inside is all right is a Satanic deception. It is necessary to ameliorate the inside as well as the outside. The outside requiring amelioration consists of your “Dress”, food. conduct and character in society. Their soundness has a bearing upon the soundness of the inside which is the soul. Those who do not think on these lines have really no real understanding of Deen. If matters had been as these ignorant persons presume, the Holy Prophet ﷺ would not have issued so many injunctions about the dress, as he ﷺ has done. In principle, he ﷺ has issued his kind injunctions in matters in which people are likely to go astray. It is, therefore, necessary to hear and obey these valuable principles and teachings of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.

(3) Objection: Are Islamic scholars being narrow minded regarding dress?

People say that it is narrow-mindedness to stop them from using the dress of the disbelieving English people. Do you not know or have you forgotten the narrow-mindedness of this English community when they occupied India? They made the flowing gowns, Shalwars, and turbans of the Mughal, a uniform for their menial servants, like gate-keepers, peons, butlers, and waiters. Why did they do so? They did so only to disgrace the Muslims and to show them that they attired their low-grade servants in the dress of the Muslim Kings. As against all this, the broad-mindedness of we Muslims is that we are putting on the dress of these tyrants with great gusto and pride. What a shame! If anyone tells them that it is against honor and self-respect to put on such a dress they retort by saying: “This is narrow-mindedness”.

خرد کا نام جنوں رکھ دیا جنوں کا خرد

جو چاہے آپ کا حسن کرشمہ ساز کرے

On account of the miraculous beauty of the beloved madness has been named wisdom and wisdom madness.

In this attitude lies the worst kind of shamelessness, in addition to the fact that it is undesirable in the light of the Shariah.

May you change all your ways, yet …… !

Note it very carefully that, however, much you may change your ways by wearing their dress and adopting their lifestyle, yet you cannot find you any respect in their eyes. The Holy Qur’an has clearly stated:

ولن ترضی عنک الیھود ولا النصاری حتی تتبع ملتھم (البقرۃ ۱۲۰)۔

And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor will the Christians, till you follow their creed. (2120)

The Jews and Christians will not be pleased with you, however, much you may adopt their dress and take to their life-style unless you accept their creed. You have changed yourselves from head to foot on the pattern of their living, yet they have always hated you and tried to ruin you. You have seen this attitude on their part and are seeing it now more vividly. They will never accord you any honor and respect for your putting on their dress.

(4) Objection: The dress that was in vogue during Holy Prophet’s lifetime is forcibly turn into religion

This also refutes the propaganda which is being spread widely nowadays that the Holy Prophet ﷺ adopted many of the customs, dresses, and styles which were common among the Quraish. What is the harm, they ask, if they adopt some of the modes and customs which are in vogue in our times?

Bear in mind that the Holy Prophet ﷺ never adopted the modes and styles which were comm0n during his days. On the other hand, he ﷺ declared them to be unlawful and amended them to conform to the Islamic ways. Not only are the people nowadays committing this sin but they raise an objection and ask what is the harm in it. They should know that the harm lies in the fact that this practice invites Allah’s wrath and shall take the sinner to Hell.

A saintly person late Hazrat Maulana lhtishamul Haq Thanawi (R.A) once said in a lecture that when the Holy Prophet ﷺ has asked us to keep the ankles open as it is not lawful to conceal them, we are not prepared to obey the Prophet ﷺ in this matter. On the other hand, when the English asked us to open the knees we at once obeyed them by putting on knickers. How shameless it is! If we have any love for the Holy Prophet ﷺ, that love has a claim on us. How is it possible for a Muslim to appreciate something which the Holy Prophet ﷺ has disapproved?

(5) Objection: “No specific rules defined in Shari’ah regarding dress”

The Islamic Shariah has been very moderate in the matter of dress-style. It has not prescribed any specific form and style to be adopted by all Muslims. It would be against Islam to disregard the prescribed pattern of the dress. Being a Deen of nature, Islam does recognize that styles of dress worn by the people may differ from place to place, according to the conditions, climates, seasons, customs, and the needs of different regions. Islam has, however, prescribed only some basic principles of dress which must be understood well and adhered to strictly.

Basic principles of dress for Muslims

Mentioning the four basic principles of dress Almighty Allah has said in the Holy Quran:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْآتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ

This means: O children of Adam! We have revealed to you raiment to conceal your shame and (have also revealed) splendid vesture, but the raiment of righteousness that is better. (7.26)

Almighty Allah has endowed these three sentences with a world of meanings.

Anyway, these are the four principles of “Dress”:

  • (1) It should cover the entire coverable parts of the body
  • (2) It should be a means of decorating the body, within the limits of the Shariah.
  • (3) It should not resemble the dress of a non-Muslim.
  • (4) It should not indicate pride and arrogance.

Three defects in a dress

There are three aspects in which a dress does not fulfill the basic principle concerning “dress”:

  • 1) It is so short that it leaves some of the concealable parts bared.
  • 2) The dress is large enough to cover two concealable parts, yet it is so and thin that the concealed parts are reflected through it.
  • 3) The dress tight-fitting that the depressions and projections of the body can be easily viewed. This also violates the rules of covering the ستر.

It is, therefore, necessary to cover the body with such thick cloth as does not reflect the concealed parts. It should not be of tight-fitting but of loose-fitting to conceal fully the internal parts. The same three principles are applicable to the female dress also.

SOURCE: Islam aur Daur e Hazir kay Shubhat o Mughalty, By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

To read this article in Urdu, click on the link below:

Posted in Clothes & Adornments, Culture & Ideology, Featured, Lifestyle

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