hanging trousers below the ankle impermissible due to pride?
Mufti Muhammad Sajjad
Attari Al Madani. مفتی محمد سجاد عطاری المدنی
QESTION: Is having it below the ankle in today’s society that bad
especially since wearing trousers/jeans (which go below the ankles)
is normal? The ahadith prohibit wearing it with pride as doing
anything with pride is haram. The majority of the fuqaha (including
al-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar and the Hanafi jurists) have said to have it
below the ankle without pride is makruh tanzihi/permissible with
slight distaste. Only a few scholars have said otherwise e.g. Ibn
Arabi al-Mailiki. This is from my reading anyway. So in this society
when people wear it below the ankle is it convenient or even legally
substantiated to condemn people for doing it?
ANSWER The idea that if a person does not have pride he can
lower his garments below the ankles is incorrect. The truth is, with this
ruling, regardless of whether a person has pride or not he must keep his
garments above the ankles. Though, if accidentally and unintentionally they
were to fall below the ankles there would be no sin upon the person (which
also explains the hadith of Abu Bakr r.a.).
However the ruling cannot be made to revolve around a person’s own view
about whether he has pride. This is because pride is a surreptitious thing.
A person who is afflicted with this evil spiritual disease will, not only
will never acknowledge he has pride, in fact in many cases, he will not even
know. It is simply silly to think an individual will be able to assert about
himself that: Yes I am free of pride thus I can keep the garments below the
ankles. Yet this is the bizarre consequence of holding this view.
The reality is that the ruling about having the garment above the ankles is
one in which the Sabbab (apparent cause) has been treated like the Illah
(real underlying cause). Just as in travel, the dispensation to shorten the
prayer was obviously given due to hardship. However, because it is difficult
to always say when hardship is being met by the traveller, the cause for
this ruling to shorten was not made the basis of this ruling, such that if a
person did not find hardship, even when travelling a thousand miles, he
could not shorten. Rather the apparent cause was made the cause for the
ruling, namely travel. Thus wherever travel (48 miles) is found this ruling
applies regardless of the extent of the hardship. (See Shaikh Taqi Uthmani’s
Takmilah Fath al-Mulhim, p122, vol.4)
Similarly, in the case of the ruling of having garments above the ankles,
because it is highly difficult to tell if a person has pride in this act,
its apparent cause (garments above the ankles) was made the ruling’s cause-
rather than the real underlying cause (pride). Thus, it will be sinful every
time a person intentionally lets his garments go below the ankles.
The very act of Isbal being outlawed in this manner also tells us that this
act in itself is a cause of creating pride. Imam Ibn Hajr, in Fath al-Bari,
Kitab al-Libas, p324 vol.10, writes: “Lowering the garments below the ankles
must bring dragging the garment and dragging the garment must bring with it
pride even if the wearer does not intend pride (Khuyula). This meaning is
supported by the hadith narrated by Ahmad bin Manee`….The Messenger of Allah
, peace and blessings upon him,) said: “Beware of dragging the garment, for
indeed this is from pride.”
Ibn Hajr then narrates the following hadith that emphatically show this
ruling is not restricted to when this act is done in pride:  In a hadith
from Imam Tabarani, whose chain is sound, which is emphatic in this ruling
not being restricted to when this act is done in pride. Namely, “The
Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings upon him, struck four fingers of
his hand below the knee (on the shin) and said: “O Amar (bin Zurarah)! this
is the place of the garment.” After citing this hadith, Imam Ibn Hajr writes:
“It is obvious the aforementioned Amar did not intend pride in lowering his
 Also narrated by Tabarani, the Prophet –peace and blessing upon him- saw
a man whose garments were below the ankles, he ordered him: “Raise your
waist-wrap!” The man said: “I have an ailment in my legs; my knees collide
with each other.” He peace be upon him, replied: “Raise your garment because
all of the creation of Allah is beautiful.” Again, it is clear in this
hadith this man was not doing this due to pride yet still he was ordered to
raise his garments.
 Ibn Majah, Nasai and Ibn Hibban narrate with a sound chain that:
Mughirah ibn Shubah said: “I saw the Messenger of Allah , peace and
blessings upon him, seized the wrap of Sufyan ibn Suhail, saying: ‘O Sufyan
do not lower garments below the ankles, verily Allah detests those who lower
their garments below the ankles (Laa Tusbil fa-inna-allaha laa
yuhibbu-l-Musbileen). All three hadith are recorded in Fath al-Bari.
It would be incorrect to think that the majority of the scholars hold, as
you mentioned, that it is fine to lower garments below the ankles if there
is no pride in it. Similalry, it also wrong and misleading to suggest the
ruling of Tahreem (unlawfulness) is peculiar to the Indian scholars.
Ibn Hajr, himself a prominent Shafi jurist, records that Imam Shafi’s
position is that under all circumstances it will forbidden to allow the
garment to go below the ankles; except that if it is with the absence of
pride the sin gained will be less. However, there will be the sin of
resembling women as their garments are to be below the ankles. Imam Hakim,
with a sound chain narrates: “The Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings
be upon him, cursed the man who wears women’s clothes,” (Op cit).
Similarly, the Maliki jurist Ibn al-Arabi, affirming the above explanation
of the threat of pride, states:”It is not permitted for a man to allow his
garment to go beyond his ankle saying: ‘I am not doing it in pride.’ This is
because the prohibition includes this by virtue of the wording. It is not
permitted for a person who is being included in the ruling by the words (of
a text) to say: ‘I will not follow it because that reason (Illah) is not
found in me,’ for it is an unacceptable claim- rather his lowering his
garment tells of his pride,” (Op cit).
Thus it will always be forbidden (Makruh Tahrimi) to allow the garment to go
below the ankles and the Salah of a person in this manner will have to be
repeated in its time. Although Shaikh Faraz Rabbani cites Fataawa Hindiyya,
for his view that it is Makruh tanzihi without pride, on the same page of
this work, strong words are used against this practice. It says on p333
vol.5, that: “…lowering the waist wrap and the shirt below the ankles is a
reprehensible innovation (Bidah). The garment should be above the ankles up
to the middle of the shins.”
initial reply that was given to the question of the prohibition for men of
lowering their garments, many questions were received questioning this
ruling. The reply below is a second reply to answer these objections]
The first point that was made was that this ruling is only so when done in
pride. This point was actually answered in the first reply, nevertheless
more proofs can be cited to leave no doubt that this ruling is not suspended
on the existence of pride.
The basis of this objection is the hadith that forbid Isbal mention that it
is blameworthy when done in pride. However, there are also many hadith that
prohibit this act irrelevant of the reason, suggesting this is supposed to
be the dress of the believer at all times. I will record below the many
hadith that clearly tell us that this ruling was not restricted to pride:
i) The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), said: “There are three
people Allah will not speak to on the Day of Judgement, nor will He look at
them or purify them of their sins. For them will be a painful chastisement….The
one who allows his garments to fall below the ankles, a person who recounts
favours he has done to others and a person who sells his goods by a false
ii) The Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings upon him, said: “Beware of
lowering the garment for it is from pride and Allah detests pride….” (Tirmidhi)
This hadith tells us that actually this act in itself brings pride in a
iii)The hadith in Sunnan Abu Daud, hadith no.638, Bab al-Isbal fi al-Salah:
Abu Hurairah narrates that: “A man was praying with his garment below his
ankles when the Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings upon him, said: ‘Go
and repeat your Wudu.’ So the man went and did his Wudu and returned. The
Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) again said: ‘Go and repeat your
Wudu.’ So the man went and repeated his Wudu and returned. The man asked: ‘O
Messenger of Allah what is it that you told him to do Wudu (again) and then
you did not say anything?’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon
him) said: ‘He was praying with his
garment below his ankles, verily Allah (may His mention be magnified) does
not accept the prayer of a man who lowers his garments.’”
Some have challenged the authenticity of this hadith. The fact is the hadith
is sound and has also been narrated by Imam Bayhaqi in his Sunnan, vol.2
p342, Kitab Karahiyyat Isbal al-Izar fi-Salah. Imam Nawawi in Riyad
al-Salihin has confirmed that it is Sahih, hadith no.797.
iv) The Messenger of Allah , peace and blessings upon him, said:
“The waist-wrap of the Muslim must be up to the middle of the shins; and
there is no harm if it goes between there and the ankles….” (Abu Daud)
Also note that the Sahaba never thought this ruling was restricted to if
done in pride; they thought this was in fact the dress of the believing men.
It is for this reason that, as Shaikh al-Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya writes in
Awjaz al-Masaalik, vol.14 p220, Umm Salamah r.a. brought up the issue with
the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) having understood that
the above hadith were not to be restricted to the case of pride, (i.e. this
was the instructions for how dress in general should be) and as such applied
to women as well. She asked the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings upon
him) when he spoke about the lowering the garments, ‘What
about the woman O Messenger of Allah ?’ This clearly shows she
understood the condemnation for lowering the garment was general (Mutlaq)
irrespective of pride. But she asked because women also had the order to
cover their Awrah. He (peace and blessings be upon him) then elaborated for
her that they were exempt from this ruling.
v) Ibn Umar r.a. narrates that: “I passed by the Messenger of Allah , peace
and blessings be upon him, and my garment was loose, so he, peace and
blessings upon him, said: ‘O Abdullah raise your garment,’ so I raised it.
Then he said, ‘more,’ so I raised it more. Ever since then I have been
vigilant regarding it.” (Muslim)
It was also wrongly argued that the Hanafi school actually does not hold
that garments for men must be above the ankles always. Rather it was claimed,
they say, if a person does not do this in pride then it is considered to be
merely Makruh Tanzihi. The evidence they have cited for this is the view of
Imam Badr al-Din al-Ayni and the same is also written in Fataawa Hindiyyah.
The truth however is that in Umdat al-Qari, Imam Ayni, does not say this is
the position of the Hanafi School. What can correctly be ascribed to Imam
Al-Ayni are the following words explaining the heading in Sahih al-Bukhari:
The Chapter of he who pulled his garment (below the ankles) without pride.
Imam Ayni immediately after this wrote: “This chapter is to explain the
ruling of that person who lowered his garment without the intention of pride,
for there is no harm in it without any dislike…,” vol.21 p295, Kitab
al-Libas. Under the above heading the famous hadith in which Abu Bakr
complains of his garment going below the ankles is mentioned, and in which
the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) says: You are not from those who
do it out of pride.
As can be seen from the context all that Imam Ayni is saying, which we of
course accept, is that if unintentionally the garment goes below the ankles
one need not worry that he has committed the great sin that lies in Isbal.
But, this does not mean, and nor could it mean if the context is kept in
view, that: A person is permitted to lower his garment if he thinks he is
not doing it in pride.
The second source some people have used to claim this erroneous view, that
if a person does not do it in pride he is blameless, is Fataawa Hindiyyah.
The text is also said to say without pride this act is Makruh Tanzihi.
However again it seems this is a misrepresentation of the facts. In this
work the text does say: “…If it is not done in pride then it is Makruh
Tanzihi…,” Ninth chapter on Clothing, vol.5 p333. Those who quote this
however fail to mention that the very sentence before this said: “Raising
up the garments is Sunna and lowering the garments below the ankles is a
reprehensible innovation (Bidah). The garment should be above the
ankles up to half way of the shins….” This text is emphatic in stating the
evil of this act and its being always impermissible. And, again one can
clearly tell from the context, that the jurists mentioned the
ruling of Tanzihi (which technically means there is no sin upon a person for
doing that act), for that case when it is done unintentionally or for a need-
to simply outline that there is no sin.
As mentioned earlier one may not lower his garment without a need.
To do so claiming that one does not have pride is simply distorting the
Shariah. For the best of
generations, Sahaba, Tabeen and Tab` Tabeen, never ever played with the
words of the hadith in this manner. Not one from them understood this
ruling in this way such that a single one of them (though if anyone could be
free of pride it was them) asserted, “I will keep my garments below the
ankles as I am free of pride.” Had there been some leeway in this regard in
the Shariah they would never have been so careful regarding it to the point
that they would prevent others from doing it. Yet they appreciated more than
us that one should have good opinions about others and not judge their
intentions. In other words it was
not just left to personal opinion about whether one had pride or not.
We see Umar r.a., having been fatally wounded, on his death bed stop a young
man who had his garment below the ankles and commanded him to raise it.
So how can this attitude be given any credence today? Especially, when we
see many men today, not desiring to raise their garments above the ankles
and looking down upon those who do. For them, it is obvious, the motivation
in not raising their garments is shame, and the greater respect and prestige
they feel in wearing the garments
below the ankles, all of which is a symptom of that surreptitious disease
If the reason for this ruling was pride such that if it is done without it
then there is no blame, then are we really saying our judgement about our
internal state is better than that of the likes of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman
and Ali (r.a.) who all would keep their garments above their ankles?
taken (with Thanks) from As-suffa.org