Proper Prayer Attire for Women: What is the Proof?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

Question: I would appreciate it if someone could answer my question in regards to proper prayer attire at home and in public. I was wondering where in the Quran or Sunna where we might find this information?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allah descend on the Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions, and those who follow them.

Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum,

I pray you are in good health and spirits. I apologize for the delay in writing back.

The Qur’anic evidence for covering oneself in public, or in the company of marriageable men, comes from Surat al-Nur, verse 31 and Surat al-Ahzab, verse 59. The hadith evidence is considerable, one example being the authenticated report in Sunan Abu Dawud that Aisha, Mother of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated that Asma, [her sister] and daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, wearing thin clothes, and he turned his attention from her, saying “O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands.”

As far as covering oneself in prayer is concerned, this is a matter of consensus according to the fuqaha’ (legal scholars). In order for one’s prayer to be valid, certain conditions have to be met. One of these is covering the ‘awra, or nakedness. The fuqaha’ have defined a woman’s ‘awra, generally speaking, to be her whole body, with the exception of her face, hands, and, sometimes, feet. It is also clear that the established practice, or sunna, of the wives of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and the female companions, may Allah be pleased with them, was to cover themselves for prayer.

May Allah reward you,

Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

February 24, 2010
Rabi’ al-Awwal 11, 1431

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani