Question # 216: Does polyester have the same ruling as silk in Islam?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Based on the authentic ahadith, the scholars are in agreement that it is haraam (prohibited) for men to wear and use pure silk. The wisdom behind prohibition is to eliminate similarity to the people of arrogance and filthy wealth. However, under the following circumstances, scholars have allowed men who to wear silk: a) sick persons to relieve their suffering and b) where garment does not contain more than four fingers’ width of silk.

As for polyester, the principle ingredient used in the manufacture of it is ethylene, which is derived from petroleum. According to scholars, if the item that a man is going to wear is made of real and natural silk (derived from silkworm), then it is not permissible for him to wear it, no matter how it feels or looks.

Long Answer: 

Prohibition of wearing Silk

The scholars are agreed that it is permissible for women to wear and use pure silk, and that it is haraam for men to do so, because of the hadith of ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (رضي الله عنه), who said that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) took a piece of silk in his right hand and a piece of gold in his left, held them aloft and said: “These are haraam for the males of my ummah and permitted for the females.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah)

Abu Moosa (رضي الله عنه) reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Gold and silk have been permitted for the females of my ummah and forbidden for the males.” Further, it was reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim in the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه), who reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Silk is only worn in this world by the one who will have no share of the pleasure of the Hereafter.” Anas (رضي الله عنه) reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever wears silk in this world will not wear it in the Hereafter.” (Reported by al-Bukhari) 

The reason for prohibiting real silk garments for men is different than the wisdom of its prohibition. And in shari’ah we relate rules to the reasons and not to the wisdoms. In the case of silk, the reason of the prohibition is the real silk itself. However, the wisdom is to eliminate similarity to the people of arrogance and filthy wealth. (Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)

Exceptions

  • People who are sick may be permitted to wear silk to relieve their suffering, as Anas reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) allowed ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf and Ibn al-Zubayr (رضي الله عنه) to wear silk because of a skin irritation that they suffered from. (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
  • The scholars have also allowed men to wear garments containing four fingers’ width of silk, because of the hadith of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (رضي الله عنه) who said that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade the wearing of silk except for an area the width of two fingers, or three or four.” (Reported by Muslim)

(The above is based on answer provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on similar topic)

What is Polyester?

Polyester is a chemical term which can be broken into poly, meaning many, and ester, a basic organic chemical compound. The principle ingredient used in the manufacture of polyester is ethylene, which is derived from petroleum. In this process, ethylene is the polymer, the chemical building block of polyester and the chemical process that produces the finished polyester is called polymerization. (Read more: //www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Polyester.html) Synthetic fabrics like polyester are often criticized for having a less natural feel than fabrics such as cotton, silk, or wool; [however,] polyester fabrics have come to replace some of the old school natural fabrics.  For example, “China silk” is the term used by the textile industry for fabrics made of 100% polyester that closely resemble the sheen, drape, and durability of insect-derived silk. (Read more: //www.craftechind.com/how-is-polyester-made/)

Scholarly Opinion

If the item that a man is going to wear is made of natural silk, then it is not permissible for him to wear it, no matter how it looks or feels, and no matter whether it is a shirt, pants, socks, a necktie or anything else. (Islam Q&A, Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid)

If it is proven that the silk is natural [obtained from silkworm], then any cloth which has 50% and more silk is prohibited. But if the silk is artificial (which is most probably the case) then using it is allowed, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) prohibited Muslim males from wearing the real and natural silk and not the fake one. (Fatwa of Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam