The Dress Code for Women in the Quran
Before presenting the Quranic rules for women’s dress, it is essential first
to remind ourselves of the following:
1– The Quran is the only source of law that is authorised by God (6:114).
2– The Quran is complete and fully detailed (6:38, 6:114, 6:89 and 12:111).
3– God calls on His true believers to make sure not to fall in the trap of idol
worship by following the words of the scholars instead of the words of God
“They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah , and
[also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except
to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above
whatever they associate with Him.” 9:31 4
– God calls those who prohibit what He did not prohibit, aggressors, liars
and idol worshippers (5:87, 6:140, 7:32, 10:59).
“O you who have believed, do not prohibit the good things which Allah
has made lawful to you and do not transgress. Indeed, Allah does not like
“Those will have lost who killed their children in foolishness without
knowledge and prohibited what Allah had provided for them, inventing
untruth about Allah . They have gone astray and were not [rightly]
“Say, “Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced
for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?” Say, “They are
for those who believe during the worldly life [but] exclusively for them on
the Day of Resurrection.” Thus do We detail the verses for a people who
Say, “Have you seen what Allah has sent down to you of provision of
which you have made [some] lawful and [some] unlawful?” Say, “Has
Allah permitted you [to do so], or do you invent [something]
about Allah ?” 10:59
The command to follow the Quran alone is given very clearly in
the Quran, see: Dozen Reasons
Quranic guidelines for women’s dress
First Rule :
The Best Garment
“O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover
your bodies, as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment
of righteousness. These are some of God’s signs, that they may take
Righteousness is the basic rule of dress code in the Quran. Any woman
knows quite well what is decent and what is revealing. Women do not need
to be told, they know how to maintain righteousness and how not to.
God created the woman and therefore He knows that she can make that
distinction, and that is why God set this rule of righteousness as the first rule.
Second Rule :
Cover your Bosoms
The second rule can be found in 24:31. Here God commands women to
cover their bosoms. But before quoting 24:31 let us review some crucial
words that are always mentioned with this topic, namely ‘hijab‘ and ‘khimar‘.
The word ‘hijab‘ in the Quran Hijab is the term used by many Muslim
women to describe their head cover that may or may not include covering
their face except their eyes, and sometimes covering also one eye.
The Arabic word ‘hijab‘ can be translated into veil or yashmak. Other
meanings for the word ‘hijab‘ include, screen, cover(ing), mantle, curtain,
drapes, partition, division, divider.
Can we find the word ‘hijab‘ in the Quran?
The word ‘hijab‘ appeared in the Quran 7 times, five of them as ‘hijab‘ and
two times as ‘hijaban‘, these are 7:46, 33:53, 38:32, 41:5, 42:51, 17:45 &
Arabic text used :
ihijabin – Patition
hijabun – Partition
Wabaynahuma hijabunwaAAala al-aAArafi rijalun yaAArifoonakullan
biseemahum wanadaw as-habaaljannati an salamun AAalaykum lam
“And between them will be a partition, and on [its] elevations are men
who recognize all by their mark. And they call out to the companions of
Paradise, “Peace be upon you.” They have not [yet] entered it, but they
long intensely.” 7:46
“O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except
when you are permitted for a meal, without awaiting its readiness. But
when you are invited, then enter; and when you have eaten, disperse
without seeking to remain for conversation. Indeed, that [behavior]
was troubling the Prophet, and he is shy of [dismissing] you. But Allah
is not shy of the truth. And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask
them from behind a partition. That is purer for your hearts and their
hearts. And it is not [conceivable or lawful] for you to harm the
Messenger of Allah or to marry his wives after him, ever. Indeed, that
would be in the sight of Allah an enormity.“ 33:53
Faqala innee ahbabtu hubbaalkhayri AAan thikri rabbee hatta
And he said, “Indeed, I gave preference to the love of good [things] over
the remembrance of my Lord until the sun disappeared into the curtain
[of darkness].” 38:32
athaninawaqrun wamin baynina wabaynika hijabun faAAmalinnana
invite us, and in our ears is deafness, and between us and you is a
partition, so work; indeed, we are working.” 41:5
wara-ihijabin aw yursila rasoolan fayoohiya bi-ithnihima yashao
innahu AAaliyyun hakeem
layu/minoona bil-akhirati hijabanmastoora
laha basharan sawiyya
None of these ‘hijab‘ words are used in the Quran in reference to what the
traditional Muslims call today ‘hijab‘ as a dress code for the Muslim woman
God knows that generations after Muhammed’s death the Muslims will use
the word ‘hijab‘ to invent a dress code that He never authorised. God used
the word ‘hijab‘ ahead of them just as He used the word ‘hadith‘ ahead of
“These are the portents of Allah which We recite unto thee (Muhammad)
with truth. Then in what fact, after Allah and His portents, will they
The word ‘hijab‘ in the Quran has nothing to do with the Muslim women’s
dress code. Historical Background: While many Muslims call ‘hijab‘ an
Islamic dress code, they completely ignore the fact that, ‘hijab‘ as a dress
code has nothing to do with Islam and nothing to do with the Quran.
In reality ‘hijab‘ is an old Jewish tradition that infiltrated into the hadith
books like many innovations that contaminated Islam through alleged
hadith and sunna.
Any student of the Jewish traditions or religious books will see that head
cover for the Jewish woman is encouraged by the Rabbis and religious
leaders.Religious Jewish women still cover their heads most of the time
and especially in the synagogues, at weddings and religious festivities.
This Jewish tradition is a cultural not a religious one. Hijab was observed
by the women of the civilisations that preceded the Jews and was passed
down to the Jewish culture.
Some Christian women cover their heads in many religious occasions while
the nuns cover their heads all the time. This religious practise of covering
the head was established from traditions thousands of years before the
Muslim scholars claimed the ‘hijab‘ as a Muslim dress code.
The traditional Arabs, of all religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims used
to wear ‘hijab‘ not because of Islam, but because of tradition.
In Saudi Arabia, up to this minute most of the men cover their heads,
not because of Islam but because of tradition. North Africa is known for
its Tribe (Tuareg) that have the Muslim men wearing ‘hijab‘ instead of
Here the tradition has the ‘hijab‘ in reverse. If wearing ‘hijab‘ is the sign of
the pious and righteous Muslim woman, Mother Teresa would have been
the first woman to be counted. In brief, ‘hijab‘ is a traditional dress and has
nothing to do with Islam or religion.
In certain areas of the world, men are the ones who wear the ‘hijab‘ while
in others the women do. Mixing religion with tradition is a form of
idol-worship since it implies setting up other sources of religious laws
besides the Quran.
The word ‘khimar’ in the Quran: The word ‘khimar‘ can be found in the
Quran in 24:31 While the first basic rule of Dress Code for the Muslim
women can be found in 7:26, the second rule of the dress code for women
can be found in 24:31.
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and
to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw
their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to
their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their
husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or
their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or
children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp
their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto
Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.” 24:31
“O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your
private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness – that is
best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember. “ 7:26
Some Muslims quote verse 31 of sura 24 as containing the ‘hijab‘, or
head cover, by pointing to the word, khomoorehenna, (from khimar),
forgetting that God already used the word ‘hijab‘, several times in the Quran.
Those blessed by God can see that the use of the word ‘khimar‘ in this verse
is not for ‘hijab‘ or for head cover. Those who quote this verse usually add
(head cover) (veil) after the word ‘khomoorehenna‘, and usually between
brackets, because it is their addition to the verse not God’s.
Here we have 24:31: “And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes,
and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any of their
‘zeenatahhunna‘ (their beauty spots) except what is normally apparent.
They shall cover their chests with their Khimar and shall not relax this
code in the presence of other than their husbands, their fathers, the
fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their
brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, other women,
the male servants or employees whose sexual drive has been nullified, or
the children who have not reached puberty.They shall not strike their feet
when they walk in order to shake and reveal certain details of their bodies.
All of you shall repent to God, O you believers, that you may succeed.”
” 24:31 The Arabic word khimar means cover. Any cover can be called a
khimar such as a curtain, a dress, a table cloth that covers the top of a table
is a khimar, a blanket can be called a khimar and so on. The word khamr,
which is used in the Quran for intoxicants, has the same root as khimar.
Both words mean that which covers. The khimar covers a window, a body,
a table and so on, while khamr is that which covers the mind.
Traditional translators, obviously influenced by Hadith and culture, claim
that khimar in 24:31 has only one meaning, and that veil or hijab, and thus
mislead women into believing that 24:31 commands them to cover their
This fact that the word khimar can mean any cover is a matter that can be
verified by consulting any Arabic dictionary.
In 24:31 God is telling women to use their khimar (cover/garment) which
could be a dress, a coat, a shawl, a shirt, a blouse, a scarf and so on to cover
their cleavage/bosoms. God does not wait for a clever scholar to decipher
the words of the Quran!
Not to reveal any of their beauty spots The third rule can also be found
in 24:31. Here God commands women not to reveal their beauty spots
except what is normally apparent (face, hair, lower arms and lower legs
“They shall not reveal any of their ‘zeenatahhunna‘ (beauty spots),
except that which is normally apparent.” This expression may sound vague
to many because they have not understood the Mercy of God.
Once again, God here used this very general term to give women the
freedom that as long as they observe righteousness, they are free to decide
according to their own circumstances the definition of what is “apparent“.
The word ‘zeenatahunna‘ in this verse refers to the woman’s beauty spots
which carry a sexual connotation, examples are “thighs, breasts, back side
At the end of the verse, God tells the women not to strike with their feet to
show their ‘zenatahunna‘. The way a woman strikes her feet while walking
can expose or shake certain parts of the body that do not need to be
For more detailed analysis of 24:31 please go to: Corruption of 24:31
(the captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (in their case)
they are free from blame,
Fourth Rule :
Ya ayyuha annabiyyuqul li-azwajika wabanatika wanisa-ialmu/mineena yudneena
AAalayhinna min jalabeebihinna thalikaadna an yuAArafna fala yu/thayna
wakanaAllahu ghafooran raheema
“Lengthen your Garments “O prophet, tell your wives, your daughters,
and the wives of the believers that they shall lengthen their garments.
Thus, they will be recognised and avoid being insulted. God is Forgiver,
Most Merciful.” 33:59
” 33:59 When we reflect on the above words, we would understand the
great wisdom of God.
In this verse, God, deliberately said that women should lengthen their
garments, but did not say how long is long. God could have said tell them
to lengthen their garments to their ankles or to their mid-calf or to their
knees, but He did not.
Verses 24:31 and 33:59 teach us what we need to know: If you look at the Arabic word
Yudnina (which means lengthening), Alaihinna (which means on their / over their),
Min- jaloabiibhinna (which means dress or garment), these are the only terms used
in that verse to specify the teachings of our dress code. And even more notably, Arabic
words describing head, hair, eyes or veil are nowhere to be found.
God knows that we will be living in different communities and have
different cultures and insists that the minor details of this dress code
will be left for the people of every community to decide for themselves,
as long as righteousness is always maintained.
Relaxing the Dress Code:
In the family setting, God put no hardship on the women,
and permitted them to relax their dress code. If you reflect on the verses,
33:35 and 24:60, you will see that God did not give details of what this
relaxation is, because every situation is different. “The women may relax
(their dress code) around their fathers, their sons, their brothers, the sons
of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, the other women, and their
“Lo! men who surrender unto Allah, and women who surrender, and men
who believe and women who believe, and men who obey and women
who obey, and men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth,
and men who persevere (in righteousness) and women who persevere,
and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give
alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast,
and men who guard their modesty and women who guard (their modesty),
and men who remember Allah much and women who remember – Allah
hath prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward.” 33:35
“As for women past child-bearing, who have no hope of marriage, it is no
sin for them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to
show adornment. But to refrain is better for them. Allah is Hearer,
They shall reverence God. God witnesses all things.” 33:55 “The elderly
women who do not expect to get married commit nothing wrong by
relaxing their dress code, provided they do not reveal too much of their
To maintain modesty is better for them. God is Hearer, Knower.” 24:60
Reply to those who claim that a Muslim woman should be all covered
except for her face: Many so-called Muslim scholars have invented
extreme rules for women’s dress which are not found in the Quran.
Some say that a woman should be totally covered except for her face,
while others even more extreme say that all the woman must be covered
from head to toe except for two holes where the eyes can peep out from!
1- There is nothing in all the Quran that says to the woman to cover all her
body. We must accept that the Quran has all the details, and that God does
not forget. If God wanted the woman to cover all her body from the neck to
the feet God would have said that clearly.
Those who make such un-Quranic claims cannot find words in the Quran
with such extreme commands, so they manipulate 24:31 and 33:59 to
comply with their false claims.
2- The fact that God says in 24:31 to specifically cover the breast indicates
clearly that there are other parts of the woman’s body that do not have to
Here is an example to make the point clear:
Think of your house and in it you have a garden. You have gardener who
comes to look after your garden. One day you ask him: please water the
area near the trees and also water the back of the garden.
What does this example tell us?
It tell us that since you specified only areas to be watered, then this is a
clear indication that there will be other areas in the garden that do not to
be watered. If you wanted the gardener to water the whole garden you
would have asked exactly that, by saying: please water the whole garden.
When we apply this example to the issue of women’s dress code in the
Quran, the same principle applies, if God wanted the whole body of the
woman to be covered, God would not have bothered saying
“cover your chest” since an overall command to cover all the body would
be all that is needed to say. But since God specifies certain parts of the
woman’s body to be covered, then there are other parts that do not have
to be covered as long as the are not beauty spots of sexual connotation
and as long as righteousness in dress is maintained.
3- The command to “lengthen the garment” also proves that the woman is
not commanded to be all covered from head to feet. For if that is the case,
and the woman is covered down to the ground, there would be no meaning
to “lengthen the garment”.
How can the woman lengthen a garment that is already down to the ground?
It is just like (another example) if a driving instructor tells the learner:
The most important rule for driving on this road is not to go over the speed
of 30 miles/hour This order from the instructor indicates that it is within the
ability of the learner to drive at speeds higher than 30 mph. But if the driving
instructor used a car that can never exceed the 30 mph speed, there would
not be any need to tell the learner not to go above that speed, because the
learner could not do so even if he wanted to.
Again we see the intent is to be modest, to be recognized as being righteous. But does
dressing modestly mean looking plain and unattractive? Not if we take the
descriptions of how the dwellers of Paradise will be dressed as examples!
They have deserved gardens of Eden wherein rivers flow. They will be adorned
therein with bracelets of gold, and will wear clothes of green silk and velvet, and
will rest on comfortable furnishings. What a wonderful reward; what a wonderful
God will admit those who believe and lead a righteous life into gardens with flowing
streams. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and pearls, and their
garments therein will be silk. (22:23)
On them will be clothes of green velvet, satin, and silver ornaments. Their Lord will
provide them with pure drinks. (76:21)
Surely if the believers dress beautifully in Paradise, it cannot be unrighteous to do so
here. And indeed God tells to dress nicely when we go to the mosques:
Dress Nicely For The Masjid
O children of Adam, you shall be clean and dress nicely when you go to the masjid.
And eat and drink moderately; Surely, He does not love the gluttons. (7:31)
Thus, God makes it clear that we can and indeed should at times dress well. We do not
need to be plain to still maintain modesty.
In all of this discussion, the most important thing to remember is that: “the best
garment is the garment of righteousness.” If you keep your focus on pleasing God, the
garment of righteousness will never fade, or wrinkle, or become moth-eaten. It will
never go out of style, nor become too small. Clearly it is the most important garment in
And thus if all women are covered from head to feet, there would be no need
to tell them to lengthen their garments!