Question: If you found a secluded area in a public place like the beach, wearing a hijab is a requirement, correct? What kind of hijab would be safe to swim in at the ocean? Is it halal to wear a burkini with loose pants in public? I noticed there’s a difference of opinion on the hijab. I’ve seen some opinions that jilbab is the obligation because of the verse that references it. What about abayas, or regular clothes, like a long-sleeved blouse, tunic, blazer, and long skirt or baggy pants? Or other non-Arab clothing? Are these allowed, or must it be jilbab and abaya? Must the sleeves be super loose or can they be somewhat fitting for practical purposes of being able to use my arms? What colors, designs, prints, or patterns are allowed or not allowed? How am I to gauge what attracts attention, when every man is attracted differently? Can I wear a floral skirt or is that haram? Can the clothing have beads, sequins, or prints or must it be solid colors only? Is wearing red allowed?
Thank you for your question. I empathize with your confusion because the fashion industry has taken on a life of its own and has given women too many options to be able to choose, let alone across cultures.
Here is the general ruling about modest clothing and hijab:
One can only remove the hijab in a secluded public place if it is sure that a man will not be able to see her without hijab. If she feels that she has privacy, but she is at the beach, a man could probably appear out of nowhere, so she should keep her hijab on. As for the type of hijab, she should probably go with a polyester hijab.
A burkini can cover most of the body modestly if worn in a larger size and especially if the top goes to the knees. I have seen this personally, but it certainly doesn’t conceal in the same way that a skirt or jilbab does. If a woman was to wear a burkini, I would recommend that she still take measures to distance herself from male crowds and wrap a towel around her as soon as she leaves the water. Loose pants are fine to wear in public as long as the top is long; to the knees at least. Of course, `urf must be taken into account.
Jilbab, Abaya, Skirt, Tunic, Blazer, etc.
As you have seen in the link above, it is obligatory to cover oneself with loose, modest, and non-transparent clothing that covers the awrah. This fulfills the command of jilbab. The `urf would be taken into account, and you are the best judge of that.
Sleeves don’t need to be super-loose, as this oftentimes, causes the sleeves to slip down and reveal the whole forearm. The fashion industry in Dubai usually makes abayas with sleeves that taper at the wrist, and they are well-known not to fall down at all even if a woman raises her arms up. Of course, they should not be too tight.
Prints, embroidery, sequins, beads, and floral patterns
I would say that since a woman cannot gauge what is attractive to every man, she should play it safe and stay away from these. I asked my own teacher this question, and he recommended staying away from sequins and sparkles. Slight plain embroidery or print that is not “busy“ or loud should be fine. One does not have to confine oneself to solid colors. Once again, `urf must be taken into account. Red seems to be internationally known as a loud color, so I would personally choose something darker, even a maroon could work.
The concept that concerns us here the most is “`Urf“, the customs of one’s land and locality. One’s concept of how to dress is usually guided by this, as one can look at what is considered modest in their society and follow that. See this link for more information.
Check your own heart
You are the best judge of knowing if your clothes are modest or not. Ask Allah to guide you in your clothing, and when you marry, ask your husband for his opinion too. You know very well if you are choosing something that cinches your waist, has a little extra embroidery, or makes heads turn. If you choose Allah’s pleasure and simplify your dress, I guarantee you that you will feel more comfortable, free, and liberated. This is the reason that millions of women have chosen to invest in their beautiful indoor clothing and kept the utmost simplicity for their outdoor clothing. And Allah knows best.
[Ustahd] Shazia Ahmad
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, 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 recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.