Fashion In ISLAM

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Introduction: What Influences What We Wear?

Clothing worn by all people is influenced by the climate, available materials, and cultural traditions which include social status, group identity, and religion.

Climate: People living in a desert environment often covered up in loose clothing to protect themselves from the sun and to keep cool. White clothing was cooler than dark clothing in the sunlight. And head coverings were important for protection against the sun, too.

Fabrics: Five main fabrics were available for clothing. Cotton was a cool fabric. In winter or in cold environments, clothing was commonly made of wool. Camel hair was also woven into clothing for cold weather. Some clothing was made from plant fibers called linen. Silk was imported from China or Persia and was very expensive, so only the rich could afford it.

Traditions, status, and group identity: Cultural traditions were also important in style of clothing. There were many differences in clothing throughout the medieval Islamic World. In each culture, clothing showed the social status of its people. Married and unmarried women might wear different clothing or head coverings. Young girls would not be required to wear the clothing of older girls nearing the age of marriage and married women may wear another style of clothing. Rich and poor, educated and uneducated, military or civilian might wear different styles of clothing which showed who they were and their occupation or status. Clothing worn out in public would be very different from clothing worn in the home, especially for women. (Long before Islam, Arab women were usually kept away from mixed society. A Muslim student, a scholar or judge would wear appropriate clothing showing his religious status. An older man would have a beard while a younger man might not. And a slave would wear very different clothing than a master. Moreover, clothing was also part of a tribal or group identity. People from one tribe, village, or culture traditionally wore one type of clothing to show their group membership. Finally, clothing would differ as to the situation one was in. Clothing while doing hard farm work, for example, would be different from clothing when going to a mosque.

Influence of Islam: But there were also similarities that were dictated by the Qur'an. The Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad had much influence on the clothing of all medieval Muslims. As Islam spread across its vast empire, traditional clothing styles were affected by the requirements of Islam.


(or Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad): Volume 7, Book 72, Number 720: The Prophet said, "There is none who wears silk in this world except that he will wear nothing of it in the Hereafter." [beyond the size from the middle to the index fingers - this is addressed to men]. Volume 7, Book 72, Number 722: ... Allah's Apostle said, 'Gold, silver, silk and Dibaj (a kind of silk) are for them (unbelievers) in this world and for you (Muslims) in the hereafter.' ... Volume 7, Book 72, Number 816: The Prophet said, "Allah has cursed the lady who artificially lengthens (her or someone else's) hair and the one who gets her hair lengthened and the one who tattoos (herself or someone else) and the one who gets herself tattooed"... Book 32, Number 4038: The Prophet forbad men putting silk at the hem of their garments like the Persians, or putting silk on their shoulders like the Persians.) Read more hadith on clothing.

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