بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
(Series of Questions Addressed to Scholar Sheikh Ata Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah,
Ameer of Hizb ut Tahrir through his Fiqhi Facebook Page)
Answer to the Question
Feet of the Women as 'Awrah
To: Samia Al-Shami
Assalamu Alaikoum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu, I wanted to ask about the permissibility of the woman to show her feet in public, and if the forbiddance of showing the feet is similar to that of showing any other 'Awrah of the woman? Also, what is the limit to the private life; is it only within the house or can the outside neighboring area the house be considered private life?
Also, in the verse about the Jilbab is the lengthening includes the Jilbab reaching the feet? Are there any specifications detailing footwear? Jazakum Allah khayran dear Sheikh.
Wa Alaikum al Salam wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh,
1. The limit of the private life is the limit of the house where a woman can reveal her 'Awrah without any foreigner (ajnabi – non-muhram) seeing her, and this means that the outside neighboring area of the house is not part of the private life. So, if she went out to purchase from the grocery store of the neighborhood which is below her house, then she should be covering the 'Awrah and wearing the Shari' clothes, because the private life, as we said earlier, is the place where the woman can show her 'Awrah without any foreigner seeing her, i.e., within the limitations of the house.
2. The feet are 'Awrah so the woman must cover them, and the evidence for that is:
a. Allah (swt) says in regards to clothing the bottom part of the woman
((يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلابِيبِهِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَنْ يُعْرَفْنَ))
"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." [Al-Ahzab: 59]
I.e. to loosen upon themselves their robes downwards, and this loosening meant in the word "draw" (i.e. loosen) can't be achieved except by having the robe at least reaching the feet and covering them. If the feet were covered with socks or shoes, the loosening requirement has been achieved as if the robe has reached the feet, but if they weren't covered with socks or shoes, then the robe should reach the floor in order to cover the feet, and this means that the feet are part of the 'Awrah.
b. It was narrated by Ibn Umar that he said: The Prophet (saw) said:
«مَنْ جَرَّ ثَوْبَهُ خُيَلاَءَ لَمْ يَنْظُرِ اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَقَالَتْ أُمُّ سَلَمَةَ فَكَيْفَ يَصْنَعْنَ النِّسَاءُ بِذُيُولِهِنَّ قَالَ يُرْخِينَ شِبْرًا فَقَالَتْ إِذًا تَنْكَشِفُ أَقْدَامُهُنَّ قَالَ فَيُرْخِينَهُ ذِرَاعًا لاَ يَزِدْنَ عَلَيْهِ»
"Whoever trails his garment out of pride will never be looked upon by Allah." Umm Salamah said: "O Messenger of Allah, what should the women do with the hem of their clothes?" The Prophet said: "Lower it by a hand's length." She said: "What if their feet are uncovered?" The Prophet said: "Lower it by an arm's length but not more than that." Reported by At-Tirmidhi who said that this Hadith is Hasan Sahih.
This Hadith is straightforward in stating that it is obligatory for the woman to cover her feet, and Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, wasn't convinced that the women's clothes be loosened lower than their hems by a span in fear that the feet would become uncovered while walking, especially if the woman walked barefoot as it used to happen before very often. So, the Prophet (saw) allowed for the robe of the woman to be extended by an arm's length and not more, and the justification is clear in the Hadith:
«...إِذًا تَنْكَشِفُ أَقْدَامُهُنَّ ...»
"... what if their feet are uncovered..."
In conclusion, the feet are 'Awrah which must be covered like any part of the 'Awrah.
3. For your information, there is an opinion for Abu Hanifah in allowing the showing of the feet because he saw in the Tafseer of what Allah (swt) says:
((وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا))
"and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent" [An-Nur: 31] that what is apparent from her is not only the face and hands, but also the feet. However, as we mentioned above, this opinion is leaning towards the evidence from the blessed verse and the Bukhari Hadith, and Allah (swt) is the All-Knowing Most Wise.
Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu
Ata Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah
The link to the answer from the Ameer's Facebook page