Mufti Taqi Usmani Sahab on Isbal



Chapter 9: On the Prohibition of Dragging the Garment and Clarification of the Degree to which it can be Lowered and what is Preferred

(The text of Sahih Muslim)

Yahya ibn Yahya narrated to us: He said: I read to Malik (on the authority) of Nafi‘, ‘Abd Allah ibn Dinar and Zayd ibn Aslam all of whom informed him (on the authority) of Ibn Umar that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

“Allah does not look at one who drags his garment with conceit.”

(Mufti Taqi Usmani’s commentary from Takmilatu Fath al-Mulhim)

His statement “from ibn Umar”: This hadith was transmitted by al-Bukhari in (Kitabal-Libas, Bab man Jarra Thawbahu min al-Khuyala, inFada’il Ashab al-Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), Bab law kuntu Muttakhida Khalilan, in (Kitabal-AdabBab man Athna ‘ala Akhihi bima ya‘lam; Abu Dawud in (Kitabal-LibasBab ma ja’a fi Isbal al-Izar; and Ibn Majah in (Kitabal-LibasBab man Jarra Thawbahu min al-Khuyala

His statement “does not look”: i.e. with the look of compassion.

His statement “with conceit [Khuyala]” (with damm on the kha and fath on the ya’): i.e. arrogantly and in self-vanity. Khuyala (conceit),makhila (conceit), batr (wantonness), kibr (arrogance), zahw (haughtiness) and tabakhtur (strut) are all close (in meaning). Al-Raghib said “Khuyala is arrogance (that) develops from a merit one displays to people from himself, and Takhayyul is the conception of the idea of the thing in (one’s) mind”. This was (mentioned) in Fath al-Bari (10:253). This wording (of the hadith) is used as evidence for those who opine that lowering the izar (lower garment) below the ankles is only disliked, prohibitively [tahriman] disliked, when it is (done) by way of arrogance; as for when it is not (done) by way of arrogance, it is not disliked prohibitively, rather it is somewhat [tanzihan] disliked. This is (the view) which al-Nawawi, al-‘Ayni, ibn al-Malik (as in al-‘Umda (10:220)) and ‘Ali al-Qari (as in al-Mirqat (8:138)) preferred.

It appears in al-Fatawa l-Hindiyya (5:333) “It is required that the izar be above the two ankles up to half the shin, and this is with regard to men. As for women, they (should) lower their izar below (that of) the izar of men, in order to cover the upper part of her foot. If a man does not lower his izar below the ankles with conceit it is disliked somewhat [tanzihan].” This is indicated by what al-Bukhari transmitted in the beginning (chapters) of (Kitabal-Libas from Ibn ‘Umar, who said “Abu Bakr said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Indeed one of the sides of my izar slackens unless I attend to that (side) of it.’ So the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘You are not of those who do it with conceit”

As for what was transmitted by Ibn Abi Shayba from Ibn ‘Umar that he would dislike dragging the garment in all conditions, Ibn Battal said “This is from his stringencies, for otherwise he narrated the hadith of the chapter, so the ruling is not hidden from him”. However, al-Hafiz (Ibn Hajar) responded to him in al-Fath (10:255) saying “Rather, Ibn Umar’s disapproval is understood (to be directed at) one who intended (to do isbal [lowering one’s clothing below the ankles]), whether (done) with conceit or not. This is according to the narration of his cited (here). It is (obviously) not suspected of Ibn ‘Umar that he took to task one who did not intend anything [i.e. the isbal was accidental], and he only referred by the disapproval to those whose garment is dragged without his choice, then he persists on that and does not correct it. This is agreed upon, even if (the ‘ulama) disagree whether the detestability in it is for prohibition or for light (detestability).”

It is clear from the statement of al-Hafiz in al-Fath that he takes the opinion of (it being) prohibitively disliked also when conceit is absent, and the dispensation according to him in what occurred (to Abu Bakr) is only (when it is) without intention and choice. You should (read) his description. We will quote it here despite it being lengthy because of what it contains of benefits:

“As for isbal not (done) for conceit, the outward (purport) of the hadiths (indicate) it is also prohibited. However the qualification in these hadiths of conceit [as the reason for the prohibition] is used as proof that the generalisation in the stated reproach in condemning isbal is understood as the qualification here, so dragging and isbal is not prohibited when it is free from conceit. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said: ‘Its meaning is that dragging for other than conceit does not pertain to the threat, although dragging the shirt and other garments besides it is blameworthy in all states.’

“Al-Nawawi said ‘Isbal below the ankles is for conceit. If it is (done) for other than (conceit) it is disliked [makruh]. This is how al-Shafi‘i explicated (it) by differentiating between dragging with and without conceit’...The quote he alluded to is mentioned by al-Buwayti in hisMukhtasar (transmitting) from al-Shafi‘i (that) he said ‘Sadl [letting the garments hang down] is not permissible in prayer nor in (other states) besides (prayer) for conceit, and (sadl done) for other than (conceit) is light [khafif] due to the statement of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to Abu Bakr…’ His statement ‘light’ is not explicit in negating prohibition, rather it is understood that that is in relation to dragging with conceit, and (if done for) other than conceit the condition varies: if the garment is the (same) size as its wearer but he does sadl then this is not clear in its prohibition particularly if it is (done) unintentionally like what happened to Abu Bakr, and if the garment is more than the length of its wearer, then the prohibition is directed at this from the perspective of extravagance [israf] so the end-result is (its) prohibition.

“Occasionally the prohibition is directed at it from the perspective of (it being) imitation of women and this is possible from it at the outset. Al-Hakim authenticated from the hadith of Abu Hurayra that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) cursed the man wearing the dress of a woman.

“Occasionally the prohibition is directed at it from the perspective that its wearer is not safe from filth attaching to him. This is alluded to in the hadith which al-Tirmidhi, in al-Shama’il, and al-Nasa’i transmitted through the route of Ash‘ath ibn Abi al-Sha‘tha al-Muharibi, whose father’s name is Salim, from his aunt, whose name is Ruhm (with damm of the ra and sukun of the ha), and she is the daughter of al-Aswad ibn Hantalah, from her paternal uncle, whose name is ‘Ubayd ibn Khalid, (that) he said: ‘I would walk while (covered) by a cloak I dragged, so a man said to me “Lift your garment, for indeed it is purer and longer lasting.” I looked and behold it was the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) so I said “Indeed it is a striped [malha’].” He said “Do you not have in me an example?” (‘Ubayd said): So I looked and behold, his izar was to half his shins.’ Its chain (cited) before is good [jayyid]. His statement “malha”: i.e. it has black and white stripes.

“In the story of the murder of Umar, he said to the boy who entered upon him: ‘lift your garment for indeed it is cleaner for your garment and more pious to your Lord’, and (this hadith) has passed in (Kitabal-Manaqib.

“The prohibition of isbal is also directed at it from another perspective that is it being the most likely place of conceit. Ibn al-Arabi said: ‘It is not permissible for a man to let his garment pass beyond his ankle and claim “I am not dragging it with conceit” because the prohibition textually includes him, and it is not permissible for one who is included textually in the judgement to say “I will not obey (this ruling) because that cause is not (present) in me” because it is an unacceptable claim, rather his lengthening the lower part of his garment [dhayl] proves his conceit.’ Its upshot is that isbal entails dragging the garment and dragging the garment entails conceit even if conceit is not the intention of the wearer. This is supported by what Ahmad ibn Mani‘ transmitted through another route from Ibn ‘Umar in the middle of a hadith that he elevated (to the Prophet) [i.e. is marfu‘] ‘And beware of dragging the izar for indeed dragging the izar is from conceit’.

“Al-Tabrani transmitted from the hadith of Abu Umamah that ‘While we were with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace), we met with ‘Amr ibn Zurara al-Ansari (who was) in a two-piece suite [hulla] including an izar and a cloak that was lowered, so the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) began tugging at the side of his garment, and in humility to Allah he said “[This is] Your slave, the son of Your slave and slave-girl” until ‘Amr heard, and said “O Messenger of Allah! I have deformed shins [so do not want them exposed].” He replied “O ‘Amr! Indeed Allah perfected all things He created. O ‘Amr! Indeed Allah does not love the one who does isbal.”’ Ahmad transmitted it from the hadith of ‘Amr himself, but he said when narrating it ‘from ‘Amr the son of so-and-so [‘Amr ibn Fulan]’. Al-Tabrani also transmitted it, and said ‘from ‘Amr ibn Zurara’; in it (the following) is (also mentioned) ‘He then struck four fingers below ‘Amr’s knee and said “O Amr! This is the place of the izar.” Then he struck four fingers below the (other) four and said “O ‘Amr! This is (also) the place of the izar.”’ Its narrators are trustworthy [thuqat]. Its outward (purport) is that ‘Amr mentioned (here) did not intend conceit by his isbal, and (yet) he forbade him from that because of it being the most likely place (for conceit).

“Al-Tabrani transmitted from the hadith of al-Sharid al-Thaqafi (that) he said ‘The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) saw a man who had lowered his izar and said “Lift you izar”. (The man) said “Indeed I have been afflicted with a distorted foot [ahnaf] (and) my knees clatter.” Then (the Prophet) said “Lift your izar, for every creation of Allah is beautiful”’. Musaddad and Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shayba transmitted it through the routes of a man from Thaqif not named, and its ending is ‘(Isbal) is uglier than what (afflicts) your shin.’

“As for what Ibn Abi Shayba transmitted from Ibn Mas‘ud with a good chain that he would lower his izar, and he was asked about that and said “I have deformed shins”, this is understood (to mean) that he lowered it more than (what is) recommended which is to half the shin. It cannot be speculated that he let it pass the ankles, and the reasoning [of his deformed shins] proves that. In spite of this, it (might be) possible the story of ‘Amr ibn Zirara did not reach him. And Allah knows best.

“Al-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah transmitted a hadith from Mughira ibn Shu‘ba, (which) Ibn Hibban authenticated (that he said) ‘I saw Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) take (hold of) the cloak of Sufyan ibn Suhayl and say to him “O Sufyan! Do not do isbal, for indeed Allah loves not those who do isbal.”’ (Here) ends the speech of al-Hafiz (Allah Most High have mercy on him)

The upshot according to this weak slave (Allah pardon him) is that the root cause behind the prohibition of isbal is conceit, as Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) expressed in the hadith of the chapter. However, the realisation of conceit is a concealed affair, and is at times not known to the one tried by it, so the ratio legis [‘illa] which is isbal stood in place of its underlying cause. This is similar to shortening (prayer) in travel, for indeed its underlying cause is difficulty but difficulty is an obscure matter not regulated by (any) regulations so its ratio legis which is travel stood in place of its underlying cause. According to this, whenever isbal is realised below the ankles the prohibition is entailed except when not in the state of volition, for indeed the negation of arrogance in this is certain because arrogance is not realised by an action the servant does not intend. On this premise [that doing it unintentionally precludes arrogance decisively] Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) allowed isbal for Abu Bakr and said to him “You are not of those who do it with conceit”. By this (explanation) the narrations are in agreement. And Allah (Glorified is He) knows best. (Takmilatu Fath al-Mulhim, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi, vol. 4. pp. 105-8)

Translated by Br. Muzzamil Husayn [Sunniforum]

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