What is the Ruling on the Garment below the Ankles (Isbal)?

Question:

There are undoubtledly numerous hadeeth that discourage letting the garment hang below the ankles. My question is,what is the shafi’i view concerning this, is it haraam? or is the hukm (ruling) only applied if it is done out of pride? Jazaakumullah

Answer:

الحمد لله رب العالمين ، وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين، وبالله التوفيق

The mu’tamad (relied-upon) view of the Shafi’i school is that it is Haram to have the garment fall below the ankles if done out of arrogance, haughtiness, or pride, but that it is disliked (makruh) if done without pride. The following authoritative quotes expound upon this verdict.

Imam An-Nawawi (Rahmatullah ‘alayh) comments on the following hadith in his Sharh of Sahih Muslim:

أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ‏ ‏صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ‏ ‏قَالَ ‏ ‏لَا يَنْظُرُ اللَّهُ إِلَى مَنْ جَرَّ ثَوْبَهُ ‏ ‏خُيَلَاءَ ‏

“Verily Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Allah will not look to whomever drags his garment out of khuyala‘ (pride, boast, arrogance).”1

وَأَنَّهُ لَا يَجُوز إِسْبَاله تَحْت الْكَعْبَيْنِ إِنْ كَانَ لِلْخُيَلَاءِ , فَإِنْ كَانَ لِغَيْرِهَا فَهُوَ مَكْرُوه , وَظَوَاهِر الْأَحَادِيث فِي تَقْيِيدهَا بِالْجَرِّ خُيَلَاء تَدُلّ عَلَى أَنَّ التَّحْرِيم مَخْصُوص بِالْخُيَلَاءِ , وَهَكَذَا نَصَّ الشَّافِعِيّ عَلَى الْفَرْق كَمَا ذَكَرْنَا , وَأَجْمَع الْعُلَمَاء عَلَى جَوَاز الْإِسْبَال لِلنِّسَاءِ , وَقَدْ صَحَّ عَنْ النَّبِيّ صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْإِذْن لَهُنَّ فِي إِرْخَاء ذُيُولهنَّ ذِرَاعًا . وَاللَّه أَعْلَم .

“And it is not permissible to lower [the garment and the turban] below the ankles if done out of arrogance. And if it is done out of other than arrogance, than it is makruh (disliked), and the apparent meanings of the  narrations that discuss letting the garments down below the ankles are in reference to it being done out of arrogance. And there is a nass (legal proof) from Imam Ash-Shafi’i that states he made a distinction between the two cases. And there is consensus (ijma‘) of the ‘Ulama’ that it is permissible for women to let their garments down (Isbal). And it is authentic from the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) that he gave permission to the women in lowering their garments and arms length. And Allah Knows Best!”

He continues saying that is Mustahabb (recommended) to have the garment hang at the shin due to the hadith of Ibn Sa’d,

إِزَارَة الْمُؤْمِن إِلَى أَنْصَاف سَاقَيْهِ , لَا جُنَاح عَلَيْهِ فِيمَا بَيْنه وَبَيْن الْكَعْبَيْنِ , مَا أَسْفَل مِنْ ذَلِكَ فَهُوَ فِي النَّار

“The garment of the Mu’min is at the middle of his shin, there is no blame upon him in what is between that and his ankles, but what is below that is in the fire!”

فَالْمُسْتَحَبّ نِصْف السَّاقَيْنِ , وَالْجَائِز بِلَا كَرَاهَة مَا تَحْته إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ , فَمَا نَزَلَ عَنْ الْكَعْبَيْنِ فَهُوَ مَمْنُوع . فَإِنْ كَانَ لِلْخُيَلَاءِ فَهُوَ مَمْنُوع مَنْع تَحْرِيم , وَإِلَّا فَمَنْع تَنْزِيه

The Mustahabb (recommended) view is that it should be  at the middle of the shin, and it is permissible, without it being disliked for it to be to the ankles, and what is below the two ankles then it is prohibited (mamnu’). If it is done out of arrogance then it is mamnu‘ with the prohibition being of a Haram ruling, and if it is not done out of arrogance then it is suggestively prohibited (tanzih).

Imam An-Nawawi (rahmatullah ‘alayh Allah’s Mercy be upon him) also states in Rawdh. At.-T.alibin,

“It is Harām to lengthen the thobe (garment) below the ankles if done out of khuyalā’ (arrogance, pride, haughtiness). It is Makrūh (disliked) if done out of other than Khuyalā’. There is no difference regarding that (i.e. isbāl and its ruling) in the case of Salāh or any other situation. The Sirāwīl and the Izār (waist garment) take the hukm (ruling) of the thobe.”

The Imām of the Sunnah, the authority of the Shāfi’īyya, Al-Khatīb Ash-Shirbīnī (rahimahullāh) states in his Al-Mughnī Al-Muhtāj ilā Ma’rifat Mā’ānī Alfāth. Minhāj,

“It is harām to let the tassels down, as letting it down is fāhish (an evil), and letting the thobe (garment) down as well past the ka’bayn (ankles) out of khuyalā’ [is harām]. And that is makrūh (disliked) out of other than that (i.e. if not done out of khuyālā’).”

In the medieval ages nobility & the rich wore their clothes below their ankles out of haughtiness and pride. It is for this reason that Islam forbids such an act. For no person is better than another except by taqwa (piety), and no one knows who is truly more righteous than another save the controller of the hearts, the creator of all, Allah (the exalted). Indeed, Islam completely forbids arrogance and anything related to it.

The prohibition of lowering one’s garment below the ankles, dragging it upon the earth, stems from a Qur’anic verse that states,

وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الْأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولًا

“And walk not upon the earth with conceit and arrogance!” [17:37]

And also,




وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ

“And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily Allah does not like any arrogant boaster.” (31:18)

The Beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) said,

“One who holds an atoms weight of kibr (arrogance) within his heart will not enter paradise.” [Sahih Muslim]

He defined kibr (arrogance) as,

“Rejecting the truth and Looking down upon the people.” [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim]

He (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) also warned,

“Shall I inform you of (the characteristics) of the people of hell? It is the violent, impertinent & proud person.” [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim from Harithah ibn Wahb]

In Sahih Al-Bukhari the Imam has a chapter titled باب من جر إزاره من غير خيلاء The chapter on Whomever lets his garment down below his ankles without it being from pride.

In this chapter Imam Al-Bukhari records the following narration from the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam),

‏عَنْ النَّبِيِّ ‏ ‏صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ‏ ‏قَالَ ‏ ‏مَنْ جَرَّ ثَوْبَهُ ‏ ‏خُيَلَاءَ ‏ ‏لَمْ يَنْظُرْ اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ قَالَ ‏ ‏أَبُو بَكْرٍ ‏ ‏يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ أَحَدَ شِقَّيْ إِزَارِي يَسْتَرْخِي إِلَّا أَنْ أَتَعَاهَدَ ذَلِكَ مِنْهُ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ ‏ ‏صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ‏ ‏لَسْتَ مِمَّنْ يَصْنَعُهُ ‏ ‏خُيَلَاءَ ‏

The Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,

“Allah will not look, on the day of Judgment, at the person who drags his garment (behind him) out of conceit!” On that Abu Bakr (radiya Allahu ‘anhu) said, ‘Oh Rasulullah! One side of my Izar hangs low if I do not take care of it.” The Prophet said to him, “You are not one of those who do that out of conceit!”

There is yet another narration from Abu Bakra in Sahih Al-Bukhari, within the same chapter mentioned above, where the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)

‏ ‏فقام يجر ثوبه مستعجلا حتى أتى المسجد

‘got up dragging his garment (on the ground) hurriedly till he reached the Masjid. [It was the eclipse prayer.]

Yet there are also authentic narrations such as in the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah where the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) ordered Ibn ‘Umar to raise his garment above his ankles and to his shin, while we certainly know that he was not doing such out of arrogance. The Shafi’i view reconciles these reports and holds it to be disliked to let the garment below the ankles without arrogance, and absolutely forbidden if done out of pride.

والله  أعلموالله  أعلم

And Allah  Knows Best

Shafiifiqh.com Fatwa Department

  1. Sahih Muslim hadith electronic number 3887, Imam An-Nawawi explains the words ‘will not look to whomever’ i.e. ‘will not look upon him with Allah’s Mercy – Rahmah. []