Every human is born with several basic needs. Among them is the need for clothing. To cover one’s body is not just a need; it is part of human nature that a person wants to conceal parts of his body from others. Nevertheless, despite being a natural urge to clothe oneself, the Shariah has provided extensive guidelines in this regard.
The primary object of clothing is to cover one’s body. This has been clearly explained by Allah Ta’ala in the Qur’an-al-Kareem. Allah Ta’ala declares, “O children of Adam (A.S.)! We have sent down to you clothing to cover your nudity as well as adornment for you. And the garment of piety is the best.” (7:26) By mentioning the aspect of covering before the aspect of adornment, the Qur’an-al-Kareem has made it abundantly clear that there is far greater importance attached to the primary object and moral aspect of clothing than its secondary benefits. The secondary benefits include protection from the elements of heat and cold as well as adornment.
CLOTHED YET NAKED
Thus clothing must provide cover for the body or else, in the eyes of Shariah, it is not worthy of being called “clothes.” In a narration of Sahih Muslim Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) has warned that he will not be a witness on the day of Qiyamah for women who, although clothed, are yet naked. This is due to their garments not fulfilling the primary objective of clothing which demands that the satr (those parts of the body which must necessarily be concealed from others) is adequately covered.
The satr must be covered in two respects. The garment must be such that no part of the satr is even slightly visible underneath it. Also, it must be loose enough so that the shape of the satr is not discernible. Hence if the garments are even a little tight fitting to the extent that the shape of the satr is visible, such a person is also included in the description of being “clothed yet naked.”
While it is important that one’s garments must be neat and dignified, modesty in dress must be observed especially when venturing out of the precincts of one’s home. The clothing must not be such that it is a clear attraction for others. It is a fact of life that there exists a basic natural inclination towards the opposite gender. Attractive clothing further incites such inclination which could lead to fitna.
The type of clothing that is essentially for one gender should not be worn by the opposite gender. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “Allah Ta’ala has cursed those men who imitate women (in dressing, etc.) and women who imitate men(Mishkaat).”
In the last few decades the morals of the west have seriously declined in all aspects, especially clothing. Many kuffaar Western women who lived less than a century ago would be aghast and flabbergasted if they had to see how their great-granddaughters are dressing today. The greater tragedy is that they would even be utterly ashamed and embarrassed about how numerous Muslim women are dressed today. While Western women have gone to the extremes of nudity and immorality in dressing, the younger generation of Muslim women, — teenagers and young mothers — have by and large drifted towards a more Westernised style of dressing and far away from the higher standard of hayaa of their own mothers or grandmothers, let alone the standard of hayaa of those who lived in the glorious era of the Sahaaba (R.A.).
Indeed many Muslims have become totally westernised in their dress, adopting for themselves the jeans and T-shirt culture of the decadent West. Is it not a fact that many Muslim men and women dress in such a manner that it is either extremely difficult or totally impossible to distinguish whether the person is a follower of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) or a follower of some other creed??? A Muslim should be easily identifiable from a mile to every stranger. The stranger should not have to guess whether the person is among the friends of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) or among the friends of the West. Also, one should maintain one’s Islamic identity in every aspect of one’s attire and appearance. A little headscarf — and the rest from the west — still leaves one far short from the requirements of Islamic dressing.
While the above situation is very tragic, it is more alarming to note that even many of the generally Islamically conscious women have begun to adopt a manner of dressing that is more western in design and style, which they assume to be “Shariah compliant” in terms of the requirements of covering as explained earlier. The yardstick for such generally Islamically conscious families to judge whether there is a distinct drift towards a more Westernised style or not (where it is not already blatantly obvious) is the following: Will the grandmothers and even many mothers themselves wear the type of clothing that they are tolerating for their daughters / granddaughters? And if these mothers had to suddenly overnight adopt the same type of garments that their daughters wear, would eyebrows be raised? If yes, the drift is certainly there. The young mothers and teenage girls of today have already “pushed the boundaries” — the boundaries of hayaa and morality — to the limits that their mothers or grandmothers would never dream of going to. Hence it is clear that the decay has already set in. If it is not stopped now, the next generation will “push the boundaries” even further. The mothers of today moved away from the traditional izaars to more western looking pants — albeit just loose enough. The daughters of tomorrow will wear them very much tighter. If the mothers “dresses” come down just a little below the waist, the daughters will tuck their tight “tops” in their figure-hugging jeans. If the rot is not stopped immediately, it will get much worse.
NOT GOOD FOR PARENTS — NOT GOOD FOR CHILDREN
In many cases the rot is setting in as a result of the example set by the parents. However, in some cases the decay is being forced upon innocent children by parents who dress them in distinctly western styles, though the parents themselves dress in proper Islamic attire and would never wear the type of garments they clothe their children in. The attire that is not good for the parents cannot be good for their children.
The Quran-al-Kareem has declared that the best garments are the garments of taqwa. This applies to both men and women. The clothing of the sulaha (truly pious men and women) is the criterion to judge whether one’s garments are the garments of taqwa or not.
If our clothing does not fall in the category of the garments of taqwa, it will most likely be an imitation of the Jews and Christians. In numerous Ahadith we have been commanded by Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to oppose the ways of the Jews and Christians. The styles and trends that are rapidly changing are clearly as a result of being influenced by the dressing of the West (the Jews and Christians). This drift should therefore be stopped immediately, whether in the dressing of adults or children.
Another important aspect to consider about clothing is the subtle psychological effect it has on the person.
Dress a child in a clown’s clothing and one will observe the child behaving like a clown. Clothe him in a police uniform and he will be found “policing” other kids. While this psychological effect is clearly apparent in children, it certainly affects adults as well.
Hence at times teenagers and even adults who are dressed in the latest Western fashions — the latest jeans on the market and the t-shirt emblazoned with the most popular logos — conduct themselves in the way that does not behove of any Muslim. While the reasons for such conduct could be many, the type of attire is also a factor. On the contrary, dress a person in distinctly Islamic garb and his clothing itself will often become a means of refraining him from going to places of sin or engaging in many sinful actions in public. It is thus obvious that one’s clothing does have an effect on one’s character and conduct.
Our attire and appearance is also part of Deen. This aspect of our lives must also conform to the dictates of Deen. May Allah Ta’ala save us from aping the West and may He guide us to be firm on the Sunnah. Aameen.
WOULD YOU WEAR …
Would you wear any garment with a cross emblazoned on it? Never! Why not? Simply because it is the sign of a particular creed and identifies the one who wears it as being part of the same group.
While the cross is a very obvious sign, there are many other signs which though less obvious are also signs of other cultures and creeds. These symbols have significance for its followers and they are respected and honoured just as the cross is honoured by the Christians.
Among these religious symbols is the symbol of Nike. Encyclopedia Britannica describes Nike in the following words: “Nike, in Greek religion, is the goddess of victory.” It also states that in Rome “she was worshipped from the earliest times. She came to be regarded as the protecting goddess of the state.” The Nike symbol, the swoosh, embodies the spirit of the winged goddess who inspired the most courageous of warriors.
Will a Muslim wear a garment with “Jesus” boldly inscribed across the front? What about Nike, the Greek “goddess” of victory? Will a Muslim wear a garment with a cross? What about the swoosh, which embodies the spirit of the Greek “winged goddess”?
Considering the fact that Nike is the Greek goddess, it is not surprising that Nike Incorporated, the company that produces the garments with the Nike logo, twice insulted Allah Ta’ala. A logo resembling the name of Allah was put on shoes. This was later removed after severe objections. Similarly, a billboard was erected which depicted a basketball player with the headline: “They called him Allah”…Allah Forbid!!!
Reprinted with permission from http://jamiat.org.za