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Reconciling Western and “Islamic” women’s clothing

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Question:

How can we reconcile the permissibility of wearing Western clothes with the hadith that says that any woman who wears tight clothes will not even catch the scent of Paradise?

Answer:

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your very important question.

As long as one’s clothes cover one’s body properly, it doesn’t matter whether they are Western or Eastern.

Western clothes

Islamic clothes are clothes that conform to the rules of the Sacred Law and the recommendations it teaches. Clothes worn in Muslim countries do not make them Islamic.

The details of this are found in the answer referred to in the question. Please see:

https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/wearing-western-style-womens-clothing-and-dressing-modestly/
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/hanafi-fiqh/sunna-entail-dressing-people-land-live/
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/halal-and-haram/clothes-of-the-people-of-the-land/

The hadith

The hadith being referred to mentions ‘women who are dressed-naked, who tempt others’ and states that ‘they will not enter Paradise or even catch the scent of it, even though its scent can be smelt from very, very, very far away.’ (Malik and Muslim) Some of the narrations specifically mention ‘the distance traveled in 500 years.’

Among other interpretations, this hadith has been understood to mean women who do not dress properly. (Sharh Muslim, Nawawi)

Creed

When we say that non-mass-narrated hadiths (Khabar ahad) cannot establish a point of creed, we mean a new and unique point of creed. This is not the case here.

We already know from the Qur’an and that which is mass-narrated (mutawatir) from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) that there is a threat of punishment for committing sins, and we also already know that it is obligatory to dress properly. Therefore this hadith does not add any new and unique point of creed such that we should have to question whether or not it is mass-narrated (mutawatir).

The hadith means that this is a tremendous sin and that there is a threat of terrible punishment for any woman who does it.

But as we already know, anyone who sincerely repents and desists from sin will be forgiven by Allah. That is to say that even if a woman dressed inappropriately in the past, if she now repents, Allah will forgive her, and she will enter Paradise by His grace.

Please see:

https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/what-is-the-difference-between-major-sins-and-minor-sins/

May Allah forgive all our sisters in Islam who do not dress properly, and forgive all the fathers, brothers, and husbands who are implicit in what they do by not changing it. Amen!

Conclusion

Islamic clothes cover one’s body correctly and conform to the Sunna, where it applies. Muslim women should dress properly, and all Muslims should encourage Muslim women who do not dress appropriately to change their ways.

‘We do not consider any of the people of our qiblah to he unbelievers because of any wrong action they have done, as long as they do not consider that action to have been lawful. Nor do we say that the wrong action of anyone who has belief does not harm him. We hope that Allah will pardon the people of right action among the believers and grant them entrance into the Garden through His Mercy, but we cannot be certain of this, and we cannot bear witness that it will definitely happen and that they will be in the Garden. We ask forgiveness for the people of the wrong action among the believers and, although we are afraid for them, we do not lose hope for them.’ (The Creed of Imam Tahawi)

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years, he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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