Can You Wear Shorts Under Thobe? Find Out!

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The thobe, a significant part of an Arab’s traditional outfit, has proven quite versatile for Arabs as well as interested foreigners.

However, the thinness of the thobe, along with the awareness that Arabs hold proper body coverage in high esteem, may have led you to wonder just what would be appropriate to wear under a thobe. More particularly, can you wear shorts under thobe?

The quick answer is yes, it is acceptable to wear shorts under a thobe. However, there are certain conditions that must be met in order to use shorts as your thobe undergarment. Read on to find out exactly what kind of shorts you can wear under a thobe. 

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What Kind Of Shorts Can Be Worn Under Thobe?

It is not very common to find men wearing thobes with shorts underneath in recent times. However, it is still acceptable practice. 

The unbending and most important rule to wearing shorts under a thobe is that the ‘awrah’ is covered. This means that the shorts must cover the whole area from the belly button to the knees.

As long as the shorts begin above the belly button and end after the knees, effectively concealing the color of the skin between these two parts, then they are good enough to be worn under thobes.

In fact, some thobe wearers have attested to the fact that sometimes, especially on hot days, they wear shorts underneath their thobes.

Another concern is whether as a Muslim, a man can wear shorts under the thobe to pray. The same condition still applies during prayers. The shorts have to reach from the belly button to the knees. This is in accordance with the Prophetic Tradition of Islam, popularly referred to as-Sunnah.

Failure to abide by this when the thobe is thin enough to be seen through means that any prayers said while in such state, will be rendered invalid.

Hence, you can wear any kind of shorts that make you feel comfortable underneath a thobe, provided the shorts are long enough to cover everything from the belly button down to the knees.

Can You Wear Thobe Alone?

It is perfectly reasonable that when the weather gets too hot for comfort, one is tempted to just throw on the thobe by itself, without any extra clothing under it.

Thankfully, the rules don’t actually command that the thobe shouldn’t be worn alone. Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Saalih ibn Muhammad ibn Sulayman ibn Abd Al Rahman Al Uthaymeen Al Tamimi, a highly respected Islamic scholar, explains that clothing is not considered to be a covering if it allows the skin color to be seen. 

This follows the Islamic guideline that it is a sin for another person to be able to see the color of your skin through what you’re wearing. It is therefore only in such a case where your thobe is transparent enough to let your skin color show through, that you absolutely need to wear adequate covering underneath. 

Otherwise, it is permissible to wear thobes alone though it is rare to find an Arab who doesn’t wear at least, underwear beneath his thobe. That is, you can only wear thobes with nothing underneath if they are totally not transparent.

In other words, you have two options when wearing thobes.

  1. Wear thobes that are thick and opaque such that no one can see the color of your skin through them. With these, there are no concerns about what you’re wearing underneath them and you can choose to wear them alone.
  2. If your thobes are transparent, you must wear something that covers from your navel to your knees, underneath them. 

Anything outside the two options above is considered a sin. It is as good as not wearing anything at all and you cannot pray in such a condition. Otherwise, the prayer is not valid.

What Else Can One Wear Underneath A Thobe? 

Usually, an Arab about to dress up in a thobe does this in four steps.

  • Firstly, he wears his underwear which is a kind of boxer. The major difference between these boxers and the regular ones is that they do not have the usual small slit in front. This is to encourage Arabic men to sit when they answer the call of nature, rather than stand.
  • Next, he puts on a t-shirt of cotton material. The sleeves on the shirt vary according to preference and the weather. It could be sleeveless, it could have short sleeves or it could have long sleeves. 
  • After this, he gets into a kind of cotton pants known as sunnah underpants. This name is derived from Prophetic Tradition. According to Sunnah, a man must be covered at least from navel to knees. Therefore, these underpants that cover the stated area effectively, are referred to as sunnah underpants. 

Traditionally, thobes are white. However, during the winter, men can be seen wearing other colors of thobes like gray, navy blue, brown, or black. Perhaps it is because of the traditional white color that makes all the clothes worn under be white. The underwear, shirt, and underpants are usually white in color.

Curiously, Arabs continue to wear white under-clothes even when they are wearing thobes that are not white. This seems to be a fashion statement. 

Apart from sunnah underpants, below are some clothes that can be worn under thobes. 

  • Wizar

This is like a skirt, rather than pants. It is tied around the waist just like a lungi. This is actually the traditional under-cloth for thobes. However, sunnah underpants are more prevalent now.

  • Shorts 

You can wear shorts underneath thobe. The only thing you need to remember is that if your thobe is transparent, then the shorts have to start above the navel and reach the knees. 

  • Pajamas 

Some men have revealed their preference for wearing pajamas underneath thobe. It works just like the sunnah underpants. 

  • Any kind of pants that covers from the navel to the knees or beyond

As long as the essential rule for modest coverage is fulfilled, you can actually wear whatever keeps you comfortable under thobes. 

Why Do Men Wear Thobes? 

A visit to a country like Saudi Arabia is likely to leave you wondering how come the men seem to enjoy wearing thobes so much. They wear it virtually everywhere and every time! 

The reasons are not so far-fetched. Top on the list is that thobes are their ancestors’ traditional outfits. Since Saudi Arabia is one of the few nations that did not face colonization, its culture has remained more or less intact. Hence, they were able to preserve their own mode of dressing. 

Besides, the ancient Arabs devised the thobe design because of their main environment, which is a desert. There is usually a high level of wind storms and even ordinary winds blow sand around.

While trading, the Arabs would walk through the sands of the desert with the wind blowing speedily. These threw sand particles that could often harm their skins and make them bleed.

Hence these ancestors needed complete coverage for protection against the elements. The thobe provided this coverage while keeping the wearer comfortable, which is another reason why men still wear thobes so frequently today.

Apart from the physics of thobes being better suited for the desert conditions that Arabs have to deal with, they are also very comfortable. They are usually made of super-light fabric and are loosely fitted. This helps protect the body from suffering the sun rays directly, while still allowing free ventilation. So, even in high heat, the thobe keeps one comfortable. 

To cap it all, you are the one who finds it strange that men wear thobes everywhere. For the Saudis, for instance, it’s very normal. They can’t feel strange about it because it is what they are used to, it’s their own ‘normal’. 


Do you wear clothes under a thobe? 

Yes, the most common practice is to wear other clothes under a thobe. The clothes usually worn under thobes are white underwear, a white shirt and sunnah underpants which are a kind of cotton pants. However, it is compulsory to wear clothes under a thobe only when the thobe is not thick enough to conceal the color of your skin under it.

Are thobes Arab?

Thobes are the traditional outfit of Arabs. It is worn in Arab countries in North, East, and West Africa as well as the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. Arabs are known to wear the thobe even outside their countries, which shows how proud they are of their cultural identity.

Are thobes comfortable? 

Thobes are made of cotton fabric. During the winter, thobes made of wool are popular. Either way, they are comfortable to wear. 

ConclusionCan You Wear Shorts Under Thobe?

On the question of wearing shorts under a thobe, it is acceptable to wear shorts under a thobe provided that the conditions I have laid out in this article, are met. There are also other items, as I have pointed out, that you can wear under the thobe. In addition, you can actually get away with wearing nothing underneath a thobe, by following the guideline I have stated.

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