For all parts, up to and including this one, click “Ramadan Reflections: The Daily Journey“
Ramadan Reflections – Juz 8
Juz 8 – Surat al-A'raaf
In today's reflection we will spend some time discussing the matter of clothing briefly as it is a subject in the early part of surat al-A'raaf. Allāh states:
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْءَاتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا
وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىَ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ ذَلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ
O Children of Adam! We have bestowed garments (libaasan) upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment (reeshan) for you. But the garment of righteousness – that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allāh, that they may receive admonition! [7:26]
Regarding the meaning of this āyah Ibn Kathir reports, “Allāh reminds His servants that He has given them Libaasan and Reeshan. Libaasan refers to the clothes that are used to cover the private parts, while Reeshan refers to the outer adornments used for purposes of beautification. Therefore, the first type is essential while the second type is complimentary.”
There are numerous benefits to this noble āyah, yet what seems to stand out in this day and age of ours is how some people believe that by wearing the “right” clothes they can rise to the status of taqwa. Although it is certainly an association of Islam to wear “Islamic” clothes, the clothes do not in and of themselves mean anything if there is no internal taqwa, and this is one of the strongest meanings in this noble āyah, “But the garment of righteousness – that is the best”. As a result of misunderstanding on this issue some people have actually begun to associate “Islamic” clothes with people of bad manners, extremism and hatred. So the remainder of the Muslims need to dilute out this effect by applying their deen both inwardly and outwardly, and seek out, as `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam commented in regards to this āyah, “When one fears Allāh, Allāh covers his errors. Hence the `Libaas of Taqwa' (that is mentioned in the āyah).”
Only a few ayaat later, Allāh again speaks of the importance of clothing by saying:
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُواْ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ
O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel to every masjid: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allāh loves not those who waste by extravagance. [7:31]
Ibn `Abbas commented on, “wear your beautiful apparel to every masjid” by saying, “There were people who used to perform Tawaf around the Ka'bah while naked, and Allāh ordered them to take adornment, meaning, wear clean, proper clothes that cover the private parts. People were also commanded to wear their best clothes when performing every prayer.”
I chose this āyah to discuss because it carries the same theme, and because again there is a significant amount of laziness on this issue on the part of many of us. How many a time have we come to the masjid only to see people praying in their wrinkled pajamas or their tight and sweaty work-out clothes and the like. Why should those who disbelieve go to their houses of worship dressed in their “Sunday best” and we come to the houses of Allāh in this manner? Furthermore, this āyah stresses the importance of wearing “proper clothes” as well in the words of Ibn 'Abbaas. A number of brothers appear to forget that the impermissibility of wearing tight clothes is not something only for women. It is embarrassing to see some of the brothers wearing very tight jeans and then making sujood in them as parts of their body that should be hidden become exposed to even a passing person.
Ibn `Abbas (ra) said that the Messenger of Allāh (saas) said, “The best among your clothes are your white clothes, so wrap your dead with it, and also wear it yourselves.” (Sahih – Ibn Majah)
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يدخل الجنة من كان في قلبه مثقال ذرة من كبر . فقال رجل إن الرجل يحب أن يكون ثوبه حسنا ونعله حسنا . قال إن الله تعالى جميل يحب الجمال . الكبر بطر الحق وغمط الناس
And Ibn Mas'ood reported from the Messenger of Allāh (saas) that he said, “Whoever has in his heart a mustard seed's weight of arrogance shall never enter Jannah.” So a man said, “But a man likes to wear good clothes and good shoes (is that arrogance?)”. He (saas) replied, “Indeed Allāh is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance is to reject the truth out of pride and to look down upon the people.” (Muslim)
The second very important matter discussed in this noble āyah is the issue of extravagance in eating and drinking, and what better a time to discuss than Ramadan? Bukhāri collected the statement of Ibn `Abbaas wherein he said, “Eat what you wish and wear what you wish, as long as you avoid two things: extravagance and arrogance.”
This statement reminds one of the common practice that even some Muslims have carried from the ignorant among those who don't believe which is to leave some food always on the plate. This is a sign of excess and arrogance that they have so much that even what is put for them cannot be finished as opposed to the poor who finish what is on their plates. In reality, it has been confirmed in the Sunnah that the Prophet (saas) used to clean his plate and lick his fingers to obtain the blessing from the food. (Note – the hadith that reports that one should lick the plate is weak and provides no basis for such an action)
This was done because one knows not where the blessing is in the food and also as a sign of thanks to Allāh by finishing all that is in the plate and not being wasteful and extravagant. Some evil people though have taken this as a sign of barbarism from the noble Prophet, yet it is the followers of this practice that attain the blessing from their food and the pleasure of their Lord and those who neglect it who shall be counted among the arrogant and wasteful – may Allāh protect us from being among them.
وعن المقدام بن معديكرب رضي الله عنه قال سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول
ما ملأ آدمي وعاء شرا من بطن بحسب ابن آدم أكيلات يقمن صلبه فإن كان لا محالة فثلث لطعامه وثلث لشرابه وثلث لنفسه
And Al-Miqdaam bin Ma`dikarib Al-Kindi (ra) said that he heard the Messenger of Allāh (saas) saying, “The Son of Adam will not fill a pot worse for himself than his stomach. It is enough for the Son of Adam to eat a few bites that strengthen his spine. If he likes to have more, then let him fill a third with food, a third with drink and leave a third for his breathing.” (Sahih – Tirmithi)
So let us remember to follow the Sunnah of RasulAllah this Ramadan and establish it for ourselves for the remainder of the year by choosing our best clothes for all prayers, especially those in the masjid and of all those prayers, especially the Jumu'ah and 'Īd. And let us be sure that our clothes are proper and not revealing of our bodies, whether we be men or women. And lastly, be careful of taking that extra big heaping of extra food at iftaar that will either be thrown away or will fill our stomach so much that we will be drowsy instead of alert in the prayers. And Allāh is the source of all strength, and Allāh knows best.