Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
Please assist me in resolving this misunderstanding. A Scholar told me that if you have impurity on your clothes, your salah will be will not be accepted. He claims that this is due to the hadith, which states that Allah does not accept salah without purity.
But it is we, not our clothes, who perform the salah. Our clothes do not define who we are. As a result, impurity on them should not interfere with our salah.
Is my reasoning correct? I agree, however, that praying in impure clothing is extremely sinful.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
There are many reasons why impurity on clothing affects the validity of the prayer. The easiest is that it is a command from Allah Most High directly to His Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) and by extension, to us.
Allah Most High says, “Are your clothing, purify.” [Quran, 74:4]
Secondly there are etiquettes that are either expected (prerequisites to prayer), or encouraged.
Entering the Divine Presence
When one enters the prayer, they are entering in the Divine presence and they are in communion with Allah Most High.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The person in prayer is in communion with their Lord. So let each of you be careful of how they communion with Him.” [Bayhaqi]
This is part of the beauty of the prayer: it is a private connection between a person and their Creator.
Etiquettes of the Meeting
When entering the presence of anyone of a lofty status (and Allah’s example is the ultimate example of this), there are certain etiquettes that are expected. If these etiquettes are abandoned, it is antithetical to the idea behind the intimate meeting.
An example of this is if a top-class computer engineer is invited to the office of the CEO of a major tech-company, and they come to the meeting with a large spaghetti stain from the day before on their suit. The stained clothing does not make them any less of an expert. Despite this the person will likely be made to leave.
This is because there are certain etiquettes that are required and abandoning them is unacceptable.
If this is the reality of a worldly example, then how about a person standing before their Creator.
There are many etiquettes of the prayer. Upholding these etiquettes is a sign of reverence for the prayer and Allah Most High. [Haddad, Book of Assistance]
Upholding these etiquettes is generally recommended; however, certain etiquettes are obligatory. Consider this the minimum requirement of etiquettes for one to be allowed to stand before the Creator of the Heavens and Earth.
Amongst these are the prerequisites of prayer, purity of body, clothing, and place of prayer. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Tahtawi, Hashiyat Maraqi al-Falah]
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani