When it is not permissible to resemble the non-Muslims
Fatwa No: 163531

Question

In your Fatwas one thing made me confused and that is “imitating non-believer men/women“, it's used again and again. I can't distinguish believers from non believer by their hair color or clothing. But I can definitely distinguish non-believers from believer by their religious labels (Like Cross, Star, short circular hat ,hair just in middle, or some religious clothing) I quote here “But if the changing of color is for imitating the disbelievers or making it black, then it is impermissible.“ What hair color do disbeliever men/women have? or What hair length do disbeliever men/women have? What are the special things they have which categorized them as non-believer) which Muslims don't have. We all are human beings. Please explain with examples. I want to understand it correctly.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

We have already issued Fataawa 90753, 88123 and 84622 clarifying that the imitation that is forbidden is in regard to clothes and the like that are exclusive to the non-Muslims, but the things that are common between the Muslims and non-Muslims are not included in the forbidden imitation.

Besides, the imitation could be in matters related to religious rites and it could also be related to the matter of customs.

It could not be said that there is always a particular color or length for the hair of the non-Muslims, or that there is a particular dress for them in which it is forbidden to imitate them. However, if there is such a thing that is exclusive to them at any given time, then it is forbidden to imitate them in it.

On the other hand, it might be that there is something that was exclusive to them at a given time and then it has become common and used by the non-Muslims and the Muslims, in which case, it is no longer forbidden. For example, Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said when speaking about saddle pads: “If we say that they are forbidden because this is an imitation of the non-Arabs; so it is for a religious reason, then this was their symbol at that time when they (the non-Arabs) were non-Muslims. Now, since this is not something that is peculiar to them, it is no longer related to them, then that meaning does no longer exist, and it is no longer disliked.”

There is also another example that he mentioned, which is: “Some of the Salaf (i.e. our righteous predecessors) were of the view that it is disliked to wear the burnoose (hooded cloaks), as it was the garment of the monks, but Imaam Maalik was asked about it and he said there is nothing wrong in it. It was said to him: “But it is the clothing of the Christians.” He said: “It is worn here [i.e. by the Muslims].”

Allaah Knows best.

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