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Question: What is the ruling concerning a man allowing his pants to go beyond his ankles?

The Prophet, peace be upon him, is reported to have said, "Allah will not look favourably towards a person who drags his/her clothes on the ground out of false pride." Upon hearing this one of his foremost companions, namely Abu Bakr, enquired, “But I am one of those whose clothes fall below my ankles?” Then the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “You are not doing it out of pride!”

It is easy to conclude from this that the Prophet’s interdict against allowing one’s clothes fall below the ankles is primarily intended to counter the pomp and flamboyancy in regards to attire that were characteristic of the Arab aristocracy at the time. Strangely enough such customs still persist among the rich and famous today as we the royalties among Arabs and others often dragging their high flowing robes on the ground while walking.

While condemning such habits, The Prophet, peace be upon him, intended to send a message to Muslims that they must avoid such extravagant and flamboyant life-style and mannerisms and manifest humility, modesty and prudence in their life-style and demeanor.

It is only when we take the trouble to study the Islamic teachings in their context that we can truly appreciate the wisdom and rationale of those teachings. Failure to do so is no different than someone preferring to grope in darkness, abandoning the light in his own hands. It is ironic that the Qur’an exhorts the faithful to reason and think and avoid the thoughtless behaviour of brutes and pagans who simply follow customs and conventions of their forefathers without critically examining their utility or benefit, and yet most Muslims hold on to quite irrational views about their religion.

In conclusion: The Prophet’s interdict against letting the clothes fall below the ankles was never intended at those who wear pants, provided one takes care not to drag them on the floor. To stretch this to imply that we must roll up our pants is taking this a bit too far. While thus seeking to apply the letter of the law, we end up forgetting the primary intent of the Lawgiver which was to teach Muslims to wear the cloth of piety, humility and modesty in their mannerisms and appearance as well as while carrying themselves around. May Allah bestow on us wisdom and discernment, and may He forgive us our trespasses and slip-ups-aameen.

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