Q & A: Indecent Dressing?

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Question: I often wear jeans and other western attire indoors. If I leave the home, I always don an abaya over my clothes and also wear hijaab. My husband is ok with my dressing but my mother keeps fighting with me that my dressing is indecent. I do not see anything indecent in how I dress, especially since it is only indoors. Please advise. (summarized).

Answer: There are several aspects in your question. We will briefly deal with some of them in point form.

  • It is most commendable that you don the abaya and hijaab when leaving the home. May Allah Ta'ala keep you steadfast and enable you to progress further towards adopting the true spirit of hijaab.
  • You have raised the issue of “indecent” dressing. “Indecent dressing” has been defined as “dressing in a way that will offend or shock.” The question is that WHO will it offend or shock? There must be a standard upon which to judge what is offensive and shocking. Tragically, due to erosion of Imaani values, Western influence, exposure to media brainwashing and especially the departure of shame, many “modern” Muslim women will also not be shocked by someone dressed in skin-tight clothing, or “dressing” in a manner that half the body is totally naked. So what then is the standard? The only standard is the Qur'an and Sunnah. This standard is mirrored in the lives of the Sahaba (R.A.). Would the queen of Jannah, Sayyidah Fatima (R.A.), be shocked to see you dressed, even indoors, in jeans and other western garb? If your mother finds it indecent, one can well imagine what the reaction of the Queen of Jannah would have been if she could have been here to witness it! (May Allah Ta'ala bless your mother. The number of mothers who can see the indecency in such dressing is fast dwindling. They don it themselves, so what hope is there in them guiding their daughters???). Therefore , always judge your dressing against this standard and keep trying to get closer to it.
  • Another crucial aspect to ponder over is: Why western garb? Why jeans? (see separate article on jeans in this issue). Why do you not prefer, for example, the flowing dresses of some African communities, or other communities that have modest clothing? This brings us to the heart of the issue – that generally the hearts have become greatly Americanised. This is reflected in one's choice of clothing. To understand it a little differently, it is as if to say that “I am a Muslimah outdoors and a follower of the Yahoodiyah indoors”, or “on the top I am a Muslimah but inside ...” or “on the outside I am “Madinah Shareef” [a follower of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam]) and on the inside I am New York and Paris”!!!.
  • The cornerstone of western attire is “maximum exposure” — exposure of the shape of the body as well  as ever-increasing exposure of skin. Thus garments keep getting tighter and skimpier. This is exactly the agenda of shaitaan which the Qur’an has clearly warned us about.
  • Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has commanded us to observe hayaa for Allah Ta’ala. Unnecessary exposure of the private areas of the body, even by wearing tight-fitting garments that expose the shape, is against the dictates of this hayaa.

BEHAVIOUR WILL MATCH DRESS

Even scientists have discovered that what you wear affects your behaviour. The summary of a scientific study states: “One interesting aspect of dress is that what you wear can affect how you behave. One study observed behaviour at a roller rink. On nights with a strict dress code, there were fewer accidents and less noise. In an old article in the Academy of Management Review, scientists theorized that exhibiting actions not in line with the expectations of how one would behave when wearing that clothing creates a psychological conflict called cognitive dissonance. And to relieve the conflict, people will change their behavior to match their dress. Of course, this is all going on without us explicitly being aware of it” (http://quickbase,intuit,com). Thus dressing modestly within the guidelines of the Sunnah will accordingly impact on one's actions and behaviour. Dressing as “New York” will make one behave in that decadent and shameless fashion.

May Allah Ta'ala make us true Muslims outwardly and inwardly  –  in body, heart and soul.

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