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Last Updated: 2012/03/08
Summary of question
What color should one wear? What is the ruling on wearing black?
question
Is it Makruh to wear black clothes? What is the ruling on black chadur (long )? How should one choose the right color to wear? Should the colors differ depending on the time, place and occasion?
Concise answer

Wearing different colors is a personal matter, as Islam has allowed Muslims to choose for themselves what colors they wear. However, some guidelines have been mentioned by the Prophet and the Imams in law books pertaining to certain colors.

It has been narrated from Imam Sajjad’s son that when my grandfather, Imam Hussein, was martyred, the women of Bani Hashem would wear black in their mourning gatherings and would continue wearing black in the cold and hot weather.[i]

Shia scholars believe that it is only makruh to wear black for men. This is why some of the maraje’ like Ayatullah Khamenei and Tabrizi have clearly stated that it is not makruh to wear black chadurs, while others have stated that chadur is the best form of hijab.

Also, wearing black in the gatherings of the Ahlul-Bayt is not makruh, but rather has rewards, because it is considered a means of honoring and showing sympathy towards them.

Some of our greatest scholars would always wear black during the gatherings for mourning and were strictly committed to such a custom. Some of them even willed that their black clothes be buried with them as a means of blessing.

 


[i] Al-Bahraani, Al-Hadaa’iq al-Naadhirah fi Ahkaam al-Itrah al-Taahirah, vol. 7, pg. 118.

 

Detailed Answer

Wearing different colors is a personal matter, as Islam has allowed Muslims to choose for themselves what colors they wear. However, some guidelines have been mentioned by the Prophet and the Imams in Islamic law books pertaining to certain colors.

For example, it is understood from some ahadith that it is makruh to wear black.[1] However, this ruling is not general in a way that would apply to both genders and all times and occasions. Instead there are many exceptions to it which follow:

A: It is narrated in a hadith that the Prophet would not wear black with three exceptions: khuff (a type of shoe), ammamah (turban) and kisaa’ (cloak).[2] Taking the hadith of Kisaa’ into consideration, a kisaa’ would be a long clothing that covers all the body and, therefore, also identifies withthe Abaa’ and the chadur that women wear. Therefore, these three forms of black clothing are exceptions to the ruling. Ayatullah Bahjat says: “…It is mentioned in the books of the as’haab (shia faqihs) that wearing certain clothing during prayers is makruh. For example, it is makruh to wear black clothing except for the ammameh, the khuff and the kisaa’.”[3]

B: Black clothing not makruh for women: There is no doubt that the permissible clothing for men and women differs in color and type. For example, wearing clothes made of gold or silk is permissible for women, while it is prohibited for men. According to the ulema, women must cover all of their body except their face and palms, but men are not required to cover their whole body. Similarly, in Hajj it is mustahabb for men to wear the special white clothing for ihram, while women are allowed to use their normal clothing that might not even be white.

None of the jurists believe that wearing black is makruh for women. Instead, many of them have clearly stated that it is either permissible or even mustahabb to do so.

The well-known Shia scholar, the author of Jawaahir al-Fiqh says: “According to many books of shia jurists, wearing black is only makruh for men, because God has commanded a more complete clothing for women when dealing with non-mahrams, and black creates a more complete form of hijab and covering for them.”[4]

Moreover, some of the contemporary jurists and maraji’, like Ayatullah Khamenei and Tabrizi have clearly mentioned that wearing the black chadur is not makruh, while others like Ayatullah Fazel Lankarani state that the chadur is the best form of hijab.[5]

Even the latest research in the field of psychology shows that black is a color that does not attract attention and is not vibrant. This feature of black not only does not have a negative mental effect,[6] but is rather deeply in accordance with the philosophy behind wearing hijab for women, covering their bodies in the presence of non-mahrams and also bringing about peace of mind within the society.

C: Wearing black for mourning not makruh: Wearing black is not makruh when worn to participate in gatherings of mourning for the Ahlul-Bayt. It has been narrated from Imam Sajjad’s son that: “When my grandfather, Imam Hussein, was martyred, the women of Bani Hashem would wear black in their mourning gatherings and would continue wearing black in cold and hot weather.”.[7]

Even when normal people pass away, it is very common amongst religious and even non-religious people to wear black.

Wearing black is a means of remembering the Ahlul-Bayt and honoring them which is clearly encouraged by Islam. In this regard, they have said: “رحم الله من احيا امرنا[8] “May Allah have mercy on the those who uphold our cause.”

Without doubt, when all people, young and old, men and women wear black during the months of Muharram and Safar it reminds everyone of the difficulties and calamities that befell Imam Hussein. The truth of the matter is that Islam has been protected and revived by these two months.

Historians say that after the incident of Karbala, the first group to wear black were the women of the Prophet’s family who did so for a complete year. They mourned to the extent that Imam Sajjad would provide them with food. Throughout history, wearing black in these gatherings has been customary amongst the Shias and the lovers of the Ahlul-Bayt.

Great scholars that would wear black for this purpose would deeply respect and protect their black clothing and would will that the clothing be buried with them as a means of Tabarruk.[9]

Therefore, not only wearing black in these gatherings and especially in Muharram and Safar is not makruh, but rather has great reward, because it is a means of showing sympathy and love for the Ahlul-Bayt. Taking what was said into consideration, making general claims that wearing black is makruh in Islam, is clearly wrong and misguiding.[10] [11]

As far as what colors are appropriate to wear, one must know that clothes are a means of covering the body and protecting it from the heat and cold. It is also a means of beauty and adornment and, therefore, the choice of color is a personal issue that depends on one’s taste, culture, customs and society. However, our Imams have mentioned certain guidelines in regard to some colors which follow:

1- Green:

Green was amongst the colors that the Prophet would prefer to wear.[12]

2- White:

Most of the Prophet’s clothes were white, and he would say: “Choose white clothes for those of you who are alive, as you bury the dead with white too.”[13] Because the Prophet was the greatest role model in terms of cleanliness and paying appropriate attention to his appearance, he would advise people saying: “One who wears clothes must always keep them clean.”[14]

White clothing shows dirtiness quicker and one who follows the Prophet will clean it sooner. Wearing white also brings mental calmness and tranquility.

3- Yellow:

The Prophet had a blanket that was colored with saffron. Sometimes, he would lead prayer wearing it.[15]

On the other hand, there were colors that the Prophet would prefer not to wear, like red.[16] But this does not mean wearing these colors is not permissible.

It is important not to turn the issue of clothing into a means of boasting and showing off or to value one depending on the clothes they wear. To do so shows that we have misunderstood the reason why we wear clothes, and thus, these viewpoints have been sharply negated in Islam.[17]

Imam Hussein says: “Whoever wears Libas Shuhrat (out of the ordinary conspicuous clothing), God will put clothes made of fire on his body on the Day of Judgment.”[18] Therefore, clothes must be accepted by the moderate religious people within the society. Such is also mentioned in a hadith from Imam Sadiq. In response to a person who compared the Imam’s clothing to that of Imam Ali, the Imam said: “Imam Ali would wear the type of clothing that was accepted by the people of his time, and if he lived today, he would not wear the same clothes that he wore back then. Surely, the best clothing of each age is that which is commonly worn (and accepted) by the people of that time.”[19] All of these ahadith illustrate how important one’s clothing is in Islam, as it is a means of covering his body and promoting modesty. As mentioned earlier, the details of one’s clothing can be freely chosen depending on one’s culture, customs, environment and the people he lives with. However, the clothing must be in accordance with the general guidelines of Islam.

 


[1] To learn of these hadiths, please refer to the books: Furu’ al-Kaafi, vol. 2, the book of salat, the chapter on the the clothes it is makruh and not makruh to pray in, pg. 397, Furu’ al-Kaafi, vol. 6, the book of clothing and adornment, the chapter on wearing black, pg. 449; Wasaa’il al-Shiah, vol. 3, the book of salat, the chapters on the clothing of the person praying, chapter 19, the chapter on the wearing of black except for certain cases being makruh; Mustadrak al-Wasaa’il, the same books and chapters.

[2]عدة من اصحابنا عن احمد بن ابي عبدالله عن بعض اصحابه رفعه قال: كان رسول الله يكره السواد الا في ثلاث الخف و العمامة و الكساء”, Furu’ al-Kaafi, vol. 6, the book of clothing and adornment, the chapter on wearing black, hadith 1, pg. 449.

[3] Jami’ al-Masaa’il of Ayatullah Bahjat, vol. 1, pg. 314.

[4] Muhammad Hasan Najafi, Jawahir al-Kalaam fi Sharh Sharaayi’ al-Islaam, vol. 8, pg. 235.

[5] Farhange Islaam Special Edition, Spring 1379 (2000), pg. 7.

[6] Lately, some people, with the goal of opposing hijab, have falsely claimed that wearing black chadors and hijab causes mental and physical disorders such as depression or soft bone disorders. For more information in this regard, refer to

[7] Al-Bahraani, Al-Hadaa’iq al-Naadhirah fi Ahkaam al-Itrah al-Taahirah, vol. 7, pg. 118.

[8] Wasaa’il al-Shi’ah, vol. 12, pg. 20.

[9] See: The virtues of wearing black during the days of mourning for Imam Husayn (AS).

[10] See: Wearing black during the days of mourning for the Ahlul-Bayt (AS).

[11] Index: Black clothing and its ruling, Question 2018 (site: 2060).

[12] Sunan al-Nabiyy, pg. 120, “کان یعجبه الثیاب الخضر”.

[13] Sunan al-Nabiyy, pg. 120, “البسوها احیاكم و كفنوا فیها موتاكم”, Al-Mahajjat al-Baydaa’, vol. 4, pg. 140.

[14] Makaarim al-Akhlaaq, pg. 103, “من اتخذ ثوباً فلینظفه”.

[15] Al-Mahajjat al-Baydaa’, vol. 4, pg. 141.

[16] Sunan al-Nabiyy, pg. 133 (انه کره الحمره فی اللباس).

[17] See: Lebaas va Pushesh dar Sireye Nabavi.

[18]مَنْ لَبِسَ ثَوْباً يَشْهَرُهُ كَسَاهُ اللَّهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ثَوْباً مِنَ النَّار

[19] Al-Kaafi, vol. 6, pg. 445.

 

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