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The Best Garment By Shaykh-ul-Hadīth, Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh Blessing of Clothing The great Muhaddith, ‘Allāmah An-Nawawī rahimahullāh, in his masterpiece Riyād-us-Sālihīn, begins the discussion on clothing with the following verses of the Glorious Qur’ān: O children of Ādam! We have sent down to you the dress that covers your shame and provides adornment. As for the dress of taqwā [piety] that is the best. (7:26) … And made for you garments that protect you from heat, and garments that protect you in your battles. (16:81) We learn two very important lessons about clothing from these verses of the Qur’ān. The first lesson is that clothes are a blessing from Allāh ta‘ālā. Commenting on the phrase, “We have sent down to you”, the commentators of the Qur’ān have stated that clothes are a blessing from Allāh ta‘ālā as the sources from which clothing is produced, e.g. cotton, are created by Allāh ta‘ālā and man has no role to play in the creation of the source. Likewise, clothes are a blessing from Allāh ta‘ālā because it is Allāh ta‘ālā alone who inspires us with the ability and imagination to utilise these resources to manufacture and produce clothing. Purpose of Clothing The second lesson is that clothing serves three main purposes. The first purpose is to cover and conceal the ‘awrah. The ‘awrah is that portion of the body which should not be revealed without a Shar‘ī necessity. Thus, we can imagine what a great bounty clothes are; for without clothes how would we be able to cover our ‘awrah and thus maintain our dignity and honour? The second purpose is to protect the body from heat, cold and other physical harms. Hence, we have different types of clothes to match different climates and also for different activities. For example, we have specially designed wear such as armour and camouflage clothing that is used in unique circumstances such as wars, to protect the wearer. To reflect our nature, Allāh ta‘ālā mentions a third purpose of clothing, that is to adorn and beautify. We can further understand these three purposes through an everyday example. A man can wear a sheet that will cover his ‘awrah which is sufficient to fulfil the minimum Shar‘ī requirement. However, rather than limit himself to this, he will also wear a jubbah (thobe) and a shawl, to not only safeguard his body but also make himself look more presentable. The masnūn du‘ā as related by Sayyidunā ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu upon wearing new clothes highlights some of the above purposes: All praise is for Allāh who has dressed me in such clothing that covers my ‘awrah and which also aids me in my beautification. (At-Tirmidhī, Ibn Mājah) Beautification is a Worthy Trait Jamāl (beautification) is an action approved and indeed recommended by our Sharī‘ah. The Sīrah of Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam also teaches us to keep in mind beauty when clothing ourselves. In a hadīth we find the following narration: Indeed, Allāh is beautiful and loves beauty. (Muslim) Therefore, when dressing and adorning ourselves we should make the following intentions: 1) to acquire the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā. 2) to follow the sunnah of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam. 3) to please my near and dear ones, e.g. my spouse, my parents, my children. This is also a deed in itself liked by Allāh ta‘ālā, thereby increasing His Pleasure. Due to his exalted taqwā and spiritual status, Hakīm-ul-Ummah Hadrat Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānwī rahimahullāh was not inclined towards adornment. However, the renowned Shaykh would, keeping the third intention in mind, adorn himself in moderation and refrain from total abstinence. Two Major Pitfalls Whilst beautification is recommended by the Sharī‘ah, there are two major pitfalls that must be avoided. The first is an incorrect intention. To adorn oneself for show, pride, or to display exclusivity, are all intentions that must be avoided. Dressing with this in mind that ‘no one has the clothes I have’, or ‘no one looks or should look like me’, or ‘my clothes show that I am better than everyone else’, are all thoughts which reflect an incorrect intention and are not permitted. Hence, it is essential to constantly review and rectify our intentions in this regard. The second pitfall is of extravagance. Extravagance is usually the consequence of a person’s incorrect intention to show off, to feel better than others and to display their greatness. There is a fine line between beautification and extravagance. Designer wear is a good example when trying to make this distinction. If we buy an item of clothing worth £25 for £100, only because it has a specific label, we should question ourselves ‘What is driving me to do this? If I can purchase the same product, of the same quality, for a much cheaper price, what am I paying the extra for?’ When we question ourselves in this way, it will expose the incorrect intention that we are spending to help satisfy our inner pride and desire to maintain our ‘status’ and ‘exclusivity’, leading to extravagance in spending. Therefore, as Muslims we must ensure whilst adopting adornment and beautification that one remains within the limits of the Sharī‘ah, by reviewing the intention and abstaining from extravagance. The Best Clothing O children of Ādam! We have sent down to you the dress that covers your shame and provides adornment. As for the dress of taqwā [piety] that is the best. (7:26) The verses of the Glorious Qur’ān also direct our attention to another form of dress, a type of garment which conceals, protects and beautifies the inner self. This garment, is the garment of taqwā and is essential for every person, for it is this garment that covers and subdues the radhā’il, i.e. those negative traits of the heart, such as pride and jealousy, which a person would be ashamed of and would not want others to see. Also, it is the garment of taqwā that helps a person adorn his inner self with the fadā’il, i.e. the praiseworthy traits of the heart, such a humility and generosity, which beautify a person’s character. It is the garment of taqwā which also provides a person protection from all the trials of this world and the Hereafter. Therefore, it is the ‘Libās-ut-Taqwā’ (the dress of taqwā) which is the greatest garment a person can adorn. The Glorious Qur’ān reminds us of this by using the phrase ‘that is the best.’ The outer appearance may temporarily deceive the onlooker, however ultimately the great beauty or ugly nature that lies within will be revealed. We experience this in our day to day lives. A person may be wearing the most striking of clothes but if the inner self is not adorned then, despite the initial positive impression, upon interaction we find the person unappealing. True concealment, true protection, and true beauty in this world and more importantly in the Hereafter is only achieved when the inner self is ‘dressed’ with the clothing of taqwā. Therefore, whilst continuing to use the blessing of clothes to beautify our appearance, we should give more attention to the beautification of the inner self. May Allāh ta‘ālā grant us the tawfīq to use the blessing of clothes in a manner which acquires His Pleasure and to adorn ourselves with the best of clothes, taqwā. Āmīn. © Riyādul Jannah (Vol. 29 No. 10, Oct 2017)