One of the blessings of Allah is the clothes that we wear. When brothers and sisters seek to make a change and become ‘practising’, they may begin adopting a more Islamic dress. For sisters it maybe wearing a hijab/niqab and a jilbab seeking to fulfil the requirements of the Shari’ah and brothers may begin to wear more modest and loose clothing.
Such external changes can be made over night and a person, if seen by someone for the first time may be considered to be a very pious person based entirely on their outward appearance. Looks can be deceiving, a person can have the ugliest of characters but look like a saint from outside. Though adopting clothing which is in line with shari’ah is commendable, we mustn’t forget to also seek to change what is within. In a hadith related by Abu Hurairah (RA) from the Messenger of Allah (SAW), he states
“Allah does not look at your appearances or your possessions; but He looks at your hearts and your deeds.” (Muslim)
So, our actions and our internal state is more important than aesthetics and material things.
Having said this, a misunderstanding may arise where a person may say they are free to wear what they want and how they want as long as they have ‘a good heart’. But Allah and His messenger (SAW) have clearly stipulated the guidelines for clothing such as the hijab for sisters and modest clothing for brothers. Our outer appearance should reflect our inner state.
In regards to the issue of clothing, Allah (SWT) states:
“O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember.” (Surah Al A’raf, Verse 26)
After mentioning the blessings and uses of clothing, Allah beautifully describes another garment – that of taqwa. Though it is something intangible, it could be understood that the consciousness of Allah should wrap around our entire body & soul so that we only engage in that which pleases Allah.
Furthermore, just as clothing protects us from the elements such as the heavy jackets we wear for warmth during the winter, taqwa should also be a means of protecting ourselves from things which can threaten our iman such as engaging in those things prohibited by Allah.
One of the primary uses of clothing is to preserve our modesty and similarly, we should adopt the garment of taqwa to further guard our modesty and preserve our chastity. Taqwa should prevent a believer from engaging in immoral actions and using obscene words.
Lastly, we use clothing to adorn ourselves, though it is permissible to wear beautiful clothes for the purpose of adornment, it may become impermissible if it leads one to becoming arrogant. Taqwa should be a means of adorning and beautifying our character and how we interact with those around us. Just as how a person is disliked for wearing dirty clothes, people are also disliked for having bad manners and an unkind tongue. Taqwa should make us conscious of Allah at all times thus rendering our behaviour and actions in line with that which pleases Allah.
May Allah beautify our character just as He has beautified our forms.
By Muhammad Rafiq Chowdhury (source)