What is the awrah of the parents in front of their children? Is it permissible to change clothes in front of them?
The awrah of the parents in front of their children is between the belly button and the knee. So, it is haram for the parents to change their clothes in front of their children if the action may expose their awrah which is prohibited. Parents are also obligated to cover the awrah parts which may raise one’s desire and fitnah even it is not part of the awrah, even in front of a mahram, unless in front of their children who are not yet reaching the mumayyiz age.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The definition of awrah according to shara’ is the minimum limit of parts of the body that are obligatory to be covered due to obeying Allah SWT’s commandment. (See Kifayah al-Akhyar, 1/52)
Pertaining to the above question, the scholars of madhhab al-Shafi’e mentioned that awrah of a woman in front of her mahram is from the belly button to the knee whether the mahram is a man or a woman, the same as it is among women. (See Nihayah al-Muhtaj, 6/188-189)
Even though it is stated that the awrah of a woman in front of her male mahram is between the belly button and her knee, a woman shall not showcase parts of her body that may arouse the desire in front of her mahram. This is because a Muslim is obligated to avoid matters which may cause fitnah. This is mentioned in the book (al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 1/125):
وأما عند الرجال المحارم لها: فما بين السرة والركبة، أي فيجوز لها أن تبدي سائر أطراف جسمها أمامهم بشرط أمن الفتنة وإلا فلا يجوز ذلك أيضاً
“While (the awrah of a woman) in front of her male mahrams is between the belly button and her knee, in which it is permissible for her to showcase all parts of her body in front of them with the condition of being safe from any fitnah. On the other hand, (if fitnah rises) it also prohibited (haram).”
There is an exception stated by the scholars which allow a person to showcase her awrah in front of a not yet mumayyiz child, as stated by Syeikh al-Islam Zakaria al-Ansori:
أَمَّا غَيْرُ الْمُمَيِّزِ فَحُضُورُهُ كَغَيْبَتِهِ وَيَجُوزُ التَّكَشُّفُ لَهُ
“While for not yet mumayyiz children, their existence in this sense takes the ruling of none. So it is permissible to showcase the awrah in front of them” (See Asna al-Matalib fi Syarah Raudhu al-Tolib, 3/111)
However, Islam highly emphasizes good behavior in which the parents shall educate their children to follow the good actions. So changing clothes in front of the children especially those reaching the mumayyiz age like 5 to 6 years old child is not acceptable and does not portray virtue and chastity. This is because, children of this age start to be shy and embarrassed, so educating shyness like this shall be emphasized because it is part of the symbol of faith.
In conclusion, the parents shall take note on this matter to always make sure they do not simply showcase their awrah between mahram, whatnot with the non-mahram. Hence, Islam obligates covering the awrah as set by shara’.