Hijab: Covering Head, Wearing Overcoat

By Mufti Muhammad Ashraf
Posted: 2 Rajab 1424, 30 August 2003

Q.) I want to know about the Islamic ruling for Hijab. Allah instructs women to 'cover their heads', but does this really imply that their heads should be completely covered? Will they be sinned for showing a few stray strands? Moreover, is it alright if a woman chooses to cover her head in any way apart from a scarf? i.e. if she wears a dupatta or a cap? Similarly, if a woman wears loose clothes in neutral colors, is she obliged to wear a burqa or overcoat in the presence of not unmarriageable men? Please advise, JazaakAllah.

A.) Women are instructed to cover their entire heads. However if a few stray strands are exposed unwillingly, they will not be sinful. She may choose to wear anything as long as it covers her hair completely, e.g. a scarf, dupatta, etc. A cap does not cover the entire head.

If a female wears loose, neutral colored clothing which covers her entire body, not leaving any of her body parts exposed, then it will not be compulsory to wear an outer covering (burqa or overcoat, etc.) over it. The ruling of veiling for women implies in the presence of non-Mahram (not unmarriageable) men, be they family friends or other strangers. Allah states in the Qur'an: "And tell the believing women that: "They should cast down their gazes and preserve their chastity, and not display their ornaments except that which is apparent of it." And let them draw their head-coverings over their bosoms, and let them not display their finery except to their husbands, or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands (fathers-in-law), or their own sons, or the sons of their husbands (step-sons), or their brothers, or the sons of their brothers, or the sons of their sisters (nephews), or their (Muslim) women, or the women in their possession (slaves), or such male subordinates who have no (sexual) interest (need), or such infants who are not cognizant of the secrets of women. And let the believing women not strike their feet so that the ornaments which they conceal be made known. And turn unto Allah all together O you believers, perhaps you prosper." (Surah Noor, Verse 31) "O Nabi Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam! Say to thy spouses and to thy daughters and to the women of the believers to draw part of their cloaks close onto them. In this way they will soon be recognized, hence not be molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Surah Ahzaab, Verse 59)

And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best.