Islam Protects and Honors Women

Veil in Islam

Original title: My veil, the cover of my awrah

This article is a detail explanation of the previous articles about veil of muslim women that appropriates the sharia. It is also serve as an answer for various comments that we received.

Veil is an important part of sharia, that women are obliged to wear. It is not merely an identification mean, nor adornment, nor a barrier for women to fulfill her role and task in society. Wearing a veil that appropriates the guidance of the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- is an obligation for women, just as they are obliged to perform any other obligations in sharia, such as prayers, fast, etc. It is not a separate obligation, that is caused by demographic condition as some people said (“because Arab peninsula is hot and dusty, and so on.”). It is also not an exclusive obligation for certain group of people (for example, those who have performed the pilgrimage to Mecca, or student of religious schools.)

It is true, my sister, ….that wearing veil is one of our obligation as a muslim women. And in wearing it, we should also pay attention to the characteristic of veil in Islam, as taught by Prophet Muhammad -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-. As mentioned in previous articles, there are several requirements to fulfill in wearing veil, that appropriates the guidance of sharia. May Allah make ease to the author, in explaining the points stated in the previous articles.

Definition of Veil

Etymologically, veil has several definition, as mentioned in the dictionary “al Mu’jam al Wasith 1/128”:

– Qomish (a kind of gown)
– A garment that covers all of it’s user body.
– Khimar (small veil covering one’s head and bosom, -translator)
– Tops, such as milhafa (blanket)
– A kind of covering sheet (veil) that is used by woman to cover her body

As for definition in terminology, some scholars have given their definitions regarding this matter:

Ibn Hazm, -may Allah have mercy on him- said, “Veil in Arabic language that was mentioned by the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- is a kind of clothes that cover all of the body, not just half of it.” While Ibn Katsir said, “Veil is a kind of shawl that is used over a smaller veil. Today, it functions as an izar (a covering sheet).” (Explanation of Sheikh Al Albani in “The veil of muslim women”).

Sheikh Ibn Baz (taken from Program of Mausu’ah Fatawa Lajnah wal Imamain) said, “Veil is a cloth put on the head and body, over an undergarment (casual gown). Thus, veil is a cloth that is used by women to cover their heads, faces, and their whole bodies. Whereas a cloth used to cover one’s head is termed khimar (small veil). Thus, by wearing veil over her undergarment, women cover her head, face, and all of her body.” (bin Baz, 289). He also said, “Veil is a kind of rida’ (shawl) that is used over a khimar (small veil), like an abaya ( the clothes of women in Saudi).” (Ibn Baz, 214). In another occasion he said, “Veil is a cloth or garment, put on the head of a woman to cover her face and body, as an additional garment to her usual clothes at home. ” (Ibn Baz, 746). He also said, “Veil is all garments worn by women to cover her body. It is used after wearing a dar’un (a kind of gown) and khimar (small veil), in order to cover the places of adornment, original (awrah, the private body parts of women that must not been seen by strange men/men that are lawful to marry her, -translator) or imitation (such as necklace, earrings, etc.)” (Ibn Baz, 313)

In the previous article. there are question about the difference between veil and hijab (cover). Sheikh Al Albani -may Allah have mercy on him- said, “Every veil is hijab, but not hijab is veil, as commonly seen.”

Thus, sometimes the word ‘hijab’ refers to a veil, but it also has another meaning, that is a thing that cover or screen it’s user, either in the form of wall, sketch, or any other thing with similar function. This is the meaning of Allah’s verse -Glorified and Exalted be He- in chapter Al Ahzab, verse 53: “Believers, enter not the houses of the Prophet without his permission, nor wait for a meal to be prepared; instead enter when you are invited to eat, and when you have had the meal, disperse. Do not linger in idle talk. That is hurtful to the Prophet but he does not express it out of shyness; but Allah is not ashamed of speaking out the Truth. And if you were to ask the wives of the Prophet for something, ask from behind a curtain…”


1. Covering all of her body but the exception.

Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed,

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُل لِّأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاء الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِن جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَن يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً

“O Prophet, enjoin your wives and your daughters and the believing women, to draw a part of their outer coverings around them. It is likelier that they will be recognised and not molested. Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (QS. Al Ahzab: 59)

وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا…

“And enjoin believing women to cast down their looks and guard their private parts and not reveal their adornment except that which is revealed of itself..” (QS. An Nuur: 31)

The meaning of ‘except that which is revealed of itself…’ in this verse is interpreted differently by the scholars, that lead to different rulings of wearing face cover for muslim women. For a detail explanation, please refer to a very good article about this matter in the, in an article titled “Rulings of Face cover”.

In this first verse, it is clear that a muslim women should cover all of her body, except the things that is an exception in sharia. Hence, it is very sad that one who think that she is wearing veil, but her hair can still be seen from the front and back of her veil, her hands are exposed to her elbow, or her neck and her earrings are evidently seen, exposing her awrah,

An important note in this point is that the use of khimar, as a part of requirement in using veil, as stated in the next verse of chapter An Noor:31

وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ

“And to draw their veils over their bosoms,”

Khumur is a plural form of the word ‘khimar’, that means ‘something used to cover one’s head’. Unfortunately, some women neglect the use of this khimar, so they just use the veil or they just use the khimar. Whereas both are required to use, as stated in a hadith from Sa’id Ibn Jubair about that verse of chapter al Ahzab, where he said, “That is, for them to cover using their veil. While veil means qina’ (piece of garment) used over a khimar. A muslim woman is not allowed to be seen by other (strange) men, unless she uses qina’ on her khimar, that might cover her head and her neck.” It is also mentioned in a narration from Aisha -may Allah be pleased with her-where she said,

لابد للمرأة من ثلاثة أثواب تصلي فيهن: درع و جلباب و خمار

“In performing prayer, a woman should use three piece of clothes: gown, veil, and khimar,” (Narrated by Ibn Sa’ad. It’s narrational chain is valid according to Muslim’s requirement).

But for the old, menopause ladies, who do not wish to marry anymore, there is an ease, where they are allowed to undo their veil, as stated in chapter An Noor: 60:

وَالْقَوَاعِدُ مِنَ النِّسَاء اللَّاتِي لَا يَرْجُونَ نِكَاحاً فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْهِنَّ جُنَاحٌ أَن يَضَعْنَ ثِيَابَهُنَّ غَيْرَ مُتَبَرِّجَاتٍ بِزِينَةٍ وَأَن يَسْتَعْفِفْنَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُنَّ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ

“The women who are past their youth (and can no longer bear children) and do not look forward to marriage will incur no sin if they cast off their outer garments without displaying their adornment. But if they remain modest, that is still better for them. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”

Ibn Abbas -may Allah be pleased with him- said that the meaning of “outer garment” in that verse is ‘veil’, and Ibn Mas’ud claimed the same. (Narrated by Abu Dawud and Al Baihaqi). It is also known here that the use of khimar, that is put before veil, should cover one’s bosom. Then how can it is called ‘using veil’ is it is just a neck-long cloth? Hopefully, this becomes something to think about for all of you, sisters.

Here are the examples of khimar and veil. Khimar is used to cover one’s bosom, and veil is donned after (on) it. (color, shape, and length of the inside garment on the picture are example only).

khimar for woman
veil in islam

Another important note inferred from this point is that there is an assumption that women’s dress in sharia is a long dress, thus some women force themselves to sew their clothes and skirts, to be said ‘wearing a long dress. Lajnah Daimah in Saudi Arabia, once was asked about this matter: is it true that veil must be in “overall” or “in pieces” (upper garment and skirt). Lajnah Daimah response was: “Hijab (veil), whether in the form of overall garment or in pieces are alright, as long as it covers women as body as ordered in shari’a.”

This fatwa is signed by Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz as the chairman, and Abdullah Ibn Ghadayan as the member (See: Fatwas Lajnah Daimah 17/293, no.:7791, in Maktaba Syamila). Hence, it is clear that the assumption of “long dress is a must” for muslim women is not trues. Note this, O sisters!

2. Not functioned as Adornment

This requirement is evidently stated in chapter An Nuur:31, …”and not reveal their adornment except that which is revealed of itself..”. When veils and women’s clothes are used to cover the private parts and adornments of women, it is not right to use those clothes and veils as adornment, since the primary goal of using it will be lost. Many mistakes emerge due to negligence over this point, thus, a woman feel it is fine to use beautiful veil and clothes in soft colors, with beautiful flowers pattern on it, decorated with golden and silver strings, or wearing various accessories on her veil.

On the other hand, there is also a misunderstanding that “whoever wears veil in any color but black, means that her veil is an adornment.” This correction is based on some narration about the practice of female companions at the time of the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-, who use clothes colored other than black. One of the it is a narration from Ibrahim An Nakhai below:

أنه كان يدخل مع علقمة و الأسود على أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم و يرا هن في اللحف الحمر

“That he, together with Alqoma and Al Aswad once visited the wives of the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-, and saw that they wore red mantles.” (Narrated by Ibn Abi Syaiba in his book, titled “Al Mushannaf”.)

Note: Discussion regarding color here applied on women. As for men, there is a hadith about the prohibition of men wearing red colored clothes.

Hence, the parameter used regarding color here is “Whether some clothes are used as an adornment or not, is based on the habit (‘urf).” (an explanation from Sheikh Ali Al Halabi). By this parameter, a color or a motive, that might attract attention in a society is forbidden for them, but it might not be the case in other group of society.

3. The material (the fabric) must be thick, not sheer / transparent

The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- told about two group of Hell dwellers which he has never seen yet:

وَنِسَاءٌ كَاسِيَاتٌ عَارِيَاتٌ مُمِيلَاتٌ مَائِلَاتٌ رُءُوسُهُنَّ كَأَسْنِمَةِ الْبُخْتِ الْمَائِلَةِ لَا يَدْخُلْنَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يَجِدْنَ رِيحَهَا وَإِنَّ رِيحَهَا لَيُوجَدُ مِنْ مَسِيرَةِ كَذَا وَكَذَا

“There are two types of the people of Hell whom I have not seen, men with whips like the tails of cattle with which they strike the people, and women who are clothed yet naked, Mumîlât Mâ’ilât , (walking with an enticing gait or turning away from righteousness and leading others astray) with their heads like the humps of camels leaning to one side. They will not enter Paradise nor smell its fragrance, and its fragrance may be detected from such and such a distance.” (Narrated by Muslim in hadith no. 3971, Ahmad no. 8311, and Imam Malik no. 1421)

Bear this hadith in your mind, O sisters of mine, because the threat inside it is horrible, that the scholars classified it as one of the big sins. How many women that we find, seem like covering their body, while they are naked in essence. Thus, in choosing the material of her garment, one should also be cautious, due to a saying from Ibn Abdil Barr, “A sheer material may reveal body shape, and can not cover it.” Sheikh Al Albani also stated that, “The sheer (transparent) material is worse that the material that reveal one’s body shape (but it is thick).” Moreover, as we know, that a sheer fabric or clothes sometimes is easier in revealing body contours, although it is not transparent, thus a woman’s body will be easier to see.

4. It should be loose, not tight

Beside the thick material, the clothes should also loose, and not tight, thus it wont reveal the body shape of muslim women. This point is stated in a hadith from Usama Ibn Zaid, when the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- gave him a thick Quthbiya clothes, and he gave it to his wife. When the Messenger of Allah knew that, he said to Usama:

مرْها فلتجعل تحتها غلالة فإني أخاف أن تصف حجم عظمها

“Order her to use another clothes inside that Quthbiya clothes, for I am afraid that it is still reveal her body shape.” (Narrated by Ad Dhiya’ Al Maqdisi, Ahmad, and Baihaqi. The status is good).

Thus, it is not right if one feels enough by using a skirt, which still reveals her hip, legs, or thighs. If the clothes are already thick enough and loose, but it still reveals body shape, it is suggested to wear another clothes inside it. But it is not enough for women to use socks only, because it doesn’t cover their body wholly (especially for sisters whose skirts used to be exposed when they drive motorcycles, thus revealing their thighs). This point is also an answer for those who allow the use of trouser, saying that it is loose enough and their hips are covered with long blouses. Trouser is allowed to be used as undergarment, but it is not the main clothes, because it is still reveals one’s body shape and it resembles men’s clothes. (see point no.6). If one reason that it is flexible, skirt is even more flexible than trouser, if that skirt is in accordance with shari’a (not a tight and short skirt). Although a skirt is not flexible (although basically it is flexible), do we think that our logic (which says that trouser is more flexible than skirt) is better and more valid than the laws of Allah and His messenger? Think about this, O sisters!

5. It is given no fragrance or perfume

Notice a hadith from the Prophet – peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- below, regarding women who use fragrance when they stayed out of their home.

ايّما امرأةٍ استعطرتْ فمَرّتْ على قوم ليَجِدُوا رِيْحِها، فهيا زانِيةٌٍ

“when the woman uses perfume and she passes by a gathering, then she is like an adulteress.” (Narrated by Tirmidhi).

أيما امرأة أصابت بخورا فلا تشهد معنا العشاء الاخرة

“Any woman who has applied incense, let her not attend ‘Ishâ’ (prayer) with us.” (Narrated by Muslim).

Sheikh Al Albani said, “Beside fragrance that is used on one’s body, there are also fragrances that used on clothes.” Sheikh also warned us about the use of incense (fragrance from smoke of burning incense stick or material), and it is more often used on clothes, even specifically for clothes. Thus, for women to be cautious in using any kind of materials that might radiate fragrance from our clothes when they go out, such as softener for clothes that is sprayed on clothes to smoothen and make it fragrant (in fact, the smells of those products are pungent, and easily smelled when the wind blows). It is different with other fragrance-containing products which usage is inevitable, such as detergent used to wash clothes.

6. It doesn’t resemble men’s clothes

There are hadith that indicate the prohibition for women to resemble men and vice versa (which is not confined only in clothes). One of the hadith that mention the prohibition of resembling in clothes, is a hadith from Abu Huraira -may Allah be pleased with him- , he said,

لعن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم الرجل يلبس لبسة المرأة و المرأة تلبس لبسة الرجل

“The messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- cursed men who wear women’s clothes and women who wear men’s clothes.” (Narrated by Abu Dawud).

Sheikh al Islam Ibn Taimiya said, “The resemblance in physical matters causes resemblance and similarity in manners and acts.” By resembling men’s clothes, a woman will be affected by men’s manners, where they used to reveal their body, and it will diminish her shyness, that is obliged for women to have. Furthermore, it will open doors to other sins, such as affected by men’s characters, thus she’ll be fond of women. We seek refugee from Allah.

There are two foundations that can be used as our points of reference, to avoid using clothes that resemble men’s clothes.

– The clothes should differ between men and women
– The clothes should cover women’s whole body.

Thus, wearing clothes that in accordance with sharia in front of strange men (non mahrom) is not simply wearing clothes that differ between men and women, but it is not covering, or simply covering but it is not different with men’s clothes. The two points above are related one another. A better explanation on this point is an explanation of Sheikh al Islam Ibn Taimiya in a book titled, “Al Kawakib”, cited by Sheikh Al Albani, which I (the author) summarize as follow:

– The principle of this matter is, not merely wearing what are chosen, liked, and usually worn by men and women.
– Also not certain clothes that are stated by the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- or used by men and women at his time -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-.
– The type of covering clothes is not confined/restricted (thus, if a woman wear trouser and t-shirt, and cover her body using gown and veil on it, that in accordance with shari’a, thus her body shape is not revealed, it is alright for her to do so- author).

The conclusion is that definition of what differs men’s and women’s clothes should be referred back to what has been ordered for men and for women. An important note here is that this prohibition applies on things that do not suit the natural characteristics and tendencies of men and women. Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abi Jumrah -may Allah have mercy on him- said, as cited by Sheikh Al Albani, “What prohibited here are in clothing, manners, and other matters, not resemblance in goodness.”

7. It doesn’t resemble the clothes of infidel women (disbeliever)

Some points mentioned above might be difficult to do for a woman because she has been influenced by the clothing styles of infidel women. We know for sure that they (the infidels) like to show their body curves, wear transparent clothes, and care nothing of resemblance between men and women. Even worse, sometimes, they design clothes for masculine women! We seek help and refugee from Allah, so that we’ll be protected from being fond of the infidels and their acts. Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed, which can be translated as,

“Is the time not come that the hearts of the believers should be humbled to Allah’s remembrance and to the Truth that He has revealed, and that they should not be like those who were vouchsafed the Book and then a long time elapsed so that their hearts were hardened? A great many of them are now evil-doers.” (QS. Al Hadid/The Iron [57]: 16)

Sheikh Al Islam Ibn Taimiyya -may Allah have mercy on him- said, “Allah’s decree, ‘and that they should not be like….’ is an absolute prohibition from resembling them….” (From ‘Al Iqtidha’, as cited by Sheikh Al Albani).

8. It is not ‘popularity clothes’

It is said in a hadith, “Whoever wear clothes to seek for popularity in this world, Allah certainly will wear him clothes of humiliation on the Hereafter, and burn him with Hell fire.”

Libas syuhrah (clothes worn to gain popularity) is every cloth that is used to gain popularity among people. whether the cloth is expensive, and used so that one who wear it may be proud of his wealth and adornments, or cheap cloth that used to expose one’s piety, to be seen by others (riya). (See:’Veil of muslim women).

However, it doesn’t mean that one is not allowed to wear fine or expensive clothes, because prohibition in this point is, as mentioned by Imam Ash Shaukani, related to one’s desire to gain popularity. Thus, the parameter here is the aim of wearing those clothes. Because Allah the Glorified and Exalted likes His slaves to show the graces He has bestowed upon them. The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبَّ أَنْ يَرَى أَثَرَ نِعْمَتِهِ عَلَى عَبْدِهِ

“Indeed, Allah loves to see the traces of His graces He gave to one of His slave.” (Narrated by Tirmidhi).


This is a brief explanation about definition of veil and explanation of requirements regarding veil of muslim women according to shari’a. Sister…do not let ourself deceived by the sayings and actions of other people who make it seems like impossible for us to wear veil that is in accordance with shari’a. Remember, that indeed, none of out friend who’ll want to bear our sins in the Hereafter. Allah is the Only One that we ask for help to accomplish our obligations in shari’a. Hopefully, this article may answer the questions and comments given to the previous article. And Allah knows best.

Author: Umm Ziyad
Evaluated by: Ustadz Aris Munandar


1. Al Furqon magazine, 12 th edition. Year III.
2. “Veil of Muslim Women” (Indonesian Version). Author: Sheikh Al Albani. Published by Pustaka At Tibyan
Maktaba Syamila. (Indonesia)

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