I recall an incident my close friend related to me, which was the main inspiration behind this post, wherein he was pulled out of his prayer and lectured against harshly merely due to the fact that his pants were not above his ankles. Talk about extreme measures… but the reality is that such an attitude is not uncommon among some of the religious youth and even (some) scholars. Although many would not go to the extent of pulling someone out of his prayer, there is certainly a looking down upon those who “drag their garments”. Ofcourse, the fundamental reason behind such an attitude is biased partisanship as well as a lack of awareness that the matter at hand is differed upon.
Before beginning, it is pertinent for everyone to know, in specific those associated with the path of Hakim al Ummah Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi, that the first step in suluk – in traversing the path to Allah – is to consider oneself the most inferior of all of Allah’s creation, so much so that even if one sees another engaging in sin he will not hold him in contempt for it is possible that the perpetuator of sin repents from his sin and becomes one of Allah’s friends whereas we become entrapped in the desires of the devil and the nafs.
It is also pertinent to know that the Akabir of Deoband spoke about ikhtilaf and its limits. Maulana Thanawi (Allah sanctify his secret) has a very detailed treatise on this very topic that has been reproduced in Bawadir al Nawadir. The issue at hand is a fiqhi one, regarding which Maulana Thanawi (Allah sanctify his secret) says:
“The third type of difference is the difference that relates to a religious matter from among the branches (furu`), with proof – whether that proof is textual, or ones ijtihad, or ones following of a righteous person’s ijtihad and fatawa. This is the type of difference that has been present among the community from the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) … and a rule pertaining to such a difference is that when it is well and accepted one cannot have antipathy towards another and nor can he accuse him of misguidance and evil, something prevalent amongst the extremist’s books and speeches. This is clear innovation, misguidance, intolerant bias, and against the way of the pious predecessors (salaf).”
(Bawadi al Nawadir Pg: 671-674, Idarat Islamiyat Ed: 1985)
With the above in mind, it is now possible to proceed. There are two major opinions within the Hanafi school regarding having one’s trousers below the ankles:
(1) The scholars of Deoband and others state that doing so is makruh tahriman (prohibitively disliked) whether it is done with pride (خيلاء ) or not,
(2) Many of the Hanafi scholars among the muta’akhirin and muhaqiqin say that it is makruh tanzihan (slighlty disliked) and therefore not sinful if done without pride. However, if done with pride it will be makruh tahriman.
The reason for this difference is due to conflicting hadith on the issue, some mentioning the impermissibility of dragging the garment below the ankles unconditionally while others establish such impermissibily with the accompaniment of pride. Imam Bukhari narrates in his Sahih:
حدثنا آدم حدثنا شعبة حدثنا سعيد بن أبي سعيد المقبري عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه
عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال ما أسفل من الكعبين من الإزار ففي النار
“The Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Whatever from the waist-cloth is below the ankles is in the fire.”
(Kitab al Libas, Bab Ma Asfal Min al Ka`bayn Fahuwa fil Nar. Also narrated in Sunan al Nasa’i, Sunan Abu Dawud as part of a longer narration, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
Yet elsewhere, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is reported to have conditioned this, such as his saying:
لا ينظر الله إلى من جر ثوبه خيلاء
“Allah will not look towards one who drags his garment out of pride”
(Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Libas – with a number of chains and variants all mentioning “pride”. Also narrated in Bukhari)
Similarly, it is narrated in Sahih Bukhari that the Prophet said to Abu Bakr, on the latters inquiry of his dragging his garment unintentionally:
فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لست ممن يصنعه خيلاء
“You are not of those who do so out of pride.”
(Kitab al Libas)
(1) Hakim al Ummah Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi states in his Imdad al Fatawa (4:121-122):
“There is no reason to condition the general meaning of the narration and therefore hanging the garment is impermissible unconditionally and also hanging the garment with pride. Yet, if some level of difference is admitted between both prohibited acts then there is room for accepting such a difference in that one instance mentions only one prohibited action, that of hanging, while the other mentions two, both hanging and pride … as for the condition of pride then it is mentioned because many people who do this action knowingly do so out of pride.”
Elsewhere, Hakim al Ummah states:
“According to the Hanafis, in such a case the unconditional will remain unconditioned and the conditional will remain conditioned.”
This is also what Imam Anwar Shah Kashmiri stated in his Fayd al Bari:
قوله: ( من جرّ ثوبه خيلا ء ) وجرُّ الثوب ممنوعٌ عندنا مطلقا
“His saying “He who drags his garment with pride”: The dragging of the garment is impermissible with us unconditionally.”
Mufti Taqi `Uthmani states in his Taqrir al Tirmidhi (2:340):
“According to me, what seems more preferable is that, in actuality, prohibition due to pride is not conditioned with the meaning that one can drag his garment if he is not certain of feeling pride and arrogance. The correct interpretative scenario is that there is no doubt regarding the fact that its impermissibility is based on pride itself… meaning that dragging the garment is usually done as a result of pride and arrogance.
In this way the ruling of prohibition was built on pride, but pride is a hidden matter. One cannot tell if someone is doing such an act out of pride/arrogance or not, and on many occasions the one who does so arrogantly does not even know that he is engaged in such pride/arrogance. This is why its prohibition was built on the appearance of signs, and the sign was the dragging of the garment below the ankles. When this sign is manifested then it will be thought of as an act being done out of pride/arrogance, except if there is some extraneous proof that negates such pride/arrogance, for example dragging the garment without one actively and knowingly doing so.
Then, regarding this matter, two things should be kept in mind: Firstly, that no matter how arrogant one is, do you think he will admit to such arrogance and pride? If he admits to it, then he is not an arrogant man in the first place. Secondly, such arrogance is done only on the part of he who does not recognize such pride and arrogance. Then, the ruling that if pride is present it is impermissible and if it is not then it is permissible is meaningless.”
(2) The other position is that it is slightly disliked:
It is stated in one of the leading fatwa references of the Hanafi school, the Fatawa Hindiyya:
إسبال الرجل إزاره أسفل من الكعبين إن لم يكن للخيلاء ففيه كراهة تنزيه ، كذا في الغرائ
“The man’s lenghtening of his waist-cloth below the ankles without the presence of pride, then in it is slight dislikedness.”
Imam Badr al Din `Ayni stated in his Umdat al Qari Sharh Sahih Bukhari:
أي هذا باب في بيان حكم من جر إزاره من غير قصد التخييل فإنه لا بأس به من غير كراهة وكذلك يجوز لدفع ضرر يحصل له كأن يكون تحت كعبيه جراح أو حكة أو نحو ذلك إن لم يغطها تؤذيه الهوام كالذباب ونحوه بالجلوس عليها ولا يجد ما يسترها به إلاَّ إزاره أو ردائه أو قميصه وهذا كما يجوز كشف العورة للتداوي وغير ذلك من الأسباب المبيحة للترخص وقال شيخنا زين الدين وأما جوازه لغير ضرورة لا لقصد الخيل
“This is a chapter in discussion of the ruling on dragging the garment without pride and indeed there is no harm in it (la ba’asa bihi)…”
This was also the position of Imam `Ala al Din ibn `Abidin in his Hada’iyya al Ala’iyya (Pg: 238, Dar Ibn Hazm) who states:
لا يجوز إسبال الثوب تحت الكعبين، إنْ كان للخيَلاء، والتكبر، وإلاّ جاز، إلا أنّ الأفضل أن يكون فوق الكعبين، ويكره لبس ثيابٍ كثياب الفَسقة وزيِّهم، فإن اعتاد الناس لبسها، وصارت شعارَهم، (ف) لا يكر
“It is not permitted to drag ones garment below the ankles if done out of pride and arrogance, otherwise it is permitted (wa ila jaaz) although what is superior (afdhal) is that it be above the ankles (fawq al ka`abayn).”
This was also the position of Imam Nahlawi in his Al Durar al Mubaha.
Indeed, all of these scholars saw the general wordings of the hadith in question to be conditioned, and expounded on it with many proofs, among them the actions of the companions themselves, `urf (custom), and the general establishment of karaha tahnzihi – not tahrimi – in prohibited acts relating to aspects of adab. Ofcourse, this can also be detailed more from a methodological point of view, but the author neither has the ability nor the resources to engage in such a discussion.
Lastly, it is useful to note that Mufti Taqi `Uthmani himself mentioned this difference at the very beginning of his discussion on this issue. He states:
“The position of one group among the scholars is that hanging the garment is impermissible only when one does it with the intention of pride, and if one does not then there is no harm in it. At most, it is considered slightly disliked.”
To all those on the Ashrafiyya silisla, one of the practices that is to be implemented on one joining the path is to keep ones pants above his ankles. Maulana Thanawi makes this clear in his Takashaf. At the same time no one has the right to look down upon or criticise one who does not do so, since the matter is differed upon. If we do so, we will be going against the teaching and general guidelines outlined by our Akabir on the issue.
And Allah Knows Best