Should We Cover Food?

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question: Assalam alaykum,

What does the following hadith from Bukhari mean?

Abu Humaid came carrying a cup of milk to the Prophet. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Will you not cover it even by placing a stick across it?”

Is this hadith only about covering milk or any food?

Answer: Wa alaykum al-Salam

RasuluLlah sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam encouraged his ummah to cover vessels of both food and drink in a number of hadith. Accordingly, the covering of a vessel is not restricted to milk. [See answer below]

Regarding the partial covering of the vessel as mentioned in the narration you quoted, ibn Hajar stated that the Messenger sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam stressed the covering of vessels to the extent that he said one should even cover it with a stick, meaning when no other covering is to be found. He then suggested that the partial covering of the vessel with a stick is indicative of preventing from entering and thus the shayatin would understand that there is no permission for them to enter. [Fath al-Bari]

You may also read the following related answer:

Can I Use Oil Which Have Been Left Open at Night?

[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Shaykh Abdurragmaan
received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

Is My Volumised Hijab Like A Camel Hump and Therefore, Cursed?

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Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I wonder if you could answer my question – is volumizing my hijab haram? I have read online many people stating the hadith that women are cursed if they wear their hijab like camel humps. If I make my hijab rounded and nicely shaped so that it is one level does this violate the hadith?

Answer: Wa alaykum assalam

All Praise belongs to Allah; peace and blessings upon our master, Sayyidina Muhammad.

Thank you for your question. May Allah increase your desire to implement His Law.

The hadith of heads resembling camel humps has often been quoted as evidence for the impermissibility of donning the head scarf in a particular fashion. The wording of the Hadith reads,

“There are two groups of the people of the fire, whom I have not yet seen. A group of people carrying whips resembling the tails of cattle, with which they will lash people. And another is clothed women, yet naked; disinclined from Allah’s obedience and causing others to follow in their ways. Their heads are likened to the humps of camels. They will not enter Jannah nor smell its fragrance – it’s fragrance could (usually) be smelt from a far distance, a journey of many (miles).” [Muslim]

“Clothed, yet naked” in the hadith could mean that they are clothed with the blessings of Allah, yet naked from showing gratitude. It could also mean that are clothed with very thin clothing through which the color of their skin could possibly be perceived. “Disinclined from Allah’s obedience and causing others to follow in their ways” is the more probable interpretation of the words of the Messenger (peace be upon him), “Ma’ilat, mumilat”.

Finally, his words (peace be upon him), “Their heads are like the humps of camels (al-bukht al-ma’ilah)” have been interpreted in many ways. Imam al-Nawawi explained it as, “they enlarge or add volume to their heads by wrapping it with either a turban, a cloth or the like.”

Al-Marizi said, “a possible meaning of (the phrase) is that they desire men and do not lower their heads and gazes.”

Qadi ‘Iyad described that they comb their hair in a certain way and then gather it all to the top of the head and it thus resembles a camel’s hump. Another discussion was whether the hump is on the side of the head or not. [Sharh al-Nawawi ala Sahih Muslim]

The point here being that hadith has various interpretations and cannot categorically be referring to a specific hijab fashion.

Nonetheless, an interesting observation is that none of these scholars suggested that the hairstyle or manner of donning the scarf, is impermissible or haram. Further, it’s clear that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is listing a number of qualities of a particular group of females. A group that Imam al-Nawawi said existed in his time already – the 7th century. The fact that a lady may potentially have one of these qualities does not make her from that group and does not mean she’s destined for the fire.

By way of example, there are many sisters today that wear their scarfs in a manner that may resemble a hump of sorts. These same sister are not partially naked, nor do they disincline from the obedience of Allah. Many of them are righteous and observe the law of Allah in an exemplary manner. Surely the narration above could not be including such females.

In conclusion, we do not consider the way you may be donning your scarf as impermissible, as long as all your hair is being covered in an appropriate manner and that you are not attracting unnecessary gazes from strange men.

In addition, there are various levels of modesty. A fancy hijab – including a hump – may be extremely modest for a sister that begins wearing the hijab; while a plain – non-fancy – hijab may be modest for a lady that has been wearing hijab for a longer period. Every female takes her own time to develop and grow and that should be understood and appreciated. The ultimate modesty, however, and the goal of every female should be to resemble the daughter of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Fatimah al-Zahra, and his blessed and noble wives, may Allah be pleased with them.

May Allah guide our sisters and grant them a special connection to the mothers of the believers and the daughters of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

And Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Shaykh Abdurragmaan
received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

What is Modest Clothing for Men and Women?

A woman in a headscarf or face veil is one of the most, if not the most, commonly associated image with Islam but the concept of modesty in Islam is a fascinating, profound concept. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives a methodical and thorough explanation of how it relates to both men and women.

Is It Permissible to Walk Around Topless in Front of Unmarriageable Kin?

Question: I am a married woman living with my in-laws i.e. father-in-law, mother in-law and my husband’s sister. My husband says I can merely cover between my navel and knees in front of them because they are unmarriageable to me and there is no sign of lust or fitna. My husband also says that they can also touch those parts if needed as they are unlawful to marry and if there is no lust. Please tell me if this is correct or not.
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
The nakedness (`awra) of a woman in front of her unmarriageable kin (mahram) is from navel to knee, stomach and the back. [see: A Detailed Exposition of the Fiqh of Covering One’s Nakedness (awra)]
Note that the entire back is considered to be from the nakedness, not just the back of the stomach.
Uncovering the chest area would not be prohibited in and of itself, yet would be contrary to the dictates of modesty and what is befitting for a dignified Muslim woman. A sense of bashfulness and covering up are keys to taqwa. The Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Modesty is from faith.”
See: Modesty in Islam – Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa – Video and: IslamCast Daily Hadith – 018 – Modesty is From Faith
And Allah alone gives success.
Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Is There an Opinion that a Woman Can Reveal Her Forearms?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I have heard that al-Qadi Abu Yusuf (God be well-pleased with him!) held the opinion that the forearms and the neck are not from the ‘awrah of the woman. Is this true? Does this mean that, according to Abu Yusuf, a woman must cover all her body except her face, neck, hands, forearms, and feet? If so, is this opinion valid to follow?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

According to the Hanafi school, a woman in the presence of unrelated men must cover her entire body — with the exception of her face, hands and feet — in loose, appropriate clothing. This is the dominant position of the school.

However, there is a narration according to which Abu Yusuf did not consider the forearms to be from a woman’s nakedness (`awra), since the forearms are normally exposed when doing certain tasks with the hands. This narration can be used only in situations of genuine need, namely, tasks that pose undue hardship if undertaken with the forearms covered. Examples include domestic help when doing certain household chores, or medical staff if regulations do not allow covering the forearms.

Yet even in such cases of need, one should strive to follow the dominant opinion. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The woman’s entire body must be covered” [Sunan Tirmidhi] — that is to say, except for the exceptions, which according to the Hanafi school are her face, hands and feet.

The Basis and Wisdom of Covering

Before addressing the legal limits of covering, it is important to keep in mind that as a general principle, the basis of issues related to covering is caution. Indeed, modesty (haya’) is not only a part of the religion, but according to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), it is a branch of faith itself. [Bukhari, Muslim]

He (peace and blessings be upon him) also said, “Every religion has a quintessential trait, and that the quintessential trait of Islam is modesty.” [Muwatta’]

And once when asked if modesty was in fact a part of the religion, he replied, “Nay, rather it is the entire religion — all of it.” [Bayhaqi, Shu’ab al-Iman]

This is truly profound, as it teaches us that the foundation of our entire religious practice is modesty, which at its essence refers to modesty before the Divine Himself. Our true shame is to disobey the All-seeing and All-hearing — we obey Him out of modesty before His majesty, and we seek to cover ourselves and dress appropriately so as not to be ashamed before His sight.

The Prophetic Way of Promoting the Good

It is also important to preface the legal discussion of covering with a reminder that the way of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) in promoting any good is predicated upon gentleness and wisdom.

As Allah Himself declares in the Qur’an, “It is only by a vast mercy from Allah that you were gentle with them: had you been harsh and hardhearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you.” (3:159)

Even when dealing with Pharoah — the worst of tyrants — the prophets Musa and Haroon (peace and blessings be upon them) were commanded by Allah to speak to him gently. (20:44) Surely our brothers and sisters in faith deserve the utmost respect and gentleness when being addressed, even if they are doing something wrong.

The Obligation of Covering

With respect to legal limits, the relied-upon position in the Hanafi school is that the woman’s entire body — aside from her face, hands and feet — is from her `awra and hence must be covered in front of unrelated men. There is some difference of opinion within the school regarding feet, as some jurists considered them as from the `awra. Although this is not the dominant position of the school, it is not a weak position either, and so the way of caution and greater taqwa is to cover the feet as well. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

The basis of this ruling is Allah’s statement, “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to not display of their adornment except that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands…” (24:31) The verse continues to list other people to whom she may reveal her adornment.

Imam Kasani explains that what is meant by “adornment” is the places of adornment on a woman’s body, and the places that have “apparent adornment” were understood by Abu Hanifa to be the face and hands. This is also reported to be the interpretation of certain Companions, including Ibn Abbas and Ibn Umar (Allah be well-pleased with them). There is also a rational basis for this exception, in that a woman often needs to reveal her face and hands in public, such as when in the market, so as to buy and sell, and to give and take items or money. [Kasani, Bada’i al-Sana’i; Zayla`i, Tabyin al-Haqa’iq]

The Narration of Abu Yusuf

There is a narration in which Abu Yusuf did not consider the forearms to be from the woman’s `awra, since the forearms are often exposed when doing certain chores. This opinion was given preference by certain Hanafi jurists, such as Imam Mawsili in the Ikhtiyar. [Ibn Nujaym, Bahr al-Ra’iq; Zayla`i, Tabyin al-Haqa’iq; Ibn Humam, Fath al-Qadir]

Some later scholars mention this opinion as an exemption for women whose work customarily entails exposing the forearms. For example, the 20th century Hanafi jurist of Damascus, Imam Khalil Nahlawi, states after mentioning the dominant opinion (explained above), “It is said that a man may also look at a woman’s feet, forearms and elbows if she is hired to bake bread or for similar tasks like cooking or washing clothes, since those limbs are normally exposed when doing such work.” [Durar Mubaha fil Hazr wal Ibaha]

These texts are understood to mean that for situations in which the forearms are normally exposed due to the undue hardship of performing those tasks while keeping the forearms covered, the woman may uncover her forearms so as to perform those tasks. That is, this ruling can only be used for cases of genuine need, and once the need is fulfilled, she must recover her forearms.

Moreover, regardless of the woman’s work, she must cover her forearms during the prayer, as failing to do so would invalidate the prayer.

Finally, the permissibility for an unrelated man to look at a woman’s face, hands or feet — or forearms (in situations of genuine need) — is limited to his doing so without desire, since he may not look at her at all if coupled with desire.

As for the neck, I did not come across a narration of Abu Yusuf regarding it. It is part of a woman’s `awra in all situations.

And Allah knows best, and He alone gives success.
Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani