Islamic Costumes and Fashion: Traditions, Style and Symbolism

Arsalan Hassan June 11, 2024

The style and type of Costumes or clothing mainly depend on cultural norms. Fashion and style of clothes vary in different parts of the world. Hence, dressing is quite different in Asian Countries as compared to that in Europe or Africa.

Moreover, the style of clothing is not static. It keeps on changing with an ongoing evolution process. That’s why the once-popular dresses are hardly seen in use these days. Similarly, the dresses vary with every country or nation and in some cases, even within a country. On the other hand, the National Dress of a country remains almost the same over the centuries.

But most importantly, the religious factor also plays a significant role in the clothing style. The impact of religion on the overall dressing styles is quite visible in the case of Islam. Muslims, wherever they live, would always observe at least the basic concept of an Islamic dress code while simultaneously following the local culture and traditions.

The Concept of an Islamic Dress

Islam is a complete code of life. It provides exclusive guidance on every aspect of life. Hence, we can find quite an explicit mention of the Islamic Dress Code in the Quran and Hadith. Islam does not bind Muslims to wear certain types of clothes but guides what should be the purpose of clothes and simultaneously prohibits them from some types of clothes. To learn the dua for wearing clothes, visit the website.

The basic purpose of a dress is mentioned in the 26th verse of Surah Al A’raf:

Translation – O sons of Adam, We have revealed to you a dress that would both hide your nakedness and be an adornment, but the raiment of piety is best. This is one of the tokens of God: You may haply reflect.

Going further, verses 30 and 31 of Surah An-Nour specifically mention what an Islamic dress for men and women would be.


Tell the believing men to lower their eyes and guard their private parts. There is for them goodness in this. God is aware of what they do.

Tell the believing women to lower their eyes, guard their private parts, and not display their charms except what is apparent outwardly, and cover their bosoms with their veils (relevant part of verse 31)

Similarly, Hadith 1903 of Sunan Ibn Majah narrates the style of dress for men and women in a different context as under:

Translation – It was narrated from Abu Hurairah: that the Messenger of Allah cursed women who imitate men and men who imitate women.

There are so many other mentions about dresses in the Quran and Hadith. These quotes from the Quran and Hadith specify the basic concept of an Islamic dress. In the light of the Islamic teachings based on the Quran and Hadith, the Islamic dress can be summarized as under:

  • There is no specific type of dress recommended for Muslims.
  • Clothing is required to hide the nakedness of a person.
  • The minimum part of the body that needs to be hidden by clothes for men is the groin area.
  • Women must hide their entire bodies except the face, hands, and feet.
  • Men are not allowed to wear gold and silk. These are meant for women.
  • Clothes for women should be loose enough to hide their body parts properly.
  • Men should wear the garments meant for men and women should wear the clothes meant for women. They should not imitate each other.
  • Muslims are urged to observe modesty in clothing.

Concept of Modest Fashion in Islamic Clothing

The term Modesty is specifically used in Islamic Clothing. Modest clothing, sometimes called the Hijab, is more relevant to Women’s attire. In Islam, modesty means a dress that conforms with the teachings of Islam. Modesty in dresses may vary with cultural norms and local traditions, but it remains bounded by the limits as specified in the Quran and Hadith.

So, modest Islamic clothing should essentially cover the body while not being revealing and provocative. The concept behind such attire in Islam is to prevent temptation, especially in female dresses. The idea is to prevent a person from being distracted from the righteous way of life. A flamboyant, tightly fitted, and provocative female dress is strongly prohibited in Islam.

So, modest women’s fashion in Islamic society is the best way to maintain Islamic norms while keeping pace with modern fashion.

Modesty in Men’s Wear in Islam

Modesty in dresses is not restricted to women in Islam. It also applies to men’s attire. Per Islamic teachings and traditions, men are equally bound not to wear a dress or adopt a getup that may be provocative for the opposite sex. Islam does not allow such things for both men and women.

So, the modest clothing for men is also very important. From the religious perspective, modest dress for men aims to show respect and adopt a state of piety. Dressing modestly, men can also show their resolve to maintain the spirit of Islamic teachings and culture.

Islamic Costumes – The Culture, Tradition and Symbolism

Although it is very important for a Muslim to follow the basic guidelines of Islamic teachings about what to wear and what not to, it is equally important to observe the local cultural traditions. You cannot wear an Arabic-styled dress while living in a non-Arabic part of the world, especially in Europe or America. Hence, dressing has to be in accordance with the local cultural traditions.

But being a Muslim, one has to follow the basic Islamic teachings as well. So, the costumes or dresses should be designed to conform to the local cultural traits and the basic requirements of Islamic dress. The outfit of a Muslim living in any part of the world should differentiate him from non-Muslims while maintaining the local traditions. An Islamic look should essentially be reflected in the dress of a Muslim, irrespective of the country he belongs to. At least it should have a symbolic reference to Islam.


Dress reflects an individual’s personality. It shows his cultural and traditional background and his characteristic behavior. One can easily recognize his nationality just by looking at his dress. But there is another very important factor about the attire: your religious affiliation.

Every religion has a specific set of costumes, often used for specific religious events. But Islam does not have any such particular style of dressing. Islam allows us to wear any dress but binds us to observe the parameters defined in Islamic teachings. Per Islamic teachings, Islamic dress should essentially fulfill the purpose of hiding certain parts of the body, both for men and women. It should not be provocative. So, wear whatever your local traditions allow, but strictly consider the parameters set by the Islamic teachings.