The Turban and Different Colours of the Topi

Wearing a topî without a turban

There exists a difference of opinion amongst the muhadithîn as to whether it is Sunnah to wear the topî alone, or does it have to be worn with the turban.

This difference of opinion is based on the following hadîth.

Rukânah (radhiyallahu anhu) quotes Rasûlullâh (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) as having said:

فرق ما بيننا و بين المشركين العمائم على القلانس

“The difference between us and the polytheists is that we tie our turbans on topîs” [1]

This Hadîth has been interpreted in two ways:

  1. We wear turbans and topîs while the polytheists only wear topîs. In this case the differentiating factor would be the turban.

A large group of muhadithîn has preferred this explanation. From amongst them are:

`Allâmah Ibn `Arabî, Munâwî, `Azîzî, Jazrî, `Arif Billâh

Al-Hifnî, Zurqânî, Baijûrî, Kattânî, Mullâ `Alî Qârî and Moulâna `Abdul Hay Al-Lucknowî  رحمهم الله

2. We wear topîs and turbans, while the polytheists only wear turbans, without topîs. In this case, the distinguishing factor would be the topî and not the turban.

An equally large number of `Ulamâ have preferred this view. They are:

`Allâmah Tîbî, Muhib Tabarî, Mirak, Ibnul Qayyim, Ibnul Hâj, Halbî, Ibn Hajr Al-Haitamî, As-Suyûtî, Ibnul Malik, Jassûs, Abdul Haq Dehlawî, Moulanâ Rashîd Ahmad Gangohî and Moulânâ Khalîl Ahmad Sahâranpûrîرحمهم الله.

`Allâmah Ibnul Ja`far Al-Kattânî رحمه الله has mentioned that the explanation given by the first group is more suitable to the hadîth i.e. the turban is the distinguishing characteristic.

This is supported by a number of other, albeit weak, narrations that show that the turban is the distinguishing mark of the Muslims. [2]

Based on this commentary of the hadîth, some `ulamâ claim that it is makrûh (reprehensible) to suffice on wearing a topî and not adopting the turban. However, the following important points should be borne in mind:

Firstly, this hadîth is extremely weak, thus no laws may be deduced from it.

Secondly, no clear-cut ruling may be passed based on this hadîth, because of the great difference of opinion concerning its purport.

Thirdly, there are a number of strong narrations that show that wearing a topî alone was also a Sunnah of Nabî (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), even though adopting the turban is far more rewarding and beneficial.

Even if we do assume that this hadîth is sound and that sufficing on the topî was from the characteristics of the polytheists, then too it would be completely permissible to wear only a topî in these times as the topî is not a characteristic of the polytheists anymore. Yes, adopting the yarmulke of the Jews would be impermissible as it is a salient feature of Judaism.

The colour of the topî


The colour greatly liked by Nabî (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was white and therefore he normally wore a white topî.

عن ابن عمرt:كان رسول الله eيلبس قلنسوة بيضاء

Ibn `Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasûlullâh (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would wear a white topî. [3]

Similar narrations have been narrated by:

1.  Ibn `Abbâs [4] 2. `Âishah [5] 3. Abû Hurairah [6] 4. Farrqad [7] 5. Anas [8]

Nabî (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) has also ordered us to wear white saying:

البَسُوا مِنْ ثِيَابِكُمْ البَيَاضَ فإِنّها مِنْ خَيْرِ ثِيَابِكُمْ وكفّنُوا فِيها مَوْتَاكُمْ”

“Wear white clothing, for it is amongst the best of clothing and enshroud your dead in it.” [9]

We should thus endeavour to wear white clothing and topîs as often as possible, as we would be carrying out the command of Rasûlullâh (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and be following the pattern set down by him.

It was also the practice of the Sahâbah (radhiyallahu anhum) (the companions of Nabî (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)) and the Tâbi`în (Successors) to don white topîs.

We find the practice of the following mentioned in the hadîth:

  1. Anas Ibn Mâlik[10]
  2. `Uthmân [11]
  3. `Alî [12]
  4. Ibn `Abdus Salâm [13]
  5. `Alî Ibn Husain[14]
  6. Qâsim Ibn Muhammad[15]
  7.   Sufyân Ath-Thawrî[16]
  8. Sâlim Ibn `Abdullâh[17]
  9. `Ubaidullâh Ibn `Abdullâh[18]
  10. Hammâd Ibn Zayd [19]
  11. Sa`îd Ibn Jubayr[20]
  12. `Umar ibn `Abdul `Azîz [21]
  13. Abû Umâmah 19
  14. Abû Ruhm   19

It should be borne in mind that just as Nabî (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahâbah (radhiyallahu anhum) wore white topîs, they also wore topîs of many other colours.

From amongst these colours are:


`Abdur Rahmân Ibn Ziyâd (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Nabî (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) wore

قلنسوة من الِممْطَر السِيْجان

a black woollen topî.[22]

A black topî was also worn by:

  1. Abû Mûsâ Ash`arî [23]
  2. Ibn Abî Awfâ[24]
  3. Imâm Abû Hanîfah [25]
  4. Sa`îd Ibn Musayyab [26]
  5. Muhammad Ibn Talhah [27]
  6. Dâwûd At-Tâî [28]
  7. Dâwûd Ibn `Îsâ[29]
  8. Aswad [30]
  9. Ibrâhîm An-Nakha`î [31]
  10. Imâm Awzâ`î [32]
  11. Al-Mas`ûdî [33]
  12. Abû Qursâfah [34]رحمهم الله

Mullâ `Alî Qârî رحمه الله mentions:

إنه يسن لبس السواد لحديث فيه و قد جمع السيوطي جزأ في لبس السواد

“It is Sunnah to wear black as this has been narrated in the ahâdîth. `Allâmah Suyûtî رحمه الله has compiled a booklet concerning the wearing of black.” [35]

The booklet is named “ثلج الفؤاد في أحاديث لبس السواد” and is included in his book “Al-Hâwî” [pg. 87].

`Allâmah Zayla`î رحمه الله writes in his celebrated book on Hanafî fiqh, “Tabyînul Haqâiq” [vol.6 pg.228]:

و ندب لبس السواد…لأن محمدا رحمه الله  ذكر في السير الكبير في

باب الغنائم حديثا يدل على أن لبس السواد أفضل

“It is mustahab (preferable) to wear black since Imâm Muhammad has mentioned a hadîth in “ِِِAs-Siyarul Kabîr” indicating the preference of wearing black.”

`Allâmah Shâmî رحمه الله – the imminent Hanafî jurist – has also mentioned the preferability of wearing black. [36].


عن ابن عباسt: كان لرسول الله eثلاث قلانس. قلنسوة بيضاء مضربة وقلنسوة برد حبرة وقلنسوة ذات آذان …إلخ

Ibn `Abbâs (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasûlullâh (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had 3 topîs: A white, double-layered topî, a green-striped topî of Yemenî cloth and one with earflaps.37]

The green topî was also worn by:

  1. Imâm Mâlik [38]
  2. Qâsim Ibn Muhammad[39]
  3. `Abdullâh Ibn `Awn[40]
  4. Sha`bî [41]
  5. Hasan Ibnul Mus`ab [42]

The wearing of green clothing was greatly liked by Rasûlullâh (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to such an extent that Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) says:

كان أحب الألوان إلى رسول الله e الخضرة

“Green was the colour most liked by Rasûlullâh (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).”[43]

A number of narrations regarding Nabî (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) wearing green are mentioned in Subulul Hudâ War Rashâd (vol.7 pg.312)

`Allâmah Ibn Battâl, Ibn Hajr and Munâwîرحمهم الله have all mentioned that the clothing of the inhabitants of Jannah (Paradise) will be green.[44]

This can be deduced from the ayah,

ويلبسون ثيابا خضرا

“The inhabitants of Jannah will wear green clothing.”

(Verse 31 / Sûrah الكهف)

`Allâmah Tabarî رحمه الله narrates that the Khalîfah Al-Ma`mûn and his entire army wore green attire; to such an extent that even their topîs were green. [45]


A light yellow topî was worn by:

  1. Anas [46]
  2. Jundub Ibn `Abdullâh [47]
  3. Habîb Ibn `Abdullâh [48]رحمه الله


A brown topî was worn by:

  1. Wâbisah [49]
  2. Qadhî Shuraih [50]رحمه الله
  3. `Abdullah Ibn Mudrik [51]


A red topî was worn by:

  1. Sa`îd Ibnul  Musayyab [52]رحمه الله
  2. Dâwûd Ibn `Îsâ[53]

There is a difference of opinion concerning the wearing of red garments by men. The most preferred view will be given below, as explained by Moulâna Rashîd Ahmad Ganghohi, Muftî Shafî` `Uthmânî, etc  رحمهم الله

It is as follows:

  • If it is dyed with safflower or a dye containing impure substances, then it would not be permissible to wear such clothing.
  • If dyed completely red, with permissible dye, then the wearing of such garments is Makrûh Tanzîhî i.e. it is better not to wear it.
  • If it is partly red or contains red stripes then it is completely permissible, in fact Nabî (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) wore clothing of this type.  [54]


`Allâmah Muhammad Zâhid Kowtharî رحمهالله mentions the following incident concerning leaving the head exposed.

When the Russians conquered the Baltic Muslim States in 1280 A.H. after decades of war, they forced the Muslims to expose their heads when entering the courts of their governors. Allâh filled the heart of one of the `Ulamâ with Islamic-patriotism and self respect to such a degree that he refused to accept this coercion and abasement and therefore approached the Ruler and said to him:

“You promised us that you will not interfere in our religious matters, yet you force us to enter the courts of the governors bareheaded, when in fact this is not allowed in Islâm.”

The Ruler replied:

“I will call a conference of your `Ulamâ to see whether their viewpoints on this matter conform to yours.”

They were called, but did not lend him any support and were very shaky and indecisive, however this `Âlim was firm on his stand.

The Ruler then said to him:

“Put your proofs down on paper; I will send them to the Grand Muftî of the Empire[55]. If he conforms to your view, I will then issue a decree exempting the Muslims of your region from this law in spite of you standing alone on this matter. However, if he also opposes your view, then you will have to bear the consequences of being so obstinate.”

The `Âlim agreed and wrote the following:

“The Muslims do not remove their topîs when entering the masjids and when in salâh in front of Allâh. If they remove it when entering your courts, it will be as if they are honouring you more than Allâh and this is completely impermissible.”

The ruler then sent it to the Grand Muftî who concurred with this staunch `Âlim, as a result of which all the Muslims of that state where excused from this compulsion. [56]

This is intense zeal and fervour possessed by those whom Allâh grants the true love of Islâm and the Sunnah.

May Allâh make us from amongst them. Âmîn.

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[1]  قال الترمذي ص 308 (1784):” هذا حديثٌ حسن غريبٌ وَإِسْنَادُهُ لَيْسَ بالقَائِمِ، ولا نَعْرِفُ

أبا الحسن العسقلاني ولا ابنَ رُكَانَةَ.”

و رواه أبو داؤد ص 564 (4078) و الحاكم 3 /452 وغيرهما .

قال البخاري في تاريخه 1/82:” إسناده مجهول لا يعرف سماع بعضهم عن بعض.”

و قال الذهبي:” لم يصح حديثه”- أي حديث محمد بن ركانة الراوي- تهذيب التهذيب 7/152.

و في هذا الإسناد اختلاف كثير, انظر بذل المجهود 6 /401 وتحفة الأشراف 3/174

[2] الدعامة ص 41

[3]الطبراني في الكبير و قال الهيثمي في المجمع 5 /211 :فيه عبد الله بن خراش

وثقه ابن حبان و قال ربما اخطأ وضعفه جمهور الأئمة و بقية رجاله ثقات.

قال العزيزي  في السراج المنير4/113 : إسناده حسن.

[4]أبوالشيخ في أخلاق النبي ص104. قال العراقي في المغني عن حمل الأسفار2 /376:

ضعيف.وكذا ضعفه الفتني في تذكرة الموضوعات ص155. و أما ما قال الشيخ علوش في

زوائد الأجزاء المنثورة ص 418: إسناده واهٍ، العرزمي هو محمد بن عبيد الله و هو متروك إلخ

ففيه نظر لأن العرزمي هنا هو عبد الملك بن أبي سليمان كما في كشف النقاب وهو صدوق

له أوهام كما في التقريب. و   في سبل الهدى 7 /284 “مصرية” بدل “مضربة”.

 [5]ابن عساكر 4 /193 و فيه عاصم بن سليمان اللوزي و لعله الكوزي البصري الذيقال

الذهبي:هو متهم بالكذب، سيرة الذهبي ص491. و انظر الكامل لابن عدي 6 /413 وهو في

فيض القدير (7167) بلفظ “كان يلبس قلنسوة بيضاء لاطئة”.

و الحديث تشهد له روايات أخر حتى يكون حسنا لغيره

4 أبو الشيخ في أخلاق النبي ص 104 و هو في جامع المسانيد لأبي حنيفة 1 /198

والحديث ضعيف جدا كما قال ابن حبان في المجروحين 1/379 و لكن المعنى صحيح

 [7]ابن السكن في المعرفة عن محمد بن سلام عن الحسن, ذكره الشامي في سبل الهدى

7 /284 و نقله الحافظ في الإصابة 5 /207 و سكت عنه.

[8]ابن عساكر في تاريخه 4 /193و سبل الهدى 7 /285. وضعفه في الدعامة ص47

[9] الترمذي (994) و قال:حديث حسن صحيح

[10]الحاوي للفتاوي 1/83  عن سداسيات الرازي

[11] الجرح و التعديل 9/119

[12]ابن سعد 3/22 وسنده ضعيف

[13] در الغمامة  ص 20

[14]المصنف لابن أبي شيبة 6/33 و ابن سعد 5/168 و رجاله موثقون

[15]ابن سعد 5/147 و رجاله رجال الصحيح إلا خالد بن أبي بكر و فيه لين

[16] تاريخ بغداد 2/391

[17]ابن سعد 5/151 و رجاله رجال الصحيح إلا خالد بن أبي بكر و فيه لين

[18]ابن سعد 5/156 و رجاله رجال الصحيح إلا خالد بن أبي بكر و فيه لين

[19]ابن سعد7/210 و رجاله رجال الصحيح

[20]تاريخ الطبري ص 2296

[21] الآحاد و المثاني 2/442 و 5/334

[22] رواه البلاذري في تاريخه, كذا في سبل الهدى 7 /287.

[23] تاريخ الطبري ص 2637

[24]ابن سعد 4/226 وسكت عنه الحافظ في الدراية 2/222 و له شاهد في مسند ابن أبي أوفى 1/129

[25] سير أعلام النبلاء 6/399 و مناقب الإمام أبي حنيفة للذهبي ص 8

[26]  ابن سعد 5/105 و رجاله رجال الصحيح

[27] مستدرك الحاكم 3/375 و سكت عنه الذهبي

[28] ابن سعد 6/347 و رجاله رجال الصحيح

[29] جمهرة خطب العرب 3/116

[30] المصنف لابن أبي شيبة 1/297 ابن سعد 6/137 و رجاله رجال الصحيح

[31] ابن سعد 6/287 و رجاله رجال الصحيح إلا أبا الهيثم القصاب و هو صدوق

[32] تاريخ أبي زرعة  ص93

[33] العقيلي 2/336

[34] العلل لأحمد 2/356

[35] جمع الوسائل 1/204

[36]رد المختار 6/755

[37] أبو الشيخ في أخلاق النبي ص 104 و مر في “باب الأبيض” رقم 2

[38] شعب الإيمان 5/165

[39] ابن سعد 5/ 144 و رجاله رجال الصحيح

[40] ابن سعد7/198 و رجاله ثقات إلا بكار بن محمد قال البخاري يتكلمون فيه

[41] ابن سعد 6/264 و رجاله رجال الصحيح

[42] الجرح و التعديل 1/360

[43] رواه الطبراني في الأوسط 9/14 و 6/341 و قال الهيثمي (المجمع 5/227): رجاله ثقات

[44] فيض القدير (6501) و فتح الباري 10/282 و شرح ابن بطال 9/102

[45] تاريخ الطبري 11/3

[46] رواه البخاري تعليقا ص 863 (5803( و قال الحافظ: قد رويناه موصولا في مسند

مسدد…وكذا وصله ابن أبي شيبة….الخ, فتح الباري 10/272

[47] الصحيح لمسلم ص 68  (160)

[48] تهذيب الكمال 5/374

[49]البيهقي في السنن الكبرى 2/288 و قال الشيخ أحمد محمد شاكر في تعليقاته على

المحلى: إسناده صحيح جدا. و رواه أبو داؤد ص 136(948), كذا في التعليقات على

أبي داؤد للشيخ المحدث محمد عوامة.

[50] ابن سعد 6/189 و رجاله رجال الصحيح

[51] تاريخ دمشق 33/34

[52] ابن سعد 5/105 و رجاله موثقون

[53] جمهرة خطب العرب 3/116

[54] فتاوى دار العلوم ديوبند (إمداد المفتين) 2/977 و فتاوى رشيدية

(في ضمن التأليفات الرشيدية ) ص 478

[55]By “The Empire” is probably meant the Ottoman Empire which was existent at that time and was taken to be the authority on Islamic affairs.

[56] مقالات الكوثري ص 173

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