In the Sahihan it is narrated that Anas said, “The Messenger of Allah b has allowed Abdur Rahman bin Awf and Az-Zubayr bin Al’Awwam to wear silk garments because of a skin rash they had.” In another narration, “Abdur Rahman bin Awf and Az-Zubayr bin Al-Awwam complained to the Prophet during a battle that they had mites, and he allowed them to wear silk garments which | saw them wearing.”
There are two areas of interest regarding this Hadith, one in the area of Figh ( Islamic Jurisprudence) and another medical.
In the area of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah is that wearing silken garments is allowed for women and disallowed for men, except when there is a legitimate need. For instance, [men are allowed to wear silken garments] in cold weather, when one has only a silken garment to wear and when complaining from mange, rashes, mites or lice, as evident by the last Hadith.
According to Imam Ahmad and Shafi’i, wearing silken garments is allowed [for men if a necessity warrants it]. The permission given to some Muslims [such as wearing silken garments for men in this case] due to special circumstances applies to all those who face similar circumstances.
Several scholars said that the Ahadeeth that disallows silken garments for men apply in general. They said that the Hadith (narrated above) might entail specific permission for only Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf and Az-Zubayr. They say that it is possible, though, that this permission applies to other Muslims. When there is a probability, adhering to the general text is warranted. This is why some of the narrators of this Hadith commented, “! Do not know if the permission applies to whoever comes after them (Abdur-Rahman bin Awf and Az-Zubayr).”
The correct opinion is that the permission is generally in its indication and that there is no evidence that it is specific or restricted. Similarly, the Prophet at once said to Abu Burdah,
“This permission applies to you and none else after you.”
In addition, Allah said to His Prophet regarding the woman who offered herself in marriage to the Prophet :
Since disallowing wearing silken garments for men is a precautionary measure, it is allowed in certain situations and for a benefit that warrants it. For instance, gazing at women is disallowed as a precautionary measure, but it is allowed when there is a real need. Such is the case with disallowing performing voluntary prayers at certain times; while the sun is rising or setting], to prevent even a hint of resemblance between Muslims and sun worshippers. Yet, in some cases, it is allowed for Muslims to offer voluntary prayers during these times for real need and benefit.
Medically, silk is produced by an animal and is a remedy. Silk has many benefits, such as soothing and strengthening the heart and helping relieve several of its ailments. Silk helps against black bile and whatever ailments, it might cause. Further, silk strengthens eyesight when used as eyeliner. Raw silk, which is used in preparing medications and remedies, is hot and dry in the first degree. When silk is used in clothes, it is mild and heats the body. Sometimes it could chill the body.
Ar-Razi said, “Silk is hotter than linen, colder than cotton, and develops the flesh. Every type of thick clothes weakens the body and hardens the skin.”
There are three types of clothes, one that brings warmth and heats the body. Another type of clothes brings warmth, but no heat to the body. The third type does not bring warmth or heat. There is no type that brings heat, but not warmth to those wearing it. For instance, clothes made of wool and animal hair elevate body temperature and bring warmth to the skin. On the other hand, silk, Kittan (linen) and cotton garments only bring warmth to the skin. Kittan clothes are cold and dry, wool clothes are hot and dry, and cotton garments are moderate. Silken garments are softer and less hot than wool. The author of AI-Minhaj stated that wearing silk, “Does not bring as much warmth as cotton, because it is milder.”
Every type of soft, polished clothes heats the body less and is less effective in helping the decomposition process. That is why it is better that this type of clothes is worn during summer and in hot areas. Since silkin garments are neither as dry nor thick as the other types of clothes, they help as a treatment for skin rashes that result from dry, thick material. Hence, the Prophet “ allowed Az-Zubair and Abdur-Rahman to wear silken garments due to their skin rash. In addition, silken garments are the least hospitable to mites or lice, for it is not the best environment where the mites live and thrive. The types of body wear that neither elevates the body temperature nor brings warmth are made of iron, lead, wood, sand, and so forth.
If one asks, “Since silk provides the best type of clothes and the most suitable for the body, why was it prohibited for men) by the Islamic legislation, which is the most honorable, perfect legislation and which allows the good and pure things and only disallows the impure things?”
Those who deny that there is wisdom behind Islamic legislation do not even need to answer this question. As for those who affirm that there is wisdom behind the Islamic legislation, who are the majority, say that Islam disallowed silken garments for men so that they observe patience and abandon wearing them for Allah’s Sake. In this case, they will be rewarded by Allah, especially since there are other types of clothes to wear.
Some people say that silk was created for the benefit of women, such as the case with gold. Hence, silk is prohibited for men so that they do not imitate women. Some Muslims say that silk was prohibited because it leads to arrogance and pride. Others say that silk was disallowed because of its softness on the skin which leads to feminine behavior while weakening manhood and masculinity. Hence, you rarely see a man wearing silken garments who are not affected by its softness by inadvertently imitating feminine behavior and softness, even if he was among the most masculine men. Wearing silken garments will certainly diminish manly qualities and masculinity, although these qualities will not disappear together. As for those who do not comprehend these facts, let them submit to Allah’s wise decisions. Finally, we should state that according to the correct opinion, young boys should not be allowed to wear silken garments, because they will acquire feminine behavior.
An-Nasa’y narrated that the Prophet b said: “Allah has allowed silk and gold for the females of my Ummah (Muslim Nation) and disallowed them for the males of my Ummah (Muslim Nation).” In another narration, Prophet said:
Al-Bokhary narrated that the Messenger of Allah has disallowed wearing and sitting on silken garments and Dibaj (pure silken clothes), and then added, “It is for them (whoever wears them among men) in this life and for you in the Life Hereafter.”