Islam requires both Muslim men and women to dress modestly and with humility, as mentioned in the Qur’an:
“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And God is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty…” [Qur’an An Nur: 24:30-31]
The area which a man must cover includes everything between the navel to the knees, in general the area must be covered with loose opaque clothing so that the shape of the body is not revealed. There are other conditions that the dress must fulfil which are explained in further detail below.
Modesty is for both men and women, as God has commanded in the Qur’an:
“ Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And God is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty…” [Qur’an: Al-Nur 24:30-31]
A common misconception is that only women are required to be modest, however as shown above, it is also required from men. As the female and male genetic makeup and physical bodies are different, they also have different dress codes. For the male specifically the ‘awrah (part of the body which must be covered) is from the navel down to the knees, this area must be covered with loose opaque clothing and must not be transparent so as to not reveal any of the parts covered.
The way in which the area must be covered is not specified and every each culture will have their own way of dressing, for example in Pakistan the most common outfit is the Shalwaar Kameez , whereas in the Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Qatar the common outfit is the Thawb (an ankle-length garment), both of these items of clothing are permissible as they cover the necessary area and as long as they are not tight or transparent.
There are some things which Muslims are specifically commanded to abstain from wearing which are listed below:
1. Men are specifically forbidden from wearing Gold or Silk, however this is permissible for the females, as mentioned by the Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) in the following narration:
“These two [gold and silk] are forbidden for the males of my nation and permissible for the females.” [Ibn Maajah: 3595]
2. It is impermissible for one to wear anything impure, for example clothing that has urine or excrement on it.
3. One should also avoid wearing clothing that is affiliated with a particular group or religion other than Islam, for example the Kippah that Jewish people wear, or the cross worn by Christians.
This is because the Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” [Abu Dawud: 4031]
4. The dress should of a man should not imitate the dress of a woman or vice versa.
The Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the men who imitate women and the women who imitate men.” [Bukhari: 5885]
5. The clothing should not be allowed to hang lower than the ankles as this is considered to be a sign of pride and arrogance.
The Prophet (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said; “Whatever of the lower garment is beneath the ankles is in the Fire.” [Bukhari: 5787]
6. The clothing should be respectable but not flashy so much so, that one becomes famous for wearing it.
The Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever wears a garment of fame and vanity, Allah will dress him in a garment like it on the Day of Resurrection, then set it ablaze..” And according to another narrator, then he says “and Allah will dress him in a garment of humiliation.” [Abu Dawud: 4029]
Some things which are mentioned in the Sunnah (the tradition) of the Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) include keeping the clothes as clean as possible and wearing white clothes. The Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Wear white clothes, for they are the best of your clothes, and shroud your dead in them.” [At-Tirmidhi: 994]
In summary the conditions that Islam has set regarding clothing are there to promote modesty and humility, the wisdom behind this is to minimize immorality within society and to offer protection to both men and women. It sets the standards of decency for both genders, and puts people in a positive mindset of how they should behave, much like the role of uniforms in schools and workplaces. Ultimately Muslims know that Allah has complete knowledge of everything and complete wisdom, and as a result knows what is best for humans in all of their matters.