By Mufti Mohammed Sajjad
Q) 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?
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
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
 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
 Ibn Majah, Nasai and Ibn Hibban
narrate with a sound chain that: Mughirah ibn Shubah said: “I saw the Messenger
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
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.”
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:
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.
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
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 called pride.
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?
Article taken (with Thanks) from As-suffa.org
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