Is it really prohibited for a man to wear clothes that hang below his ankles? Does this apply to pants as well? I heard a hadîth where Abû Bakr wore his clothes below his ankles and the Prophet (peace be upon him) excused him because he did not do so out of pride. Does this hadîth show that it is not the length of the clothes themselves that matters but the intention of the wearer?
Answered by Sheikh `Abd al-Rahmân al-`Ajlân, lecturer at the Grand Mosque in Mecca
Praise be to Allah.
It is not permissible for a man to allow his clothing to fall below his ankles. It does not matter what kind of clothing it is. The evidence prohibiting allowing clothes to hang below the ankles is all quite general, so the prohibition applies to all types of clothing.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will not look at the one who dragged his garment out of pride.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahih Muslim]
He also said: “What is below the ankles is in the fire.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
“Whatever falls below ankles is in Hell” [Sunan al-Bayhaqî]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are three whom Allah, will not look nor purify, and they shall have a grievous chastisement”
The Companions asked: “Who are they, O Messenger of Allah? May they lose and be dishonored.”
He said: “The one who reminds others of his generosity, the one who wears clothes below his ankles, and the one who sells his wares with false oaths.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî]
This is not a matter of custom. It is a matter of worship and obedience to the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is obligatory upon us as Muslims to obey him in his commands and prohibitions, even if we cannot understand the reason why certain things are commanded or prohibited.
However, one reason for the prohibition of dragging clothes below the ankles is because it can lead to ostentation and pride.
To further elaborate on your question, we need to keep in mind that there is a difference between the reason we do these things and the wisdom behind why we have do them. This is an important concept that must be properly understood. There is only one reason why we do all of the things we are commanded to do and abstain from all of the things we are prohibited from – that reason is because Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) say so. Allah says: “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger.”
There are various aspects to the wisdom why these things are incumbent upon us. Sometimes we have knowledge of a few aspects of this wisdom and sometimes we do not. In either case, we still have to obey.
For instance, one aspect of the wisdom for growing the beard was mentioned by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and that is to be different than the unbelievers. However, even in places where unbelievers grow beards, Muslims still have to grow them, because the reason for growing a beard remains. The reason is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded us to do so. Another aspect of the wisdom for allowing the beard to grow is so men can show their manhood and be different from women. Islamic Law also commands this of us.
Likewise, there are many aspects to the wisdom of women wearing proper hijâb. It is a sign of respect for women. It is a statement that women are not to be viewed as sex objects. It promotes moral decency and discourages extramarital sex. However, none of these are the reason women have to wear hijâb. Women have to wear hijâb because Allah orders them to do so in the Qur’ân.
As for the hadîth about Abû Bakr mentioned by the questioner, it does not indicate the permissibility of wearing clothes below the ankles for a person who does so without pride. The hadîth is as follows:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever allows his lower garment to drag out of pride, Allah will not look at Him on the Day of Judgment.”
Because of this, Abû Bakr said: “O Messenger of Allah. My waistcloth keeps sliding down, though I take care to wrap it properly.”
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “You are not one of those who do so out of pride.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
Abû Bakr did not wear his clothes below the ankles. His waistcloth would slip unintentionally until its lower end would fall below his ankles from no fault of his own. Furthermore, he would not leave it dragging in that manner. However, on account of his acute fear of Allah, he expressed his concern to the Prophet (peace be upon him). Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) reassured him that there was no sin upon him for that.
And Allah knows best.