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Every human being is born with several basic needs. Among the basic needs is the need for clothing. Allah Ta’ala declares: “O children of Adam (Alayhis Salaam)! We have sent down to you clothing to cover your nudity as well as adornment for you, and the garment of piety is the best (7:26).”
By mentioning the aspect of covering before the aspect of adornment, the Qur’an-al-Kareem impresses upon us that the primary object of clothing (i.e. to cover one’s satr) is more important than its secondary benefits (i.e. adornment). Hence, if the clothing does not adequately cover one’s body, causing part of the satr to remain visible, then such a person, though clothed, will be regarded as naked in the eyes of Shariah. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has prophesized the coming of such crucial and critical times in the ummah where women will be clothed yet naked.
Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radiyallahu Anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “There will be two groups (in my ummah) who will be punished in Jahannum whom I have not yet seen (i.e. they will emerge after my demise). One group will carry whips with them resembling the tails of cattle, with which they will (oppressively) lash the people. The second group will be those women who will wear clothes yet will still be naked (i.e. they will wear tight fitting or flimsy clothing), they will attract men towards themselves, and they themselves will be inclined towards men, their heads will resemble the humps of the Bukhti camels (i.e. they will wear buns which will be high like camel humps). They will neither enter Jannah nor smell its fragrance despite its fragrance being perceivable from a great distance away. (Saheeh Muslim #2128)
Shariah has provided extensive guidelines in regard to the description of the clothing a woman should cover herself with.
1. The clothing must provide cover for her entire body, otherwise in the eyes of Shariah they will not be worthy of being called “clothes.” It is compulsory upon a woman to cover her entire body and hair (with the exception of her hands till her wrists and feet) before non-mahrams (strange men).
2. The clothing must be such that it should neither be transparent nor should it reveal the shape of the body. Hence if the clothing is tight-fitting to the extent that the shape of the satr is discernable, such a woman is also included in the description of being “clothed yet naked.”
3. When leaving the home, a woman should ensure that the laws of hayaa and modesty are maintained. The Hadith commands that she should dress in an unattractive manner, should not apply perfume and she must don the niqaab. It is a fact of life that there exists a basic natural inclination towards the opposite gender. Wearing attractive clothing further incites such inclination which leads to fitna.
4. The type of clothing that is essentially for one gender should not be worn by the opposite gender. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “Allah Ta’ala has cursed those men who imitate women (in dressing, etc.) and those women who imitate men.” (Tabraani #4003)