Can you explain the aurah of a Muslim woman in front of a non-Muslim woman?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Before we discuss this issue further, we will first define the meaning of aurah.
Definition of Aurah
The word aurah refers to any part of the body that is prohibited from being revealed to other man or woman. It could also be defined as any part of the body which are obligated to be covered. According to Khatib al-Syarbini, aurah is anything that is prohibited to be seen. (See Mughni al-Muhtaj, 1/185)
Fiqh scholars have differing opinions regarding the aurah of a Muslim woman in front of a non-Muslim woman, even scholars of mazhab Syafie have differing opinions among them.
- According to the majority of fiqh scholars, the aurah of a Muslim woman in front of a non-Muslim woman is the same as the aurah of a woman in front of an ajnabi man; which is the face, and both hands up to the wrists. (See Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 1/47)
- Some scholars of mazhab Syafie states that the aurah of a Muslim woman in front of a non-Muslim woman is her whole body with the exception of the head, hands and legs.
- Syeikh Ibnu Hajar al-Haitami said: “The sound opinion states that it is prohibited for all non-Muslim woman, whether she is kafir zimmi or kafir harbi to look at a Muslim woman with the exception of what can be seen while the Muslim woman is working.” (See Tuhfah al-Muhtaj,7/200)
- In a book written by Siraj al-Wahhab, he said: “It is prohibited for a non-Muslim woman to look at a Muslim woman, but it is permissible to look at only what can be seen while the Muslim woman is working.”
- Imam al-Qalyubi said: “However, it is permissible for a non-Muslim woman to look at only what can be seen while a Muslim woman is working. This is the final opinion.” (See Hasyiah Qalyubi Wa ‘Umairah, 3/212)
- According to Imam Al-Syarwani: “The aurah of a Muslim woman in front of a non-Muslim woman is anything that cannot be seen while she is working.” (See Hasyiah al-Syarwani Ala Tuhfah al-Muhtaj, 2/212)
- Syeikhul Islam Zakaria al-Ansari said: “What can be seen while she is working are the face, head, hands up to the elbows and the feet up to the knees.” (See Asna al-Matalib, 14/280)
The aurah of a Muslim woman in front of a non-Muslim woman according to the majority of scholars is her whole body with the exceptions of her face and her hands up to her wrists. However, some scholars of mazhab Syafie and some contemporary scholars state that the aurah of a Muslim woman in front of a non-Muslim woman is other than the head, hands and legs.
In this issue, we think that it is important to cover one’s aurah the best as she is capable, but in certain situations, if it is among women even if they are non-Muslims it is permissible to be a bit lenient, on the condition that it does not lead to fitnah or degrading or tarnishing the dignity of Muslim woman. The reason is, the reality of our lives now is very different from before. For example, if a Muslim woman has to share a room with non-Muslim woman, it would be hard and burdensome to cover up her aurah and wear the hijab all the time. Hence, we should also take into consideration of the reality and situations we are in. Wallahua’lam.