How Can I Advise Muslim Women To Dress More Modestly?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I am noticing that in many Muslim women’s clothing, the shape of the chest and the thighs kind of shows, is this permissible?

I am not talking about tight clothing that the non-Muslims wear, I am talking about somewhat loose clothing that Muslim women wear that covers their whole body however their chest shape shows from this clothing. How to advise these sisters?

The best option seems to be the loose abaya, however, in the West, women don’t like abaya. Women, here, wear clothes that cover them but again those clothes for certain bodies can be problematic. I want to advise these sisters but I am not sure if there is much to tell them aside from wearing an abaya or a super loose sweater or something.

Answer

Thank you for your question. I appreciate your thoughts completely and I believe that you are 100% correct. However, it doesn’t mean that your advice will be effective so I ask you to weigh your options.

Commanding the Good

Given that many Muslim women in the West are satisfied with partially loose clothing, we must look at them with the light of wisdom, efficacy, and tact. The first step for you is to read the rules of commanding the good and forbidding the wrong. The main thing to glean from the link below is that one advises another when one is certain that it will engender God-fearingness. This usually takes many gradual steps like bonding, kindness, affability and sincere gentle advice. As a man, you would be better off advising men.

The Criteria of Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil

A Reader on Calling to Allah, Giving Advice, and Commanding the Good

Inspire

Unfortunately, there is not much that you can do in the way of asking women to change their dress. The best that you can do if you tend to be around Muslim women at work or school, is to speak often of religion. Speak with love about the Prophet, speak of the good that Islam brings to the world, speak of the importance of living an Islamic lifestyle, and encourage anyone who is interested to learn their personally obligatory knowledge. When you do this, genuine sisters will naturally seek to learn, and then seek to apply it, and will re-assess their appearance to eventually choose what pleases Allah. It has to come from them.

May Allah allow us all to embody this prophetic hadith: “There is never any obscenity in a thing, but it mars it, and there is never any modesty in a thing, but it adorns it.” [Ibn Maja]

Please see the answers in this link as well:
Dressing immodestly

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.