The verse of the Quran that is used to derive the rulings of hijab is 24:31
Quran 24:31 And tell the believing women to .... not expose
their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to
wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose
their adornment except to ....
Quran 33:59 O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and
the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of
their outer garments ...
What is clear from the Quran in a literal sense is that:
- A cloak must be used to cover the chest and neck.
- Adornments should be covered in front of strangers. Except those adornments which are to be visible.
Hadith are used to determine which adornments are permissible to expose, and there is disagreement among the scholars on these. The strictest claim that nothing must be visible except cloth itself, while most others claim that the face, hands and feet may be exposed since there are direct hadith to that effect as well as narrations that imply that these parts were left bare.
Below is my translation of Tafsir Al-Qurtubi on 24:31
Third: Allah commanded the women that they should not make their
adornments visible to on-lookers, except those that are exempted.
People differ regarding this. Ibn Masud said "Apparent adornments
means clothes". Ibn Jabir added that it also includes the face. Saeed
Bin Jabir, Ata, Al-Oazaee said that it includes the face, hands and
clothes. Ibn Abbas, Qatadah, Masur bin Mukhurmah said: Apparent
adornments means kohl(eye-liner), bracelets, colouring till the mid
of the arms, earings and rings. It is permissible for her to make
these visible to anyone who comes to her.
Tibri related from Qatadah regarding the meaning of mid-arms, and a
second hadith narrated from Ayesha that the Prophet said: "The woman
who believes in Allah and the last Day, when she reaches puberty, it
is not permitted for her to make visible anything except her face and
arms till here(he pointed to the middle of his arms)".
Ibn Atia said: "My understanding is that the verse commands that women
should hide their adornments, and should try to hide every adornment.
That on which concession has been granted to expose is regarding when
it is necessary and where there is no alternative but to uncover them.
I said, this is a good saying, but in habit and worship, face and
hands are exposed, such as in Prayer and Pilgrimage when they are to
be visible, then the better opinion is that a concession applies to
them both. The evidence on it is that of Abu Daud that Ayesha narrated
that when Asma bint Abi Bakr came to the Prophet wearing thin clothes, the
Prophet turned his face and said: "O Asma. When a woman reaches
puberty, it is not right for her to be seen except this part" And the
Prophet pointed to his face and hands. " This is the more correct
stance and is less likely to be disputed by the people ... hence women
should not reveal their adornments except what is apparent in the face
and hands. Ibn Khuazir who is from our scholars has said: "If a
woman is beautiful fears that exposing her face and hands will spread
seduction, then she should cover them. If she is old or not beautiful
then she can uncover her face and hands.
Fourth: Adornments are of two types, the created ones and the acquired
ones. The created ones include the face, it is the origin of adornment
and beauty ... the acquired ones are those the women use to improve
their appearance such as clothes, ornaments, kohl and cosmetics. Allah
has said: "Take your adornments"[Quran 7:31]
Fifth. Adornments are apparent and hidden. Regarding the apparent
ones, it is permissible to show them to both mahrams and strangers. I
have already related the views about them among the scholars. The
adornments that are to be hidden, showing them is not permitted except
to those who are mentioned by Allah in this verse. There is a dispute
about bracelets. Ayesha has said that it is an apparent adornment
since it is on the hands. Mujahid has said that it is to be hidden
because it is separate from the palms and is on the arms. Ibn Arbi has
said that pigment is a hidden adornment when it is on the feet.