Unconcerned Attitude towards the Non-Mahrams
What is the Islamic ruling on a woman whose attitude towards wearing Islamic dress is too relaxed and who sits with her brother in law?
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of Al-`Ālameen. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.
Firstly: The Qur’an and Sunnah direct women to cover themselves and avoid displaying their adornments in front of “strangers” (non-mahram men).
Allah told the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam): “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allāh is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Al-Ahzab, 33:59].
Allāh commanded His Prophet (Sallallāhu alayhi wasallam) to start by telling his wives and daughters to wear the jilbab (i.e., the abāyah or an outer garment); because he and his family are examples for the believing men and women, then he was to command the believing women to do likewise: “That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed”. It means, if a woman wears the jilbab, it will be known that she is a decent woman who covers herself and desires chastity, unlike the women of the Jahiliyyah who uncovered their adornments and temptations in front of all men, so she herself would be tempted and she would tempt others, she was misled and she misled others.
The question now is what is the extent of the covering? The word “hijab” comes from the Arabic word “hajaba” meaning to hide from view or conceal. The context of hijab is the modest covering of a Muslim woman.
“(30.) Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them. Verily, Allāh is All-Aware of what they do.
(31.) And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like palms of hands or one eye or both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husband's sons, their brothers or their brother's sons, or their sister's sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allāh to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.”
[Surah An-Nur, 24:30-31]
The verses from the Qurān contain two main injunctions:
1. A believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.)
2. A woman should not show her beauty or adornments except what appears by uncontrolled factors such as the wind blowing her clothes, and the head covers should be drawn so as to cover the hair, the neck and the bosom.
`Aishah (radiyallāhu`anha) reported: "Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakar as-Siddiq (radiyallāhu`anhu) came to the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) while wearing thin clothing. Rasulullah (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) approached her and said: ‘O Asma! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. Rasulullah (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) pointed to the face and hands'.” [Recorded by Abu Dawud]
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam) described them in the hadith: “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 but naked, walking with an enticing gait, with something like the humps of camels on their heads. They will not enter Paradise nor even smell its fragrance, and its fragrance can be smelled from such and such a distance.” [Recorded by Muslim]
Secondly: The Messenger (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam) also warned against having too relaxed an attitude towards the matter of women mixing with men who are not her mahrams, or who are only temporarily her mahrams, like her sister’s husband or her husband’s brother and so on.
`Uqbah bin `Amir (radiyallahu`anhu) narrated, who said:
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam) said: "Avoid (entering a place) in which are women (uncovered or simply to mix with them in seclusion)"
A companion from the Ansar then asked: “O Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam), what about Al-Hamu the in-laws of the wife (the brothers of her husband or his nephews etc.)?”
The Prophet (Sallallahu`alayhi wasallam) replied: "The in-laws of the wife are death itself."
[Recorded by Al-Bukhari]
Rasulullah (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “Beware of entering upon women.” They said, “O Messenger of Allāh, what do you think about the brother-in-law?” he said: “The brother in law is death.” i.e., many people have a relaxed attitude towards the brother-in-law entering upon women, until some disaster happens as a result; that they never thought would happen because they trusted their brother-in-law! This is neglecting reality, because no man is alone with a (non-mahram) woman but the Shaytān is the third one present with them, and no woman is exposed to temptation but she will give in, except for those on whom Allāh has mercy. We ask Allāh to keep us all safe from it, and to help us follow His words:
“And all of you beg Allāh to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful”
[Masā’il wa Rasā’il, Muhammad al-Mahmud al-Najdi, p. 11.]
And Allāh Almighty Knows best.
[Adapted from Islam Q&A]