Fiqh of Women’s Clothing

Bismillah. Obviously I’m trying to majorly catch up on all of my neglected reading 😀

Here it is. FINALLY – the final portion of the notes from Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s Precious Provisions class (which covered the fiqh of food and clothing): The Fiqh of Women’s Clothing. Hijaab – the proof, the jilbaab, benefits, requirements – will be covered and also a very short discussion on niqaab.


Just a side note, before we begin – when you give da’wah in public to people, you don’t start with hijab; you start with prayer. It doesn’t matter if they are Muslim, converts, non muslims, etc. Hijaab is just one aspect of Islam, not the focal point of it.

Hijab most likely came down in the month of Dhul Qa’dah in the 5th year of the Hijra. 5AH is when fasting, zakah and salah had all become obligatory.

There are two primary verses from which all of the rulings of hijaab can be derived from. Two Surahs were revealed within weeks of one another: Al Ahzaab and An Nur. Both these surahs deal with hijaab.

“Prophet! Say to your wives, your daughters, and the women of the believers that they let down over themselves their over garments (jalaabeeb); this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble and Allah is forgiving merciful.” (Ahzaab, 59)

There are two important words we need to know the Arabic of: yudnin and jalaabeeb. Yudnin comes from dana. Dana means ‘to draw close to’. A woman should draw close to herself and cover herself. She is doing something and making an effort to cover with her jelbaab.

Jalaabeeb is the plural of jilbaab. And jilbaab comes from jalaba. Jalaba means ‘to pull something from one place to another’. A jelbaab is a covering. There are several definitions for jelbaab (from nisaan al ‘arab):

  1. a type of qamees
  2. a garment bigger than a head scarf, but smaller than a lower garment
  3. something a woman covers her chest and head with
  4. a sheet a woman uses above her clothes
  5. a khimar

Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to […]. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed. (An-Nur, 30-31)

So a man’s hijaab is to lower his gaze. For women, they must lower their gaze as well, but there is more for women, becuase we are oh so beautiful 😀

“Tell them to only display of their beauty that which is apparent.” They have to make an effort not to display of their beauty. There are two verbs: yubdeen (not diplay) and dhahara. The actor of not displaying is the woman. She has to make an effort. The actor of dhahara (what is apparent) is not mentioned. There is no doer. A woman has to do every effort to cover her beauty, but what is left is not in her control and is forgiven. For example, no matter what a woman wears, you can tell her size and what her body is shaped like, what her height is, etc.

‘Umar recognized Safiyya (the Prophet’s wife) by her height and weight. He said, “I have recognized you, O Safiyya.” He was basically asking her what she was doing outside. Safiya was upset and she went back and told the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told her that you are allowed to leave your house if you need to. He meant that it’s ok ‘Umar recognized you.

Lessons in Vocabulary

“Let them hit (daraba) their khumr over their juyoob.” Khumr comes from the word khamara. The plural of khumr of khimaar. Khumr conceals the physical head. Khamar (alcohol) conceals the mind (intoxicates you). A khimaar literally means “that which covers the head.” Gotta love the Arabic language 🙂 In English, we call that (the khimaar) head scarf.

Daraba means they should be very careful and meticulous.

Juyoob is the plural of jayb. Jayb means a slit or an opening. The Jayb would be the slit at the top of the clothes – so cover your chest area with your khimaar. Allah is saying to take that head scarf and use it to cover the chest. So those itty bitty hijaabs that you tuck in to your shirt/abaya just won’t do it, honey 🙂 Or – worse – the ones tied at the back of the neck, exposing the entire neck and collarbone. Hijaab isn’t just covering your hair. If that were the case, a wig would do the job 😉 And I say this very kindly, because I didn’t use to practice hijaab very well. Heck, I don’t know if I practice it properly now.

“And let them not reveal their adornment except to their husbands….” The phrase that comes previously is exactly the one that came before. This shows that there are two levels of hijaab: one in front of her mahrams and the other is in public (this includes when non mahrams come to her house). In front of mahrams, she doesn’t have to cover her hair.

In some cultures, we wear anklets. Allah didn’t say we can’t wear them. Allah says to walk in a manner that doesn’t draw attention to them. High heels do more damage than the anklets/payal. They draw much more attention than “stamping of the feet” because of the way they make a woman walk.

If Allah tells women not to draw attention by sound, then what about sight and smell?! (I’m sure everyone knows the hadith about a woman whose perfume a passing man can smell.)

The two verses mention two clothing items: a jelbaab and a khimaar. This shows us that there are two items that a sister must where in order to fulfill the requirements of hijaab. We will get to this later inshaAllah.

Was Hijaab only for the wives of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?

I was kind of surprised to see this, but then I realized that some women do actually argue this.

The answer is: yes and no. That is because there are two meanings of hijaab. There is a classical usage and a modern usage of the term.

The classical usage was restricted to the wives of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The modern usage is for the wives as well as all women.

In the verses we have mentioned thus far, Allah does not mention hijaab; He mentions khimaar and jelbaab. Where does Allah mention hijaab? He mentions it in reference to the wives of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: “[…] And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a partition. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts. […]” (Al-Ahzab, 53)

The Qur’anic usage of the word hijaab is very different; it literally means curtain – a physical curtain.

We know this historically that the wives of the Prophets would not be seen, except if they were outside, and they would try to be covered as much as they could. Their level of hijaab was stricter. When ‘Aa`isha was in battle, she would be behind a curtain, in a tent on the camel. Also, we know that she was a great scholar of Islam that taught many men and narrated many hadith. When she would teach, there was a physical curtain in her house from behind which she taught.

So that was just the intro, and inshaAllah I will get to the other sections of the Fiqh of Women’s Clothing soon.

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2 Responses to Fiqh of Women’s Clothing

  1. Tahira says:

    As Salaamu Alaikum sister,

    I enjoyed reading your post. I especially liked that you included ahadith to back your points. However, I’m a little confused by your adding the comment about high heels. Although I agree that they do attract attention (and don’t really wear them because they can be uncomfortable), I’m concerned about new shahadahs that may read your comment and mistakenly think that they are haram. I have seen many sisters wearing them but have never read anything that states that this is wrong. Also, I’m was a little put off by the cartoon faces. May Allah Forgive me if I have offended you and Reward you for sharing your knowledge (amin).

  2. ummibraheem says:

    wa ‘alaykum as salaam wa rahmatullah

    Actually, these are not my own words. I took a class taught by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi (you can see all of the posts on it underneath the “almaghrib” section on this blog, then go to ‘Precious Provisions’). So when I said that high heels do more damage than anklets – those are actually Shaykh Yasir’s words and not mine. To explain, though – high heels make a woman look sexy because of the way she stands when she wears them. Allah knows best.

    As for the ‘cartoon faces’ you mentioned – are you referring to the smilies? hehe sorry about that. I’m sure there’s a way you can disable them when viewing a blog…I just don’t know how to do it.

    JazakAllah khayr for you du’aa`.

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