Q&A: Islamic Garb

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Q: I recently heard a scholar saying that just as the food of our Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was part of  Arab culture at the time, likewise he adopted the dressing which the Arabs of that time were accustomed to wearing. Therefore, just as there is no issue if someone does not eat dates which was a part of the staple diet at that time, similarly there is no issue if one does not dress in Islamic garb (referring to the kurta or what is generally understood as “Islamic” dressing). This has left me confused, since from childhood I have been taught by my parents and teachers that dressing Islamically is very important. Please advise. 

A: There is certainly an extremely big “issue” with what the “scholar” has stated. Allah Ta‘ala forbid, the statement actually portrays the sunnah manner of dressing as insignificant! Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji‘oon. Such statements are often made by people who suffer from an inferiority complex. Hence they try to subtly justify the adoption of western style garments instead of the sunnah garb. The “justification” is done by means of eloquent distortion. Many unwary people are swayed by the eloquence… and hence gulp down the distortion as well. Such eloquent discourse is simply sweet poison.

From the very onset, it should be understood that the sunnah (blessed way) of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is not only an integral part of Islam but is also the means of us gaining guidance and reaching Jannah. Allah Ta‘ala states: “…and bring imaan in Allah and His Rasul, ... and follow him so that you may be guided.” (Surah Aa’raaf v158) In another verse Allah Ta‘ala says: “And whatever the Rasul gives you (through his instruction or noble practice), hold onto it, and whatever he forbids you from, refrain” (Surah Hashr v7). These aayaat highlight the importance of following the sunnah in every facet of life.

Strive to Emulate

It is our firm belief  that Allah Ta‘ala had chosen only the very best for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). His dressing also was the very best way of dressing. Thus the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) strove to emulate him in his mubaarak dressing as well. From the time of the Noble Sahaabah this manner of dressing was passed on in succession from generation to generation to this day.  It was only after the west colonized the many countries as well as the hearts and minds of many people due to which they abandoned the sunnah attire and adopted western styles. Tragically, the abandonment of the sunnah attire has even spilled over into salaah. Instead of standing before Allah Ta‘ala in the respectable, dignified clothing of Islam, people perform salaah in t-shirts bearing names of kaafir soccer players and other clothing of the kuffaar.

The sunnah garb was not adopted merely due to being customary attire. In fact Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) forbade “customary”  clothing, which did not conform to Deen, such as for men to allow any garment to flow below the ankles, etc. He once forbade a person wearing saffron colour  garments in the words “these are from among the garments of the disbelievers, hence do NOT wear them” (Saheeh Muslim # 1647). This clearly highlights that a Muslim should NOT wear the clothing of the disbelievers

Even emulation of the disbelievers in their dressing etc., is condemned. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has clearly warned, “The one who resembles a people will be counted among them (in the sight of Allah Ta‘ala)” (Abu Dawood #4033).  Once Hazrat Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) entered a musjid in Basrah where he observed people wearing a type of clothing which was the hallmark of the Jews of Khaibar. He immediately condemned their dress saying, “It is as if they, at this moment, are the Jews of Khaibar!” (Saheeh Bukhaari #4208)

Identification

Clothing is also a means of identification. There have been instances, such as when entire villages, where both Muslims and others lived, were wiped out due to earthquakes and floods. There was nobody available to identify the bodies of the victims. Apart from those who could be identified as Muslims from their appearance, all others, which included some Muslims, were buried as non Muslims!! 

Hazrat Sufyaan bin ‘Uyaynah (rahimahullah) would say, “Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is the true gauge of success. Every aspect of a person’s life should be compared to the mubaarak life of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), whether relating to his noble character, lifestyle, mannerisms and external appearance. Whichever aspects of one’s life conforms to the mubaarak way of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), it will gain acceptance in the court of Allah Ta‘ala, and whichever aspect opposes his mubaarak way, it will be rejected by Allah Ta‘ala. (Al-Jaami li-Akhlaaqir Raawi wa Aadaabis Saami; pg. 8)

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all to uphold the mubaarak sunnah, aameen.

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