The hijaab of an elderly woman

Question: Is it allowed for a woman advanced in age, say 70 or 90 years old, to uncover her face in front of relatives who are not mahram?

Answer: Allaah says:

{And as for women past child-bearing who do not expect marriage, it is no sin upon them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment. But to refrain is better for them. And Allaah is All-Hearer, All-Knower}, [Soorah an-Noor, Aayah 60].

So there is no harm if the menopausal women who are not seeking marriage and are not displaying their adornments uncover their faces in front of non-related men. However, for them to remain covered is still better for Allaah has said in the verse:

{But to refrain is better for them}.

This is because some of them, when they are seen, may be a source of temptation due to their beautiful faces even though they are elderly and not displaying their adornments. However, if she is going to be having adornments [such as make-up and jewellery], she may not take off her outer covering. Having adornments includes beautifying the face with kohl and so forth.

[Shaykh Ibn Baaz, Fataawa al-Mar.ah]

Published: 6 February 2000

The hijaab of a young girl

Question: What is the ruling concerning the young girls who have not reached the age of puberty? Is it allowed for them to go out without covering themselves? Can they pray without wearing a head covering?

Answer: It is a must that their guardians bring them up and teach them the manners of Islaam. They should tell them not to go outside unless their bodies are covered. This is in order to avoid any temptation and to get them used to the virtuous manners so that they will not be a source of spreading evil. They should be ordered to pray with head coverings. If they pray without it, their prayers are sound. This is because the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) said:

«Allaah does not accept the prayer of a female who has reached the age of puberty except if she is wearing a head covering (khimaar).» This was recorded by at-Tirmidhee, Ahmad, Abu Daawood and Ibn Maajah.

And with Allaah lies all success and may Allaah send prayers and salutations upon our Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) and his family and his companions.

[The Permanent Committee for Islaamic Research and Verdicts, Fataawa al-Mar.ah]

Published: 6 February 2000

A Muslim woman does not wear hijaab in front of non-Muslim women

Question: We have non-Muslim female servants in our house. Is it obligatory upon us to wear hijaab in front of them? Is it allowed for me to give them my clothes to wash and then I pray in them? Is it allowed for me to explain the falsehood of their religion to them and to explain the distinguishing features of our pure religion?

Answer: First, it is not obligatory to wear hijaab in front of them. They are like any other women according to the strongest of the two opinions among the scholars. There is no harm in them washing your clothing or utensils. However, it is obligatory to put an end to their contract because they have not embraced Islaam. This is because in the Arabian Peninsula it is not allowed to have anyone except Muslims. Only Muslims may be hired in this Peninsula, regardless if it be workers, servants or whatever, regardless if they be men or women. This is because the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) ordered that the polytheists be expelled from this Peninsula and that there not be left two religions herein. This is because it was the cradle of Islaam and the place of the rise of the Message. It is not allowed except for the religion of truth, the religion of Islaam, to be left in this Peninsula. May Allaah grant Muslims the following of truth and steadfastness in it. May Allaah also guide the others to enter into Islaam and leave what goes against it.

Second, it is sanctioned for you to call them to Islaam and to explain to them its excellence. You may also show them what is wrong with their religion and how it opposes the truth. Also explain to them that the Law of Islaam abrogates all previous laws. Tell them that Islaam is the religion of truth that Allaah sent all of His messengers with and by which were revealed the Books. Allaah has said:

{Truly, the Religion in the sight of Allaah is Islaam}, [Soorah Aal-‘lmraan, Aayah 19].

Allaah also says:

{And whoever seeks a religion other than Islaam, it will never be accepted of him and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers}, {Soorah Aal-‘Imraan, Aayah 85].

However, you have no right to speak about that except on the basis of knowledge and understanding. Speaking about Allaah’s religion without knowledge is a great evil. Allaah has stated:

{Say: The things that my Lord has forbidden are illicit acts, whether committed openly or secretly, sins [of all kinds], un-righteous oppression, joining partners [in worship] with Allaah for which He has given no authority, and saying things about Allaah of which you have no knowledge}, [Soorah al-A’raaf, Aayah 33].

Allaah has put the gravity of speaking about Him without knowledge above all of the acts mentioned in the verse. This indicates how greatly forbidden it is and what a great sin it is. Allaah also says:

{Say: This is my way, I invite unto Allaah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me [must also invite with sure knowledge]. Glorified be Allaah. And I am not one of the idolaters}, [Soorah Yoosuf, Aayah 108].

In Soorah al-Baqarah, Allaah states that speaking about Allaah without knowledge is one of the actions that is ordered by Satan:

{O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and good on the Earth, and follow not the footsteps of Satan. Verily, he is to you an open enemy. (Satan) commands you only what is evil and sinful, and that you should say against Allaah what you know not}, [Soorah al-Baqarah, Aayah 168-169].

I ask Allaah for me and you support, guidance and goodness.

[Shaykh Ibn Baaz, Fataawa al-Mar.ah]

Published: 6 February 2000

The Islaamic hijaab

Question: What is the Islaamic hijaab?

Answer: The Islaamic hijaab is for the women to cover everything that is forbidden for her to expose. That is, she covers everything that she must cover. The first of those bodily parts that she must cover is her face. It is the source of temptation and the source of people desiring her. Therefore, the woman must cover her face in front of those men that are not mahram. As for those of who claim that the Islaamic hijaab is to cover the head, shoulders, back, feet, shin and forearms while allowing her to uncover her face and hands, this is a very amazing claim. This is because it is well-known that the source of temptation and looking is the face. How can one say that the Sharee’ah does not allow the exposure of the foot of the woman while it allows her to uncover her face? It is not possible that there could be in the Esteemed, Wise and Noble Sharee’ah a contradiction. Yet everyone knows that the temptation from uncovering the face is much greater than the temptation that results from the uncovering of the feet. Everyone also knows that the most sought after aspect of the woman for men is the face. If you told a prospective groom that a woman’s face is ugly but her feet are beautiful, he would not propose to such a woman. However, if you told him that her face was beautiful but her hands, palms, or shins were less than beautiful, he would still propose to her. From this one can conclude that the face is the first thing that must be covered. There are also evidences from the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of our Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam). There are also statements from the Companions, the leading Imams and the great scholars of Islaam that indicate that it is obligatory for the woman to cover all of her body in the presence of non-mahram men. This obviously indicates that it is obligatory upon the woman to cover her face in front of such men. However, this is not the place to quote all those authorities.

And Allaah knows best.

[Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, Fataawa al-Mar.ah]

Published: 6 February 2000

Does the prohibition on isbaal include women too?

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz said:

The point is that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) explained all that is good and called us to all that is good, and he warned us against all that is evil. He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whatever of the lower garment hangs down below the ankles is in the Fire.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh. The izar (lower garment), trousers, thobe (dishdasha) and abaya (cloak) should not come down below the ankles; whatever comes below the ankles is subject to the warning mentioned in the hadeeth, with regard to men. With regard to women, they have to make their clothes long enough to cover their feet, because the feet are ‘awrah. It is not permissible for a man to imitate women by dragging his garment or in any other way.

[Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 5/28]

And he said:

There are many similar ahaadeeth, which indicate that isbaal is forbidden in general terms, even if the one who does it claims that he is not doing it for the sake of pride and showing off, because that is a means that leads to pride, and because it is a kind of extravagance and exposing clothing to dirt and impurities. But if a person does that with the intention of pride then the matter is more serious and the sin is greater, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever allows his garment to drag out of pride, Allaah will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection.” The defining point here is the ankles. The Muslim male is not allowed to let his garments come down below the ankles, because of the ahaadeeth mentioned.

But in the case of females, they may make their clothes longer so as to cover the feet.

[Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 5/380]

What is the ruling on isbaal?

Question: Is it permissible to obey my father when he wants me to let my clothes hang below the ankles?

Answer: Isbaal is haraam, indeed it is one of the major sins. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever allows his garment to trail along the ground out of pride, Allaah will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection.” And he mentioned the three whom Allaah will not look at on the Day of Resurrection or praise them, and theirs will be a painful torment, among whom is the one who allows his garment to hang below his ankles. The one who does this is disobeying Allaah and transgressing His sacred limits, so he has to repent to Allaah. He will be punished because Allaah will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will be punished because he is given a warning of Hell fire, which indicates that isbaal is one of the major sins, Moreover there is nothing good in isbaal, because it damages the clothes and may make the person stumble, as ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said to the young man whom he saw allowing his garment to hang below his ankles – who came to visit ‘Umar in his final sickness – “O young man, lift up your lower garment for it will make your garment last longer and is more obedient to your Lord.”

With regard to obeying your parents, parents are not to be obeyed if that involves disobeying Allaah. If they tell you to let your garment hang below your ankles, then you should disobey them, because isbaal is a major sin and there is no obedience to any created being if it involves disobedience towards the Creator.

[Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez Aal al-Shaykh, Fataawah Majallat al-Da’wah, issue no. 1741]

Muslim woman’s hijaab in front of kaafir women

Question: What are the things that a Muslim woman may uncover in front of a kaafir woman, such as a Buddhist woman for example? Is it true that she is not allowed to uncover her face?

Answer: Praise be to Allaah.

The correct view is that a woman may uncover what is above the navel and what is below the knees in front of another woman, whether she is a Muslim or a kaafir. As for the area between the navel and the knees, this is ‘awrah and is to be covered in front of everyone. No woman should see this area of another woman, whether she is Muslim or non-Muslim, related to her or not related; the same applies to the ‘awrah among men (i.e., no man should see the ‘awrah of another man). A woman may see the chest, head, shins, etc., of another woman; similarly a man may see the chest, shins, and head of another man. With regard to the view of some scholars, that a believing woman should not uncover in front of a kaafir woman, this view is superceded by the more correct of the two scholarly views, because at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), Jewish women and also idol-worshipping women used to enter upon the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) for various reasons; it is not narrated that they used to wear hijaab in front of them, and they are the best and most pious of women.

[Shaykh Ibn Baaz, in al-Fataawa al-Jaami’ah li’l-Mar’ah al-Muslimah, part 3, p. 830]