Dress Code and Related Matters
FRIDAY FOCUS: G R MALIK
For a long time, a learned friend has been raising relevant queries about Islam’s dress code and related matters. The writer of these lines is not, by any stretch of imagination, a mufti nor is he qualified for that job. He is, on the other hand, a humble student of, among other things, Islam because Islam is his faith. In the circumstances the best one can do is to share with others what can broadly be said in principle about the matter in question.
Matters of dress, food, social customs and cultural rites and rituals are largely determined by climatic, geographical, historical and cultural factors of a certain region and are Islamically all right as long as their observance does not clash with any fundamental principle of Islam or imply the violation of a clear commandment or prohibition. Take the question of food. Rice is the staple food of Kashmir as wheat is that of the Punjab, for instance, and since both are lawful, one can eat them in any form or type of preparation. If one kills an animal, declared as halal by Islam, and kills it in the way prescribed by Islam, he can then have it in any form of dish. People of a region where the camel is found in abundance will naturally eat camel’s flesh just as dates and milk may be their common food if their region naturally produces these things. Customs relating to birth, marriage, death and other social occasions are Islamically quite lawful as long as they a) do not smack of shirk (polytheism) in any way, b) do not bear resemblance to practices symbolic of non-Islamic cults, a phenomenon known as tashabbhu bi-alkufr and c) do not violate any express commands of Islam such as the command of circumcision in respect of boys and prohibition of needless and extravagant spending. Declaring even those social customs as unlawful which do not violate , in any way, these conditions, simply because they are not in vogue, in a certain place or historical epoch runs counter to the universal and dynamic nature of Islam and the Prophetic commandment that we should make religion easy and not hard and difficult. In the presence of such stupid champions, Islam is not in need of any enemies.
About dress code again some people disregard the essentially dynamic and flexible spirit of Islam. After what the shariah has clearly forbidden, all dresses peculiar to a region and cultural ambience are Islamic dresses. For men, for example, Islam has forbidden gold and silk and prescribed what parts of the body are to be covered. Similarly women have to observe hijab and wear loose, modest and non-transparent dresses and not decorate and perfume themselves for non-mahrams. After this any dress in accord with the climatic and socio-cultural requirements of a place is all right. The resident of a hot region may use a qamees and a dhoti whereas that of a cold region will use woollens stitched and sewn in whichever form as long as it is in conformity with the convenient discharge of Islamic duties. To insist that all men should wear one single uniform amounts to prescribing the food of a single region for all regions disregarding the demands of climate, weather, culture and history. Unfortunately this is what some people seem to recommend with or without saying it in clear words. Such a thing implies a disservice to Islam. Islam’s greatest quality is its universality and practicability in all kinds of setting. It is not a stagnant type of Fascist religion which would curb and kill all individual variety and regional and cultural differences; it is the deen al-fitrah – natural religion par excellence – whose spirit can be realized in all possible space-time frameworks and ever-changing phases of human evolution.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 6 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 6 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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