Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Is it permissible for a Muslim girl dressed in proper attire to post pictures of herself on the Internet?
Is it permissible for a Muslim girl to partake in sporting events such as powerlifting/weightlifting matches, marathon runs, etc. if both non-Muslim/Muslim men and women are present to watch her perform?
Is modesty equated with invisibility in Islam? In other words, for a female to reach perfection in her modesty, does that mean she needs to be visibly hidden from the public sphere and only be seen by women/close family members in her community?
Thank you for your questions sister.
There are two issues in your first question a) pictures and b) looking at a covered woman online.
- Pictures: You will find the ruling on taking photographs in the following links: What is the Ruling on Taking Photographs of Humans?
- Photographs: Please Clarify Your Position It is your choice whether you agree with taking photographs or not. Although considering photography unlawful is a stronger and more pre-cautious opinion, it is still valid to follow the contrary opinion that permits it.
- The ruling of looking at a picture of the opposite gender online, even if covered, is here: Pictures and Television If you feel that men might see your picture, you would be making it easier for them if you didn’t post it at all. One cannot control who looks at one, and for me, that is enough reason to refrain from it. These links are also useful to see: Dealing With My Husband Having Female Facebook Friends, Etiquette of Social Media
The answer to your second question about men watching a Muslim lady power lift or run a marathon is no. Men and women have been instructed to lower their gaze from each other. Allah, Most High, says, “Tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their chastity, and not to reveal their adornments except what normally appears. Let them draw their veils over their chests, and not reveal their ˹hidden˺ adornments except to their husbands, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, their sons, their stepsons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, their fellow women, those ˹bondwomen˺ in their possession, male attendants with no desire, or children who are still unaware of women’s nakedness. Let them not stamp their feet, drawing attention to their hidden adornments. Turn to Allah in repentance, O believers, so that you may be successful.” [Quran, 24:30-31]
There are exceptions to lowering the gaze, such as looking at one’s doctor or teacher, but that is not applied to professional sports.
A woman is encouraged to be strong, healthy, and even compete in what she is good at, but she might encounter that it is nearly impossible to do these things in a modest environment in the West. Some Islamic organizations now make it possible to keep competitions completely segregated, but a non-Islamic one would have no such thing. It makes no difference whether the man watching her is Muslim or non-Muslim.
Modesty is not equated with invisibility in Islam. A woman is considered modest when she covers modestly, behaves modestly, and understands that Allah is more worthy of her modesty. This is what is requested of her.
The best of women, namely Fatimah, Khadijah, Maryam, and Asiyah was praised for their righteousness, devotion, strength, and patience. Modesty is just a part of the package. And Allah knows best.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.