Our Beacon Forum

Atrocities of N2I
By:Ameen Bhatti
Date: Wednesday, 17 February 2010, 4:14 pm

Rules of Hijab and Female voice

Q:) Because I am currently a student, my wife and I live with my parents. Sometimes, when my brother and his wife visit the home, some issues regarding interaction arise. It is a two floor house, so generally I would stay downstairs if my sister in law is upstairs and vice versa. At other times, I would at least avoid being in the same room for an extended period of time, and I would also avoid unnecessary conversation.

I have read other responses on the list archives regarding mixed gatherings, etc., so I guess that one question would be in this situation, would it be haraam for non-mahrams to come in each others site and be in the same room temporarily (not alone, with other people there) given that the women wear hijab? Or is complete "purdah" and wearing niqaab a must?

Also, there is a question regarding the female voice. If I am downstairs in the home, for example, I may sometimes hear my sister in law laughing, or just talking with kids, etc. I read the response on the list about the female voice, but I would like to know that if a women is not talking with a non-mahram directly but her voice might be heard elsewhere in the house (as sometimes happens in my case), is this considered unlawful?

A:) In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim narrate in their respective Sahih collections, which are the most authentic books after the Book of Allah itself, from Uqba ibn Amir (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Beware of going near (non-mahram) women.” A person inquired: “What about in-laws?” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) responded: “The in-laws are death.”

The Prophet of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) compared male in-laws to death. This means that one should be especially careful with in-laws with regards to interaction as there is greater risk of fitna, especially given the comfortable, social atmosphere that may exist, in which both parties may lower their guard and forget lowering their gazes.

However, according to the Hanafi school, the face, hands and feet are not considered Awra (although it is wajib to cover the face for other than old women due to fitna), and thus many contemporary scholars have given a dispensation with regards to covering within the house.

A legal verdict (fatwa) issued by top scholars at Dar al-Uloom Karachi, approved by Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani, states that in the case of a joint family where non-immediate family members (such as in-laws, or one’s brother’s wife) regularly come in and out of the house and it becomes very difficult for the woman to keep herself fully covered all the time, then there is a dispensation in that she can expose her face, hands (only up to the wrists) and feet. The rest of the body must be properly covered. Similar fatwas have been issued by major Arab scholars.

At the same time, one must ensure not to be alone in privacy with a non-Mahram (khalwah) in one room or the house, and keep the gazes low as much as possible. One must also avoid talking unnecessarily and where the need arises, limit it to the essentials and abstain from being open and free.

As far as the female voice is concerned, according to the preferred opinion in the Hanafi School, it is not considered as part of that which must necessarily be concealed (awra). However, both men and women may not talk or interact in ways that may lead to temptation (fitna).

Therefore, in your situation, if your sister in-law’s voice is heard by you, then this would be generally permitted. However, if you fear temptation (fitna) by listening to her voice, then you must avoid it.

And Allah Knows Best

Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester, UK .

Allah Knows Best