Are men allowed to wear yellow clothing?

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Last Updated on 29th July 2022

Someone wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa that according to the instruction of the Holy Prophetsa, men were not allowed to wear yellow clothes. However, there were some traditions about Hazrat Uthmanra which indicated that he used to wear this colour. The person then asked how the two things could be reconciled. 

In a letter dated 24 May 2021, Huzooraa provided the following reply to this question:

“According to the books of hadith, the Holy Prophetsa forbade men from wearing clothes dyed with mu‘asfar [safflower], wars [a dye plant] or za‘faran [saffron] (which usually produced yellow, red or similar colours) as well as [clothes made of] pure silk or qassiy (another type of silk). (Sahih Muslim, Kitabu l-libasi wa z-zinah, bab an-nahyu ‘an lubsi r-rajuli th-thawba l-mu‘asfar & Sahih Bukhari, Kitabu l-marda, bab wujubu ‘iyadati l-marid & Sahih Bukhari, Kitabu l-libasi, bab ath-thawbu l-muza‘far) 

“However, asfar and sufrah (which indicates another kind of yellow colour) were used by the Holy Prophetsa himself, his rightly-guided Caliphsand other Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all. Hence, it is narrated in ahadith that the Holy Prophetsa wore a red and yellow robe (hullah hamra’). (Sahih Bukhari, Kitabu l-libasi, bab ath-thawbu l-’ahmar) 

“Hazrat Abdullah bin Umarra narrates that he saw the Holy Prophetsa dyeing his (hair and beard) yellow. That is why he also dyed his (hair and beard) with this colour. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitabu l-wudu’i, babu ghasli r-rijlayni fi n-na‘layni wa la yamsahu ’ala n-na‘layn) 

“Similarly, when the Holy Prophetsa saw Hazrat Abdur Rahmanra bin Aufwearing yellow, he asked him about it, upon which he replied that there was [a trace of] yellow on him as he had [recently] married. (Sunan al-Nasa’i, Kitabu n-nikah, babu t-tazwiji ‘ala nawatin min dhahab)

“There are many types of colours and they have many shades. A study of the ahadith shows that the Holy Prophetsa forbade a specific type of yellow, which was used by the women in that region at that time. Hence, it is narrated that when the Holy Prophetsa saw Hazrat Abdullahra bin Amr bin al-Aas wearing a reddish-yellow (bi ‘usfurrin muwarrad) garment, he disliked it, upon which Hazrat Abdullahra bin Amr burnt that garment. When the Holy Prophetsa came to know about it, he said that instead of burning it, he could have given it to one of his wives to wear. (Sunan Abi Daud, Kitabu l-libasi, babu fi l-humrah) 

“Or it is possible that the disbelievers used to wear that yellow colour. Therefore, the Holy Prophetsa temporarily forbade the Companionsra from using that colour to protect them from imitating the disbelievers (Sahih Muslim, Kitabu l-libasi wa z-zinah, babu n-nahyi ‘an lubsi r-rajuli th-thawba l-mu‘asfar) just as he temporarily forbade them from using certain vessels which were used for distilling wine in that region. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitabu l-iman, babu ‘adai l-khumusi mina l-iman)

“While explaining the colour of the cow of the Children of Israel, mentioned in Surah al-Baqarah, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra states:

“‘Some colours bear a resemblance with each other, but different words are used to describe them when we view them from different angles or in different settings. Dark yellow is one such colour. Some observers would call it yellow and others would describe it as red as is the case with saffron. If saffron is placed in front of different people, some would call it red and others yellow.’ (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 1, pp. 505-506)

“It may also be that garments dyed with mu‘asfarwars or za‘faran used to be more valuable and, like in the case of silk garments, they were considered a symbol of pride and vanity in that age. Therefore, in view of the tarbiyat of his Companionsra, the Holy Prophetsa may have forbidden the use of such precious garments in order to attract them to the blessings of the Hereafter instead of worldly pleasures and to instil humility and meekness in them instead of pride. In contrast, he may have permitted the use of plain yellow colour or the use of plain yellow clothing which does not result in an inclination towards these evils and these worldly luxuries.

“This is the reason why the noble Companions, the tabi‘in, and the scholars and jurists who followed them differ regarding the use of this colour for men. The majority, including Hazrat Abu Hanifahrh, Hazrat Imam Malikrh and Hazrat Imam Shafi‘irh, have justified its use, while some have called it makruh tanzihi (i.e. an action, the prohibition of which is not stressed upon or as a result of abstaining from which one earns reward [thawab] and performing which does not incur any punishment). 

“Thus, Hazrat Uthmanra never used the particular yellow colour or a shade thereof which the Holy Prophetsa forbade Muslims from using; rather, it was that yellow colour that the Holy Prophetsa as well as his Companionsra used. Therefore, the words asfar and sufrah have been used in these traditions for the colour of Hazrat Uthman’sra garments, not the words mu‘asfar or za‘faran.”

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