Q: Is it permissible for a Muslim to wear a tie?
A: The answer to this question lies in understanding the origin of the tie. We know that previously there was a concept of the tie being a symbol of the cross, and that it originated from the cross of the Christians. However, as much research as can be done on this subject, there is no trace of this concept at all; there is no reference in historical works suggesting that the tie originated from the sign of the cross. Instead, all available sources indicate that the necktie originated from the Croation soldiers in the sixteenth century. These men wore a piece cloth tied loosely around their necks as part of their traditional dress. When these soldiers came to France, the French were so impressed by this innovative form of dress and that this idea of a ‘neck-cloth’ was immediately taken up by the French. Gradually, over the centuries, the English adopted the practice of wearing a cloth around the neck. With the passing of time this cloth or bandana was modified into different shapes and sizes, and even colours to represent one’s country or nation. In certain sectors it became associated with individuality and self-expression. Men would also wear neckties to keep their necks warm, or to cover their mouths from the dust, especially soldiers in battle.
Soon the practice of a tie spread from Europe to the Americas. in 1864 Germany and America began manufacturing the modern version of ties and even patented the product. There is consensus of opinion that the tie had developed into a traditional or cultural dress among the west, as has the shirt and trouser. It is for this reason that today participants in formal gatherings, office workers and officials, all are required to sport a tie when attending functions or work. Wearing of the tie is not confined to any religious group
THE ISLAMIC POSTION ON THE TIE
Based on the above, we can safely say that the tie does not represent the cross, is not a symbol of the cross, and does not resemble the cross in any way. The tie has absolutely no religious representation. It will, therefore, be permissible for Muslims to wear the tie under certain conditions. Since the tie has become a formal and traditional dress of the West, and because Shariah discourages Muslims from wearing clothing that serve no purpose and are merely donned for fashion, it will be Makrooh to wear the tie. In other words, it would be preferable and rewarding NOT to wear it where possible.
If work policy demands that a Muslim should wear a tie to work, it will be permissible to do so. However, those Muslims who are not required by any formal policy to wear the tie but still do so purely out of imitation of the West and believing the tie to be a symbol of respectability and stature, then this will be sinful and impermissible. For example, a Muslim attending a Nikah dons the suit and tie for this function; this will not be permissible for there is no need to wear the tie to a nikah. Wearing the tie under such circumstances shows that the Muslim has added to his ensemble a culture of the kuffar and believes such a mode of dress to be a form of status and respect. Allah Ta’ala states in the Holy Quran:
What, do they seek respect by them (the disbelievers)? Undoubtedly, all respect belongs to Allah! (Surah Nisaa (4) verse, 139) This means that dignity comes from adopting the rules and regulations of Allah.
Islam allows wearing non-Muslim attire out of necessity, such as the shirt and the trouser, but does not permit its followers to adopt the culture of the kuffar and believe in their values and traditions. When this happens, the whole concept becomes haraam. The Messenger of Allah said: “That person does not belong to us who practices on the ways of others (besides Muslims)” (Tabarani) Hazrat Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) used to warn people: Abstain from the customs of foreigners (that is non-Muslims).
To summarize: It is permissible to wear a tie if this is demanded by work policy, school regulations, or other formal situations. Beside the above situations, one is not allowed to wear the tie, not because it has any association with the cross, but because adopting this unnecessary piece of attire as part of one’s dress code displays an inclination towards Western culture and tradition. And this is something we Muslims are instructed to avoid.
And Allah knows best