Lengthening Garments (Isbal)


As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatu’Llah,

Can the shaykh enlighten us about the hukm of isbal, specifically the following:

1. What does isbal mean linguistically and in its Shar’i application? (Is there an opinion that it relates to trailing as opposed to merely lengthening the garment?)
2. Given the very strongly worded ahadith on the subject of isbal, how are the majority of our contemporary ulama understanding the hukm (in light of the fact, for instance, that it is rare to see scholars in Syria or Egypt shorten their garments).
3. Is the presence of pride/arrogance considered an illa for the hukm? And therefore can it be surmised that in cultures where long garments are worn habitually, the restriction does not apply, or that the impropriety is lessened to a matter of kiraha or less (e.g. khilaf al-awla)?
4. Relatedly, does the hukm extend to modern garments, such as trousers?
5. Is there a difference of the applicable hukm relative to one’s position inside or outsider the context of prayer? (Thus, is there a basis for the action of those who fold their trousers before the salah?)

I realize this is asking for a mini-treatise, but hope the shaykh can help in this important matter.


`Alaykum as-Salam,
Lisan al-`Arab quotes the early linguist Ibn al-A`rabi as defining the musbil as “someone who lengthens his clothes to the ground and drags them” and that is the meaning for the feminine, as when a woman drags her train. The vast majority of the scholars past and present consider the ruling of absolute prohibition (tahrim) to apply to intentional lengthening of the clothes out of pride (khuyala‘) for that purpose. Otherwise, if it is merely a question of custom that does not associate it to pride then there is no prohibition. Al-San`ani and, more recently, Ibn `Uthaymin gave a fatwa that isbal is indifferently prohibited no matter what but this opinion is not considered correct.

As for folding the trousers before salat it should not be done because by all accepted standards it goes against the zina (adornment) commanded by Allah in places of prayer, since everyone agrees that it looks uglier than not folding. If they want to be strict they should realize that salat in trousers is abominable (makruh) in the first place whether they truss up the pant legs or let them down.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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