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Online Quran Academy - Islamic Mentors

Ethical Dressing in Islam: Principles, Practices, and Permissibility

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Ethical Dressing in Islam: Principles, Practices, and Permissibility
Narrated by Hazrat Salih bin Abi Hassan (RA): “Indeed Allah (SWT) is Tayyib (good) and He loves Tayyib (what is good), and He is Nazif (clean) and He loves cleanliness, He is Karim (kind) and He loves kindness, He is Jawad (generous) and He loves generosity. So clean – your courtyards, and do not resemble the Jews.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2799)

Introduction

Islam places great importance on ethical dressing, which reflects our faith and devotion to Islamic principles. Ethical dressing is about modestly and respect, which is important for individuals and society.


For individuals, dressing modestly is a way to demonstrate self-respect and devotion to Allah (SWT). When we dress modestly, we feel good about ourselves and remember our commitment to our faith.


In society, ethical dressing promotes significant values in Islam. When we dress modestly, we create a culture of respect and dignity among everyone.


Ethical dressing isn’t just about what you wear—it’s about who you are and what you believe. By making a conscious decision to dress ethically, you not only contribute to a more balanced society but also promote personal growth. It’s important to wear clean clothes to show respect for oneself and others and to reflect inner purity.


The Foundations of Ethical Dressing in Islam

Islamic teachings highlight the importance of adhering to a set of moral values and principles in all aspects of life, including clothing. The principles of ethical dressing in Islam are based on core religious teachings that emphasize the importance of cleanliness, modesty, and obedience to divine commandments.


Cleanliness (Taharah)

In our religion, cleanliness is highly valued. We are encouraged to keep our bodies and clothes clean as it shows our devotion to Allah (SWT). Maintaining cleanliness is important in both our hygiene and clothing. Therefore, wearing clean clothes and staying clean is a big part of our religion.


Hazrat Abu Malik at-Ashari reported that:

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: Cleanliness is half of faith and al-Hamdu Lillah (all praise and gratitude is for Allah alone) fills the scale, and Subhan Allah (Glory be to Allah) and al-Hamdu Lillah fills up what is between the heavens and the earth, and prayer is light, and charity is proof (of one’s faith) and endurance is a brightness and the Holy Quran is a proof on your behalf or against you. All men go out early in the morning and sell themselves, setting themselves free or destroying themselves.

[Sahih Muslim 223]

Modesty (Haya)

Modesty is a fundamental part of Islamic ethics. It refers to dressing in a way that adequately covers the body and reduces the exposure of physical features, especially for women.


The concept of modesty in Islam is not limited to clothing alone but extends to behavior, speech, and conduct. Modest clothing protects honor, dignity, and purity while avoiding Inappropriate attention.


Here are some ways to practice our faith in our daily lives and be a positive example for others in our community. Ethical dressing is not just about how we look on the outside, but it’s also a reflection of our inner devotion and respect for the Creator and everything He has created.


Islamic Dress Code as Outlined in the Quran

The Quran instructs individuals to lower their gaze and dress modestly, which is an integral part of ethical dressing in Islam.


“(O Prophet!) Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their chastity. That is purer for them. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what they do.” [Surah Nur verse 30]

The Quran guides believing women regarding their dress and conduct.


“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and, guard their chastity, and not to reveal their adornments except what normally appears. Let them draw their veils over their chests and not reveal their (hidden) adornments except to their husbands, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, their sons, their stepsons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, their fellow women, those (bondwomen) in their possession, male attendants with no desire, or children who are still unaware of women’s nakedness. Let them not stomp their feet, drawing attention to their hidden adornments. Turn to Allah in repentance altogether, O believers, so you may succeed.” [Surah Nur verse 31]


This verse from the Quran emphasizes the importance of modesty for Muslim women in behavior and dress, discouraging the display of physical beauty.


Requirements and Wisdom Behind the Dress Codes

Here is a list of requirements and explanations for the dress codes;


  • Promoting Dignity: The dress code is created to maintain individuals’ dignity by appropriately covering the body. It demonstrates respect for oneself and others.
  • Discouraging Arrogance: The Quran discourages arrogance by promoting modest dress to control feelings of power based on appearance or clothing.
  • Encouraging Humility: The prescribed dress codes encourage humility before Allah (SWT) and among people. It serves as a reminder that our worth is not determined by external appearances but by their holiness and righteousness.
  • Maintaining Public Morality: The dress code aims to maintain public morality and promote societal well-being and harmony.

The dress code is a form of non-verbal communication that conveys a message of modesty, self-respect, and respect for others, which are key components of an ethical and cooperative society.


What Muslims Wear: Understanding Permissible Attire

In Islam, specific guidelines for what body parts should be covered in public are known as “Awrah.” Following these guidelines is believed to be a sign of obedience to divine commandments and represents our faith and modesty.


For Men

The awrah for men generally includes the area between the navel and the knees. This means that men are required to cover at least this part of their body in public.


Loose-fitting Trousers or Thobes: Men are encouraged to wear loose-fitting trousers or Thobes, which are long robes that cover the body from the shoulders down to the ankles.


For Women

The awrah for women encompasses their entire body except for the face, hands, and feet, but its interpretation varies across different Islamic schools of thought.


Hijab: The Hijab is a headscarf that covers the hair, neck, and sometimes the shoulders but leaves the face uncovered. It is a crucial part of ethical dressing in Islam and is often followed by other clothing that covers the body.


For more information about the Hijab, check out this link: Importance of Hijab for Muslim Women.


Abayas: Abayas are loose, full-length overgarments that cover the body from the shoulders to the feet. They are designed to be loose and not reveal the body’s shape.


Other forms of Dress: In addition to the Hijab, women can wear different forms of dress based on their personal beliefs and cultural norms. Some of these options include the niqab, which covers the face except for the eyes, the chador, which is a full-body cloak, the Shayla, which is a long scarf, the khimar, which drapes over the chest, and the dupatta.


The attire should not resemble that of non-Muslims in a way that would compromise Islamic identity.


Guidelines for Cleanliness and Presentation

In Islam, cleanliness in both physical and spiritual conditions helps to improve the connection between the worshipper and Allah (SWT). The significance of wearing clean and presentable clothes, especially during prayers (Salah), is emphasized in both the Quran and Hadith. Therefore, it is important to keep oneself clean and presentable in order to maintain spiritual purity.


Necessity for Cleanliness in Worship

Muslims are required to maintain cleanliness during worship, as it is based on the principle of Taharah or purity. Allah (SWT) mentions in Surah Al-A’raf that dressing correctly for worship signifies reverence and mindfulness towards the Creator.


Allah (SWT) is mentioned in the Quran;

[Surah Al-A'raf Ayat 31]
“O Children of Adam! Dress properly whenever you are at worship. Eat and drink, but do not waste. Surely, He does not like the wasteful.” [Surah Al-A’raf Ayat 31]

As Surah Al-Ma’idah describes, Perform Wudu (Ablution) before each prayer. This includes washing the face, hands, and arms and wiping the head and feet.


“O believers! When you rise for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, wipe your heads, and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of ˹full˺ impurity, then take a full bath. But if you are ill, on a journey, or have relieved yourselves, or have been intimate with your wives and cannot find water, then purify yourselves with clean earth by wiping your faces and hands. It is not Allah’s Will to burden you, but to purify you and complete His favour upon you, so perhaps you will be grateful.” [Surah Al-Ma’idah Ayat 6]


Guidance for Cleanliness


  • Regular Washing: Clothes should be regularly washed to remove any physical impurities.
  • Immediate Cleaning: If clothes become soiled, they should be cleaned directly to avoid prying on them while they are dirty.
  • Proper Storage: Clothes should be stored clean to prevent contamination.

Cleanliness in attire and presentation is a form of worship that contributes to overall spiritual and communal well-being.


Modesty in Dressing: Avoiding Overspending and Indecency

Modesty in Islamic dress is a comprehensive concept that includes the appearance of the attire, the attitude of the wearer, and the intention behind choosing clothing. It is guided by humility, morality, and respect for oneself and others.


Avoiding the Following Things


  • Transparency: Clothing should not be transparent, as it can reveal the body’s shape, which goes against the principles of modesty.
  • Tightness: Clothes should not be so tight that they outline the body’s shapes, as this can draw attention in a non-modest manner.
  • Excessive Decoration: Overly decorated clothing is discouraged in Islam as it can lead to arrogance or vanity by attracting undue attention.

Prohibition of Imitating the Gender

Islam forbids dressing in a manner that imitates the gender. This is because such clothing can blur the distinctions that Islam upholds between individuals. This principle is based on the idea of preserving the natural differences that Allah (SWT) has created between the two genders.


Avoiding Non-Islamic Religious Symbols

Muslims are advised not to wear clothing that features religious symbols from other faiths, as this could imply a validation or acceptance of beliefs that are opposite to Islamic teachings.


Practical Application

In everyday life, it is important to dress modestly in accordance with the Islamic requirements of covering the awrah while also being considerate of our own comfort and that of others. When selecting our clothing, we should strive to please Allah (SWT) and follow the guidelines given by Islamic teachings. We should avoid seeking attention or approval from others in this matter.


Prohibited (Haram) Clothing in Islam

In Islam, certain types of clothing are considered Haram because they deny the principles of modesty, dignity, and respect. Here is a list and explanation of such attire:


Clothes that Reveal More Than They Cover or Are See-Through

This means that transparent or too-revealing clothing is not allowed. Any attire that fails to do this is considered haram.


Garments that Bear Inappropriate Symbols or Writing

Clothing that displays symbols or writing that promotes immoral content or is linked with un-Islamic beliefs and practices is considered haram. This includes clothing with images or text that promote immorality, idolism, or messages that are opposing to Islamic teachings.


Practical Tips for Ethical Dressing in Islam

When navigating modern times while adhering to Islamic dress codes, it is important to strike a balance. Here are some practical tips to help you balance present styles and religious obligations.


Choosing Appropriate Fabrics and Styles


  • Breathable Fabrics: For daily wear, choose natural, breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or wool, which are suitable for various climates and offer comfort.
  • Loose-fitting Styles: Choose loose styles that do not outline the body’s shape. Garments like tunics, wide-legged pants, and long skirts can be stylish and modest.
  • Layering: To ensure modesty, add a long cardigan or open-front robe over a more fitted outfit.

Balancing Cultural Trends with Religious Obligations


  • Modest Modification: Many designers and brands now offer fashionable yet modest clothing lines, making it easier to find modest converting of current trends.
  • Accessorizing Wisely: You can add modern style to your outfit with accessories while maintaining modesty. Like necklaces or stylish watches can enhance your look.
  • Color and Pattern: To keep your wardrobe lively and stylish, choose color and pattern within the bounds of modesty.

Guiding Children in Modest Dressing Practices


  • Lead by Example: Children learn by example, so practice modest dressing yourself to naturally instill these values in them.
  • Open Dialogue: Discuss the importance of modesty in Islam and how it applies to dressing.
  • Inclusive Shopping: Involve children in shopping for clothes, guiding them to make choices that are both modest and appealing to their tastes.
  • Age-Appropriate Choices: Offer age-appropriate clothing options that are modest, comfortable, and suitable for their activities.

Reflecting our faith and values through fashion is possible without sacrificing personal style and comfort. It is about making informed choices that align with Islamic principles while expressing identity.


Conclusion

Dressing ethically in Islam is considered an important expression of faith. It’s a way of expressing the values of modesty, purity, and respect. Ethical dressing in Islam is an act of respect for the community and promotes an environment of mutual respect. It upholds the Islamic social ethics of etiquette and modesty, encouraging interactions based on shared values instead of external judgments.


As Muslims, we face the challenges of navigating modern-day life. It is important to remember that clothing is not just a functional item or a fashion statement but a reflection of our identity as believers. Ethical dressing is a way to honor the divine, embody the principles of Islam, and contribute positively to society. It is an opportunity to become a role model and inspire others through our actions, which often speak louder than words.

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