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Female Islamic Dress-Code

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Daruliftaa.com

Many women, who wear the Niqab, also wear such clothing which clearly shows their waistline. Is this permissible? Also, what are the Principles in general with regards to a woman’s dress?


In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

The Qur’an and Sunnah have laid down certain principles with regards to the dress code of both males and females. A Muslim and a Muslima are both required to adhere to the Islamic teachings both internally and externally.

Allah Most High says:

“And abstain from all sins, internal or external.” (Surah al-An’am, 120)

Regarding dressing, Allah Almighty says:

“O children of Adam! Surely we have bestowed upon you a garment to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you, and the garment of piety is the best.” (al-A’raf, 26)

In view of the above-mentioned verse of the Holy Qur’an, other verses and sayings of our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), the Jurists (fuqaha) have deduced certain rules and principles with regards to the dress of males and females.

The following are the principles of dressing for females:

1) The whole body of the woman must be concealed. Only the hands and feet (and according to some scholars, the face, when there is no fear of Fitna) can be exposed. Allah Most High says in Surah al-Ahzab:

“And stay in your houses and do not display yourselves as in the days of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance).” (V: 33)

Allah Almighty further says in the same Surah:

“O Prophet! Say to your wives and daughters and the women of the believers, that they should cast upon themselves the outer garment (Jilbab). That will be more convenient for them not to be known (as such) and not be molested. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah al-Ahzab, 59)

In a Hadith recorded by Imam Tirmidhi (Allah have Mercy on him) with a authentic chain of narrators, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“A woman is supposed to be concealed. When she emerges outside (without covering herself properly), Shaytan makes her adorned in front of men.” (Sunan Tirmidhi)

It is clear from the above that a female must cover herself fully before coming in front of non-Mahram men. Even the hands and feet should be concealed, if possible.

2) The garment of the female must not be so thin that her body can be visible.

3) Her cloths must not be close-fitting and tight; rather they must be loose, as to avoid the figure and shape of the body being exposed and visible.

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“There are two types of the people of Hell whom I have not seen: People with whips like the tails of cattle, with which they beat the people, and women who are clothed YET NAKED, inciting men and their heads looking like the humps of camels, leaning to one side. They will not enter paradise and even smell it’s fragrance, even though it’s fragrance can be detected from such and such a distance.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 2218)

The above Hadith is clear in that the clothing of a female must not be transparent and/or tight-fitting. The meaning of “clothed yet naked” is nothing other than that.

4) There should be no imitation of the Kuffar (non-believers). In a Hadith recorded by Imam Abu Dawud (Allah have Mercy on him) and others, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“Whosoever imitates a nation is amongst them.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, no. 4031)

It should be remembered here that not everything what the non-Muslims wear and do, is Haram and unlawful. Imitation, which is prohibited, is effected in two ways:

a) One wears a particular type of clothing with the intention of imitating the Kuffar, meaning, one wears something because one wants to be like a particular non-believer or non-believers.

b) Wearing any clothing which is unique and exclusive to the non-believers and/or part of their religion, will be considered imitation, thus unlawful. (See the Fatwa of Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani in Taqrir Tirmidhi)

It becomes evident from the above that if a woman wears certain Western cloths for the sole reason of pleasing her husband, and no other men (Mahram or non-Mahram) see her, and she observes the full rules of Hijab when emerging outside, and the intention is not to imitate the Kuffar, then this would be permissible.

5) Any clothing which creates pride and arrogance in the heart must be avoided. In a Hadith recorded by Imam Ibn Majah (Allah have Mercy on him), the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“Whosoever dresses himself out of pride in this world, Allah will dress him/her with the same clothing on the day of Qiyamah and he/she will be entered in to Hell.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

6) Imitation of the opposite sex is also impermissible.

Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) relates, that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) “Cursed those men who imitate women and those women who imitate men.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 7/205)

7) One should avoid being extravagant and spending lavishly on cloths. The meaning of being extravagant is to spend out on cloths to the amount which is beyond one’s normal capacity.

Allah Most High says:

“And do not be extravagant, for Allah loves not the extravagant.” (Surah al-An’am, V: 141)

8) The cloths should be clean, pure and free from anything filthy and dirty, as purity is part of ones Faith (Iman).

The above are the Islamic principles with regards to the dressing of females. Some of these rules may also apply to males. It is evident that this subject is lengthy and needs much more elaboration than this small article. However, one may able to get the gist of what the Islamic guidelines are. This humble servant is, at present, working on this important subject and has an intention (Insha Allah) to publish a book which deals with all aspects relating to women’s Awra, dress and adornment. It needs 5 to 6 months and allot of Duas.

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

This answer was collected from Daruliftaa.com, which is headed by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari. He’s based in the United Kingdom.