Everything You Need To Know About Thobes | Thobe Encyclopaedia
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Table of contents
We hope you are all well. For today’s blog post, we decided to compile the answers to all of the most asked questions regarding thobes. This post will cover everything you need to know about thobes/jubbas.
What Are Thobes?
What is a thobe?
Thobe (‘thawb’) is actually an Arabic word, meaning ‘garment’.
However, the precise dictionary definition for thobe is: something that is worn to cover the body. It’s also mentioned that a thobe is typically a single garment, and not multiple items of clothing worn together.
However, these are very literal definitions. Nowadays, we understand a thobe to be a long robe typically worn in the Arab countries, though the design has now spread across the globe.
Allah mentions the word in the Qur’an in its plural form:
“And purify your clothes” (Qur’ān 74:4)
Where did thobes originate?
It’s difficult to trace the origins of the thobe. Various ancient cultures seem to have had some sort of long robe within their ‘wardrobe’. It appears that this form of dress was relatively common throughout the ages in many cultures including the Arabs. For example, the early Israelites in Mesopotamia are alleged to have worn a type of long sleeved cloak similar to a modern ʿabāyah.
Nowadays, the thobe is commonly seen worn by Arabs, and their influence has seen it spread to Muslims around the world.
Did the Prophet wear a thobe?
On the topic of Prophetic clothing, the Prophet was known to not be picky about the clothing he wore (as long as it covered the parts of the body that needed covering!). Hence, he is recorded to have worn a number of different types of clothing in different ḥadīth, including a qamīṣ (a type of long shirt), a jubbah (a long outer robe, open at the front), a ḥibarah (a striped, Yemeni cloak) and a ḥullah (two pieces of unsewn cloth, worn similar to an iḥrām in ḥajj).
The one most closely resembling the modern thobe is the qamīṣ. A ḥadīth mentions that the Prophet’s g most preferred item of clothing was a qamīṣ (Abū Dāwūd, Tirmidhī).
Umm Salamah i narrated: The most loved garment to the Messenger of Allah was the Qamīṣ (long shirt)
Today, the word qamīṣ means ‘shirt’ in normal Arabic vocabulary. However, a famous 16th century scholar who lived in Makkah called Mullā ʿAlī al-Qari r, explains that the meaning of qamīṣ during the time of the Prophet g was a stitched item of clothing, made of cotton, with sleeves and a pocket. Elsewhere, ʿAllāmah Qasṭallānī r, a 15th century Egyptian scholar states that the length of the Prophet’s g qamīṣ was quite long and reached to around the mid-calf. Therefore, it appears that this qamīṣ closely resembled the modern thobe. In terms of colours, the Prophet is known to have preferred white, as it is the colour of purity. He also liked wearing green, the colour worn by the people of paradise.
What would constitute sunnah clothing? Are Thobes Sunnah?
As Muslims, we endeavour to follow the Prophet in all aspects of life. This is called following the sunnah. Sunnah clothing could therefore refer to clothing worn by the Prophet g. Therefore, clothing which resembles that which the Prophet wore, such as the modern thobe, could be counted as sunnah clothing.
Other thobe-like clothing that is recorded to have been worn by the Prophet would also be considered sunnah, including:
- The jubbah
In a ḥadīth (Bukhārī, Muslim) the outer garment sometimes worn by the Prophet is described as a jubbah which the scholars explain was a long wool cloak with long sleeves, open at the front, similar to a modern-day bisht or ʿabā’.
- The Ḥibarah
This refers to an embroidered Yemeni cloak, maybe similar to the hooded cloaks often seen worn in some African countries today.
- The Ḥullah
A ḥullah is described as two pieces of unstitched cloth. One is worn as a lower garment, as a lunghi/izār/sarong (very commonly seen worn in South and Southeast Asia today) and the other is worn as an upper garment. The two sheets are worn very similar to how an iḥrām is worn during the Muslim pilgrimage of ḥajj or ʿumrah.
Other items of clothing (besides the thobe) that would also be considered sunnah to wear, include the ʿimāmah (turban) and the qalansuwah (headcap).
The meaning of the word jubbah in Arabic has been described above as long sleeved, open robe. However, the word jubbah today, is typically used synonymously with the thobe, with both words meaning the same thing. It’s commonly used among South Asian Muslims as well as some English-speaking Muslims in the West. Other words used around the world for the same item of clothing include the dishdāshah, kandūrah and jillābah which can all refer to the modern thobe, though each word may be used to refer to a specific style of thobe in different countries. The words thobe and jubbah seem to be the most general and apply to all different types.
We hope you found this guide helpful InshaAllah!