What is the purpose of the turban?
Turban or any other part of the dressing has nothing to do with the Shari’ah. A person’s dressing is a cultural issue, rather than a religious one. The Shari`ah does not interfere in the style of our dressing. The directives of the Shari`ah in this regard are restricted to the extent of the moral codes related to our dressings, like for instance, a person’s dress should be decent, it should fully cover his private parts and that a person should not, unnecessarily, expose any part of his body. The Prophet (pbuh) wore the dress, which was generally being worn by the decent and noble class of people in his society. Because a turban or an “`amaamah” was a part of that dressing, the Prophet (pbuh) also adopted it as a part of his attire. However, the Prophet (pbuh) never even implied to promote the turban or an `amaamah as a universal dress for the Muslims. Even today a few cultures and societies support a turban or an `amaamah.
However, there are some Muslims who hold the wearing of the turban or the `amaamah as a Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). This is primarily due to an incorrect understanding of the word Sunnah. These Muslims believe that the word Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) refers to all the actions of the Prophet (pbuh). According to this understanding, whatever the Prophet (pbuh) did during his life and however he did it is all a part of his Sunnah. This is not correct. The Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) does not refer to all the actions of the Prophet (pbuh). The term, “Sunnah” refers only to those actions of the Prophet (pbuh), which he taught and promoted among ALL his followers, as a part of God’s Deen (i.e. as a part of the divine religion). Thus, whatever the Prophet (pbuh), ate, wore etc. – because it was never taught and promoted by the Prophet (pbuh) among all his followers, as God’s Deen (i.e. divine religion) – is therefore, not included in the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
If seen in the perspective of the above explanation, it should be clear that wearing a turban or an `amaamah is only a cultural issue and has nothing to do with the Shari`ah. However, those who hold wearing the turban or an `amaamah to have a religious significance, do so primarily due to an incorrect understanding of the term Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
27th September 1999