By Mufti Khalid Saifullah Al-Rahmani
Translated by Shaykh Yusuf Badat
The Islamic law does not limit its followers in wearing a specific colour. Islam respects the preferences and temperaments of humans. Hence, Islamic jurists (fuqahā) state, “There is no objection in any colour of clothing” (al-Durr al-Mukhtār).
The Prophet’s (peace and blessings upon him) Preference: White and Black
It is known from narrations that white was liked by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him).
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said,
“Wear white clothing and shroud your deceased in it” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawūd).
The very same point is also narrated by Hasan Ibn Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) (see Majma’ Al-Zawā’id and Al-Bazzār).
The use of white clothing is evident from the prevalent habit of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) (Bukhāri). It is for this reason, Islamic jurists have established the istihbāb (recommendation) of the white colour in clothing. They state, “White is mustahab (recommended)” (al-Durr al-Mukhtār).
Subsequent to white, the black colour was preferred by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him). On the day of the victory of Makkah, a black turban was on the Prophet’s (peace and blessings upon him) head (Tirmidhi). The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) also gifted Umm Khalid a black garment (Bukhāri). This is why the Islamic jurists have also regarded the black colour in clothing as mustahab (recommended) just as white is.
It should be noted that the use of black clothing to mourn and express grief for the deceased is not permissible:
“Wearing black coloured clothing is not permissible with the intent of mourning over the dead” (Fatāwa Ālamgīrī).
Imam Abu Dawūd has narrated from Rimthah (may Allah be pleased with him) that he saw upon the Prophet’s (peace and blessings upon him) body two green coloured sheets (Fath al-Bāri).
Some jurists are of the opinion that green colour garments are one of the sunnahs of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him). They have also stated, “Wearing green is a sunnah” (Rad Al-Muhtār).
Red For Men
As for red clothing, there is somewhat of a difference of opinion.
It becomes evident through some narrations that it is prohibited to wear red clothing, however the reality of the matter is the status of such narrations do not reach that of authenticity by the masters of hadith (muhaddithūn).
On the other hand there are various narrations that denote the permissibility of wearing red. For example,
Barā Ibn ‘Āzib (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates he saw the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) in a red garb. (Bukhāri)
For this reason the commentators of hadith have mentioned eight opinions of jurists and scholars relating to the use of red clothing. They have recorded its permissibility by the scholars of the Māliki, Shāfi’ī and other general schools (Fath al-Bāri, Tuhfat al-Ahwadhī).
The scholars of the Hanafi school have differed regarding this matter. Some state that wearing red is disliked (tanzīhan) while by others it is prohibitively disliked (tahrīman). Imam Abu Hanīfah considered its use [as] mubāh (allowed). As per the verdict of Imam Ibn Nujaym, it is disliked for men when the intent is imitation or resemblance [of] women, disbelievers, or royal arrogance (al-Durr al-Mukhtār).
I believe the statement of Imam al-Tabarī is nearest to the truth – which has also been mentioned by Imam Ibn Hajr – quoted as follows:
“I believe the wearing of clothing in every colour is permissible except that I would dislike the wearing of that garment that is completely red and also the predominantly red outerwear, as this is not the clothing of honourable people in our times. It is always important to consider the practices of the honourable people of every era, as long as there is no sin” (Fath al-Bāri).
The colours that the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) prohibited the men from are dark red dyed clothing (muasfar), saffron colour, and dark yellowish orange (Nayl al-Awtār). The majority jurists are of the opinion that these colours are prohibited for men (al-Durr on Hāmish).
It has been related that Imam Shāfi’ī prohibited the saffron colour for men but permitted dark red dyed colour. Imam Nawawi, elaborating on this, writes [that] the reason for this verdict of Imam Shā’fi’ī is that the narrations regarding the dark red dyed clothing had not reached him. Had they reached him, he would have definitely prohibited them (Sharh al-Muhadhdhab).