I try my best to dress modestly all the time. Even when I’m at home, I try to cover my hair and dress correctly. When at home, my sisters prefer to leave their hair open, wear short clothes and tight pants or dress in jeans and t-shirts, etc. We often argue about this. They say that since they are only wearing it at home, and they cover up with an abaaya when they go out, there is nothing wrong in dressing like this. Please advise if this is fine.
Wa ‘alaikumus salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barkaatuh
Respected Sister in Islam
Clothing is more than just a means of covering our bodies – it is also a mirror which reflects the ideals and values of the wearer. It is for this reason that the fanatical supporter of one sports team will never ever wear the regalia of another team. Hence, we need to ask ourselves, “What is the clothing of Islam, and what does my clothing reflect?”
In essence, the clothing of Islam is the clothing of hayaa (shame and modesty). Let us imagine that Sayyidah Faatimah (radhiyallahu ‘anha), the queen of the women of Jannah, was coming to our home. Would we feel comfortable to receive her and welcome her while wearing a short garment and narrow cut pants or dressed in a t-shirt and jeans? Obviously not! Similarly, if the angel of death informed us that he would be arriving to take our souls at a specific time, would we await him dressed in a jeans and t-shirt? Definitely not! Rather, we would immediately cover our hair and bodies in the most decent and respectable clothing that we possessed. Our reluctance to wear a jeans and t-shirt on these two occasions sufficiently highlights the point that this type of clothing is completely bereft of hayaa.
Unfortunately, we have misunderstood hayaa and regarded it to be something that only bears relevance when we leave the home. Hence, we are living by double-standards, and it is as if we are two different people. On the outside, we portray a facade of hayaa, while on the inside, we bear the colours of the fashion houses of the West. What does this indicate of where our loyalty lies – with Islam or the West?
On numerous occasions Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) praised Sayyiduna ‘Uthmaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) for his extremely high level of hayaa. Though it is permissible to bathe in privacy without any clothing, his level of hayaa was such that he could not do so. Hasan Basri (rahimahullah) mentions, “Sayyiduna ‘Uthmaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) would be in his home, and the door would be locked, yet he would not remove his clothing to pour water over his body.” (Musnad Ahmad #543)
From this, we can easily understand that hayaa is an intrinsic trait which cannot be separated from a person at any time, not even when one is in the home. If a woman is in total privacy with her husband, she may dress in a manner to suit and please him. However, the clothing which may be fine when in total privacy can by no means be made the standard for the entire house.
Many women wear such tight fitting or transparent clothing in the home that when they hear that their father, brother, or some other mahram has come to visit, they rush to cover up. If they feel embarrassed to wear this clothing before their mahram, do they not feel embarrassed to wear it before Allah Ta‘ala who is always watching? Are they not ashamed to wear this type of clothing before their own children? In some cases, the mother wears such clothing that even embarrasses the children but they cannot speak about it due to shame. Some youngsters even complain of their feelings being stirred due to the dressing of their mothers or sisters!
Similarly, a woman’s hair is also regarded as satr. Hence, even though she is allowed to expose her hair before her mahrams, doing so will cause her to be deprived of the company of the angels who are a means of mercy and safety for the household.
After Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s first meeting with Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) on the occasion of the first revelation, he was terrified. In order to comfort him, Sayyidah Khadeejah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) requested Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) saying, “If possible, then inform me when the angel comes to you again.” Hence, when Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) again arrived, then as promised, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) informed her of his arrival. Khadeejah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) requested Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to come close to her. As Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) came close to her, she removed her scarf, exposing the hair of her head. She then asked, “Are you still able to see Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) now?” When Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied in the negative, she remarked, “Glad tidings unto you! By Allah Ta‘ala, this is an angel, not a shaitaan (as angels will not remain in a place where a woman’s hair is exposed).” (Al-Istee‘aab vol. 4, pg. 381)
May Allah Ta‘ala make us true Muslims, grant us true hayaa and bless us to follow every aspect of Deen completely.
Uswatul Muslimah Panel of ‘Ulama