The clothes of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam were simple. They generally comprised of a sheet, a long qamīs, and a shawl. He loved the long qamīs. The opening used to be at the chest. Sometimes, the buttons used to be open.
He would wear a striped Yemeni sheet.
His hat used to sit flat on his blessed head and he would tie a turban on top of it. One end of the turban would hang between his blessed shoulders. Sometimes he would let it hang to the left or to the right. It is also reported that he would tie it below his chin.
On seeing pants being sold in the market of Madīnah Munawwarah, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam liked it and said that it conceals more in comparison to the sarong. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam purchased pants, but it is not reported that he wore them.
All the clothing of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam would remain above the ankles. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam wore leather socks at times and made masah on them.
Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam had a silver ring, which he wore. This ring had the words ‘Muhammad, Rasūl, Allāh’ inscribed on the ring in order to stamp letters that he sent to the kings and leaders of other countries.
Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam wore flat sandals which had a single layer of sole and two straps on the top. He would place his toes in the straps.
The Dress of Ibrāhīm and Ismā’īl
The clothing of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam was in no way in emulation of any national or tribal dress. In fact, it was in emulation of divine revelation and inspiration. It was the dress of Sayyidunā Ismā’īl ‘alayhi as-salām. Sayyidunā ‘Umar radiyallāhu ‘anhu urged the Arabs of Azerbaijan to wear the clothing like that of Sayyidunā Ismā’īl ‘alayhi as-salām. He wrote to them,
‘Wear the izār, i.e., sarong and sheet and hold on firmly to the dress of father, Ismā’īl. Beware of luxuries and adopting the dress of the non-Arabs.’
A Messenger of Allāh does not follow the dress code and ways of the people to which he is sent. It is impossible for a messenger to follow the ways and customs of the masses. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave instructions with regards to clothing as well. He taught what is lawful and what is forbidden. This is so that there would remain a distinction between the believers and the disbelievers.
Many Ahādīth forbid Muslims from imitating the disbelievers, even in dress code. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbade wearing garments that give the impression of pride, extravagance, and lavishness. He also forbade wearing clothing that was embellished with gold.
The polytheists used to wear the garments below the ankles, they used to wear silk, and would strut about in fine and extravagant garments. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbade this and disliked it.
Problematic View of the Modernists
A well-known Imām has recently made the following comments:
The quote in question:
‘So, we need people that attain a high level here, also learning, studying and growing and understanding with the generation they are going to be serving. And so, they know that this is acceptable ‘urf. We should be not be beating our young people up, because, you, know, they dress like you dress. Modestly, a little looser, so the biceps…[laughter]
‘But you know, there’s nothing, we should have western dress but it conforms to our Islāmic standards of modesty. So, you don’t necessarily, and you know probably shouldn’t, it would be inappropriate for you to be running around in your daily life here in a thobe or shalwar khamīs, or Kurdish baggy pants with a big wide waist wrapper.’
‘But if I do wear that, do I get Barakah, i.e., blessings? Do I get some sort of Hasanāt, i.e., good deeds?’
‘Even if I wear the Kufi or the turban?’
‘No, you don’t.’
‘Not at all. You might on ceremonial occasions. Or, occasionally on Eid, wear the dress of wherever your parents’ land is. There’s nothing wrong with that. But in terms of what should be the norm for us and what we should find condemnable, we have to be very keen to understand what’s going on.’
The Irony is that this imam was wearing a Kufi when he made these comments. Which ceremonial occasion was this “Compassionate” Imam celebrating when making his untoward comments, which, in essence, were targeting the blessed dress of our leader and master, Sayyidunā Muhammad Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam?
The statement of the “Compassionate” Imām is very problematic. It reeks of pride over being part of the West and dressing like a Westerner – contrary to the Blessed Sunnah of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
It contradicts a clear reality of the Islāmic tradition, that being, there is reward for imitating Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam, even in matters of dress. This is why the noble companions radiyallāhu ‘anhum would dress like him too. They would also go about their daily work, attend prayers, do farming, ride horses, and every other task they would do, and much more. Clothing was never an issue with them. They saw no reason to move away from the blessed Sunnah of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. In fact, they went out of their way to imitate him as much as they could. The companion who was famous in this regard was Sayyidunā Ibn ‘Umar radiyallāhu ‘anhuma.
The view or judgement of a Muslim in the West who suffers from an inferiority complex is not the standard to gauge what should be the norm in terms of dress code and what should be condemnable.
Important Texts that Refute the Modernists
The dress of piety, that is best. That is from the signs of Allāh so that they may take admonition. [Sūrah al-A’rāf: 26]
Sayyidunā Abū Najīh al-’Irbād ibn Sāriyah reports:
The Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave us a sermon by which our hearts were filled with fear and tears came to our eyes. So we said, “O Messenger of Allāh! It is as though this is a farewell sermon, so counsel us.” He said, “I counsel you to have taqwa (fear) of Allah, and to listen and obey [your leader], even if a slave were to become your amīr. Verily he among you who lives long will see great controversy, so you must keep to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of the Khulafā’ ar-Rāshidīn (the rightly guided caliphs), those who guide to the right way. Cling to it stubbornly [literally: with your molar teeth]. Beware of newly invented matters [in the religion], for verily every bidah (innovation) is misguidance.”
‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Abdān (d.433 AH) said:
‘The actions of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam which did not occur from him in the form of worship, it is desirable (mustahabb) to copy him in these, in hopes of his blessing, like his eating, drinking, dress, talking, giving and companionship with his spouses. All of his acts related to matters of the world, it is desirable to copy him in all of them.’ [Al-Muhaqqaq fī ‘Ilm al-Usūl pp.270-271]
The dress of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is not only regarded as a co-incidental Sunnah, but also as something praiseworthy and encouraged for others to follow.
‘It is established that the clothing of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his appearance was entirely in accordance to divine instruction. It was not in emulation of his people and country. Assuming that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam was sent as a Messenger to London, New York, or any other Western place, he would have reformed the ways of the people just as he did with the people in Arabia. He would have changed their worship of desires to the worship of Allāh Ta’ālā. He would have changed their nudity with covering their bodies. He would have changed their shamelessness to purity and chastity. Therefore, if any charlatan claims that if Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam had to be sent to London or New York, he would have followed the western ways and customs is nothing but a reflection of a person suffering from an inferiority complex, foolishness and stupidity.’
In this day and age, there are many works available that teach us on the various Sunnah practices to be adopted on a daily basis, from morning to evening, from birth to death. We suggest that the Compassionate Imam and his ilk should study and promote these works. It will be greatly rewarding too. It smacks of pride and arrogance to hide the blessed Sunnah of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam and promote the dress code of non-Muslims.
Works that can be studied:
- ‘Amal al-Yaum wal Laylah, Ibn As-Sunnī rahimahullāh
- Al-Adhkār, Imām Nawawī rahimahullāh
- Shamā’il Tirmidhī, Imām Tirmidhī rahimahullāh
- Uswa Rasūl e Akram, Dr Abdul Hayy ‘Arifī
- The Sublime Conduct of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam
The article found in the following link is very heartwarming, especially when coming from a modern-day media house:
A Doubt and Its Response
A doubt that comes about from time to time is that if he or she wears non-Muslim clothes, it will not affect his belief system; it will not affect his or her outlook, thinking, or practice.
Response of Maulānā Idrīs Kāndehlawī rahimahullāh:
If you had to remove your male clothing for a short while and wear your wife’s clothes: a satin pants, a red silk dress, a brightly colored scarf, bangles in your hands, anklets at your feet and a necklace around your neck; and you go to your office in this manner, then will you become a woman? Will there be any difference and decrease in your internal masculinity? Will you be prepared to sit in this manner in your office? It is hoped that based on your principles, you will be prepared to do this because according to you, there is nothing wrong in outward emulation. There is no harm in mere clothing. And when a person does not become a kafir by wearing western clothing, a man will not become a woman by wearing a woman’s clothes. What change will there be in him by merely wearing the clothes of women?
The reason for this is that the outer has an effect on the inner. All the intelligentsia are unanimous in this regard that just as the inner has an effect on the outer, in like manner the outer has an effect on the inner. The heart is illuminated by good deeds and it becomes dark by evil deeds.’
The Self-Honour of a Muslim
Maulānā Idrīs Kāndehlawī rahimahullāh writes in his celebrated Sīrat-ul-Mustafā:
‘I ask these people who are giving a bad name to Islām: ‘On what basis have you given preference to Western dress over Islāmic dress? If it is because the Islāmic dress causes some harm to the body or you experience some loss through it, then tell me, so that we could think over this and gauge whether the physical harm is in Islāmic dress or Western dress. If the reason is that you experience insignificance in Islāmic dress, then there is also no need for you to even make a claim of being a Muslim. Western nations clearly consider Islām and Muslims to be insignificant and lowly. The Noble Qur’an states, ‘The Jews and Christians will never be pleased with you until you follow their religion.’ Islām has no need for such Muslims who change colors like a chameleon, who fall headlong before every new fashion and new craze, and who are totally devoid of independence. Those who do not have an independent spirit and temperament can never become leaders and rulers.’
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- Sayyidunā Ibn Umar radiyallāhu ‘anhu reported that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam had made for himself a ring of silver, and he (wore it in his finger). Then it was in Abū Bakr’s finger. Then it was in ‘Umar’s finger. Then it was in ‘Uthman’s finger, until it fell into the well of Aris and it had these words engraved upon it (Muhammad, Messenger of Allah). Ibn Numair narrated it with a slight variation of words. – Sahīh Muslim ↑
- The description of the clothing of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam in this article has been adapted from Sīrat-ul-Mustafā vol.3 pp.359-360. A detailed study can be done in Shamā’il Tirmidhī ↑
- Fath-ul-Bārī ↑
- Do not incline towards the wrong-doers or else the fire will afflict you. [Sūrah Hud: 113] ↑
- Rasūullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is reported to have said, “He who imitates a nation is counted amongst them.” – Sunan Abū Dāwūd ↑
- Sayyidunā ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Abu Laili reported that Hudhaifa asked for water and a Magian gave him water in a silver vessel, whereupon he said: I heard Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying: “Do not wear silk or brocade and do not drink from vessels of gold and silver, and do not eat in the dishes made of them (i.e., gold and silver), for these are for them (the non-believers) in this world.” – Sahīh Muslim ↑
- Sayyidunā Ibn ‘Umar reported that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Allah will not look upon him who trails his garment out of pride.” – Sahīh Muslim ↑
- Sayyidunā Abu Huraira radiyallāhu ‘anhu reported that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that there was a person who used to walk with pride because of his thick hair and fine mantles. He was made to sink in the earth and he would go on sinking in the earth until the Last Hour would come. – Sahīh Muslim ↑
- Say, [O Muḥammad], “If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Sūrah āl-‘Imrān;31] ↑
- ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf reported that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Know that whoever revives a tradition from my Sunnah if it has died out after me, he will have a reward like those who act upon it without diminishing any of their rewards. Whoever innovates a misguided heresy not pleasing to Allāh and His messenger, he will have a sin like those who act upon it without diminishing any of the people’s burdens.” [Jāmi’ Tirmidhī] ↑
- Sunan Abū Dāwūd ↑
- Sīrat-ul-Mustafā vol.3 p.364 ↑
- Sīrat-ul-Mustafā ↑
- Sūrah Al-Baqarah: 120 ↑
- Sīrat-ul-Mustafā vol.3 p.385 ↑