Fashion design is a growing industry with new brands coming out everyday. It’s a very creative and visual industry that is constantly evolving. This caught our attention and we wanted to know the islamic perspective on fashion design as a career and whether it is haram or halal to engage in.
According to Islamic scholars, the job description of a fashion designer is not haram as long as the clothes designed are halal and permissible to be worn. However, traditional fashion shows which are a big part of a fashion design career, can be an area of concern. Scholars claim that it brings unwanted male gaze and attention to a woman.
Islamic Scholars View On Fashion Designing
To get a better understanding of whether a fashion design job is haram or not, we wanted to know what the Islamic scholars had to say about this topic.
We turned to the very well known Sheikh Assim Bin Loqman Alhakeem. Also known as Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem, he’s an Islamic scholar who published a lot of islamic content online and on TV. Learn more about him here.
He answered this question by touching on a few key points. Here’s what he had to say:
1- The Job Description Of A Fashion Designer Itself Is Not Haram
Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem makes a logical point when addressing this question. He states that when you’re analyzing any job, whether it be an engineer or accountant, one ought to look at the job description to determine if it is haram or not.
He states that the job description itself is not haram, a fashion designer is simply designing a dress that women will already be wearing. We also searched for a typical job description of a fashion designer and found this (source):
Typical Responsibilities Of A Fashion Designer
- Sketch out the design
- Test different materials for the design
- Test the design on models and people
- Display designs to potential customers and vendors
- Work with production to see if the design is feasible
So by simply looking at the job itself, there’s nothing wrong with the tasks involved.
2- Designing Clothes To Be Used For A Halal Way Of Life Is Permissible
He makes another point that focuses on the notion of intention. He argues that if you’re designing a clothing item that is halal, then that is acceptable.
For example a hijab or shayla or anything that is considered logically modest for a muslim woman to wear, then that is acceptable.
Where things start crossing the line is when fashion designers work on clothing that are clearly haram. An example of that would be bikinis, it is common understanding that women should not wear them in public.
So if a fashion designer is designing bikinis or other clothing that is not considered modest, then that is considered to be haram.
on an unrelated note, check out our recent post if you’d like to learn more about what is halal nail polish and the best halal alternative options.
3- Fashion Shows Are Considered Haram By Sheikh Assim El Hakeem
He points out that a big role in fashion designing are fashion shows. Which makes sense since fashion designers need to display their latest clothing lines. He argues that the whole show and concept of having a woman walking down the runway is haram.
He did not elaborate on why Fashion shows are considered haram so we had to do some digging.
Are Fashion Shows Haram?
It appears that traditional fashion shows are considered haram because it goes against what’s written in the Quran (Surat al-Noor).
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their chastity, and not to reveal their adornments (i.e., hair, body shape, and underclothes) except what normally appears.(i.e., the face, hands, outer clothes, rings, kohl, and henna)Quran [al-Noor 24:31] (source)
Let them draw their veils over their chests, and not reveal their ˹hidden˺ adornments ( i.e., hair, arms, and legs) except to their husbands, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, their sons, their stepsons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, their fellow women, those ˹bondwomen˺ in their possession, male attendants with no desire, or children who are still unaware of women’s nakedness.
Let them not stomp their feet, drawing attention to their hidden adornments.
Based on this, it can be interpreted that a women ought to avoid dressing in a manner that reveals her attracts hair, body shape, and underclothes. Since traditional fashion shows often put major emphasis on the woman wearing the dress and how the dress displays her body shape, it can be interpreted that fashion shows are haram.
You’ll notice that we specifically highlighted the words “it can be interpreted” and that’s because that’s an interpretation.
We, at Halal Guidance, are not in a position to tell you what is haram or not. Our purpose is to share our research and let you make the final decision.
Makeup plays a huge role in fashion shows. Learn more about whether makeup is considered haram or halal.
Furthermore, you’ll also notice that we emphasized on the word TRADITIONAL FASHION SHOWS. There is a major difference between a Victoria Secrets fashion show and a halal muslim fashion show.
Speaking of fashion shows and revealing a woman’s hair, learn more about whether dying your hair is considered haram or not.
Can Fashion Shows Be Halal?
Halal fashion shows is a growing industry, especially in the middle east. However, we are seeing a growing interest in North America. The Halal Expo Canada is a great example of this.
While this expo will be more than just fashion. Fashion will play a big role in this expo. According to their site,
“the show floor will feature modest outfits of elite brands from Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, and North America. The Fashion Show includes a wide range of modest clothing made of various materials and colors including Hijab, accessories and so much more…”Source: Halal Expo Canada
One thing that got us questioning this halal fashion show is whether the attendees have to be women to avoid unwanted male gaze and attention and for it to be considered halal. At this time, we couldn’t find any direct evidence as to what constitutes a “halal fashion show”.
Nevertheless, what also caught our attention to this event is that it is sponsored by many halal organizations such as Muslim Link, Mina Zabeeha, and many more Islamic based organizations! Which is pretty cool, especially for the fashionistas out there!
Fatwa About Fashion Designing
Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid was asked
What is the ruling of Islamic sharee‘ah on working as a fashion designer? I would like to know the aspects of halaal and haraam c oncerning that.Islam QA (Source)
Part of his response included this Fatwa:
everything that is used for prohibited purposes, or it is thought most likely that it will be used in such ways, it is prohibited to manufacture it, import it, sell it, or distribute it among the Muslims. That includes what many women do nowadays – may Allah guide them – of wearing translucent, tight and short clothes, all of which results in showing their charms and adornment, and shows the shape of the woman’s limbs in front of non-mahram men.Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah (13/109) (source)
Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid gave a similar response to Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem in that it all depends on the intention of what the clothes (that the fashion designer is working on) will be used for. If it will be used for modest clothing, then that’s fine.
One unique point that he added here is that designing clothing that is not permissible for men such as silk is also forbidden.
Curious about other careers being halal or haram? Check out our recent post on whether acting is considered halal or haram!
Based on the evidence offered above, it is clear that among Islamic scholars, the work of a fashion designer in itself is permissible. What is questionable is the clothing that fashion designers are working on as well as fashion shows.