Is it permissible to bath with family members in public swimming pools?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The Obligation of Covering Aurah
In Islam Muslims are commanded to cover their aurah, may it be when he is alone or in public to protect his dignity and decency and that it will be a part of his self-character. See al-Halal wa al-Haram fi al-Islam (pg.142)
In a hadith from Bahz bin Hakim, his grandfather said:
يا رسول الله، عَوْرَاتُنَا، مَا نَأْتِي مِنْهَا وَمَا نَذَرُ؟ قَالَ: "احْفَظْ عَوْرَتَكَ إِلَّا مِنْ زَوْجَتِكَ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ" قال: قُلْتُ: يا رسول الله! أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ كَانَ الْقَوْمُ بَعْضُهُمْ فِي بَعْضٍ؟ قَالَ: "إِنْ اسْتَطَعْتَ أَنْ لَا تُرِيَهَا أَحَدًا، فَلَا تُرِيَنَّهَا" قُلْتُ: يا رسول الله، فَإِنْ كَانَ أَحَدُنَا خَالِيًا؟ قَالَ: "فَاللَّهُ أَحَقُّ أَنْ يُسْتَحْيَا مِنْهُ مِنْ النَّاسِ"
"O Messenger of Allah! Regarding our 'Awrah, what of it must we cover and what of it may we leave?" He said: "Protect your 'Awrah except from your wife or what your right hand possesses."' He said: "What about a man with another man?" He said: "If you are able to not let anyone see it, then do so." I said: "What about a man when he is alone?" He said: "Allah is most deserving of being shy from Him."
Sunan Ahmad (20034), Sunan Abu Daud (4019), Sunan al-Tirmzi (2769), Sunan Ibn Majah (1920) and al-Baihaqi in Syu’ab al-Iman
A man is prohibited from looking at another man’ aurah, just as a woman is prohibited from looking at another woman’s aurah. Narrated from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
لاَ يَنْظُرُ الرَّجُلُ إِلىَ عَوْرَةِ الرَّجُلِ وَ لاَ اْلمــَرْأَةُ إِلىَ عَوْرَةِ اْلمــَرْأَةِ
“A man is not to look at the 'Awrah of a man, and a woman is not to look at the 'Awrah of a woman.”
Sahih Muslim (338), Sunan Abu Daud (4018), al-Tirmizi (2793) and Sunan Ibnu Majah (661)
Manners When Taking a Bath
Islam has manners set for Muslims when taking a bath, and one of them is to hide from others so that no one could see his aurah.
This is mentioned in several of the Prophet PBUH’s hadiths, one of them is from Ya’la bin Umayyah RA, the Prophet PBUH saw a man performing ghusl in an open place, so he ascended to the Minbar and praised and glorified Allah SWT, then he said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ حَلِيمٌ حَيِيٌّ سِتِّيرٌ يُحِبُّ الْحَيَاءَ وَالسّتْرَ فَإِذَا اغْتَسَلَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَسْتَتِرْ
“Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, is forbearing, modest and concealing, and He loves modesty and concealment. When any one of you performs Ghusl, let him conceal himself.”
Sunan al-Nasa’i (406), Sunan Abu Daud (4012) and al-Baihaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra (956)
There is a prohibition in Islam from entering public bathing place where the aurah can be seen with the exception of a covering by a cloth. Someone is also prohibited to enter any public bathing place unless he cannot be seen by anyone or out of everyone else’s view. Narrated from Jabir RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلاَ يَدْخُلِ الْحَمَّامَ إِلاَّ بِمِئْزَرٍ مَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلاَ يُدْخِلْ حَلِيلَتَهُ الْحَمَّامَ
"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him not enter a bath house except wearing an Izar (waist wrap). Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him not permit his wife to enter a bath house."
Sunan Ahmad (14706), Sunan al-Tirmizi (2953), al-Baihaqi in Su’ab al-Imran (5596) and al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak
In another hadith from Abu al-Mulaih al-Hazali, some women from Himms or Syria came to see Aisyah R.Anha, she said:
أَنْتُنَّ اللاَّتِي يَدْخُلْنَ نِسَاؤُكُنَّ الحَمَّامَاتِ ؟ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ : مَا مِنْ امْرَأَةٍ تَضَعُ ثِيَابَهَا فِي غَيْرِ بَيْتِ زَوْجِهَا إِلاَّ هَتَكَتِ السِّتْرَ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَ رَبِّهَا.
“Perhaps you belong to the place where women enter hot baths (for washing)?” They said: “Yes.”. She said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah PBUH say: “If a woman puts off her clothes in a place other than her house, she has teared the veil between her and Allah, the Exalted.”
Sunan Abu Daud (4010), Sunan al-Tirmizi (2803) and Sunan Ibn Majah (3750)
Another similar narration from Ummu al-Darda’ R.Anha, she said, I went out from a bath house and saw the Prophet PBUH. He asked, “Where are you from?” “From a bath house” I answered. He then said:
وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ ، مَا مِن امْرَأَةٍ تَضَعُ ثِيَابَهَا فِي غَيْرِ بَيْتِ أَحَدٍ مِنْ أُمَّهَاتِهَا ، إِلاَّ وَهِيَ هَاتِكَةٌ كُلَّ سِتْرٍ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَ الرَّحْمَنِ
“By God that my life is in His hands, there’s no woman that puts off her clothes in a place other than her mother’s house, she has teared every veil between her and Allah SWT.”
Sunan Imam Ahmad (27578) and al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabir (179)
Allah SWT has sent down clothes so that they cover their aurah and it is the clothes of taqwa. When they (women) has no taqwa surely, they would expose their aurah, thus tearing the veil between them and Allah SWT. (See ‘Aun al-Ma’bud, 9/33)
The evidences above state that the Prophet PBUH asked us to be careful when going to public baths especially for woman.
In answering the issue, we hold the opinion of it is better to find suitable places to avoid the exposure of aurah from happening.
As an example, the effort made by Tabung Haji Hotel to separate man and woman swimming pools are great to avoid mingling of man and woman. In addition, clothes worn in these type of places (swimwear) are hard to control.
The same goes to other efforts such as building women swimming pools in enclosed area with high walls that the swimming appear as if they are in a building.
Recently, Alhamdulillah we find that there are efforts made by Muslim swimwear designers to create and design swimwear that are in accordance with Islamic law. We view this as a really good effort and hopes that this industry could be expanded further.
May Allah give us understanding in His religion and obeying His commandments. Amin.