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Blend In or Stand Out?

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Imagine two women, dressed in identical clothing, yet one woman is receiving sin through wearing this clothing, while the other is acquiring reward. The reason? When donning the clothing, one woman made the intention to conceal her body, to show appreciation to Allah Ta‘ala for the blessing of clothing by wearing it, and to look attractive before her husband. Hence, on account of her good intentions, she acquires reward.

Conversely, the motive of the other woman was to admire herself, outshine another person, draw glances of envy, turn heads and attract compliments. Hence, since her evil intentions were self-admiration, to show off before people and to look down at others, she incurs sin.

Outwardly, both women appear alike, but inwardly and in reality, they are worlds apart from one another.

As previously discussed, one of the guidelines regarding clothing is that it must not be worn for show, ostentation, boasting and to flaunt before others. Hence, while a Muslim will always dress in a neat, clean and tidy manner, he will never try to stand out from the crowd.

Unfortunately, society today promotes the exact opposite with slogans such as, “Why blend in when you were born to stand out?” Thus, in an effort to stand out, people devotedly follow the latest fashions and styles of the disbelievers, or even worse – they wear clothing that completely contradicts the accepted norms and is regarded as absolutely outrageous.

Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “The person who wears clothing of fame in this world (i.e. he wears a particular item of clothing for the purpose of standing out), Allah Ta‘ala will dress him in clothing of disgrace on the Day of Qiyaamah, and thereafter he will be made to burn in that clothing.” (Sunan Ibni Maajah #3607)

Likewise, it is also reported that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) prohibited the Ummah from wearing clothing that stands out due to being ‘ugly’ (i.e. it is outrageous and shocking in its appearance e.g. the current style of torn and ripped clothing). (Tabraani - Majma‘uz Zawaaid #8669)

Similarly, just as clothing should not be worn to stand out and gain attention, clothing should not be worn with pride and self-admiration.

On one occasion, Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) donned some new clothing and then began to admire it. Her father, Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said to her, “What are you looking at? Allah Ta‘ala is not looking at you (with mercy at this moment. i.e. this action of yours has caused you to be deprived of the special mercy of Allah Ta‘ala). Do you not know that when self-admiration over the adornments of this world enters a servant’s heart, then his Rabb (Allah Ta‘ala) becomes extremely displeased with him until he separates from that adornment?” Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) possessed such sincerity and eagerness to please Allah Ta‘ala that as soon as she heard this, she removed the clothing and gave it in sadaqah (charity). (Hilyatul Awliyaa vol. 1, pg. 69)

In conclusion, it is vital for one’s intention to be correct when wearing clothing, just as one’s clothing itself needs to be correct (as discussed in previous articles). If one’s intention is correct, then wearing clothing will become an act of ‘ibaadah, but if the intention is incorrect, it will become a means of incurring sin.