What Type of Clothing Can We Label as Sunna?

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Question: Assalam’aleykum,

What type of clothing can we label as Sunna?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

The basis of clothing, for men and for women, is that it be modest, and that it cover one’s awra (nakedness) in a loose manner. This can be fulfilled by any clothing, Eastern or Western. What is impermissible is to seek to imitate ways of others (whether disbelievers or corrupt Muslims) that are considered to be symbols of disbelief, corruption, sin, or vice—because the Shariah came to promote their opposites.

Imam Zayn al-Din al-Razi (d. 666 AH), author of the famous dictionary Mukhtar al-Sahah, explained the essential rulings of dress in his beautiful work Tuhfat al-Muluk:

“The levels of clothing

Clothing has three levels:

1. Obligatory. This is covering one’s nakedness, and warding off the harms of heat and cold…

2. Recommended. This is wearing beautiful clothing, in order to look good and adorn oneself, displaying the blessings of Allah.

3. Prohibited. This is dressing out of haughtiness and arrogance.” [Zayn al-Din al-Razi, Tuhftat al-Muluk, 277, Dar al-Basha’ir al-Islamiyya ed.]

Any clothing that fulfills the Islamic legal requirements for dress is minimally sufficient. Anything corresponding to the values recommended by the sunna, such as looseness, modesty, restraint, and dignity, would be considered ‘sunna dress’ in a general sense. Something identifiably ‘Islamic’ is in of itself superior, though other considerations may enter to this depending on one’s circumstances—for this, one should consult with reliable local scholars.

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam,
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