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Some people these days are on either side of two extremes. Some say a woman should cover her entire body from head to foot while others do not want her to cover her face denying that such a matter is a rewardable act or even want her to uncover more of her body than what is covered. The correct matter is to use the Islamic rules as a guide and do as Islam deems necessary.

 

It might be said:

Awrah is the part that a person must cover. These parts differ infront of person to person.

A non marriageable man (muhram) is one’s father, brother, son, uncle (both paternal and maternal), father in law, (great) grandfather, and (great) grandson.

 

 

Infront of whom it needs to be covered

What must be covered

Woman

Marriageable men

All of the body except for the hands and face

Non marriageable men

Between the navel and knee*

Non Muslim women

What is usually covered when cleaning

Man

Men and woman

Between the navel and knee*

*the navel and knee themselves are not awrah although a part of them must be covered to ensure that the awrah is covered.

And of course, one is not obligated to cover one’s awarah infront of one’s spouse.

 

As for looking, it is haram for the man to look to any part of a woman’s awrah regardless of desire and to parts not considered her awrah (lawful nakedness) with desire if she is not Islamically permissible to him. The same thing applies for the woman ie it is permissible for her to look to a man’s lawful nakedness without desire but with desire she is not allowed to look to any part of his body provided she is not Islamically lawful to him.

 

In some cases, a woman may uncover parts of her body to a marriageable man such as for medicinal purposes. In such a situation, a doctor may look to the places he needs to treat as long as no seclusion** takes place. Only the minimum amount of looking or touching, through a barrier when possible, for the purpose is allowed. However, there must be a true necessity, as opposed to a check up for example, and there must only be a male doctor available. A woman must go through a certain order before allowing one to look to her awrah. Such an order is

A woman’s husband

A muslim woman

A muslim boy who is not close to pubescence

A nonMuslim boy who is not close to pubescence

a muslim boy who is close to pubescence

a nonMuslim boy who is close to pubescence

A nonmarriageable muslim

A nonmarriageable kafir

A muslim man whose testicles and penis are cut off

A nonMuslim woman

A nonMuslim man whose testicles and penis are cut off

A Muslim marriageable man

A nonMuslim marriageable man

**seclusion (khalwah) is when a woman is alone with a man who is not her muhrram without a third person, who is old enough that one would usually feel shy of doing an indecent thing infront of, being present.

 

As for a woman’s voice it is not awrah hence it is permissible to listen to. The prophet once while walking through madinah heard women chanting “we are women from the clan of bani najjar how wonderful it is to be a prophet’s neighbor”. The prophet said, “by Allah I also love you” he did not say how do you chant and there are marriageable men within ears reach. if a womans voice was awrah he would have objected. This hadith was narrated by ibn majjah and others.