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AskImam quotes the Prophet as saying:

A women who reveals her body or even wears tight fitting clothes wont come within 500 years of the smell of Jannah.

and the extended version

Women who are dressed but appear naked, who will be inclined (towards men) and make (men) incline (toward them). They will not enter Jannah and they will not smell its fragrance where as its fragrance can be would be smelt from the distance of 500 years.

I'm struggling to understand this. In particular:

  • Am I correct in understanding that this is a quote from the Prophet Muhammad?

  • Does this imply that (believing) women who dress immodestly throughout their lives without repenting will not go to heaven? If so, where do they go?

  • How much of their body is required to be revealed before this applies?

  • What does "smelt from the distance of 500 years" mean? Distance is not usually measured in years, nor is it smelt.

  • 1
    I couldn't find any similar hadith (saying of the Prophet pbuh) with the words 500 years in any of the major 6/7 sunni hadith collections. The only one of them which quotes 500 years is al-Muwatta' sunnah.com/urn/516400 but this hadith is mawquf that means it could be a saying of the sahabi abu Huraira as the sahih versions of the hadith don't include this exact wording sunnah.com/muslim/53/63, sunnah.com/muslim/37/190. – Medi1Saif Jun 29 '16 at 6:42
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Discussion of the hadith and it's authenticity

Among the 6 or 7 major sunni hadith collections only al-Muwatta' and sahih Muslim include a hadith with a similar wording as the one you have quoted.

While Imam Malik in most of the riwayat of al-Muwatta' has compiled this hadith as a hadith mawquf, which means it ends as a saying of the sahabi abu Hurairah without explicitly saying that these are the words of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).

Imam Muslim quoted it with a complete (but different) narrator chain. But without quoting the part about "500 years" explictly.

Similar ahadit have been compiled in Musnad al Imam Ahmad (8665, 9680), by abu Ya'la (6690), by at-Tabaryni in his Awsat (1811, 5854) all on the authority of abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) as a hadith mawquf. It's also compiled on the authority of Abdullah ibn 'Amr (May Allah be pleased with him) (mawquf) ibn abi Shayba in his Mosanaf 36642 and on the authority of Ka'ab al-Ahbar (May Allah be pleased with him) in the same book 37744 which clearly say that this description is based on the Torah.

مَالِي أَرَى فِي التَّوْرَاةِ صِفَةَ قَوْمٍ لَمْ أَرَهُمْ بَعْدُ؟ فُحَشَةٍ مُتَفَحِّشِينَ فِي أَيْدِيهِمْ سِيَاطٌ مِثْلُ أَذْنَابِ الْبَقَرِ، مِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ. مَالِي أَرَى فِي التَّوْرَاةِ صِفَةَ نِسَاءٍ لَمْ أَرَهُنَّ بَعْدُ؟ نَاعِمَاتٌ كَاسِيَاتٌ عَارِيَاتٌ، مِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ
* * * (My own translation take it with care) * * *
Why do I see in the Torah a description of people I've not seen yet? obscene who commit profanities who are having flogs like the tails of the ox in their hands. Of the denizens of Hell. Why do I see in the Torah a description of women I've not seen yet? Who appear gentle and would be dressed but appear to be naked, among the denizens of Hell.

Note that a hadith on something unseen even if it was mawquf as in most of the narration logically can't come from the mind of a sahabi, so either he had heard it from our Messenger (peace be upon him) or by consulting books of the people of the book, as it was the case for Ka'ab al-Ahbar who was a Jew before converting, while Abdullah ibn 'Amr has collected some books of ahl-al-kitab.

Scholars like ad-Daraqutni have big doubt whether the narration chain in sahih Muslim is really correct and complete and ibn Kathir in his tafsir said that "Maybe abu Hurairah has narrated this on the authority of Ka'ab al-Ahbar as they used to "sit together" and discuss".

(This is a summary of what i could read in this discussion thread -in Arabic- about the hadith and it's compilation, maybe I toke a little bit the side of those who have doubts about the authenticity)

Am I correct in understanding that this is a quote from the Prophet Muhammad?

So there's -at least- a hint of a doubt that these are not the words of Muahmmad (peace be upon him).

The meaning of the hadith based on commentary's of the both major hadith sources

I'm referring to commentary's on al-Muwatta' like sharh a-zurqani and a-Tamhid of ibn 'Abdilbarr and Sahih Muslim like sharh an-Nawawi. Please also take a look at this fatwa which is a commentary of the hadith from Sahih Muslim and my only external English link so far.

First what is the meaning of the four major description of those women:

كَاسِيَاتٌ عَارِيَاتٌ مَائِلاَتٌ مُمِيلاَتٌ

Women who are naked even though they are wearing clothes, go astray and make others go astray

Women who are naked even though they are wearing clothes was explained as:

  • Wearing from the gifts of Allah and naked from being thankful: So they have been given gifts from Allah and they were not thankful.
  • Only parts of their bodies are/were clothed while other parts are naked to show their beauty.
  • They wear thin (or skinny) clothes which are showing what they should hide either the body parts or the skin color.
    Both last meanings imply that they are clothed only superficially, while in reality (it's like) they are naked.

go astray and make others go astray, is explained as:

  • astray from the truth or from the obedience of Allah and they make their husbands (or others) lose the right path also. Or they show and teach others to follow their way of misguidance.

  • strutting in the way they walk.

  • An other explanation is having a special hairstyle which is connected to prostitutes.

Does this imply that (believing) women who dress immodestly throughout their lives without repenting will not go to heaven? If so, where do they go?

Yes it would in sharh az-Zurqani two options have been quoted: they won't go to heaven with the others or without any former punishment this is based on Allah's will (based on verse like 4:48 or 4:116), whether he forgives or punishes.

How much of their body is required to be revealed before this applies?

Well you should know that scholars would say except hands and face (some would add feet) they should be covered in a manner that doesn't show their body, so tiny or skinny clothes are not allowed. Also read Verse (24:31) and the explanation from above about the description of those women.
Note some ahadith show that in the time of our Messenger (peace be upon him) even the polytheist women used to cover to some extent for example there's a story of Ali ibn Abi Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) who was following a fleeing woman who have hidden a letter (for the enemies) in her hair (I think in the pigtail), but once he "captured her" he didn't touch her and once she realized he knew she had this letter she asked him to turn away, so that he couldn't see her uncover her hair!
So one could have in mind that the culture and customs may play a role here when it comes to the definition what is appropriate or not. But I'm not the right person to discuss, as I'm not a scholar.

What does "smelt from the distance of 500 years" mean? Distance is not usually measured in years, nor is it smelt.

I think the hadith of al-Muwatta' gave a kind of hint on the meaning, but you may read my answer here on a similar question.

And Allah knows best!

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Allow me to rephrase your question in sub-subjects

1- Is there a Hadith mentions the women how reveal their bodies and will not smell Jannah?

The answer is Yes and the most authentic narration for this Hadith is this one: http://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/18/123

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "There are two types of people who will be punished in Hell and whom I have not seen: men having whips like the tails of cows and they will be beating people with them, and, women who will be dressed but appear to be naked, inviting to evil; and they themselves will be inclined to it. Their heads will appear like the humps of the Bactrian camel inclined to one side. They will not enter Jannah and they will not smell its fragrance which is perceptible from such and such a distance."

[Muslim].

Does this imply that (believing) women who dress immodestly throughout their lives without repenting will not go to heaven?

Women who do that are of two types:

  • If she believes that the right thing is not to do that, she believes that what Mohammad (ﷺ) said is the righteous from Allah, then she is a sinner, and like every believer sinner, Allah may forgive her and may torture her in Jahannam.

  • If she rejects and disbelieve in what Mohammad (ﷺ) said - after knowing and have the subject explained to her- and believe this is not correct and no need for her to follow that, then she is doing action of infidelity "Kofr ".

How much of their body is required to be revealed before this applies?

The woman is allowed to show her hands and face without “Zinah” such as makeup and accessories that will collect the sight of stranger men, thus any more she shows of her body (naked, tight or see through) will make her eligible for the above categorization.

Notice: this is not the absolute factor, she may reveal less and cause a worse impact.


2- The smell of Jannah

Mentioned in more than one hadith, and the distance is different:

The authentic Hadiths mentioned (40, 70 and 100 years), and there is no contradiction because the larger includes the smaller number, and it also may mean that Allah allows different persons to smell it at different distances.

It’s also mentioned in Hadith “Daeif” as (500 and 1000 years), but the Sahih are the three mentioned above.

It is mentioned to express how far those are from the mercy of Allah.

  • Any evidence for the given values? 40/70/100 years? I mean i checked the sources given by Medi and only al-Muwatta' quoted "500 years" and only Muslim quoted "from such and such" instead so which are the authentic hadiths you are referring to? – Sassir Jun 29 '16 at 13:19
  • search for smell of Jannah in general you will find this: 40 years >> Sahih al-Bukhari 6914 sunnah.com/bukhari/87/52 70 >> Sunan an-Nasa'i 4749 sunnah.com/nasai/45/44 100 >> Ibn Hibban 1531, Sahhah Al-Albani ( Sahih Mawared Athamaan... 1276 ) & Altabarani- Al-Awsat 663, Sahhah Al-Albani, Al-Sahiha 2356 – M.M Jun 29 '16 at 13:45
  • OK but that isn't related to the actual hadith. And pretending that a narration from al-Muwatta' is da'if needs strong evidences! – Sassir Jun 29 '16 at 13:57
  • I did not mention Al Muwattaa in my answer and did not mention the details of the 500 and the 1000 because this is out of scope of answering the original question. The 500 is mentioned in other narrations, which all Al-Albani marked as Daeif Alselsela Al-Daeifa 6376 Alselsela Al-Daeifa (13 / 835) Daeif Sunan ibn Maja 569 Note: I do not like the word "pretending" in your comment – M.M Jun 29 '16 at 14:37
  • Sorry but the hadith of al-Muwatta' was the only narration here with 500. On the other hand I think al-Albani is a disputable authority in this matter and I also think that those ahadith mention different kinds of sin, so it wouldn't be illogical that the punishemnt would be the same and rather logical that it would differ, so it would be interesting to know on what basis he claims that 500 is dai'f and why should 40, 70 or 100 be sahih? I think the real measurement is the gravity of the sin, but Allah knows best! – Sassir Jul 4 '16 at 1:15

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