Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article, "Muhammad and The Wearing of Silk Garments"


Bassam Zawadi

Sam Shamoun wrote an article over here.

There is no contradiction or problem with the narrations that Shamoun has provided. It's simple: Islam forbids silk for men but not for women. Also, during extreme cases, men may wear silk to fight off an illness (similar to how a Muslim is allowed to eat pork in extreme cases).

Shamoun, however, provides a narration showing that a companion believed that the prohibition extended to women as well:

Khalifa b. Ka'b Abi Dhubyan reported: I heard 'Abdullah b. Zubair addressing the people and saying: Behold! do not dress your women with silk clothes for I heard 'Umar b. Khattab as saying that he had heard Allah's messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Do not wear silk, for one who wear it in this world will not wear it in the Hereafter. (Sahih Muslim, Book 024, Number 5150)

However, we have an explicit statement from the Prophet (peace be upon him) stating that women are allowed to wear silk, and he is our ultimate authority. Furthermore, it's possible that Abdullah ibn Zubair didn't hear about this exception made by the Prophet (peace be upon him), which is something familiar since there are several examples that one could show where the companions passed wrong rulings due to not being aware of all the statements made by the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The statement "Do not wear silk, for one who wear it in this world will not wear it in the Hereafter" though appears to be general, is restricted in meaning, which is something commonly found throughout Islamic teachings, as I have already illustrated in several of my articles on this website. Furthermore, it's possible that the Prophet (peace be upon him) made that general statement before restricting it to men later on.

Shamoun has a problem with the Prophet (peace be upon him) permitting selling silk. He said:

To top it off Muhammad even sent silk items to some of his companions and gave them permission to sell it in order to benefit monetarily!


Notice Muhammad's glaring inconsistency at this point. Muhammad rebukes Umar for having silk, but allows him to sell it and even sends him a silk item to benefit from its sale! To see how inconsistent this truly is picture Muhammad allowing someone to sell alcohol and benefit from the sale money, and how wrong that would be. After all, if something is prohibited because it is immoral then shouldn't the selling of it be just as immoral, if not more so, since the person would essentially be damning not only himself but also the buyer to hell?

However, there is nothing wrong with selling silk since silk is permissible for women. I may sell it to a man with the assumption that he may give it to his wife even though the silk is forbidden for him. Similarly, I am allowed to sell a woman's dress to a man, assuming that he would give it to his wife even though it would be forbidden for him to wear it.

So, there really is nothing inconsistent about the Prophet's (peace be upon him) behavior here. It's just a matter of examining all the narrations together and knowing how to harmonize and understand them collectively.

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