Every Wednesday, I will share a part of the translation of the book Kitab Al-Kasb (the book of Earning a Livelihood) written by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani.
Part 38: Extravagance and Temperance in the Matter of Clothing.
Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “The matter of clothing is analogous to eating in all that we have mentioned.”
This means that just as it is forbidden to be extravagant and profligate in the matter of eating, so too it is forbidden in the matter of clothing.
The basis in this ruling is what was narrated that the Prophet forbade two notorieties [Documented in al-Suyuti in al-Jami’ al-Saghir]. What is meant here is that one dons the garment of the utmost beauty and good quality in a manner which prompts fingers to point at it, or that one dons a garment of the utmost raggedness in a manner which also prompts fingers to point at it. One of these two extreme cases constitutes extravagance, while the other constitutes niggardliness whereas the best affairs are the moderate ones.
One should therefore at most times wears clothes that are washed clean, without burdening oneself with the good and the new, so as to realize in practice the statement of the Prophet “Shabbiness is part of faith” [Narrated by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, Ahmad and al-Tabarani].
However, there is no harm in donning the best garment one can find during some of the festivals, occasions and congregations, due to what was narrated from the Prophet that he used to have a fennec jubbah gifted to him by al-Muqawqis, and he used to wear it during festivals and (Friday) congregations, while deputations would alight to have audience with him. And it is narrated that the Messenger of Allah used to have a qaba’ hemmed with silk, and he used to wear that on festivals and Friday congregations [Narrated by Muslim]
And furthermore in the donning of those garments on some occasions is the expression of blessing, for the Prophet says, “When Allah bestows His favor on his servant, He loves that its traces are seen on him” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi]. But in troubling oneself with fine garments all the time there is something of the indication of pretentiousness, and that may incite rancor in people who are in need, and hence safeguarding from that is preferable.
Likewise, during winter time, a person should not seek refuge (from the cold) between two or three layers of outer garments if just one suffices him to ward off the cold, for that is galling to needy people, whereas one is prohibited from doing something that causes hurt to others, while his objective (to keep warm) is attained with something that avoids that.
It is better for him to choose coarse garments to wear, in accordance with what has been narrated from ‘Umar that he used to only wear coarse garment. If a person wears a coarse garment in the winter time, and soft garment in the summertime, there is no harm in that, for the coarse wards off from the cold what cannot be warded off by soft garment (used) in summertime, and he requires that protection from the cold during winter time. In contrast, the soft garment dries up perspiration in a manner that cannot be done by coarse garment, and he requires that in the summertime.
And if he wears a soft garment in both winter and summertime, that is also flexible for him, if he earns that the licit way for Allah says, “Say: Who has forbidden the finery of Allah, which Allah has produced for devotees, and wholesome means of subsistence?” [Al-Quran, surah Al-A’raf, verse 32].
Just as what we have explained is recommended for the matter of one’s food and clothing, so too it is recommended for the matter of one’s dependents food and clothing, for he is commanded to provide for them with goodness. And goodness is what is below excessiveness and beyond niggardliness, so much so that they say, “One should not take the trouble to produce all the that his dependents desire, nor deny them all their desires, but his provisioning for them should be in between that, for the best affairs are the moderate ones.”