Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
I am confused on the rulings on whether we Muslim sisters can show our feet. I have heard a hadith stating that our Prophet (saw) said “that women can only show two things, and he pointed at his hands and his face.” I have also heard that according to the hanafi madhab that it is permissible to show feet. Since there is a big debate on this subject at the moment, I was hoping that Insha’Allah you may clarify this subject for me.
The fatwa position in the Hanafi school is that a woman’s feet are not `awra. As such, it is not legally obligatory to cover them in the prayer or outside the prayer. [As mentioned in Radd al-Muhtar and elsewhere.]
1. Caution and scrupulousness would entail covering the feet, because it is obligatory according to other Sunni schools (such as the Shafi`is), and it is a strong position within the Hanafi school that they are `awra. This is especially true for prayer, but it is best even outside the prayer when in the presence of those one must cover in front of.
2. It is only allowed to uncover the feet up to the ankles. Anything above the ankles is from one’s `awra. Many women wear skirts or dresses (such as jilbabs) that normally cover the ankles, but reveal the leg area above this while walking (especially in the wind, etc).
The scholars say, “There is nothing like safety.”
The scholars remind us that one should not apply the Shariah as a dry list of do’s and don’ts. Rather, we should have the intention that we are following Allah’s commands and the guidance of His Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace), out of love and thanks.
And Allah alone gives success.