The following article written by a brother some time ago, it has been slightly ammended.
In the mosques clergymen, scholars and Imams alike, wear specific garments while delivering a Friday khutbah or giving talks at conferences. What type of dress has Islam determined for Muslims?
The use of word ‘clergymen’ in the above question, is indicative of a concept which has nowadays become widespread amongst Muslims and which therefore needs to be investigated. Unfortunately, it is an ill conceived concept that has been adopted and implanted in the minds of those who have been seduced by the Western culture, such as those ruling the Muslim countries today, along with their secular followers who like to see themselves as the ‘intellectual class’.
The word ‘clergymen’ or ‘men of religion’ has become widely used in our society both as a term and as a concept since it was first introduced via the colonial disbelievers. It is even being repeated by some of our scholars, who do not realise the serious consequences such a dangerous Western concept can have upon the Ummah.
One of the most disgusting concepts which the West has spread amongst the Muslims, and one of their dirtiest and deadliest poisons, is their comparison of the Khilafah (the Islamic State) with the Papacy; claiming that the Muslim ruler is like the head of the Catholic Church (the Pope), and that he possesses the ultimate sainthood and supreme power over all matters.
In truth the word ‘clergymen’ is alien to the Islamic culture. It is in fact the term used by the Westerners to describe their priests, monks and bishops. Its initial usage took place when the intellectual revolution erupted throughout Europe (14th and 15th century CE), and whose adherents proclaimed the reforms of and freedom from the hegemony of the Church and the clergy. A fierce battle consequently took place between the philosophers and the Churchmen which ultimately resulted in the intellectuals seizing power from the Church. However, they were happy to leave the clergy with the task of running the religious matters and the ministry of the Church however they pleased, as long as they did not interfere in politics and undermine the system laid down by the intellectuals. The Churchmen accepted this compromise and conceded to the reality by adopting the maxim, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’. Rather than refusing to be ruled by a gang of politicians and resisting the hijacking of their right to look after their own affairs, the Churchmen bowed to pressure and accepted their titles, isolating themselves to the Churches.
The result was that the Churchmen were left with the spiritual power, and the politicians with the temporal power, which itself resulted in the separation of religion from politics and social life; and meant that the Church no longer interfered in the running of the state, politics or social relations. Its role was simply reduced to looking after religious affairs and matters of Christian worship inside the Church.
Christianity therefore took on a new role and people began specialising solely in the serving and running of the Church, organising the mass, baptisms, weddings, funerals and so on. Such people have become known as ‘clergymen’.
It has therefore become widely accepted by everyone, even the priests and vicars, that they are simply religious people, who have no say in the ruling system, politics or social life. Their task is merely to look after the acts of worship inside the Church and charity organisations. Furthermore, it has become accepted that anyone stepping out of these boundaries would be labelled a heretic by the Council of Churches.
Since then politicians have become the sole rulers of the state and society, and they always emphasise the point that they are statesmen and politicians and have nothing to do with the Church or the clergy. This concept has taken deep root in both sides and is now a common practice and a widespread reality. The clergy consequently set up their own administration and their own type of dress, matching their own hierarchy and titles from deacon, priest, vicar, bishop, archbishop, cardinal, patriarch and Pope.
It is worth mentioning here that the intellectuals and the politicians who led this revolution in Europe, sacrificed a great deal in order to rid themselves of the dominance and injustice of the Churchmen, and so naturally they inclined towards a separation of religion from life’s affairs, including government. It is fair to say that this is the reality of the Christian faith, which is now merely a religion of morals and worship, and not a way of life nor a legislative system that embraces all aspects of life. There is no ruling, economic, political or social system in Christianity.
This status quo has, however, proved to be impractical because it defies human nature, that is why Church leaders, on numerous occasions, have come out of their shells and interfered in politics and social affairs, especially in recent times. They have expressed their own views on the problems of refugees, on homosexuality and on the hostage affairs in Lebanon. Furthermore, Bishop Makarius actually took the post of President in Cyprus, while Bishop Tutu of South Africa once said in BBC Newsnight, “I do not know which Bible they read from, these people who say ‘no’ to mixing religion with politics.”
In Islam, the reality is very different, because Islam is a deen in which the state plays a crucial part, and where politics i.e. looking after the affairs of the subjects, is in fact a divine law. This is because Islam is both an ‘aqeedah (creed) as well as a comprehensive system. It is an ‘aqeedah because it is based on Iman; belief in Allah (swt), His Angels, His Books, His Prophets, the Day of Judgement and Qada’ wal Qadar (Divine Fate and Destiny). The divine laws are derived from the ‘aqeedah and they include laws about the ruling system, politics, economics, social and penal laws, as well as domestic and foreign policies. These laws are extracted by mujtahideen (scholars) from the legal sources of Shari‘ah; the Qur’an, Sunnah, Ijma‘ of the Sahabah (general consensus of the Companions) and Qiyas (analogy).
In Islam, there is nothing called ‘clergymen’ or some people who have religious personalities and some who have social personalities. Muslims are all equal, and whoever embraces Islam is a Muslim before Allah (swt). There is no difference to be found between the ruler and the subject, nor between scholar and follower, nor between educated and illiterate, nor judge, plaintiff or defendant, nor between rich and poor, black or white, nor between a Muslim by birth and someone who embraces Islam. The only difference is in taqwa.
No specific garment has been imposed or designed for scholars, any Muslim with knowledge of Islam is a scholar, and any Muslim who broadens his knowledge and understanding of Islam becomes a faqih (jurist). Any Muslim who is capable of extracting a divine law from the sources of Shari‘ah is a mujtahid, and any Muslim who follows an opinion of a mujtahid is a muqallid (follower). Islam has not specified any type of special garments for any Muslim, whether he is a Khaleefah, a mujtahid or otherwise.
The head-dress that we nowadays see sported by many people known as scholars, or the caps, dish-dashahs or jallabiyah they wear to distinguish themselves from other people has no origin in Islam. Such special forms of dress was not the case during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (saw), nor of that of the Sahabah. The Messenger of Allah (saw), undoubtedly the Imam of all scholars, never distinguished himself from other people by wearing specific garments, nor did his family or his Sahabah. The evidences about this issue are numerous in the ahadith and narrations about his life, and that of the Sahabah. Imam Tartusi reported in his book Siraj al-Muluk,
“The Messenger of Allah (saw) was sitting among his Sahabah when a bedouin (a desert Arab) approached them and asked, ‘Who is the son of Abdul-Muttalib?’ They replied, ‘It is that man over there’. The bedouin said, ‘Oh son of Abdul-Muttalib!’ The Messenger of Allah (saw) replied, ‘Yes!...’ ”
This narration clearly indicates that the Messenger of Allah (saw) never distinguished himself from the Sahabah by wearing specific garments, for the bedouin did not spot him, although the bedouin are renowned for being exceptionally observant. In another incident (during the hijrah) Abu Bakr was asked by the bedouin about his companion (the Messenger of Allah (saw)), he replied, “He is from Ma‘a.” They asked him, “What is he to you?” He replied, “He is my guide.” The bedouin thus thought that he (saw) came form the tribe of Ma‘a but Abu Bakr meant by ‘Ma‘a’, water (humans are created from water). If the Messenger of Allah (saw) had been wearing a specific garment, then this bedouin would have distinguished him.
To clarify this issue further, it is worth mentioning that the jallabiyah and ‘amamah had been worn before Islam and after it, it was simply the way people of the time dressed, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and any new type of dress was considered a break from the traditions and customs. When new types of garments were introduced and people developed new tastes of clothes, some people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, did not change and opted to keep their classical garments, in preference to the new. It is only fair to mention here that some of the scholars whom Allah (swt) has spared the tribulation of working for the institutions of non-Islamic governments such as al-Azhar and Rabita, did not innovate in their dress and remained faithful to the old type of clothes. However, since the majority of Muslims changed their dress habits, these scholars have unintentionally given the impression that they want to distinguish themselves from other Muslims, which is not really the case in this instance.
Some people go as far as claiming that scholars should wear specific garments to distinguish themselves in the streets, so that people can ask them for fatawah and about Shari‘ah matters. This is a very dangerous concept that could pave the way for disbelievers and hypocrites to wear ‘amamah. It is very damaging and dangerous to make the ‘amamah and the jallabiyah symbols of knowledge, as it may encourage many ‘con-men’ to claim knowledge and therefore status, and unfortunately there are many such people about. It is also very shallow minded to accept such an ill fated idea.
In fact the appearance of such an issue has been mentioned in a hadith. 'Az-Zubaydi and Safi in al-Kanz, al-Hakeem at-Tirmizi in an-Nawaadir and Abu Nu'aym in al-Hilyah reported a hadith
about whose isnad al-Haakim said: I do not know it to have any defects.' They reported the hadith on the authority of Anas (ra) who said the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
“At the end of the time there will the worms of (Qur’an) reciters. So whoever lived at that time let him seek refuge by Allah from the cursed shaytan (ash-shaytan ar-rajeem) and from them, and they are the most evil smelling. Then there will appear al-qalaanis ul-burood (hoods of the outer garments), and at that time there will be no shame of the showing off (riyaa’). The
one who holds to his deen during that period will be like the one who holds his hand on a live
coal, and the one who holds to his deen will have the reward of fifty men who act as he does.
They asked: will they be like fifty of them or us? He said: They are rather fifty of you.”
Qalaanis is the plural of qulunsuwah (hood), and burood is the plural of burd (outer garment). This is an indication of the clergy (men) who are distinct by the qalaanis and burood, regardless of the person that wears the qulunsuwah and the burd. The account the people give for this form of dress came as sign of lack of shyness regarding the riyaa’ (showing off).
The wearing of the ‘amamah or the jallabiyah is not wajib (an obligation) according to Shari‘ah, nor is it a mandub action; whether during the salah or after, or whether the person is a jum‘a khatib (person who delivers jum‘a khutbah) or otherwise; it is simply a mubah action. The Muslim man, scholar or otherwise, has the choice of wearing them or not, the action does not entail reward or punishment. It is up to the person’s taste in clothing. It has been narrated that Qadi Abu Yusuf was the first person to adopt a specific dress for scholars, but his action is not considered to be a valid Shari‘ah verdict for it is not derived from the Qur’an or the Sunnah, or Ijma’ or Qiyas. Therefore there is no legal source to back such action.
Although Islam has not specified a particular type of garment, it has however commanded Muslims, men and women, to abide by certain conditions or rules. Islam has made certain styles of dress fard, some haram, some mandub, some makruh and some mubah.
1. A man is obliged to cover his ‘awrah in public. The ‘awrah for the man is between the navel and the knee; the navel and the knee not being part of the ‘awrah. This has been confirmed in the narration of Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri who said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “A man’s ‘awrah is between his navel and his knees.” Some may claim that the navel is ‘awrah but this is a false claim because the hadith clearly says ‘between the navel and his knees’. And if anyone claims that the knee is part of the ‘awrah, the answer to this would be in the hadith, where the Messenger of Allah (saw) said to Jabir, “Cover your thighs, for the thigh is the ‘awrah.” The Messenger of Allah (saw) also said to Hudhayfah when he had his thigh uncovered, “Do not reveal your thigh nor look at anybody else’s thigh, whether he is alive or dead.” And he said to Mu‘mar when he passed him by with both his (Mu‘mar’s) thighs uncovered, “O Mu‘mar! Cover your thighs, the thigh is ‘awrah.”
2. A Muslim woman is commanded by Islam to cover her ‘awrah in public. The ‘awrah for the Muslim woman consists of the whole body and the head except for the face and the hands. She is obliged to cover the upper part of her body i.e. the head, neck and the bosom due to the commandment of Allah (swt) which says,
“They should draw their veils over their bosoms.” [TMQ 24:31]
The khimar is the garment or veil with which the woman covers her hair, neck and bosom. As for the lower part of the body it is covered by jilbab, which is a long dress covering the whole body from the neck to the feet as mentioned in the Qur’an,
“O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should draw their outer garments over them (when they go out).” [TMQ 33:59]
3. Islam has forbidden men from acting like women and women from acting like men, whether in walking, dressing or talking. Ahmed and Abu Dawud reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Allah curses the man wearing women’s clothes and the woman wearing men’s clothes.” Abu Dawud reported on the authority of ‘A’isha that she said, “Allah’s Messenger cursed the women who act like men.”
Al-Bukhari, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisa’i, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that he said, “Allah’s Messenger has cursed the women acting like men and the men acting like women.”
Ahmed reported that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As said that he saw a woman holding a staff and walking like a man; he asked who she was and was told that she was Umm Sa‘id, daughter of Abu Jahl. Upon this he said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah saying, ‘The woman who imitates men is not one of us’.”
Abu Dawud extracted from Abu Hurayrah’s narration that a man looking like a woman was brought to the Messenger of Allah (saw) with his hands and feet dyed in henna. He (saw) asked, “What is wrong with him?” He was told that he imitates women. Upon this Allah’s Messenger ordered him to be exiled to the Naqi‘i. People asked, “O Messenger of Allah why do you not kill him?” He (saw) replied, “I was ordered not to kill those who establish salah (prayer).”
It has been reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said about women who acted like men, “Chase them out of your homes.”
4. Islam has made it mandub to praise Allah (swt) when wearing a new garment. Al-Tirmidhi reported on the authority of Abu Sa‘d that, “The Messenger of Allah (saw) used to say whenever he had a new garment, ‘Praise to you Allah for providing me with this. I beg from you the goodness that comes with it and I seek your refuge from the mischief which comes with it’.”
5. Islam has forbidden men and women alike, from acting like the disbelievers, especially in relation to things that distinguishes them. Abu Dawud reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever acts like a people becomes one of them.” This is related to anything linked to their creed or dress, such as the garment or hats of the priests, bishops, cardinals, nuns etc, or like Jewish garments or anything that distinguishes them from other people. Muslims are forbidden from wearing such garments even if they did not intend to act like disbelievers. Any other garment, made from any material apart from silk for men, such as socks, shirts, suits, ties etc. are all allowed since no intention to act like disbelievers is meant, even if these garments are made by disbelievers. According to a narration by al-Tirmidhi, the Messenger of Allah (saw) used to like the Shami and Roman garments and they were both made by Romans who were Christians.
Wearing a watch, driving a car or using electronic equipment is allowed because they are shared by mankind, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. They are not characteristics of disbelief nor are they designed for a certain type of people. It is worth mentioning here that the disbelievers wore, during the lifetime of Messenger of Allah (saw), robes and ‘amamah, the same clothes as the Muslims. It is also worth mentioning, that if any Muslim wears something that is mubah but has the intention of acting like the disbelievers, then he or she would be sinful because the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Actions are but by intention, and everyone is judged by his intentions.”
Therefore, Muslims, male and female, young and old alike are forbidden from wearing symbols of disbelief, such as crosses and the badges of Communists, Nazis, Zionists, Ba‘athists or nationalistic emblems, or anything that is linked to a concept of disbelief.
6. Islam has forbidden men from wearing silk and gold but has allowed it for women, as well as for men who have a skin problem and need to wear silk. Ahmed, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nisa’i reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Gold and silk are allowed for the women of my Ummah and forbidden for the men.” ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab reported, “I heard the Messenger of Allah saying, ‘Do not wear silk, for one who wears it in this world will not wear it in the Hereafter’.” Men are only allowed to wear silk if it does not exceed three or four fingers in lying next to each other in width. Ahmed, Abu Dawud, al-Nisa’i, al-Tirmidhi and Muslim have reported on ‘Umar’s authority that the Messenger of Allah (saw) had forbidden men from wearing silk except to the extent of two middle and index fingers joined together, as demonstrated by the Messenger of Allah (saw). In another narration, he (saw) forbade silk except to the extent of two, three or four fingers.
Islam has allowed the wearing of silk for sick male Muslims without any limit to the width. Al-Nisa’i, Abu Dawud, al-Bukhari, Ahmed and Ibn Majah reported on the authority of Anas that the Messenger of Allah (saw) permitted ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Auf and al-Zubayr to wear silk because they suffered from the problem of skin irritation. Some scholars have used silk as analogous to the wearing of gold for medical purposes.
As for the evidence regarding the forbidding of the wearing of gold for Muslim males, al-Tirmidhi reported on the authority of ‘Imran ibn Hassin, as did Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, that the Messenger of Allah (saw) forbade them from wearing gold rings.
Attention should be drawn here to the fact that forbidding the wearing of gold and silk for Muslim males does not mean that they are not allowed to trade in them; Muslims are allowed to buy and sell them, which is further evidenced by the fact that real money in Islam is made of gold and silver alone.
7. Islam has forbidden men and women alike, from wearing garments out of pride and vanity. Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah reported on Ibn ‘Umar’s authority, that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever wore a garment of fame, Allah (swt) would make him wear a garment like it on the Day of Reckoning and then He would set it alight.” Imam Muslim, al-Nisa’i and Ibn Majah reported on Ibn ‘Umar’s authority that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “On the Day of Resurrection Allah will not look upon him who trails his garment out of pride.” Muslim reported on Abu Hurayrah’s authority that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Allah would not look at whoever trails his dress in vanity.” Imam Ahmed and al-Nisa’i reported on Ibn ‘Abbas’s authority that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Verily Allah would ignore whoever trails his lower garment.” Al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and al-Nisa’i reported on Ibn ‘Umar’s authority that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever wore his garment, shirt or ‘amamah out of pride, Allah would not look at him on the Day of Judgement.” Muslim reported on Ibn ‘Umar’s authority that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever trails his lower garment out of pride, Allah would not look at him on the Day of Judgement.”
8. Islam has made wajib, mandub and makruh some specific garments related to ihram during hajj and ‘umrah.
9. Islam has made it mandub for Muslims to wear new clothes on the days of ‘Eid.
10. Islam has made it mandub for Muslims to wear their best clothes, to look good and for the Muslim men to wear atr (perfume) when going to the masjid, especially on Fridays. Imam Ahmed and Ibn Majah reported on the authority of Abu Dharr al-Ghafari that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever bathed well on Fridays, purified himself well, wore his best clothes, and wore what Allah provided him from good scents, then went to the mosque, did not talk during the sermon and did not go between two people, Allah will forgive him all his sins between this and the next Friday.”
11. It is compulsory for women to wear a khimar and to cover all their bodies at prayer times even if they are alone indoors.
12. Islam forbids women from going out in a state of tabarruj (dazzling display).
13. Islam has made it undesirable to wear one shoe. When putting shoes on, it is desirable to begin with the right shoe and when taking them off, start with the left shoe. Al-Bukhari reported in his Sahih, as did Ahmed in his Musnad and Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said about shoes, “Either wear them both, or take them both off. And if you were about to wear them, start with the right, and if you were to take them off, start with the left one.”
14. Islam has made it mandub, to start with the right hand side when putting anything on. Ibn Hibban and Abu Dawud reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “When you perform wudu or wear a garment, start with the right.”
15. Islam has made it mandub to wear white garments and to shroud the dead in white. Al-Hakim, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Imam Ibn Hanbal and al-Nisa’i reported on the authority of Samra that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Wear white garments, they are purer and more beautiful. And shroud your dead in white.”
16. Islam has made it mandub for us to wear beautiful, fine and smart clothes. Imam Muslim and al-Tirmidhi reported on Ibn Mas‘ud’s authority, as did al-Tabarani on Abu Imama and Ibn Mas‘ud’s authority, al-Tabarani on Abu Imama’s authority and al-Hakim on Ibn ‘Umar’s authority, that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Verily Allah is Beautiful and loves all that is beautiful.” Al-Baihaqi reported on the authority of Abu Sa‘id that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Verily Allah is Beautiful, and loves all that is beautiful. He loves to see the signs of His favours that He has bestowed on His servant, and He loathes misery and those who are miserable.” Al-Tabarani reported on ‘Abdullah Ibn Sarjas’s authority that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Restraint (economy), and dressing nicely is one 24th part of prophethood.”
17. It is wajib to keep the garments and shoes purified for prayer. For Allah (swt) commands,
“And keep your garments free from stain.” [TMQ 74:4]
Ibn Majah and Ahmed reported on Jabir Ibn Samra’s authority, who said, “I heard a man asking the Messenger of Allah, ‘Can I pray in the garment which I wore when I approached my wife?’ He (saw) replied, ‘Yes but if you notice anything stuck to it, wash it’. ”
18. Some prayer garments are wajib and some are mandub. It is obligatory to have the garment covering the ‘awrah for both men and women, and it is desirable to wear more than one garment, in order to look fine and smart. Al-Tabarani and al-Baihaqi reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “If any of you were about to establish prayer, he should wear two garments, for Allah is the most worthy to look (beautiful) for. If he does not have two garments for prayer he should wear an izar (lower garment). And do not wear tight garments that show your curves like the Jews did.” As for the men, wearing of the head scarf with the ‘amamah or a hat or other, that is mubah. It is only mandub for the Hanafi School of Thought as a matter of respect, but there is no evidence to back this claim. Imam Shafi‘i said,
“The covering of the head during salah or otherwise is mubah. Whoever claims that it is mandub, his opinion is invalid because of the lack of evidence in the chain of transmission; unless people used logic as evidence, and that is not valid in our Shari‘ah.”
19. Islam has forbidden the wearing of tiger and lion skins. Abu Dawud reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “The angels will not accompany anyone wearing tiger skin.” Al-Hakim reported on Abu Malih’s father’s authority, that the Messenger of Allah (saw) forbade the skin of lions. Imam Ahmed reported on Mu‘awiya’s authority that the Messenger of Allah (saw) had forbidden wailing, the hanging of portraits, lion skins, tabarruj and singing. Wearing gold, pearls and silk are also forbidden for men.
20. Islam has also made the wearing of some colours mandub and others makruh.