Laws of Religion
Laws of Islam Concerning Women and Men
17. Clothing Restrictions
From the hadith compilations of al-Bukhari and Muslim
(Editor’s note: This page discusses restrictions on the wearing of luxury clothing and certain other restrictions. The topic of clothing to protect modesty is covered on the previous page on Modesty.)
Luxury clothing. Hadiths says that Allah will cause a person to sink into the earth and keep sinking until the day of Resurrection if that person walks pridefully because of his fine cloak, his personality, his two-piece garment or his thick well-combed hair.
When Muhammad wore a gold ring, the people did the same. So Muhammad threw the gold ring away and wore a silver ring instead. He forbade the wearing of gold rings. His silver ring was engraved, "Muhammad the Apostle of Allah." This ring was used to seal letters.
When Muhammad starting to wear a silver ring, the people also put on silver rings. Muhammad’s silver ring was passed on to, and worn by, his successors as leader of the community of Muslims: Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman. It was lost when Uthman dropped it into a well.
There are hadiths that also report that when Muhammad wore a silver ring, the people did so also; Muhammad threw his silver ring away and the people threw their silver rings away.
Muhammad forbade the wearing of clothing made of silk. He permitted wearing only a small amount of silk – the amount indicated by raising his index and middle fingers, though one narration says it may have been three or four fingers rather than just two. A narrator said that this two finger limit meant that silk was permitted only as embroidery – patterns on the cloth.
Muhammad did permit those with itching from skin disease to wear silk clothing.
Muhammad was given a silk garment as a present and he prayed while wearing it. Then he tore it off violently saying that a pious Muslim does not wear such a thing. He said that a silk cloak is to be worn only by those who will not enter Paradise.
Hadiths say that silk clothing will be worn by Muslims in Paradise, but is not for them to wear in this world. (The Qur’an also affirms that silk will be worn by those in Paradise.) Those who wear silk in this world will be denied it in Paradise. (Editor’s note: Similar statements are cited on the page on Intoxicating Beverages, concerning those who drink wine and who may be denied wine in Paradise. Also, those who drink from silver vessels in this life will not do so in the next life.)
Umar (who became the second successor to Muhammad as leader of the community of Muslims) had a silk cloak that Muhammad had given him as a gift. He pointed it out to Muhammad, since Muhammad had spoken against wearing such things. Muhammad replied that it was not given for the purpose of being worn. Muhammad told Umar to sell the silk garment and benefit from the proceeds of the sale or give the garment away. So Umar gave it to his brother who was a polytheist, not a Muslim.
Similarly, Ali (who became the fourth successor to Muhammad as leader of the community of Muslims) noticed that Muhammad looked angry when Ali wore a silk garment that Muhammad had given him. So he cut the garment up and gave the pieces to his wives. Muhammad told his close male companions that they should cut up the silk garments he gave them to make head coverings for their women. Some reports say that Muhammad gave silk cloaks with gold buttons to his companions with no mention of any order to cut them up or sell them or give them away.
In addition to forbidding the wearing of silk, Muhammad also forbade the wearing of brocade or velvet. Brocade, like silk, will be worn by Muslims only in Paradise. (The Qur’an also affirms that those in Paradise will be adorned with brocade.) Hadiths say that those who wear brocade will not enter Paradise. Umar had a brocade cloak that Muhammad had given him as a gift. He asked Muhammad about it since Muhammad had spoken against wearing such things. Muhammad replied that it was not given for the purpose of being worn, but rather to be sold. So Umar sold the brocade cloak. Muhammad himself was reported to have worn a cloak with brocade on its hem and the borders of its sleeves. Also, one of his daughters wore a red silk garment.
Muhammad forbade the wearing of yellow clothing or clothing dyed with saffron. The prohibition against clothing dyed with saffron is said to apply only to men. Muhammad ordered a man wearing saffron-dyed clothing to burn the clothing; washing the dye out was not sufficient.
Other rules on clothing (hadith). Muhammad forbade Ishtimal-As-Samma’ which means wrapping a garment around the body so an end of the garment cannot be raised or the person cannot take his hand or arm out of it.
Muhammad encouraged the wearing of sandals rather than going barefoot. However, he forbade the wearing of only one sandal; a person should wear two or none at all. If one sandal is broken, the other should not be worn alone.
Muhammad warned men against wearing their lower garment too low. When Abdullah ibn Umar, a close companion of Muhammad, was dragging his lower garment on the ground, Muhammad told him to raise it up so the bottom was at the middle of his calf. Muhammad said that the part of the izar (waist wrapper) that falls below the ankles is in the Fire of Hell. He said that a man who dragged his izar on the ground was caused by Allah to sink into the earth, and he will keep sinking until the Day of Resurrection. When the Day of Resurrection comes, one who dragged his izar out of pride or arrogance will be denied Paradise because Allah will not look at him.
When Abu Bakr (who would become the successor to Muhammad as leader of the community of Muslims) said that his own izar hangs low if he does not pay attention to it, Muhammad replied that Abu Bakr is not one who drags his garment out of pride or arrogance. Muhammad himself rushed to the mosque for prayer with his garment dragging on the ground when there was a solar eclipse.
From Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh/sharia§): Reliance of the Traveller
(Editor’s note: This page discusses restrictions on the wearing of luxury clothing and certain other restrictions. The topic of clothing to protect modesty is covered on the previous page on Modesty)
Reliance of the Traveller (Shafi‛i school*) says that women are permitted to wear gold jewelry unless the amount of gold is considered to be excessive. The wearing of jewelry containing gold is forbidden for men except for jewelry whose gold paint or plate is so tarnished that it is no longer visible. However, teeth may be repaired with gold.
Men, like women, are permitted to wear silver rings and also to decorate their weapons with silver. However, men cannot have silver in any type of jewelry other than rings. A 19th century commentator quoted in this section of the translation of Reliance of the Traveller says that this silver jewelry prohibition is because men are forbidden from imitating the habits of women. Silver is also forbidden in riding gear, writing implements, work knives or lamp fixtures. If the amount of silver used in decorations of ceilings or walls is enough to melt off with the heat of a fire, it also prohibited.
Imam Dhahabi (an important 13th-14th century Shafi‛i scholar quoted in the English translation of Reliance of the Traveller), lists enormities§§. For example, he quotes Muhammad as saying that non-Muslims can wear silk or brocade or drink and eat from gold and silver, but Muslims must wait until the life after death to do these things. Imam Dhahabi also quotes Muhammad as saying that it is unlawful for men, but not women, to wear gold or silk.
§The specific derived laws of fiqh summarized here are often referred to by the more general term sharia law.
§§Enormities: In Keller’s English translation of Reliance of the Traveller, Imam Dhahabi (an important 13th-14th century Shafi‛i scholar) is quoted as listing certain sins as “enormities,” meaning that there is a threat of punishment after death mentioned in the Qur’an or hadiths, a legal penalty is prescribed or the transgressor is accursed by Allah (God) or Muhammad. These “enormities” are the most serious sins and, according to the Qur’an; if they are avoided then a person will be caused by Allah to enter an honorable gate (meaning reward in Paradise after death). According to Imam Dhahabi, committing an “enormity” without knowing that it is unlawful eliminates the guilt, except for denying those religious tenets that are universally known by Muslims.
Abbreviations used in footnotes:
BK: Hadith collection of al-Bukhari as found here (USC website) and here (ebook download). In a few instances, the hadiths on the USC website differ from those in the ebook download, either by having slightly different numbering of the hadiths or because the hadith appears only on the USC site and not in the ebook download. Such cases are noted in the footnotes by putting either “(USC)” or “(ebook)” after the relevant hadith number when it applies to only one of these two sources.
DJP: The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, by Ibn Rushd, translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, published by Garnet Publishing Ltd, Reading, UK. Volume 1, 1994. Volume 2, 1996. Limited preview is available here (Volume 1) and here (Volume 2). Full text online and download for Volume 1 is here and here and for Volume 2 is here and here.
RT: Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, revised edition 1994, published by Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, USA. It can be downloaded as a pdf file from various websites such as this one.
SR: al-Shafi‛i’s Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, translated by Majid Khadduri, Second Edition, published by The Islamic Texts Society. It can be downloaded here.
● The sources cited are described on the page Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.
 ML 24:5203-5204, ML 24:5205-5206-5207
 ML 24:5205-5206-5207
 BK 7:72:680, ML 24:5206
 ML 24:5203-5204
 BK 7:72:680
 BK 7:72:755, BK 7:72:756, BK 7:72:759, BK 7:72:765, ML 24:5209, ML 24:5210-5211, ML 24:5213
 BK 7:62:104, BK 7:69:539, BK 7:72:753, BK 7:72:754, BK 8:74:253g (USC), ML 24:5176, ML 24:5177, ML 24:5178, ML 24:5208
 BK 7:72:761, BK 7:72:762, BK 7:72:764, BK 7:72:766, BK 7:72:767, ML 24:5212, ML 24:5213, ML 24:5214-5215, ML 24:5216, ML 24:5218
 BK 7:72:761, BK 7:72:764, ML 24:5216, ML 24:5217, ML 24:5218
 BK 7:72:756, BK 7:72:757
 BK 7:72:756, BK 7:72:762, BK 7:72:767, ML 24:5212, ML 24:5213
 ML 24:5219, ML 24:5220-5221
 BK 2:23:331, BK 3:47:785, BK 4:54:471, BK 7:62:104, BK 7:65:337, BK 7:69:536, BK 7:69:537, BK 7:69:539, BK 7:70:553, BK 7:72:718, BK 7:72:728, BK 7:72:729, BK 7:72:740, BK 7:72:753, BK 8:72:241, BK 8:74:253g (USC), ML 24:5129-5130-5131-5132-5133, ML 24:5134-5135-5136-5137-5138-5139, ML 24:5150, ML 24:5151-5152, ML 24:5153, ML 24:5154-5155, ML 24:5156-5157, ML 24:5176, ML 24:5178, ML 24:5226-5227-5228, ML 31:6039
 BK 7:72:718, BK 7:72:719, BK 7:72:721, ML 24:5151-5152, ML 24:5153, ML 24:5154-5155
 ML 24:5156-5157
 BK 7:72:718, ML 24:5154-5155
 BK 4:52:168-169, BK 4:52:170, BK 4:52:171, BK 7:72:730, ML 24:5168-5169, ML 24:5170-5171, ML 24:5172
 BK 1:8:372, BK 7:72:693, ML 24:5166-5167
 BK 2:13:11, BK 2:15:69, BK 3:34:317, BK 3:47:782, BK 3:47:788, BK 4:52:289, BK 7:72:726, BK 7:72:732, BK 8:73:11, BK 8:73:104, ML 24:5141-5142, ML 24:5143, ML 24:5144-5145, ML 24:5146-5147-5148, ML 24:5149, ML 24:5150
 BK 7:65:337, BK 7:69:536, BK 7:69:537, BK 7:72:722, ML 24:5134-5135-5136-5137-5138-5139
 QR 18:31, QR 22:23, QR 35:33, QR 44:53, QR 76:12, QR 76:21
 BK 7:72:720, BK 7:72:723, BK 7:72:724, BK 7:72:725, ML 24:5153, ML 24:5164, ML 24:5165
 ML 24:5131
 BK 2:13:11, BK 2:15:69, BK 3:34:317, BK 3:47:782, BK 3:47:788, BK 4:52:289, BK 7:72:732, BK 8:73:11, BK 8:73:104, ML 24:5141-5142, ML 24:5143, ML 24:5144-5145, ML 24:5146-5147-5148, ML 24:5163
 BK 2:15:69, BK 3:34:317, BK 3:47:788, BK 4:52:289, BK 7:72:732, BK 8:73:11, BK 8:73:104, ML 24:5141-5142, ML 24:5144-5145, ML 24:5146-5147-5148, ML 24:5163
 BK 3:47:788, BK 7:72:732, BK 8:73:11
 BK 2:13:11, BK 3:47:782, BK 3:47:788, BK 8:73:11, ML 24:5141-5142
 BK 3:47:784, BK 7:64:279, BK 7:72:731, ML 24:5159-5160, ML 24:5162
 ML 24:5143, ML 24:5159-5160, ML 24:5161
 BK 4:53:356, BK 8:73:153
 ML 24:5129-5130-5131-5132-5133
 ML 24:5134-5135-5136-5137-5138-5139
 QR 18:31, QR 44:53, QR 76:21
 ML 24:5146-5147-5148
 ML 24:5158
 ML 24:5149
 BK 7:72:766
 ML 24:5176, ML 24:5178
 BK 7:72:737, BK 7:72:738, ML 24:5241, ML 24:5242, ML 24:5173-5174, ML 24:5177
 BK 7:72:737, ML 24:5241
 ML 24:5175
 BK 1:8:363, BK 1:8:364, BK 1:10:558, BK 3:31:212, BK 7:72:709, BK 8:74:300, ML 24:5234, ML 24:5235, ML 24:5236, ML 24:5237
 ML 24:5230
 BK 7:72:746, ML 24:5232, ML 24:5234, ML 24:5237
 ML 24:5233, ML 24:5235
 ML 24:5200
 BK 7:72:678
 BK 7:72:681-682
 BK 7:72:674, BK 7:72:675, BK 7:72:679, BK 7:72:683, ML 24:5191-5192, ML 24:5193-5194, ML 24:5195-5196, ML 24:5197-5198, ML 24:5201-5202
 BK 7:72:675
 BK 7:72:676
 RT f17.11 (pages 201-202)
 RT f17.6 (page 200)
 RT f17.7 (page 200)
 RT f17.8 (page 201)
 RT p63.1 (pages 692-693)
 RT p53.2 (page 689)
 RT p0.0 (pages 651-652)
 QR 4:31, cited in RT p0.1 (page 652)
 RT p70.2 (page 696)