Answered by: Alimah Nasima Umm Hamza
Can you clarify the dress code for women in public? If an outer garment is required, please specify the length and whether some part of their inner clothing may be visible or not.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In The Name Of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most-Merciful
When a woman goes outside of her home, it is obligatory for her to cover herself in a jilbab.
Allah (swt) uses the plural word for jilbab in the Quran, which is jalabeeb, when He (swt) says:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُل لِّأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِن جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَن يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah al-Ahzaab:59)
Many of the Tafseers define the jilbab for us.
In Tafseer as-Sa’di:
“The jilbab is that which is worn over the clothes like the milhafah (sheet), khimaar, ridaa’ (robe/gown) and such as it.”
In Tafseer Qurtubi, a jilbab is defined as such:
“It was narrated from Ibn Abbas and Ibn Mas’ood that it is a gown/robe. And it was also said a mask. And the correct opinion is that it is a garment which covers the whole body.”
In The Tafseer of Ibn ‘Ashoor – At-Tahrir Wa At-Tanwir jilbab is defined as such:
“She wears it when she goes out or travels.”
The length of the jilbab must be long and go down to the ground, so that none of her body is showing.
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:
That the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever arrogantly drags his garment, Allah will not look at him on the Day of Judgement.” So Umm Salamah said: “What should the women do with their hems?” He said: “Slacken them a handspan.” So she said: “Then their feet will be uncovered.” He said: “Then slacken them a forearm’s length and do not add to that.” (Tirmidhi, Hadith Number 1731)
The outer garment must also be loose and opaque, so that the skin colour cannot be seen, nor the shape of the body.
In conclusion, it is obligatory for a woman to wear a jilbab when she leaves her house. It is a garment which is worn over a woman’s normal clothes and is loose and opaque and covers her whole body.
Only Allah knows best
Written by Alimah Nasima Umm Hamza
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham
1 Raddul Muhtaar, Volume 1, Page 41