Solāh in Half-Sleeves and Bare-Headed
A question was raised: I perform Solāh in half-sleeves, bare headed. People object to it in my masjid. I am told that because of my dress-code I lose out some reward from the total. What is the correct Sunnah pertaining dress during Solāh?
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-`ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.
Firstly: Allah has commanded the worshipper to beautify and adorn himself for Solāh.
“O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes) while performing Solāh”
Adorning oneself for Solāh is something that is additional to covering the `awrah. Hence women are commanded to cover their heads when performing Solāh, although they are allowed to uncover their heads in front of their mahrams.
Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taimiyyah (rahimahullāh) said:
With regard to adorning oneself for Solāh it is something that is additional to covering the `awrah and it is based on the Qur`an, the Sunnah and scholarly consensus. In the Qur`an, there is the verse: “O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes) while performing Solāh” [al-A’raf 7:31], which Allah revealed because the mushrikeen used to circumambulate the Ka`abah naked. Every place of prostration is a masjid, and this indicates that covering oneself for Solāh and tawaf is what is meant by adorning oneself to worship Allah.
Hence the word adornment is used rather than the word covering, to demonstrate that what is meant is that a person should adorn himself and not limit it to simply covering.
In the Sunnah, the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said:
“Allah does not accept the Solāh of any woman who menstruates except with a head covering.”
With regard to scholarly consensus, Abu Bakar ibn al-Mundhir (rahimahullāh) said: “The scholars are unanimously agreed that a free, adult woman must cover her head when she performs Solāh, and that if she performs Solāh with her entire head uncovered, then she must repeat the Solāh. Others also narrated that there was consensus that covering is an essential condition.”
[Sharh al-`Umdah, 4/258, 259.]
Secondly: Once this is understood, although the worshipper must adorn himself for prayer, this adornment may vary from one country to another, according to their customs, including what is mentioned in the question, which is performing Solāh in a garment with half-sleeves or observing Solāh bare-headed.
If the custom of that land is that the best adornment is to cover the head or to pray in a garment with full sleeves, then praying when one is dressed as mentioned in the question is contrary to what Allāh has enjoined, even if the prayer itself is valid. But if the custom of the people in that country is to dress as described in the question, then there is nothing wrong with praying dressed in this manner.
It should be noted that the ruling also varies according to variations in the dress itself. The garment may have short sleeves and that may be customarily worn in some countries where it may be worn as an adornment, or a man may go to work in it and so on. In that case there is nothing wrong with praying in it. Or it may be the custom that this is not a kind of adornment, and it is something that a man wears at home only, or when sleeping only, in which case it is not appropriate to Solāh in it.
There follow the fatwas of the scholars, which include the principle mentioned above, which is that this ruling depends on the customs in each country.
1 – Shaikh `Abd al-`Azeez ibn Baaz (rahimahullāh) was asked: an imām leads the people in Solāh and he is not wearing anything on his head. What is the ruling on that?
“There is nothing wrong with that, because the head is not part of the ‘awrah, rather what is required is to perform Solāh in a lower and upper garment, because the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “No one of you should observe Solāh in a single garment with no part of it over his shoulders.” But if he wears his adornment and dresses fully, that is preferable, because Allah says: “O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes) while performing Solāh” [al-A’raf 7:31]
But if he is in a country where it is not customary to cover the head, then there is nothing wrong with leaving it bare.”
[Majmu’ Fatawa al-Shaikh Ibn Baaz, 10/405, 406]
2 – He was also asked: Is it permissible to perform Solāh without a turban? Is it permissible for the imām who is leading the people in Solāh to perform it without a head cover? Is the taqiyah (kufi, skull-cap) sufficient?
“There is nothing wrong with praying without a turban because the head is not ‘awrah, and it is not obligatory to cover it whilst observing Solāh, whether one is performing Solāh as an imām, observing Solāh alone or following an imām. But if wearing a turban is customary then it is better to do it, especially when praying with other people, because Allāh says: “O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes) while praying” [al-A’raf 7:31]; and this is part of adornment.
It is well known that men who are in ihram pray bareheaded, because they are not allowed to cover their heads whilst in ihram. Hence it is known that there is nothing wrong with praying bareheaded.”
[Majmu’ Fatawa al-Shaikh Ibn Baaz, 10/406]
3 – Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullāh) said:
“It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu`anhu) said to his freed slave Naafi’: “Do you go and meet people bareheaded?” He said: “No.” He said: “Allah has more right that you should be modest before Him.” This indicates that it is better to cover the head, but if we apply the words of Allah: “O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes) while performing Solāh” [al-A’raf 7:31] – to this issue, we will see that covering the head is better among people who regard covering the head as a kind of adornment.
But if we are among people who do not regard that as a kind of adornment, we do not say that covering it is better or that leaving it bare is better. It is proven that the (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) used to pray in a turban, and the turban is a head covering.”
[Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 2/166]
[Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 2/166]
And Allah Almighty knows best.
[ Via Islam Q&A]