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What is the ruling in the Islamic perspective of a woman who wears clothing which shows her body shape and for those who intentionally look at the aurah of others?


In answering this question, here are some key points to be considered:

Tight clothing that outline or distinguish the body shape of a women is not allowed as it is contrary with the etiquette of wearing garments for women, in which it should be loose.

Meanwhile, intentionally looking at the aurah of others is impermissible according to the Quran and the hadith. According to the valid (sahih) and predominant (rajih) opinion, women’s voice is not considered as aurah. It is considered as aurah only if it is used to attract men and sinful actions.

We quote the opinion of Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradhawi in his book al-Halal wa al-Haram fi al-Islam pertaining the characteristics of the garments supposed to be worn by women. He said:

  • The clothing of women encompasses the concept of decency and modesty as set in Islam. Meanwhile, the Islamic clothing is everything characterized in these characteristics:
  • The clothing should cover all parts of the body except some which are allowed in the Quran and agreed upon opinion of scholars, which are the face and two palms.
  • The clothing is not from materials which are thin to the extent of able to make her body shape be visible to others. The Prophet PBUH said:

صِنْفَانِ مِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ لَمْ أَرَهُمَا قَوْمٌ مَعَهُمْ سِيَاطٌ كَأَذْنَابِ الْبَقَرِ يَضْرِبُونَ بِهَا النَّاسَ وَنِسَاءٌ كَاسِيَاتٌ عَارِيَاتٌ مُمِيلاَتٌ مَائِلاَتٌ رُءُوسُهُنَّ كَأَسْنِمَةِ الْبُخْتِ الْمَائِلَةِ لاَ يَدْخُلْنَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلاَ يَجِدْنَ رِيحَهَا وَإِنَّ رِيحَهَا لَيُوجَدُ مِنْ مَسِيرَةِ كَذَا وَكَذَا

"Two are the types of the denizens of Hell whom I did not see: people having flogs like the tails of the ox with them and they would be beating people, and the women who would be dressed but appear to be naked, who would be inclined (to evil) and make their husbands incline towards it. Their heads would be like the humps of the bukht camel inclined to one side. They will not enter Paradise and they would not smell its odor whereas its odor would be smelt from such and such distance"

Sahih Muslim (2128)

In the above hadith, women who are dressed but appear to be naked refers to women who wore clothing that did not cover her body for the clothing are too thin or are made from see through materials showing the woman’s skin and it seems like she is not wearing anything.

Aisha (RA), the wife of the Prophet PBUH, advised some women from the tribe of Banu Tameem who came to visit her and had light clothes on them and they were improperly dressed: "If indeed you are believing women, then truly this is not the dress of the believing women, and if you are not believing women, then enjoy it."

In another narration, it is recorded that a group of women came to meet Aisha (RA) while bringing along a bride who was wearing a thin veil which made her adornments visible. Aisha (RA) then said: “Women who wear like this are not considered as one of the believers.”

  • The clothing should not be too tight to the extent that it sticks to the body, thus making the shape or outline of the body visible, even if the clothing is not thin as what is available now in the modern world. Those who wear such clothes are still included in the saying of the Prophet PBUH when he said “Women who are dressed, yet naked”. In fact, these types of clothing may have a greater negative impact when compared to others.
  • The clothing should not be from a specified clothing for men like the pantaloons or tight trousers which are a trend nowadays. The Prophet PBUH cursed women who resembles men and vice versa.
  • The clothing should not be known as the garments of the disbelievers, such as the Jews, Christians, the Zoroastrians (fire worshippers) and the idolaters. The intention of resembling them is not allowed in Islam because Islam forbids its believers from resembling or distinguishing from other religions in terms of faith, appearance and form. As for this, Islam tells us to always act differently from the disbelievers as mentioned in a hadith:

مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ

“He who copies any people is one of them,”

Riwayat Ahmad, Abu Daud (4031) and al-Tabarani (8/179)

  • A Muslim woman should always be decent in her actions and words. However, she should avoid from any flirtatious behavior as this is not how a Muslim woman should behave. It is indeed the behavior of the prostitutes. Allah states in the Quran:

فَلَا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِي فِي قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلًا مَّعْرُوفًا

“…then do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech”

(Surah Al-Ahzab: 32)

  • A Muslim woman should never intentionally attract men by wearing perfumes or jewelries that produces sounds or by stamping their feet. Allah says in the Quran:

وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ

“And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment.”

(Surah Al-Nur: 31)

In Jahili period, when a woman walked on a path and intentionally stamp their feet (with the intention of attracting the crowd), it may attract men towards her. This is how women flirts with men attracting attention to herself with the intention of committing sinful things with men.

In the context of wearing strong smelling perfumes, there is a saying of the Prophet PBUH that addresses this issue, in which he said:

إِذَا اسْتَعْطَرَتِ الْمَرْأَةُ فَمَرَّتْ عَلَى الْقَوْمِ لِيَجِدُوا رِيحَهَا فَهِيَ كَذَا وَكَذَا

“If a woman uses perfume and passes the people so that they may get its odour, she is so-and-so, meaning severe remarks.”

Sunan Abi Dawud (4173)

In another hadith, the Prophet PBUH said:

كُلُّ عَيْنٍ زَانِيَةٌ وَالْمَرْأَةُ إِذَا اسْتَعْطَرَتْ فَمَرَّتْ بِالْمَجْلِسِ فَهِيَ كَذَا وَكَذَا يَعْنِي زَانِيَةً

“Every eye commits adultery, and when the woman uses perfume and she passes by a gathering, then she is like this and that,”

Sunan al-Tirmizi (2786)

In conclusion, it is clear that Islam never forbids women from going out of the house and tell them to not go anywhere except the grave (when she dies) as per claimed by some groups of people.

Instead, Islam allows women to perform prayers, search for knowledge and fulfil her necessities and needs. It is as what was practiced by the wives of the companions, which is acknowledged as the best period of time. There were some female companions who joined the Prophet PBUH and his companions in wars. This practice was later followed by the companions after the time of the Prophet PBUH, like the four caliphs and other Islamic rulers afterwards. The Prophet PBUH once said to his wife, Sauda RA:

قَدْ أَذِنَ لَكُنَّ أَنْ تَخْرُجْنَ لِحَوَائِجِكُنَّ

“O women! You have been allowed by Allah to go out for your needs”

Sahih al-Bukhari (5237)

In another saying:

إِذَا اسْتَأْذَنَتِ امْرَأَةُ أَحَدِكُمْ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ فَلاَ يَمْنَعْهَا

"If the wife of anyone of you asks permission to go to the mosque, he should not forbid her."

Sahih al-Bukhari (5238)

In another saying:

لاَ تَمْنَعُوا إِمَاءَ اللَّهِ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ

"Do not prevent the maid-servants of Allah from going to the mosque"

Sahih Muslim (442 c)

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