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The Best Garment

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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:

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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)

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Wearing Clothes with Good Intentions

By Shaykh-ul-Hadīth, Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh 

 

There are many aspects of our day to day lives which we do not consider to be a part of Dīn. One example of this is purchasing and wearing clothes. When buying clothes and wearing them many of us only think about how we will appear to others. Due to lack of knowledge of Islamic teachings in this regard we fail to act correctly. In order to make this necessity of life into an act of virtue, the first thing we need to consider is our intention.

Intentions when Spending

Different people have different motives when buying and wearing clothes. A person can purchase clothes with either of the following intentions:

  To look clean and tidy:  When a person purchases clothes to appear neat and tidy for the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā, this will be regarded as a good deed which will bring reward. Such a person will be following the hadīth of our beloved Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam:

Allāh is Beautiful and He loves Beauty. (Muslim)

  To make others happy:  When one has the intention to please one’s family, friends and close associates, this will also be an act of virtue, as giving happiness to others will earn the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā. 

  To utilise the bounty of wealth to express gratitude that Allāh ta‘ālā has bestowed upon me the favour of wealth. This also brings the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā. Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam said:

Allāh loves to see His servants utilising and exposing the bounties He has bestowed upon them [as an expression of gratitude]. (Al-Bayhaqī)

  To have a distinct appearance in order to stand out, be admired or show one’s status amongst society; such intentions are impermissible. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has said:

Allāh ta‘ālā does not look at that person (mercifully) who wears a garment, with which he intends to boast and attract the attention of people, as long as that garment remains on him.” (At-Tabaranī)

If a person does not have any of the above explicit intentions, then he will neither earn reward nor will he be questioned in the hereafter.

Whether or not one has the correct intention for wearing good clothes can be gauged from the person being ready to wear clothes that are against his taste, but will make his dear ones happy. This point is beautifully illustrated in an episode from the life of Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānwī rahimahullāh.  Mawlānā Thānwī rahimahullāh had a personal disliking for wearing a collarless coat-like garment known as Sherwani and also for clothes made from shiny cloth. Once, on the night before ‘Īd, his wife gave him a Sherwani as a surprise gift.  It was made of shiny cloth which she had secretly sewn by hand throughout the month of Ramadān. She desired that Hadrat Thānwī rahimahullāh wear this on ‘Īd! Despite not having any inclination towards the garment, he still wore it to the ‘Īd salāh to make her happy.

Avoiding Extravagance

As explained in the hadīth above, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has given a grave warning for those who wear clothes for show. It is this incorrect intention which also usually leads to one indulging in extravagant spending. Allāh ta‘ālā describes those who spend extravagantly in the Glorious Qur’ān as:

Without doubt, the extravagant ones are the brothers of the Shayātīn… (17:27)

Spending for show and to maintain one’s status in front of others can apply to clothing as well as other forms of expenditure. A person may move home to live in a particular area; buy a particular model of car; hold a wedding in a certain venue; buy a mobile phone of a particular brand, just to have a unique standing amongst his family, friends and community, or at the least to keep up and not appear backward and out of touch. It is concerning to note that a large element of our community is engaged in spending with such motives, which leads to the displeasure of Allāh ta‘ālā, and for which we will be questioned on the Day of Judgement.

Therefore, before purchasing anything, we must correct our intentions and also avoid extravagance. We can buy nice things with the correct intentions mentioned above and without spending excessively. For example, if we have a choice between two coats both of which will fulfil our needs, but one costs £50 and the other £90 due to the brand, then we should not purchase the one costing £90 only because it will show off our status.

The Spending of the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum

Whilst we are all aware of the unparalleled physical and monetary sacrifice that the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum gave for the sake of Dīn, we find incidents of the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum using expensive items. For example, it is reported that:

Sayyidunā ‘Abd-ur-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf radhiyallāhu ‘anhu would wear a garment or suit of clothing worth four or five hundred (dirhams). (At-Tabaqāt Al-Kubrā ibn Sa‘d)

We must be very careful not to use such incidents from the lives of the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum, to justify extravagance in our expenditure. The following points will help us to understand the context of their actions:

  After the demise of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, when Islām spread across many countries, Allāh ta‘ālā bestowed the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum with so much wealth that even after spending vast amounts in the Path of Allāh ta‘ālā with an open heart, they still had surplus wealth from which they spent on themselves. It was never the case that the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum spent a large share of their wealth on expensive items for their own use and ignored other avenues of spending. They always gave priority to the life of the hereafter over this world;

  Whenever they bought anything nice or expensive, it was not out of pride, to feel good or to show their status; rather their motive was to practice on the following hadīth of Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam:

Allāh loves to see His servants utilising and exposing the bounties He has bestowed upon them [as an expression of gratitude and not boastfully]. (Al-Bayhaqī)

    Through the blessed company of Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum had purified their souls. Therefore, when spending upon themselves they were able to do so with the intention of practicing upon this hadīth, without falling victim to pride or the intention of showing off, by acquiring expensive items;

  Another motive for such spending by the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum was to increase in their gratitude to Allāh ta‘ālā. It is human nature that the greater a favour or blessing one receives, the greater will be the feeling of gratitude. The Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum acquired expensive items to increase their gratitude to Allāh ta‘ālā. Again, it was the result of purifying the soul that they were able to do so, without corrupting their intentions for spending in such a manner;

  Finally, it should be noted that the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum were indifferent as to whether they possessed something expensive or cheap. Unlike us, it wasn’t the case that they would become happy with nice things and unhappy if they possessed items of a low quality. The books are filled with stories of their spending wholeheartedly in the Path of Allāh. Rather, if they felt an inclination to a particular worldly possession they would spend it in the Path of Allāh ta‘ālā to practice upon the following verse of the Glorious Qur’ān:

You shall never attain true righteousness unless you spend from what you love. (3:92)

Therefore, we must not compare ourselves to the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum. Our hearts are filled with love for expensive things and are inclined towards them. In order to achieve a balance, we should look from the other perspective and think that despite desiring expensive things, I will make a sacrifice for the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā; I will use a cheaper item and spend the remainder in the Path of Allāh. Due to our weak spiritual condition, we should be seeking to act upon the Ahādīth that encourage abstinence from the luxuries of this world such as:

He who renounces exquisite garments, despite him being able to obtain and don them, Allāh ta‘ālā will clothe that person with garments of honour. (Abū Dāwūd)

Conclusion

Therefore, when we are buying and wearing clothes we should make the good intentions noted above and avoid wearing clothes for show and spending extravagantly.

Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has said:

Eat, drink, wear clothes and spend in charity without extravagance and pride. (Al-Bukhārī)

May Allāh ta‘ālā grant us the correct understanding of the whole Din and the ability to make every aspect of our lives into acts that earn His pleasure. Āmīn.

© Riyādul Jannah (Vol. 27 No. 1, January 2018)

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