Concealed or Revealed?


As mentioned previously, it is necessary, among other conditions, for a woman’s clothing to cover her entire body and hair (with the exception of her hands till her wrists and feet) before non-mahram men. Furthermore, the clothing should neither be transparent, thus exposing the body, nor should it be tight-fitting, thus revealing the shape of the body and limbs.

Rasululah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) taught the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) to take these aspects very seriously and practically taught them to dress with hayaa and concealment.

Sayyiduna Dihyah Kalbi (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) narrates, “Rasulullah once received some Egyptian cloths as a gift. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) then took one of the cloths and gave it to me saying, ‘Cut it in half. Make a kurta with one half, and give the other half to your wife so that she can wear it as a scarf.’ Then, as Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) turned to leave, he said, ‘Instruct your wife to place a cloth beneath the scarf so that her hair is not revealed (due to the thinness of the cloth).’” (Sunan Abi Dawood #4116)

Similarly, on one occasion, Sayyidah Asmaa (radhiyallahu ‘anha), the respected sister of Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha), entered the home wearing a thin garment. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) immediately turned away from her and corrected her, explaining to her that she should not wear such thin clothing as it was insufficient in concealing her body. (Sunan Abi Dawood #4104)

This lesson of hayaa in clothing, taught by Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), was so deeply entrenched in the heart of Sayyidah Asmaa (radhiyallahu ‘anha) that she remained particular regarding hayaa in her dressing until the end of her life.

Hence, when she reached old age, her son, Munzir bin Zubair (rahimahullah), after returning from Iraq, sent her a cloth of very fine and superior quality as a gift. She had lost her sight, and so held the fabric in her hand, feeling it carefully. Then she said, “Return the cloth to him.” When the cloth was returned to Munzir (rahimahullah), he felt hurt (as his beloved mother had returned his gift) and said to her, “O my beloved mother! The cloth is not transparent (so it is fine for you to wear)!” Sayyidah Asmaa (radhiyallahu ‘anha) replied, “It may not be transparent, but it will still reveal the shape of the body (due to it being tight-fitting).” Understanding the reason for his mother’s disapproval, he thereafter bought her common garments. She happily accepted them saying, “It is these types of garments that you should give me to wear.” (Tabaqaat Ibni Sa’d vol. 8, pg. 252)

If Sayyidah Asmaa (radhiyallahu ‘anha) was extremely particular regarding hayaa and purdah, then her sister, Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha), the mother of the believers, was also very particular and strict in this regard. Hence, it is reported that on one occasion, the niece of Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha), Hafsah bintu ‘Abdir Rahmaan (rahimahallah), entered the home of Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) wearing a scarf that was thin (and thus revealed the hair). On seeing this, Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) took the thin scarf, tore it, and gave Hafsah (rahimahallah) a thick scarf to wear. (Muwatta Maalik #3383)

Perhaps one of the most amazing and inspirational incidents in this regard is that of Sayyidah Ummu Khallaad (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma). Her son, Sayyiduna Kallaad (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was martyred during the battle against the Banu Quraizah tribe of the Jews, due to a woman throwing a rock on him from a hill. So Sayyidah Ummu Khallaad (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) came to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to enquire about her son’s status and reward in the Hereafter. However, despite the circumstance being one of grief and sorrow, she was not unmindful of her modesty, and thus concealed her face with the niqaab (purdah) before coming to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Noticing this, one Sahaabi was astonished at her not neglecting the covering of her face even in this emotional situation and remarked, “You have come to enquire about your son (who was martyred) yet you have still covered your face (in this tragic moment)?” She replied, “I may have lost my son, but I have not lost my modesty.” (Sunan Abi Dawood #2488 and Bazlul Majhood)

These are just a few incidents from the lives of the Sahaabiyaat (radhiyallahu ‘anhunna) which clearly highlight the importance they showed to hayaa and dressing correctly. We thus understand that this level of hayaa is the normal required level, expected of every Muslimah, and cannot be labeled as ‘extreme’ or ‘going overboard’, as this was the hayaa advocated by Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum).

Society today may “dress to kill”, but a Muslim should always “dress to conceal”.