I have been asked numerous times to give some guidelines about the nobility of the Muslim male and why this is important. There are myriads of articles on the Muslim female, hijab and the female, the modesty of the female, the importance of the righteousness and modesty of the Muslim woman. One would think that it was the female that led to idolatry if not for the verses and our knowing the truth of the affair.

It therefore deserves that the Muslim man should be brought to task. There are some Muslim men that must be accounted for his lack of modesty, impudence in front of Allah and disobedience to the Lord of Lords in that which has been given to us. It is thus necessary that we give some guidelines to the believers that will be of help to them.


The fourth khalifah, `Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The `imamah is the crown of the Arabs.” Imam Ibn Hisham in his As-Sirat un-Nabawiyyah, vol.2, pp. 199-200

The angels also were reported as having their heads covered, specifically with white `imamah, the exception being the Angel Jibril, peace be upon him, who was wearing a yellow one instead. Imam Ibn Hisham in his As-Sirat un-Nabawiyyah, vol.2, pp. 199-200


In our modern day and time, there has been a big issue made of the wearing of a head covering for men in or out of the prayer. One would think that this issue would be brought by those wearing them against those who were not wearing them, but this is not the case. Rather, it is something that has been brought by those not wearing head covering to those who do wear them for the prayer. It was asked that I put something together on this issue; therefore I ask Allah that my small effort be acceptable to Him and a source of reward in this life and the Hereafter, amin!

When we speak of head coverings, there are many different words in the Arabic language. There are really two common forms for the head covering.

1) Qubba`ah, a hat or headdress worn by the kuffar in our time and times before

2) `Imamah or any other number of head coverings, meaning the headdress that is worn by the men according to the Revealed Law.

Most if not all of us know of the baseball caps, dress hats and other forms of headdress worn by the kuffar, but it is perhaps time that we speak a little bit about those head coverings that exist in the Revealed Law. The first question that we should ask however is, did the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, wear a hat or head covering on his head?

THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him

It is related by Jabir that, “The Prophet entered Mecca on the Day of victory wearing a black `imamah and he loosened its two ends between his shoulders.” Quoted by Imam Abu `Isa at-Tirmidhi in his Ash-Shama’il ul-Muhammadiyyah wal Khasa’is ul-Mustafawiyyah, pp. 46-47 but reported by Abu Dawud in his Sunan, Ibn Majah and Nasa’ii and classed by them as authentic.

From this one hadith, someone could say, “Yes, we accept that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, wore a `imamah or head covering upon that day, but it was not his normal practice and method. He didn’t wear one at most times.” We would then ask them to read the next hadith.

Ja`far ibn `Amr narrated from his father, “I saw the Prophet on the pulpit wearing a black `imamah with the tail of the `imamah hanging between his shoulders.” Quoted by Imam Abu `Isa at-Tirmidhi in his Ash-Shama’il ul-Muhammadiyyah wal Khasa’is ul-Mustafawiyyah, pp. 46-47 but collected by Imams Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj in his Al-Jami` us-Sahih, at-Tirmidhi in his Jami` us-Sunan, Abu Dawud in his Sunan, Nasa’ii in his Sunan, and Ibn Majah in his Sunan and classified as authentic by them.

The Prophet said, “Wear the `imamah and increase your good character.”. Collected by Imams at-Tabarani in al-Mu`jam ul-Kabir, vol.1, pp. 61-62; Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, who said, “The chain of transmission of this narration is sound.” Mustadrak, vol.2, pp. 492-493

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, also said at another point, “And the `imamahs are the crowns of Arabs.” Ibn `Adi in his Al-Kamil, vol.6, pp. 2080-2082

Allah has mentioned in the Qur’an,

Your Lord will help you with five thousand angels bearing marks. Surah Ali `Imran (3), ayah 125.

Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said of this verse, “It is said the bearing marks means wearing `imamah.” Tafsir ul-Qur’an il-`Azim, pp. 397-398 Dar ul-Hazm edition


On the day of Badr, Az-Zubair ibn al-`Awwam was wearing a yellow `imamah among the people, so the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: “The angels have come wearing the same clothing as that of Abu `Abdullah,” and the Prophet himself came wearing a yellow `imamah.’ Tafsir ul-Qur’an il-`Azim, pp. 397-398 Dar ul-Hazm edition.

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, ordered `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf, may Allah be pleased with him, to prepare for a military expedition for which he was sending him. The next morning the Prophet was wearing a `imamah made of black cotton. He called `Abdur-Rahman and when he came he unwrapped his own `imamah and put it on `Abdur-Rahman, after which he let the tail hang about one hand span. He then said to him, “Ibn `Awf, wear the `imamah in this way. It is more like the Arabs and more beautiful.”

Then the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, told Bilal to give him the flag. He glorified Allah then said, “Fight for the sake of Allah and fight those who do not believe in Allah. Do not transgress, commit treachery, mutilate bodies, murder women. This is the covenant of the Messenger of Allah between all of you.” Collected by Imams Ibn Majah and al-Bazzar and classified by them as authentic.

Imam at-Tirmidhi, may Allah have mercy on him, narrates that `Abdullah Ibn `Umar said, “When the Prophet tied his `imamah, he would let its’ tail hang between his shoulders.”  Collected by Imam At-Tirmidhi in his Al-Jami` us-Sahih, Book of Clothes under the chapter of The Wearing of the Black `Imamah and How to Tie it and classed by him as authentic.


In Basrah, Iraq, Imam Al-Hasan al-Basri was described by his female students as a “handsome shaikh wearing a black `imamah.” Please see Rawdat al-Muhibbin wa Nuzhat al-Mushtaqin, pp. 223-225 by Imam Ibn ul-Qayyim.

Imam Malik ibn Anas (d. 179AH), may Allah have mercy on him, said, “The `imamah was worn from the beginning of Islam and has continued up until our era. All of the people of righteousness wear the `imamah, such as Yahya ibn Sa`id, Rabi`ah, and Ibn Hurmuz. I have seen more than thirty men wearing `imamahs in the classes of Rabi`ah while I was in attendance. Rabi`ah did not unwrap his `imamah until late into the night before he slept. He used to say at that time, ‘I swear that I find it increases intelligence.’ ” Narrated by Imam Ibn Abi Zaid in Al-Jami` fis-Sunan,  pp. 228-230.


Imam `Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (d. 560 AH), may Allah have mercy on him, mentioned,

“To reveal the head or other parts of the body in front of people is an abomination, as it is the practice of the righteous and noble men to keep these parts covered.” Al-Ghunya li-Talibin Tariq al-Haqq (Sufficient Provision for the Seekers of the Path of Truth), vol.1, pp. 13-15

Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah (d. 620 AH), may Allah have mercy on him, said of the men in prayer, “There are four rulings regarding clothing in prayer and they are the permissible, praiseworthy, disliked, and impermissible.”

The Imam then said at another point, “What is permitted is to wear a single garment which covers ones’ `awra or private parts and to throw one end of it over one’s shoulder. What is meritorious is to pray in two garments or more. By doing that, one does one’s best to cover oneself appropriately.”

He said further, “It is related by Abu Dawud and others that `Umar said, ‘If Allah has given you wealth, then you should use this for your clothes. A man should wear good clothes. He should pray in an izar (waistwrap) and burd (overcoat), izar and qamis (shirt), or in a izar and quba’ (long sleeved shirt), or in sarawil (pants) and a rida’ (cloak), or in pants and a shirt, or in pants and long sleeves, or in tubban (below the knee shorts) and a shirt.’

Imam at-Tamimi said, ‘It is permissible to pray in one set of clothing, but two is more noble, while four is the most complete, and they are the qamis (a shirt), sirwal (pants),`imamah, and izar (a waistwrap).’

Al-Qadi Abu Ya`la the Elder said, ‘The wearing of the most noble clothes is indeed more emphasised for the imam than for the congregation, as he is leading the prayer and their prayer depends on his prayer.’ ” Al-Mughni, vol.1, pp. 656-661

Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795 AH), may Allah be pleased with him, saw uncovering the head as something so abhorrent in the day to day affairs as well as worship, his words are scathing, “Actions are of two types, worshipful acts and actions of transactions and day to day affairs. As far as the worshipful acts, then what comes from them and does not issue forth from the judgement of Allah and His Messenger in totality, then the action of the one doing it is rejected, and he falls under the words of the Exalted One,

Have the legislated a religion for them that Allah did not give permission for. Surat ush-Shura (42), ayah 21

So whoever is drawing near to Allah with an action that Allah and His Messenger did not make a condition for drawing near to with, then the action is false and rejected and it bears the resemblance of those trying to draw near to Allah with their prayers in a music house with clapping, or trying to draw near to Allah the Exalted by listening to music or dancing or revealing the head for other than ihram or what is like that from the innovated matters which Allah and His Messenger did not legislate as a way to gain nearness in any manner.” Jami` ul-`Ulum wal-Hikam, pp. 73-74

It is due to these and other texts mentioned by these and other luminaries that the covering of the head for men is compulsory. It is not to be covered with a baseball cap, handkerchief or any such thing. Rather, it should be covered with the kufi, the tarboosh or the `imamah. When the men go around bareheaded, then know that this is impermissible and an innovation not from the first three generations. And it is even more so in the case of being in the prayer in this case, although the prayer would be valid although disliked.

Let every believing male beware of imitating the unbelievers in their lack of decorum and immodesty. We are just as responsible as the Muslim female for guarding our modesty and showing nobility. As for the rest of the clothes, again the scholars above and others have mentioned no exception to the rule.

Any believer in this situation must explain to his employer. The employer will either have to understand or the believer should find another place of employment where he can fulfil the command of that which is compulsory. We must not imitate the unbelievers in such an intimate thing as clothing when it was so roundly condemned by the early generations.

Please remember this important point. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “It is impermissible for the man to cover his head or wear hewn clothes while in ihram.” Collected by Imam Al-Bukhari in his Al-Jami` us-SahihBook of Hajj, under the chapter of the Restrictions of the Ihram and classed by him as authentic.

It is this hadith that the Imams above understood when they made their ruling, “That which is compulsory is only lifted by prohibition.” Thus outside of the ihram, one is not to dress as if they are in that state (as if they are on hajj or `umrah), so they are supposed to wear hewn clothes. The prohibition on the covering of the head then becomes a compulsory. In fact, this is the only time during waking hours (excluding sleep, bathing, etc.) that he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, allowed and indeed commanded that the head be bared.

Dear brother, follow what is compulsory and cover your heads. This is part of your crown and your righteousness.

3 thoughts on “Guidelines”

  1. May Allah reward you abundantly and bless you in both worlds – amin. It’s high time an article addressing a simple yet crucial matter like this was written. Keep up the good work – barakallahu feekum.

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