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On another question asked by a member of this forum, the below is quoted:

Under what conditions can a Muslim woman wear a bikini?

The 'awrah of a woman amongst other women is the same as the 'awrah of men (from her navel to her knees). -- Wikipedia

It was my understanding that the awrah of women was her body except her face, hands and feet in front of non-mehram men & women.

Is there a Hadith to support the statement by Wikipedia in the aforementioned post?

  • The statement made by Wikipedia is hardly covering all cases! – Medi1Saif Apr 12 '18 at 7:49
  • The translation of the ayah is ambiguous on what would constituent the 'private part'. I also went through the Wikipedia reference links. They seem to suggest that if only Muslim women are present, the awrah is from navel to knees and the women folk can be topless unless they fear one of them will reveal their secrets to others. But I haven't seen or heard this behavior in any Muslim culture. Perhaps it is a practice of earlier times that has vanished with Victorian values. – Ahmed Apr 12 '18 at 9:10
  • @Uma the schools differ I think there are 3-5 different opinions among sunni's – Medi1Saif Apr 12 '18 at 13:10
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That the awrah of women in front of other (Muslim) women is less than their awrah in front of non-mahrams is proven by the Quran itself, because it counts women with the husband and mahrams when making exceptions for Hijab:

وقل للمؤمنات ... ولا يبدين زينتهن إلا ... أو نسائهن

And tell the believing women to ... not expose their adornment except to ... their women

Quran 24:31

I am not aware of any hadith which explicitly define the awrah for women in front of other women, if such a hadith exists it has not been cited by the fiqh manuals I have checked.

The specification is done by analogy with men. It is well known that the awrah of men in front of other men is the area from navel to the knees. This implies the rule for awrah between people of the same gender and hence it applies to women in front of women.

The awrah of women with respect to other Muslim women is the area from the navel to the knees. According to a view of the Hanbalis, it is the same with Kafir women, however according to the majority a Muslim woman must observe full Hijab from a Kafir woman.

Zuhayli in his work الفقه الإسلامي وأدلته mentions the laws of awrah at two places. The first is in the chapter الصلاة, where he mentions that the awrah for women in front of Muslim women is the area from the navel to the knees. He states this separately under the:

Maliki ( أما عورة الحرة أمام امرأة أخرى مسلمة أو كافرة، فهي للرؤية ما بين السرة والركبة)
Shafi (وأما أمام النساء المسلمات والرجال المحارم: فعورتها كالرجل ما بين السرة والركبة) and
Hanbali (عورة الحرة المسلمة أمام الكافرة عند الحنابلة والمالكية كالرجل المحرم: ما بين السرة والركبة) madhabs and the same is implied for the Hanafi madhab.

Under the chapter الحظر والإباحة he writes:

المرأة مع المرأة في النظر كالرجل مع الرجل، لوجود المجانسة وانعدام الشهوة غالباً، وقد تحققت الضرورة إلى الانكشاف فيما بين النساء. فيمنع النظر إلى العورة أى ما بين السرة والركبة، ويجوز ما سواها مع أمن الشهوة، ويحرم مع الشهوة وخوف الفتنة

والأصح عند الجمهور غير الحنابلة تحريم نظر كافرة (ذمية أو غيرها) غير مَحْرم إلى مسلمة، فتحتجب المسلمة عنها وترتدي خمارها أمامها، ما عدا الوجه والكفين، أي أنها كالرجل لقوله تعالى: {أو نسائهن} [النور:31/ 24]، فلو جاز لها النظر لم يبق للتخصيص بالنساء فائدة. وصح عن عمر أنه منع الكتابيات دخول الحمام مع المسلمات،

(The law regarding) seeing of a woman by another woman is the same as that of a man seeing another man. This is because the gender of both is one, and commonly there is no attraction or desire between them. Sometimes there is need for women to see the body of each other. In such cases it is forbidden to look at the awrah, i.e. from navel to the knees, and it is permitted to see the rest of the body. This is conditional on there not being any feeling of desire, if there is feeling of desire or fear of fitnah then it is forbidden.

The majority of the jurists, other than the Hanbalis, forbid a Kafir woman (Dhimmi or otherwise) who is not a mahram, from looking at a Muslim woman. The Muslim woman would observe Hijab and would cover her entire body except the face and hands. In short, a Kafir woman is the same as a man in respect to this rule. This is because Allah says نسائهن (their women) [24:3] , if it was permitted to let a Kafir woman to see her then there was no benefit in making it specific. There is a Sahih narration about Umar ibn Khatab that he forbade the Ahlul Kitab women from entering the baths with Muslim women.

From Encyclopedia of Islamic Jurisprudence, الموسوعة الفقهية الكويتية:

ذهب الفقهاء إلى أن عورة المرأة بالنسبة للمرأة هي كعورة الرجل إل الرجل، أي ما بين السرة والركبة، ولذا يجوز لها النظر إلى جميع بدنها عدا ما بين هذين العضوين، وذلك لوجود المجانسة وانعدام الشهوة غالبا، ولكن يحرم ذلك مع الشهوة وخوف الفتنة

The madhab of the jurists is that the awrah of a woman with respect to another (Muslim) woman is the same as that of a man with respect to a man, i.e. from the navel to the knees, and it is permissible for her to see the whole body except for what is between these two. This is because they are of the same gender and usually desire or attraction does not exist between them. However if desire exists and there is fear of fitnah then it is haram.

From Mukhtasar al-Quduri:

وينظر الرجل من الرجل إلى جميع بدنه إلا ما بين سرته إلى ركبته ويجوز للمرأة أن تنظر من الرجل إلى ما ينظر الرجل إليه منه وتنظر المرأة من المرأة إلى ما يجوز للرجل أن ينظر إليه من الرجل

A man may see the whole body of another man, except what is between the navel and the knees. A woman may see of a man what a man may see of another man. A woman may see of another woman what a man may see of another man

From Tafsir al-Baghawy:

قوله تعالى : ( أو نسائهن ) أراد أنه يجوز للمرأة أن تنظر إلى بدن المرأة إلا ما بين السرة والركبة كالرجل المحرم ، هذا إذا كانت المرأة مسلمة فإن كانت كافرة فهل يجوز للمسلمة أن تنكشف لها ؟ اختلف أهل العلم فيه ، فقال بعضهم : يجوز كما يجوز أن تنكشف للمرأة المسلمة لأنها من جملة النساء ، وقال بعضهم : لا يجوز لأن الله تعالى قال : " أو نسائهن " والكافرة ليست من نسائنا ولأنها أجنبية في الدين ، فكانت أبعد من الرجل الأجنبي . كتب عمر بن الخطاب إلى أبي عبيدة بن الجراح أن يمنع نساء أهل الكتاب أن يدخلن الحمام مع المسلمات

The saying of Allah: (and their women) permits a woman from seeing the body of another woman, except for what is between the navel and the knees, like the mahram male (in Shafi madhab). This is in regard to a Muslim woman. Can a Kafir woman can see a Muslim woman? There is difference of opinion on this. Some said: It is also permitted as they are included in women النساء . And some said: It is not permitted for Allah has said أو نسائهن and Kafir women are not our women and are strangers with respect to religion and hence would be treated as stranger men. Umar ibn Khatab wrote to Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah to forbid the women of the Ahlul Kitab from entering baths with the Muslim women

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In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful

This is my first answer in this community. Hope the moderators look into it and rectify if any mistakes are there in the answer.

There is no specific hadith explaining the statement, but the closest hadith I could find is in Sahih Muslim; Volume 7, Book 40, Hadith 6840

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

Two are the types amongst the denizens of Hell, the one possessing whips like the tail of an ox and they flog people with their help. (The second one) the women who would be naked in spite of their being dressed, who are seduced (to wrong paths) and seduce others with their hair high like humps. These women would not get into Paradise and they would not perceive the odour of Paradise, although its frag- rance can be perceived from such and such distance (from great distance).

The Wikipedia statement is somewhat agreeable, but not completely because several scholars have explained it to know its better meaning, like for example:

It is not permissible for a woman to look at the area between the navel and the knee of another woman, except in cases of necessity such as medical treatment and the like.

This does not mean that a woman may sit among other women with all of her body uncovered except the area between the navel and the knee. No one does that except women who are promiscuous and negligent, or immoral and evildoers.

The words of the scholars, “The ‘awrah is the area between the navel and the knee” should not be misunderstood, because this does not mean that this is how women should always dress and show themselves among their sisters and friends. No wise person would accept that and it is not what the fitrah (sound human nature) calls for.

Rather the way a woman should dress among other women is in clothes that cover properly and express her modesty and dignity. She should not show anything except that which appears when she is working and serving others, such as the head, neck, forearms and feet.

There are several fatwas claiming the same explanation. Even some scholars have explained it so well, you can read the PDF from here and here

Sources for fatwas to read further: 1; read post #7 for answer and 2

Morever, some bloggers/websites have explained it clearly and will surely help to clear all your doubts. The sources are mentioned below: 1; 2; 3; 4

And Allah knows best.

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