What You Wear When Doing Hifz Really Matters

Have you ever thought of having ‘ḥifẓ gear’? What if you had specific clothing that you’ll wear before doing Qur’ān memorisation? Seriously, what you wear can impact so many things.

This is something hardly anyone talks about.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In the UK, we’ve had record-breaking levels of heat and extremes in our weather over the last month or so. I’ve been battling low levels of energy for many months now, especially after battling cancer and going through surgery. The heat didn’t help. I had to do things later in the day that I would normally do during the day. I couldn’t function very well.

The fatigue has affected my Qur’ān too. I have hardly recited much and it’s not been the same. Alhamdulillāh though, things are improving!

On one of the days, I was thinking about clothing. I was reflecting on how people will dress up for different occasions and activities. Be it for weddings, for visiting others, for going out, for going to see the pious, for going to the gym, and when going to work. There are many people that have so many items of clothing for many different things. You know how it is.

I then began to contemplate my time at Madrasah. I remember dressing up in a white thobe after coming back from school because it was Madrasah time. I loved to dress up. Besides, no one likes school uniforms. I thought about how all of this slowly drifted away as I grew older and what I thought about has led me to want to write this today.

Because what you wear when doing your Hifz really matters.

I thought about how well decorated our Masāhif (copies of the Qur’ān) are, but we don’t adorn ourselves for and with the Qur’ān.

Dressing well is a Sunnah

It isn’t so much about the clothing. It’s about what it does and what it says. Our Way, calls us to a path of great etiquette and levels of excellence. Dressing well and being well groomed is a Sunnah. It is a part of our lifestyle and manners. To present well in speech, conduct, and dress.

What you wear can represent something and it can display a specific message. What you wear can display respect or disrespect. If you don’t dress appropriately and nicely for a job interview, what would happen? You won’t be taken seriously.

The Prophet (ﷺ) was international with his dress. He wore what was available and what was customary among the people that he lived amongst or visited. He wore all kinds of fabric except silk, garments that were beautiful.

In a hadīth from ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas’úd (may Allāh be pleased with him), it is reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

إنَّ اللهَ جميلٌ يُحبُّ الجمالَ
“Allāh is Beautiful, He loves beauty.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: ‘Whoever has a speck of pride (arrogance) in his heart, shall not be admitted into Paradise. And whoever has a speck of faith in his heart, shall not be admitted into the Fire.'” He said: “So a man said to him: ‘I like for my clothes to be nice, and my sandals to be nice?’ So he said: ‘Indeed Allāh loves beauty. But pride is refusing the truth and belittling the people.'” (Jāmi’ at-Tirmidhī)

In another hadīth, we see the Prophet (ﷺ) say: “You are on your way to meet your brothers, wear handsome garb and make right your riding so you appear distinct among people as a fleck [on a beautiful face]. Allāh does not like roughness nor rough manners.”

Our Imāms throughout time have all dressed well, been well groomed and handsome. They were elegant out of respect and honour for sacred knowledge. Imām Abū Hanīfah is described to have worn expensive clothing, perfume, shoes and turbans. He would buy expensive shoes for his students. There were numerous pearls of wisdom to this.

Dressing well is a divine commandment

يَـٰبَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ خُذُوا۟ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍۢ
O Children of Adam! Adorn yourselves in every Masjid (whenever you are at worship). (7:31)

This is really important. Allāh describes clothing in Surah al-A’rāf after mentioning the story of Ādam and Iblīs. The role of Ādam is to seek covering and the role of shaytān is to remove our covering. Allāh tells us that He sent down clothing for us to cover up and adorn ourselves. In this verse, Allāh connects dressing well to a place and to worship. This signifies being people of presence, respect, and honour.

When you are reciting and memorising the Qur’ān, are you not engaged in worship? Do you not have an intention for His sake?

So dress well when you are going to be doing your memorisation.

Dressing well impacts how you feel

There are two types of clothing, one that covers our body (libās) and the other that which is covering our souls (libās ut-Taqwa). There is an external dress and an internal dress (which is better and of greater importance). The outward can have a direct effect on the inward. When you make wudū’ it affects the inward by removing sin:

Abu Umāmah reported: The Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ), said, “Whenever a man performs his wudū’ intending to pray and he washes his hands, the sins of his hands fall down with the first drop. When he rinses his mouth and nose, the sins of his tongue and lips fall down with the first drop. When he washes his face, the sins of his hearing and sight fall down with the first drop. When he washes his arms to his elbows and his feet to his ankles, he is purified from every sin and fault like the day he was born from his mother. If he stands for prayer, Allāh will raise his status by a degree. If he sits, he will sit in peace.”

In another narration, the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When a Muslim man performs wudū’, his sins are removed from his hearing, his sight, his hands, and his legs. If he sits down, he will sit down forgiven.” (Musnad Aḥmad)

Likewise doing ghusl doesn’t just affect the outward but also your internal.

Try making ghusl before praying nawāfil and then also try praying without doing ghusl beforehand (just make wudū’ as normal). Take notes. What did you feel in the prayer that was different when you did ghusl beforehand? Also, try praying with nice and clean clothing after the ghusl. Likewise, try wearing the clothes after just making wudū’.

It affects how you feel. When the Prophet (ﷺ) was asked about Ihsān (spiritual excellence) “He [the Prophet (ﷺ)] answered, “It is that you worship Allāh as if you see Him. And even though you do not see Him, [you know] He sees you.” This is feeling. Everything is interlinked.

Science says there’s a link between what you wear and how you feel

You’ve all heard of dress for success? Science has proven that there is more in the act of wearing clothes.

They call this, Enclothed Cognition which is used to describe the effect that our clothes seem to have on various psychological processes like emotions, self-evaluations, attitudes, and interpersonal interactions.

Psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell says:

“Enclothed cognition essentially suggests that we embody the meanings we associate with our clothes. For example, would you feel more active and ready to work out if you put on a pair of trainers or if you put on a pair of dress shoes? The same logic applies to your daily attire. You’re more likely to feel productive and ready to tackle the day ahead if you wear a clean and presentable outfit than if you stay in pyjamas all day.”

“The same way we associate clean and presentable clothing with work and productivity is the same way we associate pyjamas with relaxation and sleep. Staying in your pyjamas all day can force you into a perpetual state of inactivity, and studies have shown that a lack of stimulation has been proven to negatively affect your mental health.”

Clothing impacts your thinking

Power clothing, like wearing suits, they have found to make you feel more confident and increases hormones in your body to present itself with more assertiveness. This in turn can help us become better negotiators and abstract thinkers. Professional dress, one study found, increases abstract thinking and gives people a broader perspective.  On the other hand, a casual and relaxed dress code helps us become more friendly and creative.

Clothing can motivate you

Wearing gym clothes or activewear makes it more likely that we will actually exercise. This may happen because wearing our workout gear acts as a reminder to make healthy choices.

Clothing can control your behaviour

Any kind of clothing that is associated with a specific role activates all our knowledge and expectations about how people from that profession should behave. For example, wearing uniforms and coats can make people more conscious of their duties and encourage them to pay more attention to their jobs. Just wearing a lab coat during an experiment encourages people to pay more attention (since lab coats represent serious, attentive professions like scientists and doctors) and make fewer mistakes.

And this is not just for adults. School children in Kenya attended school more and performed better when they were given uniforms to wear – perhaps because the uniforms made school work that much more real and valuable to these children and their parents.

Clothing can impact your mental health

While our mental state most definitely affects the way we dress; the reverse may also hold true. What we wear could affect how we cope on days when we are depressed, anxious and stressed. Research says the quickest little fix for a bad day is to wear brightly coloured clothes. Cheerful colours work as a mini pick-me-up, and thus boosting our mood and energy. Also, we associate bright colours with happiness, sunny days, and carefree times (like the summer holidays when we were kids).

On the other hand, we associate deep and dull colours with low energy, being tired and a more sombre mood.

Clothing can bring out the best in you

Amazingly even our underwear affects the way we feel about ourselves. Research also shows that when we emulate the dress code of people we consider smart and powerful, we feel infused with these qualities as well. That’s certainly an argument for owning clothes that bring out the best in us.

Clothing can regulate and control body temperature

Cotton absorbs sweat easily and retains moisture, leaving you feeling damp and heavy. If you’re in hot conditions, you should wear light, breathable and sweat-wicking fabrics that will draw moisture away from the body, leaving you feeling dry and comfortable. When you’re doing your memorisation, you need to be in the best conditions to allow yourself to perform your best.

Conclusion

You can see how much clothing impacts our behaviour and mindset. This is why one of my tips for students is to experience the Qur’ān not only through the voice, mind, eyes and ears but also through your clothing.

You can buy specific clothing or a set of clothing just to wear when you’re going to be reciting and memorising Qur’ān. Treat every session like it’s special and like a training session. Get prepared mentally, spiritually and physically. You will see a difference in shā’ Allāh.

The level of Adab will be raised to another level. Don’t be wearing your bed clothing. Remember, whenever you’re reciting the Qur’ān, you are in the Company of Allāh. It’s time to also dress to match.

May Allāh grant us understanding and success!

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