What Is Considered Modest for Women in Women-Only Gatherings?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I want to marry a girl from a different culture as I am from an Indian household. She wears a hijab, prays, and is modest. However, she shows her body off at female events, twerking and belly dancing. Is this permissible?

She reassures me that all girls do this. She also discusses sex with her friends. Isn’t the point of being modest to be modest with your words, actions, and dress, privately and publicly, even around the same gender?

How can I convince her to be modest without upsetting her? She says my views are extreme as Islam allows this. I don’t have a sister, but I never heard of this behavior among my sisters-in-law and cousins.

Answer

May Allah reward you for wanting to marry a religious girl and complete half of your religion.

As you mentioned, the biggest issue here is cultural differences.

Women Must Still Cover amongst Each Other

Although Islam permits uncovering amongst women, there are still guidelines that should not be forgotten. Here are some examples:

  • It is not permissible for women to wear tight clothing on what is between the navel and knees. This means skin-tight dresses are out.
  • It is not permissible to reveal skin from what is between the navel and knees. This means mini-skirts or transparent dresses are out.
  • Having tattoos or body piercings is not permissible because that imitates non-Muslims.
  • Twerking and belly dancing are not permissible amongst women.

Modesty Makes Everything Beautiful

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “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]

The general spirit of women’s dress in a lady’s gathering should be one of beauty, simplicity, and modesty, not an imitation of a sleazy Parisian catwalk. Traditional Islamic cultures all contain beautiful modest Islamic dress, from  Malaysian tunics and skirts to Pakistani shalwar kameez and Arabian dishdashas. We should make an earnest call to regain and rediscover this Islamic couture.

Reconcile

You will have to reconcile with her on these differences because she is not likely to change until she is much older. Discussing sex with friends is also inappropriate for young unmarried women. If you educate her and she agrees to behave better among women, you can leave it alone, or you can consider someone from your own culture who may behave more similarly to your relatives.

Pray Istikhara: The Prayer of Seeking Guidance to see if this girl is the right one for you. Ask her to pray it too. May Allah bless you in this world and the next.

See the following links for more information:
Clothes of The People of the Land
A Detailed Exposition of the Fiqh of Covering One’s Nakedness (awra)
Wearing Western-style Women’s Clothing and Dressing Modestly
Women’s Attire in Private and Around Unmarriageable Relatives

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, 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.