Religious Wisdom: The Religious Significance of Clothing

Religious Perspective About Clothing:

There are many different religions around the world and have different beliefs and differences. There is no single religion, whether universal or local, that does not have its own beliefs about the relationship between the body and God. An important aspect of religion that must be observed is the religious code of dress for both men and women.

Christian Perspective About Clothing:

In Christianity, Clothing has played a major role in the history of God’s interactions with humanity and is featured prominently from Genesis (3:7) to Revelation (22:14).

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)

This act of God serves as a picture of our inability to effectively atone for our own sin. The fact that an animal had to die — blood had to be shed — in order to cover Adam and Eve’s shame is a foreshadowing of the later sacrifice of Christ. Our inability to cover our own sin necessitated God’s Son coming to earth to do for us that we cannot do for ourselves (Philippians 2:6–8; Titus 3:5).

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18–20)

Basically, a Christian belief is that They should be concerned with glorifying God at every opportunity, which would include their giving a good impression of how they dress.

So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. ( Bible Corinthians 10:31)

Dressing immodestly, provocatively, or in a way designed to draw undue attention to ourselves would detract from our worship and possibly reflect badly on God’s name, leading to it being “spoken of abusively.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.(Titus 2:3–5)

Christians Beliefs that The Bible stresses the importance of how to dress their heart. They need to let go of the things they once idolized, putting on the garments of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Colossians 3:12). If they concern themselves with this first and foremost, they will humbly and compassionately be able to discern what to wear to church every week.

“A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.
Then the Bible speaks of attire for worship. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Another Bible verse:

But every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. (1 Corinthians 11:5–10)

Islamic Perspective About Clothing:

Islam is a complete code of life, each and every aspect of religion Islam is designed by our Creator to lead happy and healthy communities by easing the path to eternal happiness in Paradise forever. In Islam, Clothes are a blessing and a favor from Allah.

“And abstain from all sins, internal or external.” (Quran, 6: 120)

The dressing is important in Islam because one’s appearance creates certain messages in peoples’ minds when seen. Indeed, Islam does not require Muslims to wear a certain type of clothing. Allah mentions this fact in the Holy Qur’an expressing his favor for mankind.

“O Children of Adam! We have sent down upon you a dress which may conceal your shameful parts and sent down feathers (or splendid garments) and the dress of piety (Taqwa) that is the best of all.” (Quran 7, Verse 26)

The first dress ever worn by a human on earth was leaves. As can be seen in the words of the glorious Qur’an:

“And when they tasted the forbidden tree, their private parts become exposed and they began to cover themselves with leaves.” (Quran, 7: 22)

Allah is mentioning in this Qur’an verse about the story of Hazrat Adam and eve that when Allah had forbidden them to go near that particular tree, they committed an act that had been forbidden by Allah; their satr (private parts) became visible. So in an act of modesty, they began to cover themselves with leaves.

“When Allah admitted Aadam to Paradise, He clothed him with a garment of the nail, and when Adam committed the sin, Allah withdrew from him the garment and it [the garment] remained only on the tip of his nails.”

He also said:

“The original clothing of Adam was nailed like feathers are to birds, and when he disobeyed his Lord, his clothing was dropped and the nails were left (for him) as an adornment and to benefit from.”

He further said:

“The tree from which Allah forbade Adam and his wife, may Allah exalt their mention, to eat was the spikenard, and when they ate from it, their nakedness appeared and it was their nails that covered their nakedness.”

These statements were reported by Ibn ‘Abbaas Ibn Abu Haatim, ‘Abdur-Razzaq, ‘Abd ibn Humayd and Ibn Al-Munthir, and others However, this was not reported by the Prophet as far as we know. Finally, it should be noted that investigating this matter does not yield any benefit.

Why Adam and Eve covered up when their private parts were exposed:

The permissibility of each spouse to look at the ‘Awrah (parts of the body that must be covered in Islam) of the other does not mean that they would stay without clothes if their ‘Awrah is disclosed for any reason as it happened to our noble parents [Aadam and Eve], may Allah exalt their mention.

Allah Says (what means): {…their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten together over themselves from the leaves of Paradise.} [Quran 7:22]

Indeed, it is inappropriate for a person to remain naked without a need even in front of a person (spouse) who is permitted to look at him/her in this condition.

“The verse is evidence that it is abominable to show the ‘Awrah and that Allah obligated them [Aadam and Eve] to cover their private parts and it is for this reason that they endeavored to cover it.”

Besides, Al-Waahidi said:

“They were stripped of their garments; so, each one of them saw the ‘Awrah of the other, so they became ashamed.”

By referring to an important aspect of Adam and Eve’s story, the attention of the people of Arabia in those days (Before Islam) was drawn to the evil influence of Satan upon their lives. Under Satan’s influence, they had begun to see dress merely as a shield of protection against the inclemencies of the weather and as a means of adornment.

Children of Adam! Let not Satan deceive you in the manner he deceived your parents out of Paradise, pulling off from them their clothing to reveal to them their shame. He and his host surely see you from whence you do not see them. We have made Satan the guardians of those who do not believe.(Quran 7:27)

This verse brings into focus several important points. First, the need to cover oneself is not an artificial urge in man; rather it is an important dictate of human nature. Unlike animals, God did not provide man with the protective covering that He provided to animals. God rather endowed man with the natural instincts of modesty and bashfulness. Moreover, the private parts of the body are not only, related to sex, but also constitute ‘sawat’ that is, something the exposure of which is felt to be shameful. Also, God did not provide man with a natural covering in response to man’s modesty and bashfulness but has inspired in him see ( Quran 7 verse 26 which I already mentioned above)the urge to cover himself. This is in order that man might use his reason to understand the requirements of his nature, use the resources made available by God, and provide himself a dress.

And when such people commit an indecent act they say: ‘We found our fathers doing that, and Allah has enjoined it on us.17 Say: ‘Surely Allah never enjoins any indecency.18 Do you say things regarding Allah that you do not know?’(Quran 7:28)

This refers to the pre-Islamic Arabian practice of circumambulating around the Ka’bah in stark nakedness. The people of those days thought that nakedness during circumambulation had been enjoined by God. The simple and succinct Qur’anic statement that ‘Allah never enjoins any, indecency’ (verse 29)stands as the overwhelming argument against many false beliefs that were entertained by the people of Arabia. For a fuller appreciation of this argument the following points should be kept in mind:

Say to them (O Muhammad): ‘My Lord enjoins justice; and that you set your faces aright at the time of every Prayer; and that you call upon Him, exclusively dedicating your faith to Him. You shall return to Him as you were created.( Quran 7:29)

The verse seeks to suggest that God has nothing to do with their foolish rituals. So far as the religion truly prescribed by Him is concerned, its fundamental principles are the following:

A party He has guided to the Right Way, and for another party straying is justly its due for they have taken satans, rather than Allah, as their guardians, even though they think that they are rightly-guided. Children of Adam! Take your adornment at every time of Prayer;20 and eat and drink without going to excesses. For Allah does not like those who go to excess. (Quran 7:30-31)

The word zina which occurs in this verse refers to full and proper dress. While performing Prayer people are required not only to cover the private parts of their body but also to wear a dress that serves the two-fold purpose of covering and giving one a decent appearance.

“Children of Adam, wear your best clothes to every mosque.” (Holy Quran, 7:31)

Islam requires that clothing must also be loose enough to cover the body properly therefore, skin-tight and see-through clothes are not allowed in Islam. So, Muslims both men and women are required to dress modestly. However, Muslim women have special clothes which they sometimes choose to wear in order to protect their modesty. Allah has permitted people to wear nice clothes and put on a good appearance, as doing so is one aspect of remembering Allah’s blessings upon them.

“Say, ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants and the good things, clean and pure, which Allah has provided for them?’ Say, ‘They are [lawful] for the believers in the present life but they shall be exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.’ Thus, We explain Our signs for people who understand.” (Holy Quran, 7:32)

It considers all types of clothing lawful as long as such clothing serves the required purposes without exceeding the bounds set by Islam. However, the great influence of culture and the many different modes of dress can make people forget that they must cover their bodies except for their face and hands. Muslims are required to cover their private parts with appropriate clothing.

“Children of Adam! We have sent down clothing to you to conceal your private parts.” (Holy Quran7:26)

It is also prohibited to wear clothing that involves dressing like or imitating the opposite sex, imitation of the dress traditionally worn by non-Muslims, or clothing of religious significance, such as the types of clothing or jewelry worn by monks and priests.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No one who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Someone said, “But a man loves to have beautiful clothes and shoes.”

The Prophet said, “Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.” Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 91

Muslim women in particular wear particular types of clothes that exhibit their Islamic identity. But she must ensure that her clothing does not resemble that of men and vice-versa nor should the clothing resemble the peculiar dress of the disbelievers. If traditional Islamic clothes are localized, then a universal standard of Muslim clothing can emerge and be worn by Muslim women wherever they are.

“O Prophet (PBUH) Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw over them their cloaks (veils). That in the least so that they be recognized and not be molested.” (Quran 33, Verse 59)

In another verse Allah Says;

“And remain within you homes and do not make an exhibition (of yourselves) like the displays (of the immoral women) of former times of ignorance.”(Quran 33, Verse 33)

The Prophet Muhammad ( PBUH) has given a warning against wearing transparent clothing which makes the body visible or light clothing that emphasizes or highlights the figure of the body.

“Many women are clothed but naked in reality. Such women will never enter paradise nor will they smell its fragrance.”

Even transparent and netted scarves are worn to deliberately display hair and parts of the body. Women who wear transparent or tight-fitting clothing should reflect on The Prophet Muhammad ( PBUH)’s remark that such women are in fact naked!. How shameful indeed to remain naked in this world and as a consequence, they won’t even smell the fragrance of paradise.

“Allah is Beautiful, He loves beauty” [Muslim].

And dressing well itself is not considered as arrogance. A hadith from ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah blesses him), that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said,

“No one who has an atom’s-weight of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise”

A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, what if a man likes his clothes and his shoes to look good?” He PBUH said,

“Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people” ( Saheeh Muslim)

The most important points in the Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad PBUH regarding dressing are:

  1. The clothes should conceal the body adequately.
  2. They should impart dignity and good looks.
  3. They should not fail to satisfy the requirements of adequate concealment of the body.
  4. Nor should they be so ugly and clumsy that instead of enhancing beauty, they mar the wearer’s appearance.

Final Thoughts:

The interaction between religion, culture, and dress is fascinating. The dress can be a window into the social world, which is bound by a tacit set of rules, customs, conventions, and rituals that guide face-to-face interaction. From amongst the infinite bounties of Allah, clothes are also a great bounty and one should wear them and express thanks.

“Whomsoever utters the following supplication after wearing clothes, all his past sins will be forgiven- All praises are due to Allah who clothed me with this and which He bestowed upon me without any toil and effort on my part.”

The main purpose of this discussion is to encourage true believers of Allah to act upon the divine ordinances of Allah and to be concerned about the spiritual and physical reformation of all of us. And also shared both Islamic and Christianity beliefs and views regarding clothing, you can easily know about them and most importantly I wanted to clear those misconceptions about Islam and its beliefs and rules regarding clothing. I believe these points will help.

“And Only Allah gives divine guidance and He is the True Helper.”

There are many other things that I would like to share with you in my next posts like Dress codes and religious rules and many more. Please be in touch with me here to learn more amazing content.

I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective and until next time, keep reflecting.

Thank you for reading!

Finally, I pray to Allah to benefit those who read this article and others, grant me truthfulness in what I say and do, preserve my thoughts and my pen from deviation and guide me in all my affairs.

And all praise and thanks are due to Allah, without Whose help and guidance nothing can be accomplished. May Allah bless you with happiness, success, guidance, health, and knowledge. May Almighty Allah give us the strength to follow the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and make us part of the group who is among the most righteous! Ameen.

Be patient with yourself. And Keep learning!!

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Raja Muhammad Mustansar Javaid

Raja Muhammad Mustansar Javaid

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Writer | network engineer | Traveler | Biker | Polyglot. I’m so deep even the ocean gets jealous