Here are some notes on the subject that were prepared from a book by Shaikh Mashoor Hasan Salmaan.
1. Praying in tight clothes so that they press over the private parts ('awrah)
Praying in tight fitting clothes is deemed Makrooh according to the Sharee'ah. It also harms the body and hence it is not good from the point of view of health as well. Perhaps the one praying in such clothes actually leaves parts of his prayer out.
It is known that many people who dress in such a way do not attain their prayer at all while others attain only a little, like the prayer of a hypocrite.
Those who pray, many amongst them nowadays dress in clothes that are excessively tight around one or both of their private parts (their thighs and backside)
Ibn Hajr says, that a group of the Hanafee scholars considered such practice as makrooh. [See Fathul-Baari 1/476]
If this is the case for normal trousers then what is the case when they are very tight?
'Allaamah al-Albaanee explained that trousers have two problems:
a) This is a dress that resembles the disbelievers. Muslims used to dress in wide bottoms (saaraweel) which were loose fitting and baggy like some still do so in Syria and Lebanon. The Muslims adopted this practice of wearing trousers/pants when they were colonized. When the colonizers departed, they left behind this evil influence and changed the Muslims due to the their ignorance.
b) This type of dress constricts and presses upon the 'awrah. The 'awrah of a man is from his navel up to his knee. The worshipper should be as far away as he can from disobedience of Allah during his prayer. He is prostrating (in obedience and submission) to Him. How can he be praying and standing before His Lord, when his buttocks are showing and what is between is visibly magnified?
It is surprising to find many young Muslims taking exception to ladies wearing tight clothes since they cling to their bodies, yet these young men are forgetting about themselves. There is no difference between a lady wearing tight clothes, which press against her body and a man wearing trousers, which also cling to his body. The buttock of both a man and a woman are part of the 'awrah and both of them are the same. So it is compulsory for the youth to be warned about this predicament about which, many of them are blind, except for he whom Allah has guided, which by the example set, seems to be a few. [Taken from one his tapes]
The Messenger (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) forbade a man from praying in his trousers (saaraweel) unless he had a wrapper (rida) on him. [Abu Dawud, al-Haakim and the hadeeth is Hasan]
For more details please consult the following:
"Saheeh-ul-Jaami'-us-Sagheer" of 'Allaamah al-Albaanee "Sharh ma'aani-ul-aathaar" of Imaam at-Tahaawee Shaikh Hamood at-Tuwayjiree's discussion about it in his book which talks about how resemblance of the mushrikoon has befallen upon many in "Al- Iidaah wa-tibyaan.."
As long as the trousers are wide and not tight the prayer is valid, but it is better to have a shirt or a top, one that covers between the navel and the knee, or lower still onto the middle of his shins, or down to just above his ankles, because that is the complete covering.
'Allaamah Ibn Baz has a fatwah where he says that it is permissible to pray in trousers so long as the 'awrah is not pressed against due to its expansiveness and his backside is not shamelessly visible. If his backside becomes visible then the prayer is invalidated and if only the clothes press against his 'awrah then it is makrooh.
2. Praying in thin and transparent clothing
Just like it is makrooh to pray in tight fitting clothes which cling to the 'awrah, it is not permissible to pray in thin clothes which are transparent enough to make the (actual) body visible. [Fataawaa Rasheed Ridaa 5/2056]
Praying in sleeping suit or pyjamas:
Abu Hurairah (radhiAllahu 'anhu) reports that a man stood up to the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and asked him about praying in a single garment. So he (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Unless you find two garments." Then he asked 'Umar (radhiAllahu 'anhu) who said, "When Allah is generous, be generous yourselves. A man prayed in a lower garment (izaar) and an upper garment (ridaa), a waist wrapper (izaar) and a shirt (qamees), in a lower wrap (izaar) and an outer garment with full length sleeves (qaba`), in trousers (saraaweel) and an upper wrap (ridaa), in trousers and a shirt (qamees), in trousers and upper garment (qaba`), in tubbaan and qaba`, and in tubbaan and qamees. [Bukhaaree, Maalik in al-Muatta, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nan-Nisai, Ibn Maajah, al-Humaidee, Ahmad in al-Musnad, at-Tayaalisee, at-Tahaawee, al-Baghawee, Abu Nu'aim, al- Khateeb]
'Abdullaah ibn 'Umar (radhiAllahu 'anhu) saw Naafi' praying by himself in a single garment (thawb). So he said to him, "Can you not wear two garments?" He said, "Of course". He said, "Do you go out to the market in a single garment?" He said, "No". He said, "Allah has more right that He is dressed up for!" [at-Tahaawee in "Sharh ma'anee-ul-aathaar", "Tafseer-ul-qurtubee" and "al-mughnee"]
Such is the case for one who prays in his night garments. He would feel shy to go to market in it on account of its thinness and transparency.
Ibn 'Abdul-Barr said in "at-tamheed" : "The people of knowledge love for one to be enveloped in his garments; that he beautifies himself for his prayer as much as he is able with regards to his clothes, applies perfume and cleanses his teeth (miswaak)."
On the topic of conditions for the correctness of the prayer, the jurists (fuqahaa) talk about the condition of covering the 'awrah: They make the condition for the covering to be thick and say it is not permissible to make it fine so that the skin tone is visible. ["al-majmoo'", "al- mughnee", etc]
This is a requirement whether for a man or a woman, whether praying alone or in congregation. So whoever's clothes reveal his 'awrah in spite of his ability to keep it covered, then his prayer is invalidated.
"Yaa banee aadama khudhoo zeenatakum 'inda kulli masjidin..."
"O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying..."
[Qur'an -A'raf Aayah 31]
According to "Ad-deenul-khaalis" 2/101 and "at-Tamheed" 6/379 the aim of zeenah (adornment) is the thawb and the command means to conceal the 'awrah for every prayer.
Praying in a light tunic:
Some people pray in garments that only lightly cover their bodies and its transparency allows one to see the person's skin colour, while not wearing anything underneath. (It is not enough to wear shorts or trunks underneath unless it covers the extent between the belly-button and the knee.) The statement of Umar previously shows usage of more than one garment to screen oneself and how one garment is added to another. The evidence shows that it is compulsory (waajib) to be properly covered and praying in only one garment is allowed only because of the person's circumstances (poverty). The prayer of someone in two garments is better than doing so in one. This has been clearly elaborated by Qaadhi 'Iyaadh who has dispelled the differences regarding this matter. [See Fathul-Baari, al-majmoo' 1/476 and Nayl-ul-awtaar 2/78, 84]
Imaam Shaafi'ee said if a person prays in his shirt and it reveals him, then his prayer is invalidated. [See al-Umm 1/78]
Even worse for ladies:
The lady doing that is in a more terrible situation than the man. And if she prays in a loose outer garment with sleeves and slit in front then it is better for her to wear her jilbab on top. She must make sure she does not pray wearing delicate material such as nylon or chiffon.
Consider the hadeeth where we are told how in the last part of the nation of Muhammad (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa salam) there will be ladies who are "dressed yet they are naked."
Ibn 'Abdul-Barr says such women will dress in light material which will cover them yet not screen them, so they will be dressed in name but naked in reality. ["Tanweer-ul-hawaalik" 3/103]
A report from Hisham ibn 'Urwah shows once Mundhir ibn Zubair sent a beautiful garment from Kohistan to Asma bint Abi bakr who having felt the material and disapprovingly asked for it to be sent back to the sender. When asked as to why since it did not show the body, she replied it was transparent. [Ibn Sa'd in "at-tabaqaat-ul-kubra" 8/184: saheeh]
As-Safaareenee said it is forbidden to wear clothing that is light and fine so that the 'awrah is not covered whether for a male or a female. This is a matter of the Sharee'ah without any difference. ["ad-deen-ul-khaalis" 6/180]
Ash-Shawkaanee said in "Nayl-ul-awtaar" 2/115 that it is compulsory (wajib) for a lady to cover her body with a garment which is not transparent. This is a condition for covering the 'awrah.
3. Praying in long and overflowing lower garment (practicing isbaal or being a musbil)
Abu Hurairah (radhiAllahu 'anhu) said: "While a man was praying with his lower garment hanging down the Messenger (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said to him, "Go and do wudhu." So he went, performed ablution and came back. He (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Go and do wudhu." So a man said to him, "O Messenger of Allah! Why do you ask him to do wudhu?" So he remained silent about him. Then he said, "He was praying while his lower garment was hanging down (i.e., he was a musbil)." [Abu Dawud, Musnad Ahmad, An-Nisai in Sunan al-Kubra, an-Nawawi]
'Abdullaah ibn 'Umar (radhiAllahu 'anhumaa) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Allah does not look at the prayer of a person who lets his lower garment flow out of pride" [Ibn Khuzaimah]
Ibn Mas'ood (radhiAllahu 'anhu) said he heard the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) say, "Whoever lets his lower garment hang down (over or below the ankles) from vanity then there is neither ease from Allah nor anything blessed." [Abu Dawud and in 'Allaamah Albaani's Saheeh Jaami'-us-Sagheer]
This means there is no forgiveness for him or honor for him with Allah. He does not preserve himself from the evils of his actions. It is also said that this means he does not (really) believe with regards to what Allah has made permissible and forbidden. Also, some say it means he has freed himself from Allah and become separated from His Deen. For further details and discussion on the understanding presented, please consult "Faidh-ul-Qadeer" and "Al-Majmu'".
The Shafi's and Hanbalis reckon the tradition is a proof that it is forbidden to let the lower garment drop below (the top of the ankles) in prayer when done out of pride, and according to the Shafi's it is objectionable when no vanity is intended. [See "Al-Majjmu'" and "Nail-ul-Awtaar"]
For a detailed discussion on this please consult "Majmoo' al-Fataawa" of Ibn Taimiyyah, "Fathul-Baari", and "'Awn-al-Ma'bood" where you will find the explanation that it is indeed forbidden to practice isbaal whether with pride or without it.
Shaikh Ahmed Shaakir pursued this matter in his verification of authenticity of prophetic reports (hadeeths) in Ibn Hazm's "al-Muhalla" and showed how the author had left out the first hadeeth which is a strong proof that the prayer of a musbil is invalid.
Ibn al-Qayyim elaborated about the first hadeeth and said letting the lower garment flow is sinful. The man was ordered to perform ablution and pray because ablution puts out the heat of sinfulness.
At-Teebi explained the man was asked to do ablution although he was clean so that he would consider the reason why he was ordered so. Allah blessed the request of the Prophet in that such outward cleanliness will cleanse the stain of arrogance inside, because exterior cleanliness affects the inward cleanliness.
Ibn Taimiyyah in his "Majmoo' al-Fataawa" emphasised that it is the same whether one practices isbaal of his trousers, or lower wrap or shirt (qamees). It is obligatory for every Muslim to leave isbaal and fear Allah about it.
'Allaamah Ibn Baz's discussion on isbaal
'Allam Ibn Baz was asked whether it is correct to pray behind an innovator (mubtadi') and one who is a musbil and he said:
"The prayer is correct behind the innovator and the one who is a musbil and (one who has some) other sin according to what is more right from what the scholars say, as long as it is not a bid'ah of disbelief (kufr) for the person. If it is a bidah of disbelief like that of a Jahmee and similar to that, which takes a person outside the fold of Islaam, then it is not correct to pray behind such people. However, it is obligatory for those responsible (amongst the people) that they choose the imam to be of a pleasing character and safe from bid'ah and immorality. (This is) because being an imam is a great (and important) trust (amaanah). He stands as an example to the Muslims by it. Thus it is not permissible to render its custodianship to the people of innovation and immorality when others are able to be appointed."
Isbaal is totally sinful which is necessary (wajib) to avoid and warn against it because of the statement, "Whatever hangs below both ankles from the lower garment (izaar) is in the Fire." [Bukhaari, An-Nisai]
Whatever is like the izaar also comes under the same judgement, like the shirt (qamees), trousers, cloak (woollen - basht) and similar to that. It is authentic from the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) that he said, "Allah will not speak to three (types of people), nor will He look at them on the Day of Judgement, nor will He purify them, and they will have a painful punishment: the person who is a musbil with regard to his garment, ... ..." Muslim brings this in his Saheeh.
When the person does so with izaar or something similar due to pride and arrogance then that makes him even more strong in sinning and draws him nearer to the punishment, since the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Whoever lets his garment flow (upon and beneath the ankles) due to vanity Allah will not look at him on the Day of Judgement."
It is compulsory for every Muslim to be on guard against what Allah has forbidden for him with regards to isbaal and other sins.
[Mujallat-ud-Da'wah No. 913]
4. Rolling up the garment in prayer
One of the mistakes of some of those who pray is that they tuck up their garments before starting their prayer.
It is reported from Ibn 'Abbaas (radhiAllahu 'anhumaa) that the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "I have been ordered to prostrate upon seven (bones) and that I neither tuck up the hair nor the garment (thawb)." [Muslim, An-Nisai, Ibn Khuzaimah]
Ibn Khuzaimah interpreted this narration with a chapter heading "Prevention from tucking up the garments in prayer".
An-Nawawi said the scholars are in agreement that it is not permissible to pray while his garment is rolled up or his sleeve or anything similar. [Sharh Saheeh Muslim]
Imaam Maalik said that if his clothes are already like that since he was doing a job and he rolled it up for that work and he started his prayer as he is, then there is no harm that he prays in that condition.
However, if he only does that to tuck up his hair or garment then there is no good in it. [Al-Mudawwanat-ul-Kubra]
An-Nawawi continued to say that the prohibition of hemming the garment is that of strong dislike. If he prays like that then he does evil although his prayer is correct. This is supported by At-Tabari where he speaks of a consensus by the scholars and Ibn-ul-Mundhir who takes recourse to Hasan Al-Basri.
5. Praying without covering the head
It is permissible to pray in bare head for a man. The head is 'awrah for a woman. However, it is recommended (mustahab) that he is completely dressed for prayer. This includes covering the head with a cap, or turban or something similar from what is customary from his clothes.
Uncovering the head without excuse is detested (makrooh) especially in the compulsory prayers and even more especially in congregation.
'Allaamah Albaani said: "As for what I see, it is makrooh to pray with the head bare and this is indisputable. It is recommended for Muslims to enter the prayer in full Islamic manner of dressing because of the hadeeth, "Allah has more right that you beautify for Him." [At-Tahawi, At-tabraani, Al-Baihaqi. See Silsiltus-Saheehah]
"This is not from the good manners from the customs of the Salaf to have the head uncovered and walk like that on the road, and enter places of worship like that, but it is from the ways of the foreigner which has infiltrated the Islamic lands when the disbelievers set foot in it, and imported their corrupt custom and the Muslims imitated them in it. So repel it and its likes... ... This is an extraordinary accident and it is not appropriate that it should warrant contradicting the prior Islamic culture, and be taken as an excuse for permission to pray without head-covering."
Then 'Allaamah Albaani goes on to explain the mistake of some brothers in Egypt who brought the proof of the permissibility to pray without covering the head by analogising with how the head is uncovered for someone in ihraam during the pilgrimage. This is wrong since not covering the head during the pilgrimage is from the law (Sharee'ah) of Allah. If their analogy was right them they should make it compulsory to pray without any head covering at all since it is obligatory to do so during the pilgrimage! [Tamaam-ul-Minnah fee ta'leeq 'alaa fiqh-us- Sunnah by 'Allaamah Albaani]
It is not established at all that the Messenger (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) ever prayed outside the pilgrimage with bare head, without a turban/cap. Whoever thinks he did so then he should bring the proof. If he (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) had done so, it would have been recorded.
Let it be known that it is just makrooh for a man to pray with bare head. [Al-Majmoo' - Al-Baghawi etc.]
PS: The narration attributed to Ibn 'Abbaas that the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) would sometimes remove his cap and place it as a sutrah in front of him is weak (da'eef). Even if it was authentic then it does not prove praying in bare head since it is compulsory and more important to take a sutrah and it is more evident that he did that to make up for lack of any suitable sutrah.
6. Praying in clothes which has pictures on it
A'isha (radhiAllahu 'anha) said that (once) the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) prayed in a woolen garment which had markings on it. When he finished his prayer he said, "Go to Abu Jahm ibn Hudhaifah with this garment and bring me an inbijaaniyyah, because this has distracted me too much in my prayer." [Bukhaari, Muslim, Nisai, Ibn Maajah, Muatta of Maalik]
The inbijaaniyyah that the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) desired is a thick garment which has no markings or pattern on it unlike the khameesah (woolen garment which he was wearing at the time) which he rejected and it had such markings. And patterns are more preferable than pictures.
At-Teebi said while commenting on the above narration that pictures and similar things, which can be seen, affects the pure hearts and clean souls. [See "'Umdatul-Qaari" and "Fathul-Baari"]
Anas (radhiAllahu 'anhu) said that (once) A'isha (radhiAllahu 'anha) had a curtain which she used to screen a side of her house. The Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said to her, "Remove it from me, because its pictures keep on turning my attention away from my prayer." [Bukhaari]
The above narration presents a difficulty when viewed against the other hadeeth also from A'isha (radhiAllahu 'anha) which says that the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) would not enter the house which had a screen/curtain with pictures on it. [Muslim] This is resolved by knowing that this narration is talking about pictures of living creatures on the material while the first narration is not about such.
The above hadeeth of Anas (radhiAllahu 'anhu) is evidence that it is makrooh to pray in a garment which has pictures on it.
From the above evidences al-Qatalaani said in "Irshaad-ul-Saari" if the picture distracts a person praying in front of it then it is more so when he is clothed in such garments. Al-'Aini in "'Umdat-ul-Qaari" noted about the chapter in Bukhaari "Dislike of praying where there is a picture" that this means this chapter (by Bukhaari) explains that it is makrooh to pray in the house which has a garments with pictures on it. Thus if it is makrooh to do so in such case then it is worse when dressed in such material.
The jamhoor hold the position that it is makrooh.
Their evidence is the narration from A'isha (radhiAllahu 'anha) who said: "I had a garment with pictures on it which I had spread out and the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) was praying towards it. So he said, "Take it away from me." So I (cut it into pieces and) made (some) screens (out of it). [Muslim, Nisai]
After mentioning this hadeeth an-Nawawi said, "As for the garment which has a picture or a cross or whatever draws the attention away, then praying in it or towards it or on it is makrooh due to the hadeeth."
7. Praying in saffron dyed clothes (Saffron colour is red or bright orange-red)
'Abdullaah ibn 'Umar (radhiAllahu 'anhumaa) said that the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) saw him dressed with two saffron coloured garments. So he said, "This is the dress of the disbelievers, so do not clothe yourself with it." [Muslim, Musnad Ahmad]
In one narration he (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said to him, "Did your mother order you to wear it?" I said, "Shall I wash them both?" He said, "Rather burn them both!"
Yet another narration says, "So I did that."
In another narration it says how he was seen by the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) in a garment stained with saffron dye so he was told, "What is this garment that is upon you?!" So he understood by that its dislike and went home and found them heating up the stove to cook meat and threw the garment into it. Then he went to the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) the next day and he said, "What have you done with your garment?" So when he had told him, he said, "Why didn't you clothe some of your family with it? There is no harm in the ladies using it." [Musnad Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Maajah]
It is reported from Anas (radhiAllahu 'anhu) that the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) forbade the man from wearing saffron (clothes). [Bukhaari]
'Ali (radhiAllahu 'anhu) said the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) forbade from saffron dyed clothes. [Muslim, Nisai, Abu Dawud]
Ibn Qudaamah said, "Concerning praying in red garments, our companions have said it is makrooh for a man to clothe in it and pray in it." [Al-Mughni]
Ibn-ul-Qayyim discusses this in "Zaad-ul-Ma'ad" and says it is indeed very strongly disliked although still permissible. Allah granted refuge from it to the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) when he wore a blood-red garment and now there is doubt as to the true meaning of red cloth.
At-Tabraani in "Al-Awsat" discusses the red garment of the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and says it is a mistake to think the garment was pure red and not mixed with anything else. This red garment was a Yemeni costume woven with red and yellow thread like all such Yemeni costumes. It is called red due to the red thread in it. As for pure red then this is strongly forbidden.