What is meant by Qamīs?

What is meant by Qamīs?


Assalamualykum Mufti Saheb, I was recently reading the English translation of Uswai-Rasul-Akram‎ﷺ‎ by Dr. Abdul Hai RA. When I was reading the chapter on the clothing of Rasulullah‎‎ﷺ‎, I came across these hadiths: 1) Accoridng to Hazrat Umme Salama RA, the clothing the Holy Prophet ‎ﷺ‎ liked best was a shirt although he very often put on lower garment and mantle but still the clothing which he likes the best was a shirt. – [Shamail-e- Tirmizi] 2) Hazrat Anas RA narrated that the shirt of the Holy Prophet ‎ﷺ‎ was made of cotton with short length and short sleeves. It had cotton buttons and had an opening on the chest. This is the style of  shirtaccoridng to sunnah. – [ Madarij-un- Nubawah]. These are my questions: 1) So is wearing shirts sunnah or not? If it is sunnah then which type of shirts? 2) The Hadith says that the clothing which Rasulullah‎ﷺ‎ liked best was the shirt so is this a better sunnah than the long kurta? 3) The second Hadith mentions that the shirt which the Prophet ‎ﷺ‎ wore was short sleeves, had cotton buttons and had an opening on the chest. Isn’t this the modern day shirts we wear today? I thought we had to pray salah in full sleeves? Jazak’Allah


In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Brother in Islam,

May Allah increase your love for following the Sunnah. Aameen

Below are the two Ahadīth in reference.

عن أم سلمة رضي الله عنها قالت: كان أحب الثياب إلى رسول الله ﷺ القميص (رواه الترمذي في الشمائل: 53)

Translation: Umme Salamah(RadhiyallahuAnha) said:  Of all the clothing the Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) preferred wearing the Qamīs)ٍShamail: 53)

عَنْ أَنَسٍ رَضِيَ الله عَنْهُ قَالَ كَانَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَمِيص قُطْنٍ قَصِيرُ الطُّولِ قَصِيرُ الْكُمَّيْنِ (المطالب العالية:2221)

Translation:Anas )RadhiyallahuAnhu( mentioned that the Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) used to wear a Qamīs made of cotton that was short in length and had (slightly) lower sleeves. (Matalibul Aaliyah: 2221)

The book in reference is a translation of a book originally written in the Urdu language.  The author, Dr. Abdul Hai (Rahimahullah) translated those Ahadīth from the Arabic language. Thus, the Ahadīth that you have quoted from the book are essentially a translation of a translation.  It is evident to those that have studied the Arabic language that translating Arabic to any language is a daunting task. The intended meaning is often lost through translation. Therefore, to conclude that the shirt mentioned in the book refers to a modern-day shirt is incorrect.

In the Arabic language, the word Qamīs refers to a garmentto cover  the upper part of the body. A Qamīs has sleeves, a collar, and a front opening.The Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) generally wrapped a cloth around his body and wore a mantle or lower garment. However, the Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) preferred wearing a Qamīs as it conceals the satr well (does not reveal the shape of the legs), it less burdensome for the body as a sheet has to be straightened periodically, and humility is intrinsic to such clothing.[i]

From the above, we can understand that modern shirts do not fit the description of the Qamīs ofRasulullah(SallallahuAlaihiWasallam). Modern shirts reach a person’s hips and do not fully cover the satr. Whereas the Qamīs of Rasullullah(SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) concealed his satr completely.

As for the second hadith, it merely makes mention of short length and short sleeves. The word “short” is ambiguous. As such, it cannot be interpreted simply based on linguistics. Rather, we must refer to the explanation of the Sahabah regarding the Qamīs of Rasullullah(SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) to identify what is meant.

1) In regards to the sleeves of the Qamīs, we find two narrations differing slightly. The first narration has been related on the authority of Anas (RadhiyallahuAnhu):

كانت يدكم رسول الله ﷺ إلى الرسغ (رواه البزار:1183)

Translation:The sleeves of the kurta of Nabi (SallallahuAlaihiWasallarn) would be upto the wrists. (Bazzaar: 1183)

The second narration has been related on the authority of Ibn Abbas (RadhyallahuAnhu):

أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لبس قميصا وكان فوق الكعبين وكان كمه مع الأصابع (مستدرك حاكم:7420)

Translation: Lengthwise the kurta of Nabi (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) would be above his ankles while the sleeves would reach upto his fingers (Hakim:7420)

These Ahadīth seem to contradict one another as one Hadith mentions that the sleeves were upto the wrists and the other mentions that it reached upto the fingers. The scholars have offered various possibilities to reconcile between these Ahadīth.

1)  The two Ahadīth refer to different points in time. At one point in time, the Qamīs reached the fingers and at another point it time the Qamīs reached the wrists.

2) The Prophet (SallallahuAlayhiWasallam) possessed two different Qamīs. One reached to the wrists and the other reached the fingers.[ii]

3) The Prophet (SallallahuAlayhiWasallam) would wear a Qamīs that reached the wrists whilst travelling, as it allowed easier movement, and he would wear a Qamīs that reached his fingers whilst he was not travelling.[iii]

4) When the Qamīs were creased, they reached the wrists. When they were smooth and straight, they reached the fingers.[iv]

5 ) The prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) wanted to demonstrate that the maximum length of a sleeve is that it reaches the fingers. However, the best and ideal is that it reaches the wrists.[v]

2) In regards to the length of the Qamīs, reference has been made to it in the hadith of Ibn Abbas (RadhiyallahuAnhuma). AllamaMunawi (Rahimahullah) writes in his commentary of this hadith that “Above the Ankles” refers to the Qamīs reaching the middle of the calf (halfway between the ankles and knees).This meaning can also be ascertained by other similar narrations.[vi]

With the above in mind, we may now correctly interpret the meaning of “short sleeves” and “short length”.

As for short sleeves, the correct interpretation is that the Qamīs was short in the sense that it did not surpass the fingers. As for short length, the correct interpretation is that the Qamīs was short in the sense that it did not surpass his ankles.[vii]

It must be understood that at the time of the Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam), showing off through clothing was a norm. One of their methods was to wear extremely long garments such that the length surpassed the ankles and the length of the sleeves surpassed the hands. Thus, the Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) opposed that custom and wore clothes that were seen to be short in the context of his era. Therefore, the correct interpretation for the Hadith in the query is the one we have provided.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mirza-Zain Baig

Student - Darul Iftaa

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

06-07-1441| 29-02-2019


خصائل النبوي:دار النشر العلمية:69


خصائل النبوي:دار النشر العلمية:70


فيض القدير شرح جامع الصغير: دار المعرفة:174

وجمع بين هذا الخبلا وما قبله بأن ذا كان يلبسه في الحضر وذاك في السفر وحكمة الإقتصار على ذلك أنه متى جاوز اليد شق على لابسه ومنعه سرعة الحركة والبطش


خصائل النبوي:دار النشر العلمية:70


مرقاة المفاتيح:دار الكتب العلمية:8:208

أو بحمل الرسغ على بيان الأفضل, و حمل الرؤوس على نهاية الجواز


فيض القدير شرح جامع الصغير: دار المعرفة:173

(كان قميصه فوق الكعبين) أي إلى أنصاف ساقيه كما في رواية


Turban, Kurta, Topee: In the light of the Sunnah and the practice of the Sahaba and Tabieen: Idara: 29-31