It is permissible for a male person to perform prayers wearing jeans (shorts) that cover his knees; that prayer is valid?

The Details of the Question
It is permissible for a male person to perform prayers wearing jeans (shorts) that cover his knees; that prayer is valid. Is it permissible to perform prayers (salah) wearing shorts and a singlet?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

When a believer performs prayers, he experiences the enthusiasm and excitement of being in the divine presence. He tastes the pleasure and delight of being very close to Him because the moment when a person is closest to Allah is the moment of prostration, the most important part of the prayer.

A believer who is in such a mood should have a different sensitivity, care and meticulousness. If he pays maximum attention to the mustahab and adab parts of the prayer along with its fard, wajib and sunnah parts, the degree of his spiritual share and blessing of the prayer will increase.  

Similarly, avoiding the acts and attitudes that are contrary to the spirit of the prayer, that invalidate the prayer and that are makrooh will increase the reward and virtue of the prayer.

There are some acts that are regarded as makrooh when one does them. Some of them take place when a wajib or sunnah al-muakkadah part of the prayer is skipped; they are regarded as makrooh tahrimi. To skip a sunnah ghayr al-muakkadah, mustahab and mandub part is regarded as makrooh tanzihi.

For instance, tadil al-arkan is one of the wajib parts of the prayer. Going down  to the prostration (sajdah) without standing straight after ruku’ is regarded as skipping tadil al-arkan and one who does it is regarded to have committed a makrooh tahrimi act. However, closing one’s eyes during the prayer is regarded as makrooh tanzihi. 

Makrooh tahrimi acts harm the exactness of the prayer and decrease its reward but makrooh tanzihi does not do so. If it is done deliberately, it decreases the reward of the prayer but it does not harm the exactness of the prayer.

As for performing prayers wearing pajamas or night-robe, Mehmed Zihni Efendi writes the following in his book Nimet-i İslâm: “What is mustahab in prayers is to wear the clothes that are customary to wear because that is what has come down to us from our predecessors. [That is, the Messenger of Allah, his Companions, and the scholars of Islam performed prayers wearing the clothes that what was customary to wear in their regions. Night-robe is something that is customary to wear; therefore, it is not makrooh to perform prayers wearing it.” 1

The parts of the body that are necessary to be covered while performing prayers for men are the parts between the navel and the knees, and for women, all of the parts of the body except their hands and face. Accordingly, it is not makrooh for men to perform prayers wearing pajamas or tracksuits and for women wearing night-robes or morning-gowns if they cover the parts of the body mentioned above. In some fiqh books like Durar, the following is stated: “it is makrooh to perform prayers in ‘thiyab al-bazl’ (clothes that are too shabby to wear outside the home)”.

Some people infer the meaning of the clothes that can only be worn at home and that cannot be worn when one is in the presence of older people than him/her or respected people from the phrase ‘thiyab al-bazl’. To perform prayers in such clothes is only makrooh tanzihi. To perform prayers wearing a singlet for a man is not in compliance with the seriousness of the prayer. It does not invalidate the prayer but it is more suitable to wear a shirt on it and pray.

1. Nimet-i İslâm, p. 579 (Ottoman version)

Mehmed Paksu İbadet Hayatımız

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