Traditional Muslim Clothing

on Friday, July 5, 2013

The world is divided into countries, nations, communities, cultures, civilizations, and religions. Each of these entities has their own norms and traditions. Islam, in the same way, has distinctive traditional history and practices when it comes to dressing. The traditional Muslim clothing differentiates Muslims from all the other nations and communities.

Most striking feature of traditional Muslim clothing is its ability to cover up. It is not meant to make men and women look provocative; rather Islamic clothes promote modesty and simplicity. Despite “the-lesser-the-clothes-the prettier-you-are” concept; Islam encourages garments that conceal the attractiveness of the human body. In order to keep the society in perfect harmony and free of sexual offences; these principles of Islam are extremely supportive.

Before Islam, nations (the whole world generally and the Arabian Peninsula specifically) were indulged in unethical practices that threw them below civilization. The circumambulation of Kaaba was usually done being naked, and women were used to wear provocative dresses. Islam put an end to all such practices and introduced humility and simplicity in the Arabian society. Women began to cover themselves up in huge shawls that even covered their faces; whereas men started to wear modest clothes that did not expose their bodies.

Traditional Muslim clothing for women has always been one of these few things: a long shirt that drops till the ankles; a knee length shirt and ankle-length skirt/salwar (trouser); a loose clothing etc. Muslim women in Africa are usually seen wearing loose long gowns and turbans. Indonesian and Malaysian Muslim women wear western clothes (skirts, jeans, pants) with scarves on their heads; they are perhaps the most colourfully dressed nations. Same is the case with American and European Muslim women who wear long skirts and pants/jeans along with headscarves. Asian Muslim ladies wear salwar/qamees with “dupatta (a long piece of cloth used as a shawl)”, or trousers.

In the same way, the traditional Muslim clothing for men also varies from region to region. Arabs are used to wearing loose ankle-length gown called “dishdasha” or “thobe”. It is usually white in colour, loose fitted, long simple gown. Their heads are covered with “keffiyeh”; a scarf like headdress. Men in America and Europe wear typical western dresses. In South Asia, Muslim men dress up in Salwar/qamees, qamees/tehband (a wide sheet used to wrap the lower body), and kurta/pajama. Their headdress includes caps, hats, and scarves.

Allah has prohibited Muslims from dressing up like non-Muslims. Scholars say that it doesn’t mean Muslims mustn’t wear pants and t-shirts; rather this applies on such clothing which is specific to non-Muslims. For instance; Muslims are required to avoid wearing Cross (specific to Christianity), Kippah (the Jewish hat), orange coloured typical dress (specific to Hindus), Bindi (specific to Hindu women), and the specific turban that Sikhs wear.

Also, Allah is not pleased when women dress up as men and vice-versa. This is because both of them have different requirements of body concealment. Instead of making excuses for non-obedience, we must accept Allah’s orders as they are because He is our Creator; He knows what is in our best interest and what may harm us.

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