Islam touches on everything that affects the life of mankind; spiritual, social, academic, economic etc. As Allaah says; "We have neglected nothing in the Book [Quran], then unto their Lord they [all] shall be gathered." [Q 6:38]. Without any doubt one of the things that Allaah and His Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] talked and emphasised about is the Muslims identity.
The identity of a Muslim is what defines him and sets him apart from those who are not believers. Typically, when we talk about a Muslims identity the predominant thing in our mind is the outward appearance of the Muslim i.e. manner of dressing. That is important but the Muslims identity is more than his outward appearance. Here are some of the things that define the Muslim:
1.True [Islamic] Belief
The first thing that identifies a person as a Muslim is his correct belief and faith in Allaah. This is the most important thing that qualifies a person to be a true Muslim. If a person is deficient in this, though he prays, fasts, goes for Hajj, pays the Zakat, wears the hijab and has the best of character, he will still not be regarded and identified as a true Muslim. If for example a person who is born a Muslim and bears an Islamic name like Muhammad, Abdullah, Abdur Rahman, Abubakr, or Umar etc. does not see anything wrong in believing that Allaah is three in one or sees nothing wrong in participating and approving the worship of Ogun, Osun Osogbo or goes to church on some Sundays etc., though his name identifies him as Muslim the person will still not be a Muslim. Therefore the most important thing that identifies a person as true Muslim is his proper Islamic belief. And the proper belief of the Muslim is that which is based on the Quran the Sunnah and the understanding of the Companions of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him].
Another important thing that identifies a Muslim is the saying "Assalam Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wabarakatuhu" [May the peace, mercy and the blessings of Allaah be upon you]. This saying is one of the things that identify the Muslims and it is their universal greeting i.e. it is a greeting that all Muslims adopt irrespective of the country, state or community and whatever time. Apart from the fact that it is a universal language, it also carries a lot of reward saying it. The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: "The Jews do not envy you for anything more than they envy you- for the salutations and the saying of ameen behind the imam. "(Ahmad).
Ten, twenty, or thirty
Narrated Abu Hurairah [RA]: "A man passed by the Messenger of Allaah [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] who was seated in a gathering and said, Assalam Alaikum. The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, "Ten good deeds [are written for him]. Another man passed by and said, Asaalam Alaikum Warahmatullahi," and the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, Twenty good deeds". Then another man passed by and said, Assalam Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu" and the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, Thirty good deeds" [Bukhari]
Paradise for you
The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] also said: "You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not guide you to something which if you do it will make you love one another? Spread greeting of peace among yourselves [Assalam Alaikum] [Bukhari]
3. Good Character
The third thing that identifies a person as a Muslim is good character. A good Muslim always stands out in terms of his character. Honesty, gentleness, patience, discipline, kindness, etc are some of the character traits that the Muslim should be well-known with. As a matter of fact, if someone wants to do something evil or morally bad while a good Muslim is there, he will exercise some restraints because of the presence of that Muslim.
We should also know that one of the reasons Allaah sent the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] to mankind is to perfect the character of the believer. The Messenger of Allaah [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him], said, "I was sent to perfect good character." [Muwatta] And Abdullah bin Amr (RA) narrated: The Prophet never used bad language neither a fahish [the one who does immoral things] nor a Mutafahish [the one who cooperates with another to do immoral acts]. He used to say "The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character. "(Bukhari)
Also, one of the qualities that Allaah used in describing the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] is his beautiful character. Allaah says;
"And verily, you [0 Muhammad] are on an exalted [standard of] character. [Q 68: 4]
Therefore, a Muslim always takes care of his character and not compromise his position as far as good character is concerned. While it is true that some people may make jest of him and call him names for being morally upright, he will surely be the one who will be better-off, both in this world and in the Hereafter.
4. Appearance and Dressing
The fourth thing that identifies a person to be a Muslim is his appearance and dressing. As a matter of fact it is the thing that is noticed in a person even from a distance. This is so because it is only in Islam that you have a description of everything in which the matter of dressing is not an exception. The issue of dressing in Islam is divided into two - that of the male and that of the female. Male dressing There are certain conditions that the dressing of a male must fulfil. These have been stated in the Book of Allaah [Quran] and the ahadeeth of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him].
They are the following:
1. Must cover the Aurah [nakedness]
The cloth of the Muslim male should cover what is between the navel and the knees, which is his aurah. This is the aurah of the male Muslim. Reported Muhammad Jahsh (RA): "The Messenger of Allah, [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him], passed by Mamar while his thighs were uncovered. He said, to him, 0 Mamar, cover your thighs, for they are (part of the) aurah. "[Ahmad]
2. No silk or gold for males
Narrated Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila (RA): We were sitting in the company of Hudhaifa who asked for water and a Magian brought him water. But when he placed the cup in his hand, he threw it at him and said, "Had I not forbidden him to do so more than once or twice?" He wanted to say, "I would not have done so," adding, "but I heard the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] saying, "Do not wear silk or Dibaj, and do not drink in silver or golden vessels, and do not eat in plates of such metals, for such things are for the unbelievers in this worldly life and for us in the Hereafter. "[Bukhari]
Allaah's Messenger [peace and blessing of Allaah be upon him] also said concerning silk and gold: "Both of these things, i.e. gold and silk, are forbidden for the males of my ummah, but they are permissible for the females. "[Silsilat ahadeeth saheehah]
3. Not below the ankle
Whatever a Muslim male wears should not go below the ankle. This is forbidden for Muslim male to do. Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): Allaah's Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, "Allaah will not look, on the Day of Resurrection, at a person who drags his Izar (behind him) out of pride and arrogance." [Bukhari]. Also, Abu Huraira (RA) narrated that the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, The part of an lzar which hangs below the ankles is in the Fire. "[Bukhari]
4. Not ostentatious
The dress must not be ostentatious for show of pride or worldliness or to gain high reputation or to be "noticed in the crowd". An example of this is the wearing of very expensive or individualistic clothing which stands out the individual amongst other properly dressed Muslims with the aim of achievinq a certain distinction among them. Abdullah Ibn Umar (RA) related that the Messenger of Allaah [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: "Whosoever wore ostentatious dress in this worldly life, Allaah will clothe him in a dress of humiliation and disgrace on the Day of Resurrection; then He will kindle it with fire. "(Abu Dawud)
5. Must not look like that of the disbelievers
Another condition that it must also fulfil is that is should not be a kind of dressing that is specifically known with the disbelievers; be it idol worshipers, Christians, Jews etc. The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: "Whosoever imitates a people, he is one of them. "[Ahmad]
6. Must not look like that of females
Finally, it is not permissible for a male to put on something that is peculiar to the females and vice versa. Female dressing As for the females, here follows the most important conditions that are obvious requirements of the hijab:
1. Should cover the entire body ... The clothing must cover the entire body except that which has been allowed to be uncovered i.e. the face and hands. Allaah says; "O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks [veils} allover their bodies"[Q 33:59]
2. Not transparent
The fabric that the womans clothing is made of must not be so thin or delicate so as to display the bodys form or skin colour. Allaah's Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: "There will be found amongst the latter day people of my nation (of Muslims), women who are (ostensibly) dressed, but (in reality) naked, their hair will be rolled up in a bun at the tops of their heads like the camels hump. Curse them for verily they are cursed. "(Related by At- Tabarani)
3. Loose, not tight-fitting
The clothing must hang loosely on the body and must not be tight fitting such that it shows the shape and size of the limbs. Usaama bin Zaid (RA) said: "Allaahs Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] gave me a gift of thick Coptian cloth which he had previously received as a gift from Dahiah AI-Kalby, so I gave it to my wife to use for her clothing. The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] (later) asked me: Whats with you that you dont wear the Coptian cloth? I replied: I gave it to my wife to wear. The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] then said: "Order her to wear a gown under the Coptian cloth, for verily I fear that it might reveal the size and shape of her body parts". (Ahmad)
The reason for wearing loose fitting clothing is to remove the attraction and fascination of her body from the eyes of the beholder. It is obvious that tight fitting clothes clearly display the shape and size of the body and this goes against the order given by the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] in the hadith mentioned.
4. Not like that of males
A womans clothes should not resemble a mans clothes and vice versa. Abu Hurayrah (RA) said: "Allaahs Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the man who wears attire which resembles womens clothing, and he cursed the woman who wears garments resembling mens clothing." (Abu Dawud with an authentic chain)
5. No bold designs The garments must not have such bold designs or consist of such bright colours that they charm and attract mens attention to the woman wearing them. Allaah says in the Quran: "...And let the women not display their adornments... " (An-Nur 24:30-31)
This verse describes the outer garments as well as the actual body underneath. Hence the outer garment should not be attractively decorated with the result that special attention is drawn to the woman wearing it.
6. Not like that of the disbelievers The clothing worn by a believing woman must not resemble the clothes normally worn by disbelieving women. Abdullah Ibn Umar [RA] relates that Allaahs Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Whosoever resembles a people, he is one of them." (Ahmad)
Muslims (men and women) should differ from the disbelievers in all of their affairs, such as religious observances and festivities, their customs, and their attire and adornment.
7. Not ostentatious The dress must not be ostentatious for show of pride or worldliness or to gain high reputation or to be "noticed in the crowd". This is similar to what has been earlier stated for men above. It is the duty of every Muslim woman to guard her modesty and conceal her adornment from all those who are forbidden to see them. Those who fulfil this obligation will surely achieve Allaah's pleasure and peace in this life as well as the eternal bliss of Paradise which Allah has promised those who sincerely fear and obey Him. "O prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks [veil] all over their bodies" [Q33:59]
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited