The legal attire in Islam

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

The legal attire in Islam


Did Islam prescribe specific attire for men and women?


Islam did not prescribe certain attire for men and women, but left the matter to the conditions of time and place. Islam did however impose general conditions that dictate concealing the awrah [those parts of the body which must remain covered]. God the Almighty says: “O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment” [Al-A’raf, 26].
Muslim dress code

- Clothes must not be transparent. ‘A`isha said, “Asmaa the daughter of Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with them both) entered upon the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) wearing transparent clothes. The Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings be upon him] turned away from her and said, ‘O, Asmaa`, when a female reaches menarche, nothing of her should be seen except this and this’ and he pointed to his face and hands” [recorded by Abu Dawud].

- Clothes must not be tight i.e. they must not accentuate body parts. Usama Ibn Zaid (may God be pleased with him) said, “Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) once gave me a thick garment made in Egypt which he had received as a gift from Duhia Al-Kalbi and which I, in turn, gave to my wife. Thereafter the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked me why I did not wear it. When I told him that I had given it to my wife, he said, “Tell her to wear a ghulalah (slip) under it for I fear it may reveal the contours of her body parts" [recorded by Ahmed in his Musnad]. This report evidences the prohibition of wearing clothes that accentuate body contours and this applies to both men and women.

Other conditions include:
- Women must not don clothes designed for men and vice-versa. Ibn ‘Abbas [may Allah be pleased with them both] said, “The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) cursed men who imitate women and women who imitate men” [recorded by Al-Bukhari].
- Clothes of fame. It is disliked to wear clothes by which a person deliberately seeks to stand out from others and attract attention lest this cause them to slander him and thus share in their sin. Clothes of fame also include those which are not consistent with what a person usually wears such as wearing clothes the wrong side out, clothes that are different from what the people of his locality usually wear, and clothes that do not suit him.[1] Abu Huraira and Zayd Ibn Thabit (may God be pleased with them) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade wearing the two clothes of fame. It was said to him, “What are the two clothes of fame?” The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Thick and thin clothes, soft and rough clothes, and long and short clothes. The appropriate clothes are those which fall in between.”
- Pure silk. It is forbidden for men to wear pure silk although it is permissible for women due to the hadith reported by Abu Musa who narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Gold and silk were made lawful for the women of my community but not for its men” [recorded by Al-Nisa`i]. Ali (may God be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) put [a piece of] silk in his right hand and [a piece of] gold in his left, raised his hands and said, “These two are forbidden for the males of my community and lawful for its females” [recorded by Ibn Majah].

Based on the above, Islam does not prescribe specific clothes for either men or women. Rather, it imposed some general conditions and criteria and left the particulars subject to individual preferences and to differences in conditions, times, and places.
Allah the Almighty knows best

[1] Al-Bahuti. Kashshaf Al-Qina’ (1/279).

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