In this article in Arabic, it is said that Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Al Qayyim hold the opinion that the hijab is fard (obligatory) for free women only:

ذكر شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية في تفسير سورة النور أن الحجاب مختص بالحرائر دون الإماء، كما كانت سنة المؤمنين في زمن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وخلفائه أن الحرة تحتجب والأمة تبرز.

It is mentioned that they used the this hadith (english translation on sunnah.com) from Sahih Al Bukhari as evidence too:

فَقَالُوا إِنْ حَجَبَهَا فَهْىَ مِنْ أُمَّهَاتِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ، وَإِنْ لَمْ يَحْجُبْهَا فَهْىَ مِمَّا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُهُ
They said, if the Prophet makes her wear hijab, then she is the Prophet's wife but if he does not make her wear hijab, then she is a slave girl.

Notice, I translated the part of the hadith how they would interpret it.

I also find similar interpretations in the tafsirs, for instance:

{ ذلكَ أدْنَى أنْ يُعْرَفْنَ فَلا يُؤْذَيْنَ } وقد كانت الـمـملوكة إذا مرّت تناولوها بـالإيذاء، فنهى الله الـحرائر أن يتشبهن بـالإماء.

Is the hijab obligatory for slave women too?
Which schools/scholars hold this opinion? And which doesn't? What is the majority view?
Please provide references.

I noticed the question "Can a slave woman show herself to her master?", but this question is restricted to her master while my question is more general.
Feel free to edit and translate the Arabic parts.

  • Basically you've answered your question yourself.
    – Medi1Saif
    Apr 17, 2017 at 12:54
  • @Medi1Saif Through the references I added I can conclude that at least some (ibn taymiyyah, ibn al qayyim) hold the opinion that it's not fard for a slave woman to wear hijab, but if that is the "correct" view is still unknown for me, that is also why i asked which other holds this opinion and which doesn't and if it's the majority view
    – Kilise
    Apr 17, 2017 at 12:59

3 Answers 3


The Hanafi view as mentioned in Hidayah (arabic, english):

A man may look at the female slave of another, in the same manner as at his kinswoman (mahram). EVERY part which it is lawful for a man to look at in his female relation, may likewise be viewed by him in the female slave of another, whether she be an absolute slave, a Modabbira a Mokatiba, or an Am-Walid ; for as a slave is necessitated to wear clothes adapted to servile employments, that she may discharge the business of her master, and attend upon his guests, her condition without the house is therefore the same, in relation to stranger, as that of a free woman without the house, in regard to her kinsman. With respect to privacy, or travelling with the female slave of another, many have said that it is allowed, in the same manner as in the case of a female relation. Some however, declare it improper, as not being justified by necessity. Mohammed; in the Mabsoot, has said that the assisting of a female to ascend or , descend from a horse is approved, provided it be in a case of necessity.

The Shafi view as mentioned in Imam Nawawi's Minhaj Al Talibeen (english) is:

As to a female slave any one may see her body, except between navel and knees ... The best authors consider a female slave as subject to the same rule as a free woman, so far as regards the prohibition of being seen.

Also might be useful to study tafsirs on 33:59, the covering was seen as a status symbol that differentiated the free women from the slaves and the non-muslims (though I once came across some samples of pre-islamic poetry that implied that the ancient Arabs also considered it as a differentiation between the free women and the slaves).

From Tafsir Al Qurtubi (Qurtubi was of the Maliki school):

السادسة: قوله تعالى: { ذٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَن يُعْرَفْنَ } أي الحرائر، حتى لا يختلطن بالإماء، فإذا عُرفن لم يقابلن بأدنى من المعارضة مراقبة لرتبة الحرّية، فتنقطع الأطماع عنهن. وليس المعنى أن تُعرف المرأة حتى تُعلم من هي. وكان عمر رضي الله عنه إذا رأى أمَة قد تقنعت ضربها بالدرّة، محافظة على زيّ الحرائر. وقد قيل: إنه يجب الستر والتقنعّ الآن في حق الجميع من الحرائر والإماء. وهذا كما أن أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم منعوا النساء المساجد بعد وفاة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مع قوله: " لا تمنعوا إماء الله مساجد الله " حتى قالت عائشة رضي الله عنها: لو عاش رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى وقتنا هذا لمنعهنّ من الخروج إلى المساجد كما مُنعت نساء بني إسرائيل.

Number 6: God says: "That they will be known" This is more suitable that the free women are distinctly identified so they are not confused with the slave women. When they are known, people will show reverence and respect to them and will not come in their way due to their status. It is narrated about Umar that when he saw a slave woman in hijab he punished her, indeed he did that to protect the [sanctity?] of the clothes of the free women.

One saying is that: Now all women, free and slaves are obligated to observe the hijab. This is similar to how the Sahabah prevented the Muslim women from visiting the mosques after the death of the Prophet (p.b.u.h), whereas the Prophet had said: "Do not prevent the women servants of Allah from the Mosques"(Bukhari), in so far that Ayesha said: "If the Prophet was alive in our time he would have also prevented the women from visiting the mosques, just like how the women of the Jews (Israelites) do not visit the mosques (synagogues)".

  • Thanks for your time and answer! I have read most of the tafsirs available in Arabic, it seems most conclude that the tafsir of the verse 33:59 is "أَن يُعْرَفْنَ } بأنهنّ حرائر", but then again, the tafsirs doesn't necessary conclude that all scholars say that it isn't wajib for a slave woman to wear hijab. Could you add a conclusion to your answer like; Qurtubi and nawawi thinks its wajib or not wajib or for instance; "most scholars say its wajib except folan wa folan..."
    – Kilise
    Apr 18, 2017 at 15:21

Hijab is not obligatory for slave women. Slave women were exempted from Hijab because (1) they had to do chores outside homes and some times they had to work for hours in heat and summer which would not have been practical while wearing Jilbab and Khimar. (2) and that they could be distinguishable from free women.


Is hijab obligatory for a slave girl? According to the Shiite school, headscarves are not obligatory for slaves - in prayer or otherwise. Of course, it is not forbidden, but it can be recommended. Most of the earlier jurists have given the same fatwa.


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