Question # 273: What about selling cloths that would be considered tabarruj? I know of a practicing sister whose Christian parents own a clothing shop and they want her to help manage the store which sells tabarruj cloths. The country is mostly non-Muslim so these women will definitely wear those cloths outside. Does she get sin in this? She does not sell the cloths but she makes sure the workers are doing their job and fixes things that need fixing.

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: Tabarruj in short refers to unlawful/forbidden exposure of beauty. Based on various fatawa from scholars with respect to dealing in prohibited women’s clothes, if the seller knows or thinks that such clothes are most likely going to be used in haraam ways, i.e., the woman is going to wear them and adorn herself with them in front of non-mahram men, then it is not permissible to sell such women clothing because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “…but do not help one another in sin and transgression”. Participating by way of making, or assisting in their making – all such activities will be considered indirect intentional help.

Long Answer: Before we go ahead and answer the question, let us briefly understand the meaning of Tabarruj in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah.

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves immorally (tabarruj) like that of the Days of Ignorance. And establish the prayer and give the Zakaat and obey Allah and His Messenger” (Soorah Al-Ahzaab, 33:33)

Ibn Katheer said in his Tafseer to the above ayah: Mujahid said: “A woman would go out and walk amongst men (i.e., intermingling). This was the Tabarruj of the Day of ignorance. Qatadah said: “The women would walk out, swaggering and flirting (with men) so Allah forbade them from doing that” Muqatil bin Hayyan said: “Tabarruj is when a woman puts a Khimar on her head but not fastening it properly so her necklaces, earrings and neck, and all of that can be seen. As a result of this, these are all exposed from her. This is Tabarruj

The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “And the worst of your women are the ones who commit Tabarruj, who strut around in arrogance. They are the hypocrites. None from among them (i.e. these women) will enter Paradise except (those who are) like the rare crow.” (Reported by al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan) and authenticated by al-Albanee in his as-Saheehah) Commenting on this hadith, Imam al-Albani said: “What is meant by the rare crow is that which has a red beak and red legs, as occurs in a hadith that states the small number of women that will enter Paradise… (‘Four Essays on the Obligation of Veiling’ by Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen, Saalih bi Fawzaan Al-Fawzaan & Zayd bin Muhammad Haadee Al-Madkhalee ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz)

The Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “There shall be (in the later) part of my nation women who are dressed but are in fact naked. On their heads are humps like those of camels. Curse them for they are surely cursed.” (Reported by at-Tabarani, Shaykh al-Albani graded this hadith sahih)

The Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Of the people of Hell there are two types whom I have never seen: The one possessing whips like the tail of an ox and they flog people with them. The second one the women who would be naked in spite of their being dressed, who are seduced to wrong paths and seduce others with their hair high like humps. These women would not get into Paradise and they would not perceive its odor, although its fragrance can be perceived from such and such distance.” (Reported by Muslim)

[Next, based on the various fatawa from scholars (in the Standing Committee) with respect to dealing in or selling women’s clothes,] …one of the following three scenarios must apply:

  1. The seller knows or thinks it most likely that these clothes are going to be used in permissible ways, and that they will not be used in haraam There is nothing wrong with selling these clothes.
  1. The seller knows or thinks it most likely that these clothes are going to be used in haraam ways, i.e., the woman is going to wear them and adorn herself with them in front of non-mahram men. Selling these clothes is haraam, because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “…but do not help one another in sin and transgression” (Soorah al-Maa’idah, 5:2)

The seller can figure it out from the type of clothes and the state of the woman who buys them… [and] act upon what he knows or thinks most likely to be the case with regard to the buyer.

  1. If the seller is uncertain as to whether these clothes will be used in permissible ways or haraam ways, because the clothes may be used in both ways, and there is no evidence to make him certain about either possibility, then there is no sin in selling these clothes, because the basic principle is that it is permissible to sell and it is not haraam, because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “Allah has permitted trading” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:275)

The one who buys them must use them in ways that Allah has permitted, and it is not permissible to use them in haraam ways.

(Islam Q&A)

[Further,] Dr. Waleed Al-Meneesi, a member of the Islamic Fiqh Academy in America, said: “The criterion for the help offered to others to commit sins and aggression was extensively investigated and discussed by the members of The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) in its fifth round held in Bahrain in 1428 AH (2007 AD). The results of the discussion suggested that helping others in committing sins and aggression can be divided into four categories:

  1. Direct, intentional help, such as is the case when someone offers another a glass of wine with the intention of helping him to drink alcohol.
  1. Direct but unintentional help, such as is the case when selling prohibited items that have no lawful use if the seller’s intention is not to help the buyers to use them in committing prohibited acts.
  1. Indirect intentional help, such as is the case when someone gives another a dirham to buy wine. Another example is causing death indirectly.
  1. Indirect and unintentional help, such as is the case when one sells items that have both lawful and unlawful uses and does not intend to help the buyers to commit prohibited acts with them. Another example is when someone gives another a dirham to buy something other than wine but he bought wine and drank it; the person who gave him the dirham does not bear a sin for giving him the dirham if he did not intend to help him commit a prohibited act. This fourth category includes selling and buying and engagement in lease contracts with the disbelievers and dissolute Muslims and offering them charity.”

Thus, the AMJA’s resolution emphasized the prohibition of the first three categories and deemed the fourth permissible, namely the indirect and unintentional help.”

[Based on the above, it is not permissible to make, sell or participate in the making of such women clothing for those of whom it is predominantly thought that they will wear it in an indecent and forbidden manner as] Ibn Taymiyyah said, “As for any dress of which it is predominantly thought that it will be used for disobedience, it is not permissible to sell it or to sew it for whomever will use it in disobedience and injustice.” (Sharh Al-‘Umdah)

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