#41 – Maintaining Appearance
May 16 – 23, 2022
Shawwal 15 – 21, 1443


Maintaining Appearance

What have Allah and His Messenger said about

Maintaining Appearance

يَـٰبَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَٰرِى سَوْءَٰتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا ۖ وَلِبَاسُ ٱلتَّقْوَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ ءَايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ
O children of Adam! We have provided for you clothing to cover your nakedness and as an adornment. However, the best clothing is righteousness. This is one of Allah’s bounties, so perhaps you will be mindful.

[Surah Al-A’raf, Ayah 26]
۞ يَـٰبَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ خُذُوا۟ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا۟ وَٱشْرَبُوا۟ وَلَا تُسْرِفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُسْرِفِينَ
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, Ayah 31]
وعن عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه عن النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم قال‏:‏ “لا يدخل الجنة من كان في قلبه مثقال ذرة من كبر” فقال رجل” إن الرجل يحب أن يكون ثوبه حسناً ونعله حسناً‏؟‏ قال‏:‏ “إن الله جميل يحب الجمال الكبر بطر الحق وغمط الناس
‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He who has, in his heart, an ant’s weight of arrogance will not enter Jannah.” Someone said: “A man likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Allah is Beautiful, He loves beauty. Arrogance means ridiculing and rejecting the Truth and despising people.”

[Riyad as-Salihin 611]
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَجُلاً أَتَى النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم، وَكَانَ جَمِيلاً، فَقَالَ‏:‏ حُبِّبَ إِلَيَّ الْجَمَالُ، وَأُعْطِيتُ مَا تَرَى، حَتَّى مَا أُحِبُّ أَنْ يَفُوقَنِي أَحَدٌ، إِمَّا قَالَ‏:‏ بِشِرَاكِ نَعْلٍ، وَإِمَّا قَالَ‏:‏ بِشِسْعٍ أَحْمَرَ، الْكِبْرُ ذَاكَ‏؟‏ قَالَ‏:‏ لاَ، وَلَكِنَّ الْكِبْرَ مَنْ بَطَرَ الْحَقَّ، وَغَمَطَ النَّاسَ‏.‏
Abu Hurayra reported that a man who was handsome came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, “I love beauty and I have been given what you see so I do not want anyone to be superior to me (and he either said ‘by the strap of a sandal’ or ‘by a red sandal-thong’). Is that pride?” “No,” he replied. “Pride is when someone disdains the truth and is contemptuous of people.”

[Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 556]


In the first of the present verses (26), Allah Ta` ala has addressed all children of ‘Adam and told them that the dress they wear is a great blessing the worth and value of which must be recognized by them. The address here is not to Muslims alone. It is to all children of Adam. This is a sharp pointer to the fact that the act of covering the coverable parts of the body and the wearing of dress is both a human need and a natural desire. Everyone abides by it without any distinction of religion or community. Then, giving its details, three kinds of clothing were mentioned.

First of all, it was said: لِبَاسًا يُوَارِ‌ي سَوْآتِكُمْ (clothing that covers your shame). Here, the word: يُوَارِ‌ي (yuwari) is a derivation from: مُوَارَات (muwarat) which means to cover, hide or conceal. And the word: سَواٰۃ (sau’at) is the plural form of: سَوۃُ (sau’ah). This is applied to body parts the uncovering of which is taken, by nature, as bad and shameful by all human beings. The sense of the statement is that Allah has sent down for people dress with which they could cover their body parts the exposing of which is a matter of shame.

After that, it was said: رِ‌يشًا (wa risha). The dress one uses for adornment and decency is called: رَیُش (Rish). The meaning is that just to cover up the cover-worthy body parts, even a simple set of clothing is enough. But, Allah has provided for you much more than simply clothing, He blessed you with dresses which make you look handsome, or decent, neat and civilized.

At this place, the word used by the Holy Qur’an is: اَنزَلنَا (anzalna: We have sent down). It means to bestow or bless with. It is not necessary that it be sent down from the heavens ready to wear. This is like an-other expression: اَنزَلنَا حدِید (57:25). It means: ` We sent down the iron,’ which is dug out of the earth as everyone can see. However, at both these places, by saying: اَنزَلنَا (anzalna : We have sent down), it was indicated that the way no human planning or artifice operates as active agent in what ` descends from the heavens,’ so it is with the essential mother element of dress, cotton or wool etc., where human ingenuity has no role to play. That is simply a gift from the great creative power of Allah Ta` ala. But, human artifice does work in efforts to make out of these materials dresses to individual taste, temperament, and the need to stay safe against heat or chill. Even the way to that artifice is shown by Allah Ta` ala. Therefore, eyes that see reality see all this as nothing but Divine gift sent from the heavens.

More Commentary

So, the first attack of Satan came from this opening against human beings when their dress dropped off from where it belonged. Even today, when Satan wishes to confuse and waylay human beings through his accomplices, it always picks up a chic front like being trendy, hip, hot or cool and ends up pulling people out from homes into streets and alleys naked or just about. It would seem that what Satan has classified as modern advancement does not happen unless women are deprived of their sense of shame and modesty and made to parade around in the near-nude.

Though the verse (31) has been revealed to eradicate a particular custom of nudity in the ` Arab Jahiliyyah which they demonstrated at the time of Tawaf in the name of reverence for the Ka’bah, but the Imams of Tafsir and the Jurists of Muslim Ummah unanimously agree that the revelation of an injunction in relation to a particular event does not mean that that injunction is restricted to the same event. Instead, what is considered here is the generality of words. The injunction, then, applies on everything that falls under the generality of these words.

Therefore, the majority of Sahabah and Tabi’in, and the Mujtahid, Imams, have deduced many injunctions from this verse. The most important of them is about Salah. As making Tawaf naked has been prohibited in this verse, the ruling applies identically to Salah as well which becomes Haram (forbidden) and false and futile – because the Holy Prophet ﷺ has said in a Hadith: اَلطَوَافُ بِالب ؓ َیتِ صَلوٰۃُ (The Tawaf of the House [ of Allah ] is Salah). In addition to that, since the majority of commentators agree that the word, ` masjid’ in this verse itself means Sajdah (sujud, prostration), the prohibition of nudity in the state of Sajdah becomes explicitly inclusive in this verse. Now, if this is prohibited in Sajdah, then, it will obviously stand prohibited in all other movements of Salah such as Ruku`, Qiyam and Qu` ud.

The verse brings out another rule of conduct. By calling dress: ` Zinah,’ (adornment), the hint given is that the preferred practice in Salah is that one should not limit himself to only covering his body functionally, but choose to wear what adorns, looks becoming – of course, within one’s means. It was the habit of Sayyidna Hasan ؓ ، that he would wear his best dress at the time of Salah saying: Allah Ta` ala loves beauty, therefore, I dress myself beautifully to please my Lord for He has said: خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ (take along what looks good on you to every mosque). So, we can see that this verse proves two things, that covering the body properly is obligatory in Salah and that it is recommended and merit-worthy to wear a neat, clean and good dress, within means.

[Maarif ul Quran Vol-3 (pg 554 & 565 – 567) , Maktabah Dar al Uloom, Translation by Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari & Prof. Muhammad Shamim]

Spiritual Reminders

Maintaining Appearance
Islam invited mankind towards the best of teachings and Islam came with a set of teachings that would be pushing people forward, compelling them to think of the future and those that are around them. The teachings of Islam also compelled people to think about themselves. One of the things that people are in tune with is their appearance. People, especially teenagers, are extremely conscious of their appearance. Some spend a considerable amount of time grooming themselves. Islam also came with the teachings that a person should maintain their appearance. It is not Islamic to be ungroomed or messy, disheveled, or to have messy hair or messy clothes. In fact, once, the prophet (SAW) saw a person whose hair was unkept, and is was said, “Couldn’t this person find a comb to settle their hair down?” In another hadith, it was said, “A person who has hair should show respect to their hair.” In other words, look after it. Once, he saw someone with clothes that had stains on them, and he said, “Could this person not find water to wash out the stains of his clothes?” A neat and tidy appearance is also a part of Islamic teachings.

This is something that we should be in tune with. When we come to class, the expectation is that we are coming in a neat and tidy appearance – the hair has been combed, the clothes are clean, and a person looks presentable. This is not just so we do this for school, but also, for the rest of our lives, even after school, and during vacation. We should maintain a neat and tidy appearance, especially today, where there are so many questions raised by Islam and so many doubts and suspicions and misunderstandings. When we are outside, we not only represent ourselves, but we represent our deen, and if we go out in an unkept way, whether we may not even think of it, the people will say, “Look at those Muslims.” Even though they should not be saying that, and instead of “Look at that human being” or “Look at that boy”, they say, “Look at those Muslims. Look at how uncivilized these people are. They are always messy.” Islam did not come with this. Islam taught us to look after ourselves and treat ourselves with respect. The prophet (SAW) used the words of “respect”.
One of the expectations from the students is to keep a neat and tidy appearance at all times and keep your appearance according to the sunnah. Do not even think of adopting an appearance that compromises the sunnah. In this way, we will be on our way to setting an Islamic lifestyle for ourselves. If we do not, it is only a matter of time before we will have a split personality, and a set of behaviors when we are under watch and another when we are not under watch. Maintaining a good appearance ties in with the Islamic theme of hygiene. Just related to that, a part of our appearance is keeping our nails clean and trimmed, making sure that we are coming in a clean state, making sure that we are not walking around with body odor or foul smells. This is the reality; when we are in any environment, we have to show respect to the fact that we are around people, and it is a matter of respecting others as well. It is not an Islamic habit to walk around with odors coming from one’s body or mouth. Once, the prophet (SAW) noticed that the sahaba (RA) were coming to the masjid from the fields after work or labor and they were wearing rough or thick clothes and were sweating profusely. Now, the masjid, which did not have the facilities like AC that we have today, was filled with the smell of sweat. The prophet (SAW) made it obligatory to take a bath every Jumuah. At that time, water was scarce, and people were doing labor jobs in the heat of Madinah, but he made it obligatory that anyone who came for Jumuah must take a bath before coming, and that they should have a pair of clothes aside from their daily clothes that they had just for Jumuah. Then, he taught them to use some oil or some product to groom their hair and perfume to help them smell pleasant. All of this was an exercise in presentation.

Whenever you are coming to a meeting or place of importance, you need to be presentable. Likewise, when you are coming for Jumuah, you need to be presentable. These are some things to look out for. Keep your own appearance and the way you groom yourself presentable. It is not about having the most expensive things; sometimes, we think that having the most expensive things means having the best appearance. Sometimes, you will have expensive things, and sometimes, you won’t, but it is about making sure that your appearance is neat and tidy irrespective of what you have. Even your shoes – do not come with scuffed shoes. Look after them. It is a matter of how much pride you take in yourselves. If you are in an army and you had scuffed-up boots, you would get in trouble and penalized, even though it is the army. They expect you to maintain your position because you are representing your country. They expect a sense of discipline instilled. Keep these things in mind and develop them into good habits. Today, people take pride in these habits, despite all of them being embedded in our tradition and culture.

[Adapted from a talk delivered by Mufti Aasim Rashid titled: “Maintaining Appearance”]



Some Ahādith About The Clothing of The Prophet (SAW)
Umm Salma (Radiallahu Anha) narrates that Nabi (صلى الله عليه و سلم) preferred the kurta over all other types of clothing.

Abu Hurairah (Radiallahu Anhu) reports that Nabi (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would begin with the right side when wearing his kurta. (I.e. He would first place the right hand in the right sleeve) (Tirmizi)

Ibn Abbas (Radiallahu Anhuma) reports that lengthwise the kurta of Rasulullah would be above his ankles while the sleeves would reach up to his fingers.

Huraith (Radiallahu Anhu) reports that Nabi (صلى الله عليه و سلم) addressed the people while wearing a black turban.(Muslim 439)

Ibn Umar (Radiallahu Anhuma) narrates that Nabi (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to wear a white Topi. (Tabrani)

Abu Sheikh Reports from Ibn Abbas (Radiallahu Anhu) that Nabi (صلى الله عليه و سلم) had three Topis in his possession. (Badhl 6:52)

Sunnah Acts

The Dressing of The Prophet (SAW)
Umm ul Mu’mineen Umm Salama said:
“The apparel dearest to Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) was the shirt [qamis].”

[Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyah 55]

Ibn ‘Umar said:
“When the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) donned a turban, he let his turban hang down between his shoulders.”

[Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyah 116]


Dua for Wearing a New Garment
اللّهُـمَّ لَـكَ الحَـمْـدُ أنْـتَ كَسَـوْتَنيهِ،
أََسْأََلُـكَ مِـنْ خَـيرِهِ وَخَـيْرِ مَا صُنِعَ لَـه،
وَأَعوذُ بِكَ مِـنْ شَـرِّهِ وَشَـرِّ مـا صُنِعَ لَـهُ
Allāhumma lakal-ḥamdu ‘anta kasawtanīhi,
‘as’aluka min khayrihi wa khayri mā ṣuni`a lahu,
wa ‘a`oothu bika min sharrihi wa sharri mā ṣuni`a lahu.

O Allah, praise is to You. You have clothed me. I ask You for its goodness and the goodness of what it has been made for, and I seek Your protection from the evil of it and the evil of what it has been made for.

[Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi]

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