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Scholarly disagreement on wearing one’s clothes below the ankles

Published: 24/08/2011 07:23:00 PM GMT
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Is there any disagreement among scholars concerning the ruling of one who wears his clothes below his ankles without pride?

Answered by

Sheikh Salman al-Oadah

The hadîth where Abû Bakr discusses with the Prophet (peace be upon him) dragging his waistcloth without pride is as follows:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will not look at the one who dragged his garment out of pride.”

Abû Bakr said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, my waistcloth slips down if I do not pay attention to it.”

He said: “You are not one of those who do it out of pride.” [Related in full in Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5784) and partially in Sahîh Muslim (2085)]

In another hadîth we have the wording:

On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will not look at the one who dragged his waistcloth conceitedly. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5788) and Sahîh Muslim (2087)]

These hadîth are proof that it is unlawful to drag one’s garments out of pride. Since it contains a threat of punishment, the hadîth indicates that to do so is a major sin.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said:

Whatever is below the ankles is in the fire. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5787)]

Abû Sa`îd al-Khudrî relates from the Prophet (peace be upon him):

The waistcloth of a Muslim is to the middle of his shins. There is no objection to what is between that point and the ankles. As for what is below the ankles, it is in the fire. [Sunan Abî Dawûd (4093). Al-Nawawî declares it to be authentic in al-Majmû` (4/456)]

Al-Bukhârî places the hadîth about Abû Bakr under the following heading:

Chapter Regarding One Who Drags His Waistcloth without Pride

Under this heading, he also places the hadîth where Abû Bakrah says:

There was an eclipse of the Sun while we were with the Prophet (peace be upon him), so he stood up, dragging his garment in haste until he arrived at the mosque.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5785)]

In his commentary on Sahîh Muslim, the Shâfi`î jurist al-Nawawî writes:

The apparent meaning of these hadîth, by qualifying the act of dragging one’s garments with prideful intent, is that the prohibition is specific for doing this act out of pride. [Sharh Sahîh Muslim (14/62)]

Likewise, al-Shâfî`î expressed that there is such a difference in ruling, saying that whatever falls below the ankles is proscribed. However, if it is worn that way out of pride, then it is proscribed to the extent of being unlawful. Otherwise, it is proscribed only to the extent of reproach.

As for the hadîth stating that what is below the ankles is in the fire, they make no mention of prideful intent. However, their intended meaning is that of clothing being worn that way out of pride. This understanding is drawn from the juristic principle that an unqualified statement on a matter should be understood in the contexts of other statements on the matter that have qualifications attached to them.

We see similar statements in Hanbalî law. In the Hanbalî legal work entitled al-Insâf (1/472), the author mentions a ruling of mere dislike for dragging one’s garments. He writes:

This is one of the two opinions. This is the only opinion expressed in al-Hidâyah. It is the position of the school of thought and that of Ahmad…

He then mentions a number of Hanbalî law books that support this point of view. He then goes on to say:

This is, however, a very weak opinion if we mean by dislike a ruling of mere reproach. If we look at what the author of al-Mughnî says as well as what al-Majd writes in his commentary upon it, we see that they state: “What is intended here is the dislike that is indicative of unlawfulness.” This ruling is more appropriate.

The Hanbalî works al-Furû` and al-Ri`âyah al-Kubrâ state that there is disagreement within the school of thought as to whether allowing garments to hang below the ankles is unlawful or merely disliked. One opinion on the matter is that it is unlawful except during war or in cases where there is a need to do so. The conclusion reached in these books is that “this is the correct ruling from which there can be no departure. This is the position of the school of thought and the apparent meaning of Ahmad’s statements.”

The Mâlikî scholar, Ibn al-`Arabî writes in his commentary on Sunan al-Tirmidhî:

It is impermissible for a man to allow his garment to reach below his ankles.

What I advise for Muslims to put into practice is for them to avoid allowing their lower garments to drag below their ankles, even if they do so without pride. This is because it can lead to pride and can lead people to think ill of the one who is doing it or lead them to follow his example. Also, we must consider that it is wasteful.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

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