This article will attempt to briefly yet concisely specify the basic requirements regarding Muslim women’s dress (Jilbaab) as stipulated by the Shari'ah (Divine Law) of Islam. The term Jilbaab, includes not only dress and covering the body, but methods of behavior before members of the same and/or opposite sex, promoting privacy for females and prohibiting loose intermingling between males and females, and thereby encouraging modesty, decency, chastity and above all, respect and worship of Allah.
The First Requirement:
The Extent of Covering
The dress worn in public must cover the entire body except what has been specifically excluded, based upon the following proofs:
Allah (swt) says:
‘And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts from sin and not show of their adornment except only that which is apparent, and draw their headcovers over their necks and bosoms and not reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women (i.e., their sisters in Islam), or their female slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants free of physical desires, or small children who have no sense of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what
they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah altogether, O you Believers, in order that you may attain success’.[An-Nur, 24:31]
The Second Requirement:
The garment should be thick and opaque so as not to display the skin color and form of the body beneath it. Delicate or transparent clothing does not constitute a proper covering. The Sahabah were very stern on this and regarded scanty clothing in public as an indicator of a woman's lack of belief. Al-Qurtubi reports a narration from
Aishah (ra) that some women
from Banu Tamim came to see her wearing transparent clothing.Aishah said to them: "If you are are believing women, these are not the clothes of believing women." He also reports that a bride came to see her wearing a sheer, transparent khimaar, whereupon `Aishah (ra) said: "A woman who wears such clothing does not believe in Soorat An-Nur."
Moreover, the following hadeeth makes this point graphically clear. Allah's Messenger (saw) said: There will be in the last of my Ummah (nation of believers), scantily dressed women, the hair on the top of their heads like a camel's hump. Curse them, for verily they are cursed. In another version he said: ...scantily dressed women, who go astray and make others go astray; they will not enter Paradise nor smell its fragrance, although it can be smelled from afar. [At-Tabarani and Sahih Muslim] "Scantily dressed women" are those who wear clothing which reveals more than it conceals, thereby increasing her attractiveness while opening the path to a host of evils.
The Third Requirement:
The clothing must hang loosely enough and not be so tight-fitting as to show the shape and size of the woman's body. The reason for wearing a garment which is wide and loose fitting is that the function of Muslim women's clothing is to eliminate the lure and beauty of her body from the eye of the beholder. Skin-tight body suits, etc. may conceal the skin color, yet they display the size and shape of the limbs and body. The following hadeeth proves this point clearly:
Usamah ibn Zaid said: Allah's Messenger (saw) gave me a gift of thick Coptic cloth he had recieved as a gift from Dahiah Al-Kalbi, and so I gave it to my wife. Thereafter the Prophet (saw) asked me: Why didn't you wear the Coptic cloth? I replied: I gave it to my wife. the Prophet (saw) then said: Tell her to wear a thick gown under it (the Coptic garment) for I fear that it may describe the size of her limbs. [Narrated by Ahmad, Al-Bayhaqi, and Al-Haakim]
The Fourth Requirement:
Color, Appearance and Demeanor
Allah (swt) says:
"O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women; if you fear (Allah), then do not be too pleasent of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should feel desire (for you)." [Al-Ahzab, 33:32]
The reason for the revelation of this verse is not the fear of distrust nor misbehavior on the part of the women, but rather to prevent them from speaking invitingly, walking seductively, or dressing revealingly so as to arouse sexual desire in the heart of lecherous and evil men.
Seductive dressing and enticing speech are the characteristics of ill-intentioned women, not Muslims. Al-Qurtubi mentions that Mujahid (RA) said: "Women (before the advent of Islam) used to walk about (alluringly) among men." Qatadah (RA) said: "They used to walk in a sensuous and seductive manner." Maqatil (RA) said: "The women used to wear an untied
cloth on their heads, while provocatively toying with their necklaces, earrings and other ornamental jewelry." Furthermore, Allah has commanded women not to display their beauty, meaning both natural and acquired beauty. Allah commands the believing women thus:
...And do not make a display of yourselves like the displaying of the ignorance of long ago... [Al-Ahzaab, 33:33]
A garment which is intended to conceal a woman and her beauty from public view cannot be a thing which enhances her beauty. Therefore, the garment cannot contain bright colors, bold designs or shiny and reflective material that draw men's attention to the wearer. The Arabic word above, At-Tabarruj, means not only "to display oneself" but also "to spruce up one's charms for the purpose of exciting desire".
Imam Adh-Dhahabi says in his book Kitab Al-Kaba'ir (The Book of Major Sins): "Amongst the deeds which a woman is cursed for are displaying the adornments she wears, wearing perfume when she goes out, and wearing colorful clothes..." Hence, the Muslim woman is encouraged to wear muted, somber colors and to avoid bright designs, patterns and colors.
The Fifth Requirement:
Difference from Men's Clothing
The clothing of a Muslim woman must not resemble the clothing of men. The following two hadeeth help to explain this. Abu Hurayrah (RA) said: Allah's Messenger (saw) cursed the man who wears women's clothes and the woman who wears men's clothes. [Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah-Saheeh]
Abdullah ibnUmar (RA) said he heard Allah's Messenger (saw) say: The man who resembles a woman and the woman who resembles a man is not of us (i.e., not of the believers). [Ahmad and At-Tabarani-Saheeh]
Additionally, Abu Dawood relates a narration from Umm Salamah (RA) which shows that the Prophet (saw) forbade women to bundle their Khumoor on their heads in such a way as to resemble the turban of a man. Western Muslim sisters should pay specific attention to this point since regretfully this has become a widespread practice amongst them.
The Sixth Requirement:
Difference from the Clothing of Unbelievers
Her clothing must not resemble the clothing of unbelievers. This is a general ruling of the Shari'ah which encompasses not only dress but also such things as manners, customs, religious practices and festivities, transactions, etc. Indeed, dissimilarity with unbelievers is a precedent that was established by the first generation of Islam. The following two hadeeth and statement of
Umar (RA) will help to clarify this position:Abdullah ibn
Amr ibn Al-Aas said: Allah's Messenger (saw) saw me wearing two saffron-colored garments, so he said: Indeed, these are the clothes of kuffar (unbelievers), so do not wear them. [Sahih Muslim]
Abdullah ibnUmar (RA) said: Allah's Messenger (saw) stated: Whoever resembles a people is one of them. [Abu Dawood] Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari (RA) related that `Umar (RA) told him: "...I shall not honor those whom Allah has dishonored, nor esteem those He has humbled, nor bring close those whom He has kept afar." [Ahmad]
The Seventh Requirement:
No Vain or Ostentatious Dressing
The woman's dress must not be an expression of ostentation, vanity or as a status symbol by being excessively showy or expensive, nor must it be excessively tattered so as to gain admiration and fame for being humble. Ibn `Umar (RA) reported that Allah's Messenger (saw) said: Whoever dresses for ostentation in this world, Allah will dress that person in a dress of humiliation on the Day of Resurrection, and then set it on fire. [Abu Dawood]
You shouldn't have further queries now.