Muslim Woman's Hijab In Front Of Non-Muslim Women: Appearing In Front Of A Kaafir Woman Without Hijab

Islamic Rulings - Living Shariah Verdicts

Islamic Questions & Answers

What is the role of Islam regarding hejab muslim women infront of non muslim women ,and is it allowed for non muslim women to cut muslim women's hair?

Praise be to Allaah.

Allaah says about the Muslim woman's hijaab (interpretation of the meaning): "… and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women…" [al-Noor 24:31]

The scholars differ as to whether kaafir women are included in the phrase "or their women". The aayah gives Muslim women permission to remove their hijaab in front of "their women". Some scholars say that the pronoun hinna (their) is referring to specific people, otherwise there would be no need to be so specific. Al-Qurtubi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, "Or their women means the Muslim women… it excludes the mushrik women whether they are of ahl al-dhimmah (non-Muslims living peacefully under Islamic rule) or others. It is not permitted for a believing woman to uncover any of her body in front of a mushrik woman unless she is a slave belonging to her." (Al-Jaami' li Ahkaam al-Qur'aan, 12/233). Ibn Katheer said something similar in his Tafseer.

This is the opinion of the Hanafis, Maalikis and Shaafa'is, and is one of two opinions narrated from Imaam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy on him. Some of the scholars thought that the pronoun in the phrase or their women did not mean that Muslim women should take off their hijaab in front of Muslim women but not mushrik and kaafir women. This is the correct view of the Hanbalis. They said: The phrase or their women applies to all women, and the pronoun hinna was added because of the context and pattern of the passage, which mentions their fathers, their sons, etc. So the pronoun is added to make this word match the others.

The majority of scholars say that it is forbidden for a kaafir woman to look at a Muslim woman without hijaab, and this is the most correct interpretation of the aayah. If all women were meant, the aayah would have read "or the women (in general)", but what it actually says is "or their women." There is no word or phrase in the Qur'aan that does not carry a specific meaning, and there is no evidence to support the idea that the pronoun is only there to make the word match the pattern of the rest of the passage. And Allaah knows best.

Is it permissible for a Muslim woman to appear in front of a kaafir woman without hijab?

You said that it is permissible for non-Muslim women to see a Muslim woman without hijab. I am not convinced yet, because you quoted one hadeeth which says that ‘Aa'ishah appeared before a Jewish woman. I hope that you can explain the matter further, because my in-laws are not Muslim.

Praise be to Allaah.

There is nothing wrong with a woman looking at a man; hence men, whether they are Muslim or kaafirs, net enjoined to cover their faces. Women are enjoined to cover themselves but men are not. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with a woman looking at another woman if one of them is not Muslim. That is because the prohibition on looking is due to the fear of desire being provoked, and it is well known that a woman will not be stirred by desire if she looks at another woman.

As for the words of Allah (interpretation of the meaning): "It is no sin on them (the Prophet's wives, if they appear unveiled) before their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their brother's sons, or the sons of their sisters, or their own women" [al-Ahzaab 33:55], the word nisa'ihinna (their own women) does not apply exclusively to believing women; rather it also includes disbelieving women. If a woman looks at a non-Muslim woman that will not result in evil, so there is nothing wrong with her looking at a non-Muslim woman, especially if she needs to meet with her, such as if she is a teacher or a doctor and so on. It would be too difficult for her to observe hijab before her or to look away from her.

Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Jibreen (may Allah have mercy on him).


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