Conditions for Proper Women’s Islamic Dress
May 4, 2007 2 Comments
(Originally part of a post I wrote for Learn-Islam.net, slightly edited)
In sūrah an-Nūr (ch.24, v.31 of the Qur’an), Allah (exalted is He) says,
«And tell the believing women to lower their sights; to preserve their genitals; to not display their adornment—except what is visible from it; to draw their khimârs over their bosoms; to not display their adornment except to their spouses or their fathers, or their spouses’ fathers or their sons or their spouses’ sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or what their right hands possess (i.e., slaves or captives), or their servants from the men [who are] not possessors of desire, or the children who have not become cognisant of women’s private parts; and to not strike their feet in order that what they hide of their adornment be known. And repent to Allah collectively, O believers, in hopes that you may be successful.»
Also, in a hadîth published by Imam Abū Dâwud as-Sajistânî in his Sunan (no.4104), ‘Â’ishah bint Abî Bakr narrated that her sister
Asmâ’ entered upon Allah’s messenger while on her were thin clothes. Allah’s messenger (may Allah send salutations and peace upon him) turned away from her and said, «O Asmâ’, surely when the woman reaches the [age of] menstration, it is not appropriate that [anything] be seen from her except this and this» and he pointed to his face and his two palms.
This narration brought out by Abū Dâwud contains weakness, in and of itself. It is authenticated by Shaikh al-Albânî, however, in his book Hijâb al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah by bringing together the various routes the hadîth has come by.
In Hijâb al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah, Shaikh al-Albânî stipulates eight conditions for proper women’s Islamic dress (many of which also apply to men). These conditions are:
Enclosure of the entire body except what is excepted,
that it is not an adornment in and of itself,
that it is opaque/thick in texture and not transparent/thin,
that it is loose/flowing/wide and not tight,
that it is not nice smelling (i.e., perfumed),
that it does not resemble the clothing of men,
that it does not resemble the clothing of the disbelieving women,
and that it not be clothing of repute.
A few things to note:
Firstly, “whatever is visible from it” is defined as the face, the hands up to the wrists, and anything else that is pretty much impossible to hide such as her height, general build, etc.
Secondly, there is a hadîth in which Prophet Muhammad (may Allah send salutations and peace upon him) told the women to let their outter garments drag on the ground suggesting that it be upto an arm’s length past her feet (or something to that effect) in order to cover them sufficiently; contrary to the garments of men, which should be kept above the ankles.
Thirdly, clothing of repute is defined as every garment by which reputation amongst the people is intended, whether it be the garment that is costly which one wears out of boasting of the riches of worldly life and its beauty or the garment that is despicable which one wears as a demonstration of asceticism and dissemblance i.e., out of showing off, pretense.