Kitab Al-Kasb Series (Part 47): The Abhorrence of Wearing Silk and Its Dispensation in Time of War.

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 47: The Abhorrence of Wearing Silk and Its Dispensation in Time of War.
Then, Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “It is abhorrent for men to wear silk when they are not in a war situation.”

This question is not really among the question of this topic (of earning), but rather it is discussed in many places in the books (of Imam al-Shaybani), yet it is appropriate to what he has discussed of the questions of this book (of earning). Indeed, he has composed this book (of earning) in regard to abstinence, according to what was reported that when he was done with composing his other books, it was said to him, “Should you not compose something on abstinence and prudence,” whereupon he said, “I have composed the book of buying and selling,” and then, he proceeded to compose this book (of earning). But he was afflicted by a sudden illness during which his brain became dehydrated, and he could not realize his intention.

It was reported that it was said to him, “Make for us an index of what you have intended to compose,” and so he made for them an index of a thousand chapters which he had intended to compose on abstinence and prudence; hence some latter-day scholars said, “The passing away of Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani and the occupation of Imam Abu Yusuf with the judiciary are a clemency for the disciples of Imam Abu Hanifah; for indeed if it (the situation) was not so, they would weary those who follow (closely their works)”.

And this book (of earning) is the first of his works on abstinence and prudence, and at its end, he mentions some of the questions that are connected to that (the topic of abstinence and prudence), such as the question of wearing silk. The basis of this question is what was narrated that the Prophet went out one day with gold in his right hand and silk in his left hand, and said, “These two are illicit for the males of my community, but licit for the females.” [Narrated by Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, al-Tirmidhi and Ahmad].

The wearing of silk in a situation other than war is abhorred, and likewise during a situation of war, according to the view of Abu Hanifah. However, in the view of the two of them, there is no harm in wearing silk during a situation of war if it is of compact texture such that (a fabric of) this kind can be used to ward off weapons. As for the case of its warp being not silken, but its woof is silken, then it is not licit for men to wear it in other than a situation of war; however it is licit by concord during a situation of war. And as for when it warps is silken but its woof not silken, then there is no harm in harm in wearing it in a situation other than war, such as (when one is infested with) lice, and other similar situations. These topics of wearing silk and related issues have already been elaborated in the books (of the Mabsut).

Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “There is no blame for a person to have a bed of gold or silver covered over with bedspread of silk brocades as an adornment for the enjoyment of people without sitting or sleeping on it, for such a practice is reported of the predecessors from among the Companions and the Followers.”

It is narrated about al-Hasan and al-Husayn that when either of them – depending on which of the different narrators about the matter is correct – was married to Shah Banu, she adorned his house with furnishings of silk brocades and utensils fabricated from gold and silver, and some of those Companions of the Prophet who were still living visited him and said, “What is this in your house, O son of Allah’s Messenger?,” whereupon he said, “This, is a lady whom I have married, and she brought (with her) things like these, and I did not deem it nice to prevent her from doing so.”

And it is reported from Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah that he adorned his house with something like this, and some of the Companions censured him, whereupon he said, “I am only beautifying for people with this, but I am not using it. I only did this so that no one’s heart will be concerned about me, and that none would look at me in an unseemly manner.”

Thus, we know that in this case, if a person has those things with this objective, then there is no blame in it, though to do without these is preferable. This situation enters into the meaning of the statement of Allah, “Say: Who has forbidden the finery of Allah, which He has produced for devotees, and wholesome means of subsistence?” [Al-Quran, surah Al-A’raf, verse 32].

As for the one who says, “He should neither sit nor sleep on it,” that is also the view of Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani. However, according to the view of Imam Abu Hanifah, there is no blame for sitting and sleeping on it, for only wearing it is abhorred, as what is worn becomes attached to the wearer. As for that which is sat or slept on, it does not become attached to him (the sitter or sleeper), hence there is no blame in that.


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Author: Abu Tariq Abu Tariq Muhsin is a zakat officer for Zakat Centre of Federal Territory of Malaysia. A writer, researcher and publisher of various writing focusing on Zakat & Islamic studies.

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