The Conditions of the Proper Hijab

The Conditions of the Proper Hijab  

What is the proper hijab? I have a friend from Denmark and she converted to Islam for a while now, and she’s pleased (Alhamdulillah) and she want to dress in the right Hijab.  

Allah says: “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 Allah is ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Al-Ahzab, 33:59]  

“ And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty 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, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.” [Surah An-Nur, 24:31].  

Praise be to Allah. 

The scholars have based the conditions of the hijab (covering) which Muslim women must wear in front of non-mahram men on the evidence in the Qur’an and Sunnah. So long as a woman adheres to these conditions, she may wear whatever she likes in public places and elsewhere, and her hijab will be considered Islamic. 

 Shaikh Al-Albani RA said that the conditions of the proper Hijab would be as follows: 

1. It should cover all the body apart from whatever has been exempted. 

Allah says: “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 Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Al-Ahzab, 33:59] 

This ayah clearly states that it is obligatory to cover all of a woman’s beauty and adornments and not to display any part of that before non-mahram men (“strangers”) except for whatever appears unintentionally, in which case there will be no sin on them if they hasten to cover it up. 

Al-Hafiz ibn Kathir said in his Tafsir: 

This means that they should not display any part of their adornment to non-mahrams, apart from that which it is impossible to conceal. Ibn Mas’ud said: such as the cloak and robe, i.e., what the women of the Arabs used to wear, an outer garment which covered whatever the woman was wearing, except for whatever appeared from beneath the outer garment. There is no sin on a woman with regard to this because it is impossible to conceal it. 

2. It should not be an adornment in and of itself. 

Allah says: “… and not to show off their adornment…” [An-Nur, 24:31]. The general meaning of this phrase includes the outer garment, because if it is decorated it will attract men’s attention to her. This is supported by the ayat in the Surah Al-Ahzab: “And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance” [Al-Ahzab, 33:33]. 

It is also supported by the hadith in which the Prophet SAW said: “There are three, do not ask me about them: a man who leaves the jama’ah, disobeys his leader and dies disobedient; a female or male slave who runs away then dies; and a woman whose husband is absent and left her with everything she needs, and after he left she made a wanton display of herself. Do not ask about them.” 

(Narrated by al-Hakim, 1/119; Ahmad, 6/19; from the hadith of Faddalah bint ‘Ubaid. Its isnad is sahih and it is in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad). 

3. It should be thick and not transparent or “see-thru” 

Transparent or see-thru clothing makes a woman more tempting and beautiful. Concerning this the Prophet SAW said: “During the last days of my ummah there will be women who are clothed but naked, with something on their heads like the humps of camels. Curse them, for they are cursed.” Another hadith adds: “They will not enter Paradise or even smell its fragrance, although its fragrance can be detected from such and such a distance.” [Narrated by Muslim from the report of Abu Hurairah]. 

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said: what the Prophet SAW meant were women who wear clothes made of light fabric which describes as it does not cover. They are clothed in name but naked in reality. 

[Transmitted by Al-Suyuti in Tanweer Al-Hawalik, 3/103.] 

4. It should be loose, not tight so that it describes any part of the body. 

The purpose of clothing is to prevent fitnah (temptation), and this can only be achieved if clothes are wide and loose. Tight clothes, even if they conceal the colour of the skin, still describe the size and shape of the body or part of it, and create a vivid image in the minds of men. The corruption or invitation to corruption that is inherent in that is quite obvious. So the clothes must be wide. Usamah Ibn Zaid said: “The Messenger of Allah SAW gave me a thick Egyptian garment that was one of the gifts given to him by Duhyat Al-Kalbi, and I gave it to my wife to wear. He said, ‘Why do I not see you wearing that Egyptian garment?’ I said, ‘I gave it to my wife to wear.’ He said, ‘Tell her to wear a gown underneath it, for I am afraid that it may describe the size of her bones.’” [Narrated by Al-Diya’ Al-Maqdisi in Al-Ahadith Al-Mukhtaarah, 1/442, and by Ahmad and Al-Baihaqi, with a hasan isnad]. 

5. It should not be perfumed with bakhoor or fragrance. 

There are many ahadith which forbid women to wear perfume when they go out of their houses. We will quote here some of those which have sahih isnads: 

Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari said: the Messenger of Allah SAW said: “Any woman who puts on perfume then passes by people so that they can smell her fragrance, is an adulterous.” 

Zainab Al-Thaqafiyyah reported that the Prophet SAW said: “If any one of you (women) goes out to the mosque, let her not touch any perfume.” 

Abu Hurairah said: the Messenger of Allah SAW said: “Any woman who has scented herself with bakhoor (incense), let her not attend ‘Isha’ prayers with us.” 

Moosa Ibn Yassar said that a woman passed by Abu Hurairah and her scent was overpowering. He said, “O female slave of Al-Jabar, are you going to the mosque?” She said, “Yes,” He said, “And have you put on perfume because of that?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “Go back and wash yourself, for I heard the Messenger of Allah SAW say: ‘If a woman comes out to the mosque and her fragrance is overpowering, Allah will not accept any prayer from her until she goes home and washes herself.’” 

These ahadith are general in implication. Just as the prohibition covers perfume applied to the body, it also covers perfume applied to the clothes, especially in the third hadeeth, where bakhur (incense) is mentioned, because incense is used specifically to perfume the clothes. 

The reason for this prohibition is quite clear, which is that women’s fragrance may cause undue provocation of desires. The scholars also included other things under this heading of things to be avoided by women who want to go to the mosque, such as beautiful clothes, jewellery that can be seen, excessive adornments and mingling with men. [See Fath al-Baari, 2/279.] 

Ibn Daqeeq Al-‘eed said: This indicates that it is forbidden for a woman who wants to go to the mosque to wear perfume, because this causes provocation of men’s desires. This was reported by Al-Manawi in Faid Al-Qadir, in the commentary on the first hadith of Abu Hurairah quoted above. 

6. It should not resemble the clothing of men. 

It was reported in the saheeh ahadith that a woman who imitates men in dress or in other ways is cursed. There follow some of the ahadith that we know: 

Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah SAW cursed the man who wears women’s clothes, and the woman who wears men’s clothes.” 

‘Abdallah Ibn ‘Amr said: I heard the Messenger of Allah SAW say: ‘They are not part of us, the women who imitate men and the men who imitate women.’” 

Ibn ‘Abbas said: “The Prophet SAW cursed effeminate men and masculine women. He said, ‘Throw them out of your houses.’” He said: “The Prophet SAW expelled so and so, and ‘Umar expelled so and so.” According to another version: “The Messenger of Allah SAW cursed men who imitate women and women who imitate men.”

‘Abdallah Ibn ‘Amr said: “The Messenger of Allah SAW  said: ‘There are three who will not enter Paradise and Allah will not even look at them on the Day of Resurrection: one who disobeys his parents, a woman who imitates men, and the duyooth (cuckold, weak man who feels no jealousy over his womenfolk).”

 Ibn Abi Malikah – whose name was ‘Abdallah Ibn ‘Ubaidallah – said: “It was said to ‘Aishah RA, ‘What if a woman wears (men’s) sandals?’ She said: ‘The Messenger of Allah SAW cursed women who act like men.’”

 These ahadith clearly indicate that it is forbidden for women to imitate men and vice versa, this usually includes dress and other matters, apart from the first hadeeth quoted above, which refers to dress only.

 Abu Dawud said, in Masaa’il Al-Imam Ahmad (p. 261): “I heard Ahmad being asked about a man who dresses his slave woman in a tunic. He said, ‘Do not clothe her in men’s garments, and do not make her look like a man.” Abu Dawud said: “I said to Ahmad, Can he give her bachelor sandals to wear? He said, No, unless she wears them to do wudu’. I said what about for beauty? He said, No. I said, Can he cut her hair short? He said, No.”

 7. It should not resemble the dress of kafir women.

It is stated in syari’ah that Muslims, men and women alike, should not resemble or imitate the kuffaar with regard to worship, festivals or clothing that is specific to them. This is an important Islamic principle which nowadays, unfortunately, is neglected by many Muslims, even those who care about religion and calling others to Islam. This is due either to ignorance of their religion, or because they are following their own whims and desires, or because of deviation, combined with modern customs and imitation of kafir Europe. This was one of the causes of the Muslims’ decline and weakness, which enabled the foreigners to overwhelm and colonize them. “…Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state themselves …” [Al-Ra’d 13:11]. If only they knew.

 It should be known that there is a great deal of sahih evidence for these important rules in the Qur’an and Sunnah, and that the evidence in the Qur’an is elaborated upon in the Sunnah, as is always the case.

 8 It should not be a garment of fame and vanity.

 Ibn ‘Umar RA said: “The Messenger of Allah SAW said: ‘Whoever wears a garment of fame and vanity in this world, Allah will clothe him in a garment of humiliation on the Day of Resurrection, then He will cause Fire to flame up around him.’” 

Allah knows best.


Hijab Al-Mar’ah Al-Muslimah, Shaikh Al-Albani  p. 54-67; Published in Fatawa No 6991 Islam Q&A.

 ©Islam Q&A


About Md Radzi Ahmad
A retired Malaysian civil servant. Served the Malaysian government for thirty-one years. Posted to London, Rangoon, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bangkok. Born in Kampong Hutan Kandeh, Alor Star, Kedah. Educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Star and University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Currently resides in Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan,Malaysia.Blessed with three children, a son, two daughters, daughter in law and two grandaughters.

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