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I did not understand how it is that a Muslim woman must be covered from her chest up to her knees only?

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.  (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)

 

One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

 

Assalam-o-alaikum!

I asked you a question earlier about the necessity of covering the head even in front of non-mehrams (except husband), and your answer was very prompt.

However, I did not understand how it is that a Muslim woman must be covered from her chest up to her knees only? I`ve heard this for the first time, and it doesn`t conform with the dress code being adopted by internationally-recognized Islamic organizations like Al-Huda (that base all their actions on the Authentic sources of Islamic law).

 

Can you please provide me some references, so that I may confirm your statements with other scholars?

Can you please also tell me whether Dr Israr, in his statement that women must cover up in front of male Mehrams (except husbands), is right or wrong? Or is this some gray area where the scolars have difference of opinion, like the necessity/obligation of covering the face. A friend of mine has also been trying to convince me that head-covering in front of Mehrams is necessary, "just like we cover up in Salah" i.e. she says that the Satr of a woman is the dress she has to adopt for Salah.

 

I apologize for pestering you with such small questions, but for me to get the best opinion on the matter, it has become unavoidable.

 

Kindly enlighten me.

Assalam-o-alaikum!

 

(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)

 

Answer:

 

Satr of women with mehrams

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.

 

Beloved sister in Islam, never ever hesitate or apologize for asking any questions in the deen; for the deen or way of life called Al-Islam is based on the Perfect Wisdom and Knowledge of the All Knowing Lord, and every single command of the All Wise Lord is abundant in common-sense and logic. Asking any type of questions in Islam to gain more knowledge, or to confirm the Truth so that ones heart is more content, or to understand and thus follow with more conviction the dictates of the deen is not only permissible, but absolutely encouraged in Islam. It is the right of the brother or sister to ask anything they wish to clarify in the deen; and it is the responsibility and duty of the good scholars to address the question asked to the best of their knowledge and ability, and in the most polite and humble manner.

 

What is discouraged in Islam is if one asks questions for the sake of asking, or arguing to ridicule the Truth with absolutely no intention of obeying or following when the Truth is made clear to them, etc. But if one asks questions to clarify and seek knowledge so that one may better follow the deen; such seeking of the Knowledge of Truth is absolutely encouraged in Islam

 

Your Question: Or is this some gray area where the scolars have difference of opinion, like the necessity/obligation of covering the face.

Beloved Sister in Islam, the scholars of the four major schools of thought are unanimous in their opinion that the absolutely minimum satr of the believing woman, or her body parts which she is not to expose to absolutely anyone (except her husband) is from the beginning of her breasts to her knees (inclusive). The eminent scholars are absolutely unanimous on this opinion and there is no difference of opinion in this regard.

 

Even regarding the covering of the face of the believing woman when in the presence of non-mehram adult males, the majority of the scholars are of the opinion that the covering of the face or leaving it exposed is not a decision between what is right and wrong, but between that which is good and that what is best!


 

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 24 Surah Nur verse 31:

(O Prophet) enjoin the believing woman to restrain their gaze and guard their modesty, and not to display their adornment except that which is displayed of itself, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to display their adornments except before their husbands, their fathers, .and also forbid them to stamp their feet on the ground lest their hidden ornaments should be displayed.

 

There are two opinions amongst the scholars in Islam as to what does the phrase except that which is displayed of itself mean and include. One opinion is that it means the face and the hands may be left uncovered, and the other opinion is that the face also has to be covered, and only the hands may be left uncovered.

 

Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4092 Narrated by Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin

Asma, daughter of AbuBakr, entered upon the Messenger of Allah (saws) wearing thin clothes. The Messenger of Allah (saws) turned his attention from her and said: O Asma', when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands.

 

The most accepted opinion is that if the women covers everything except her face and her hands, she would be following the Command of Allah; and if she chooses to cover her face, then it would be considered purest and closest to the Command of Allah Subhanah.

 

The difference between the covering and leaving uncovered the face of a believing woman in hijaab is not one between right and wrong, but rather between what is best and what is good. If the believing woman covers her whole body and chooses to leave her face uncovered, it is good, acceptable and in accordance with the guidance of the Quran and the Sunnah; but if she covers her whole body including her face with a niqaab, it would be best and closest to the Command of her Lord.

 

Your Question: A friend of mine has also been trying to convince me that head-covering in front of Mehrams is necessary, "just like we cover up in Salah" i.e. she says that the Satr of a woman is the dress she has to adopt for Salah.

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 24 Surah An-Noor verse 31:

And O Prophet, enjoin the believing women to restrain their gaze and guard their private parts and not to display their adornment except that which is displayed of itself (their face and hands), and to draw their veils over their bosoms and not to display their adornment except before their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons and the sons of their husbands, their brothers, their brothers sons, their sisters sons, their female associates, and those in their possession and male attendants incapable of sexual desire, and those boys who have not yet attained knowledge of sexual matters. Also forbid them to stamp their feet on the ground lest their hidden ornaments should be displayed.

 

Beloved Sister in Islam, the above guidance of the Lord in His Glorious Quran regarding the proper attire of the believing woman is absolutely self-explanatory.she is not to display her adornment and beauty and draw her veil over herself in the presence of all..EXCEPT those who are listed above:

  1. her husband
  2. her father
  3. her father-in-law
  4. her sons
  5. her husbands sons
  6. her brothers
  7. her brothers and sisters sons
  8. her womenfolk
  9. children who have not attained the knowledge of sexual matters
  10. male attendants or servants incapable of sexual desire.

 

It is absolutely unreasonable, unacceptable, and inaccurate for one to determine that it is an obligation in Islam on the believing women to cover herself up completely in the presence of the ten parties listed above just as she would if she were in the presence of non-mehrams or in prayer, especially when the Lord Most High Himself has listed the ten parties in the presence of whom her hijaab may be relaxed!

 

and to draw their veils over their bosoms and not to display their adornment except before their husbands, their fathers, etc.

 

Your Question: Can you please also tell me whether Dr Israr, in his statement that women must cover up in front of male Mehrams (except husbands), is right or wrong?

Dear and beloved Sister in Islam, without a doubt, our respected brother and teacher Dr. Israr Ahmad, is amongst the most recognized and eminent scholars of our times; and we, along with millions of muslims who strive to study the deen, have immense respect and admiration for the selfless work he has done in the Cause of Allah, his immense knowledge, and his rulings on matters of the deen.

 

Firstly, it is absolutely inconceivable to us that a scholar of the stature of Dr. Israr Ahmad would possibly give such a ruling that a believing woman is to cover herself completely in front of her mehrams and non-mehrams alike, when the above quoted verse of the Glorious Quran, and the opinion of all the eminent and major jurists in Islam declares otherwise! In our humble opinion, it is possible that the person who claims that this ruling was given by Dr. Israr Ahmad misheard or probably misunderstood the context of the ruling. And Allah Alone Knows Best.

 

Secondly, when the Glorious Quran is so clear in the matter regarding the differentiation of the dress-code of the believing woman when she is in the presence of her mehrams and her non-mehrams, if anyone declares an opinion which is against the absolutely clear guidance of the Quran, their opinion obviously cannot be accepted.

 

Your Question: However, I did not understand how it is that a Muslim woman must be covered from her chest up to her knees only?

All the scholars of all the four major schools of thought are unanimous that the absolute minimum satr of the believing men constitutes from the beginning of his navel to the end of his knees (inclusive); and the satr of the believing women constitutes from the beginning of her chest to the end of her knees (inclusive). It is absolutely unlawful for the believing men and the believing women to expose the body parts which constitute their absolutely minimum satr to anyone in creation, except their spouse in marriage; for there is absolutely no satr or hijaab between a couple united in the sacred bond of marriage in Islam.

 

Now just because there is no prescribed satr or hijaab between a husband and a wife in Islam, it does not at all mean that every time a husband and a wife are alone, they must be naked!!!! Similarly, when the satr of the believing woman amongst her mehrams is prescribed as between the beginning of her chest and her knees (inclusive), it does not at all mean or imply that she must expose those allowable parts beyond her satr every time she is in the presence of her mehram relatives!

 

The absolute minimum satr of the believing men is the body parts between their navel and their knees (inclusive); but it does not mean or imply that when they sit amongst their parents, or uncles, or sisters, etc. they strip down to their minimum legal satr allowed, exposing everything except what is between their navel and their knees! But modesty and etiquette dictates that one dress and behave appropriately when in the presence of others, especially elders.

 

Thus when a believing woman is amongst her mehram relatives, or her womenfolk, or amongst children, she has the option to relax her hijaab, if she chooses and wishes to do so; and as long as her dress and adornment does not expose her absolute minimum prescribed satr, she may adorn herself any which way she feels is appropriate to her gathering.

 

But under absolutely no circumstances is she allowed to expose her prescribed minimum satr or her body parts between her chest and her knees (inclusive) to anyone in creation including her mehrams, except her husband.

 

Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

 

Your brother and well wisher in Islam,

 

 

Burhan


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