Is there such a thing as “Sunnah Clothing” or “Sunnah Style”?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

One of the modern misconceptions in Islam is the notion that emulating the Beloved Messenger of Allah ﷺ in clothing, adornment and style is not a Sunnah. Proponents of this claim advocate that the clothing and style of adornment of the Messenger ﷺ was merely cultural and not related to the Deen. This claim is not only baseless, it is also in stark contrast to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, as well as the view and understanding of the rightly guided scholars of Islam of the past fourteen centuries.

This Deen is primarily based on two sources, the Quran Majid and the Sunnah of the Nabi ﷺ. Allah said, “And obey Allah and His Messenger, if you are believers.”[1] He also said, “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.”[2]  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “I have left two matters with you. As long as you hold to them, you will not go astray. They are the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.”[3]

For the Sunnah of the Nabi ﷺ we refer to the books of Hadiths. The six canonical books of Hadith, which are known as the Sihah Sittah, are considered the pillars of Islam. Most of the laws of Islam are derived from them.

These six books are of two types:

  1. Al-Jaame’[4]
  2. As-Sunan[5]

They are those books of hadith which deal with legislation and matters of the Deen. They are not books of history or Arab culture. They are books which teach us how to live our lives as Muslims. In each of these books, where they teach us about the laws of worship, business, marriage, divorce, creed and the penal code of Islam, they all have complete books dedicated to the clothing and adornment of our beloved Prophet ﷺ. Why, in books dedicated to teaching the Deen of Allah, did the authors place such large sections concerning the clothing and adornment of our beloved role model ﷺ? The answer is clear and simple, because the clothing and adornment of our Messenger ﷺ is part of our Deen.

  1. Sahih Bukhari
  • One of its main chapters is named “Kitabul Libaas” or “Book of Clothing”.
  • It boasts 88 sub-chapters on clothing and adornment.
  • It comprises of 166 ahadith regarding clothing and adornment.
  1. Sahih Muslim
  • One of its main chapters is named “Kitabul Libaas waz Zinah” or “Book of Clothing and Adornment”.
  • It boasts 35 sub-chapters on clothing and adornment.
  • It comprises of 127 ahadith regarding clothing and adornment.[6]
  1. Sunan Abu Dawud
  • It has 3 main chapters, one named “Kitabul Libaas” or “Book of Clothing”, another named “Kitabut Tarajjul” or “Book of Combing”, and “Kitabul Khatam” or “Book of Rings”.
  • It boasts 73 sub-chapters on clothing and adornment.
  • It comprises of 219 ahadith regarding clothing and adornment.

 

  1. Sunan Tirmidhi
  • One of its main chapters is named “Abwabul Adab” or “Chapters of Etiquettes”.
  • It boasts 32 sub-chapters on clothing and adornment.
  • It comprises of 50 ahadith regarding clothing and adornment.

 

  1. Sunan Nasai
  • One of its main chapters is named “Kitabul Zinah” or “Book of Adornment”.
  • It boasts 123 sub-chapters on clothing and adornment.
  • It comprises of 337 ahadith regarding clothing and adornment.
  1. Sunan Ibn Majah
  • One of its main chapters is named “Kitabul Libaas” or “Book of Clothing”.
  • It boasts 47 sub-chapters on clothing and adornment.
  • It comprises of 106 ahadith regarding clothing and adornment.

Subhaanallah! Each of these pillars of Hadith, collected over a hundred ahadith each concerning the clothing and adornment of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. While Imam Tirmidhi only collected 50 ahadith, which is not a small number, in his ‘Sunan’ he has dedicated a complete book for the clothing, adornment, characteristics, features and style of the beloved Prophet ﷺ called ‘Ash-Shamail Muhammadiyah’. He collected over 400 ahadith in it under 56 headings.

So, dear reader, when we are in love with someone and consider him our role model, we like to emulate them. As Muslims, Allah Ta’ala has blessed us with the best of role models and has protected and safe guarded for us his styles and ways for 14 centuries, so we can follow in his footsteps and gain the pleasure of Allah. Allah Ta’ala said, “(O Muhammad) Say: ‘If you (really) love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’”[7]

Below we have listed the contents for the parts of these books which deal with the subject of clothing, adornment and style. By perusing them, one will realize that the best of role models, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ also came to teach us how to dress and adorn ourselves, men and women alike.

Relevant parts of the Table of Contents from the Sihaah Sittah can be seen at Chapter of Clothing and Adornment.


[1] Surah Al-Anfaal: 1

[2] Surah Al-Ahzab: 21

[3] Collected by Malik in Muatta #2618 and Hakim in Mustadrak Vol.1 Pg.93.

[4] Al-Jaame’ is a book of hadith which comprises of all the chapters related to the Deen. They are grouped into 8 main headings, creed, tafsir, etiquettes, expeditions, laws, signs of the Day of Judgement, fitan and virtues. [Dars Tirmidhi by Usmani Vol.1 Pg.49]

[5] As-Sunan is a book of hadith which is compiled in the sequence of a book of fiqh (law) so they can be a source for the jurist to derive laws. [Taisiru Mustalihil Hadith by Tahhan Pg.209]

[6] Even though Imam Nawawi was the one who named the chapters, Imam Muslim placed them in the order of chapters and has collected over 127 narrations concerning clothing and adornment.

[7] Surah Aal-Imran: 31

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