Covering the Feet for Women: If by the Prophet to only show hands and face how come the Hanafi madhab allows this

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Sidi Suheil Laher

If we are directed by the prophet to only show hands n face how come the hanafi madhab allows you to show your feet? And the other one is from Abu Dawud, Book 027, Hadith Number 4092. Narated By ‘Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin : Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) turned his attention from her. He said: O Asma’, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

wa`alaykum as-salam wa-rahmatullah
Scholars have differed regarding the feet of the woman : are they`awrah in salah, or outside salah, or both or neither?  There are differences among the Hanafis themselves, and there exist three authentic opinions in the madhhab :


1) That the feet are nakedness
This is based on the direct implication of the hadith,
When a girl reaches puberty, it is not appropriate that any of her should be seen, excepting her face, and her hands upto the wrists.”     [Narrated by Abu Dawud; It is a mursal narration at the level of hasan.]
It is also strengthened by the narration that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was asked, when he mentioned the prohibition of dragging the lower garment, about what women should do with the ends of their garments.  He said, ‘ They should extend them a span.‘   Umm Salamah said, ‘Then, their feet will be uncovered!’  He said, ‘ Then, they should extend them a cubit, not exceeding that.
    [Narrated by :   Tirmidhi ,  who graded it as hasan sahih,
                             Nasa’i and Abu Dawud, with the words, “then she will be uncovered.”]

This opinion was presented as the madhhab of Abu Hanifah by al-Quduri, and is also espoused by al-Jassas in Ahkam al-Qur’an and by Qadi-Khan. Similarly, in Sharh al-Aqta` , it is stated, “The authentic [opinion] is that it is `awrah, from the apparent [implication] of the narration.” [See al-Bunayah , vol. II, p. 63]  Of the latter Hanafi scholars, al-Ghunaymi has inclined towards this view in al-Lubab .  The feet are also considered nakedness by Imams Malik, al-Shafi`i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal. 

 2) That they are not nakedness
The argument for this is based on two points:
i) If the establishment of the nakedness is by the saying of Allah, the Exalted, (translated), “And let them not show their beauty, except that of it which is apparent,” then the foot is not customarily a location of beauty (it may be for a minority, but regulations are set according to the general rule), and thus Allah, the Exalted, has said, (translated), “And let them not strike their feet in order to make known that adornment which they are hiding,” i.e. the ringing of anklets, and this conveys that the feet themselves are of the beauty which is apparent.  This is fortified by the fact that the Mother of the Believers, `A’ishah, said, commenting on the verse, (translated), “And let them not show their beauty except that of it which is apparent”, “the toe-ring, a silver ring which is [placed] on the toes.”  [Narrated by Ibn Abi Hatim, as quoted by Ibn Taymiyyah in Hijab al-Mar’ah , p. 17.]
ii) If the establishment is by the Prophet’s saying, “The woman is to be covered,” along with it being established that some of her body is excluded due to hardship of [avoiding] exposure, then, by analogy, it should necessitate that the feet also be excluded, due to the corroboration of hardship.  This is because she would be put to hardship by her foot showing when she walked barefooted or with shoes, for she may not always find khuffs or socks with which to cover them. Along with this, desire is not aroused by looking at the foot such as is aroused by looking at the face, and so if the face is not `awrah, in spite of the plentiful arousal of desire, then the foot is more appropriate to remain uncovered in view of the hardship associated with covering it. [See Fath al-Qadir : al-Hidayah with its commentaries, vol. I, p.225, and al-Bunayah , vol. II, p.63.] This opinion has been reported by al-Hasan [ibn Ziyad al-Lu’lu’i] from Abu Hanifah.  Al-Marghinani graded it as the more authentic opinion in al-Hidayah , and Ibn al-Humam and al-`Ayni acknowledged this in their commentaries thereof.  This view has been presented as the madhhab position by later texts, such as Nur al-Idah and al-Durr al-Mukhtar . Al-Thanawi concluded in I`la al-Sunan that it is sounder from the point of rationale.  

3) That they are nakedness outside salah, but not in salah.
Ibn `Abidin reported this as one of the authentic views in Radd al-Muhtar .
It may be noted that Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah, the Hanbali, also favored this opinion.  He says,
“And similar [is the case with] the foot.  It is permissible for her to show it [in salah] according to Abu Hanifah, and [this] is the stronger [position], for `A’ishah considered it of the apparent beauty.  . . . . So, this is an evidence that women used to show their feet initially, just as they used to show their faces and hands . . . . for they used not to walk in khuffs or shoes.  [Moreover], to cover these in [salah] poses a great hardship, and Umm Salamah said, ‘A woman should pray in an ample garment which covers the tops of her feet,’ and so when she makes sajdah, the bottoms of her feet may show.” [ Hijab al-Mara’ah wa-Libasuha fi al-Salah , pp. 17-18]

Some scholars opined that the feet are not nakedness in that she is not required to cover them, but they are nakedness for the purposes of looking and touching, i.e. it is not permissible for stranger men to look at or touch her feet.
In conclusion, it is preferable and more precautionary to cover the feet. However, due to the existence of scholarly disagreement on some details, one who follows another opinion in good conscience should not be criticized.
And Allah knows best.