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Given both girls and boys, who have reached an age of maturity are permitted to dress more freely around mahrams (such as around siblings & parents), is there any constraint to "dressing freely"?

For example, can males get to walk around shirtless and with above knee shorts or the women with tank tops and tight leggings in front of family mahrams?

5 Answers 5

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Any clothing that they wear must at least cover their 'awrah.

The 'awrah of a man with respect to his mahram women is the area from the navel to the knees, according to the majority.

The 'awrah of a woman in front of her male mahram is defined by the Quranic verse:

قل للمؤمنات ... لا يبدين زينتهن إلا

And tell the believing women to ... not expose their adornment except to their ... [list of mahrams]

Quran 24:31

This means that it is permissible to uncover her adornments in front of mahrams. By extension, it means that the body parts on which those adornments are worn can be uncovered.

The madhabs differ on the specification of these. Hence, the following can be uncovered according to various schools of thought:

  • Her face, head, hair, neck, hands (forearms) and feet. This is the view of the Malikis and Hanbalis, and some of the Hanbalis have specified that the calf can also be seen although looking at it is makruh. The evidence is that these are the areas adorned by tiaras, cosmetics, rings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets etc. so they are what is meant by the verse. And also because uncovering these areas is necessary during household activities.

  • Her whole body except the back, belly and the area from the navel to the knees. This is the view of the Hanafis. It includes the chest as it is adorned with necklaces and the lower legs as they are adorned with some types of anklets.

  • Her whole body except the area from the navel to the knees. This is the view of the Shafi'is, and is based on the consensus that at least this part is 'awra and based on the hadith:

    فلا ينظر إلى ما دون السرة وفوق الركبة , فإن ما تحت السرة إلى الركبة من العورة

    Do not look at what is between the navel and the knee, and what is below the navel to the knees is 'awrah

    Sunan al-Daraqutni and Musnad Ahmad and Abu Dawud

    This is the minimum 'awrah according to the vast majority, although Ibn Hazm has mentioned an even more lax opinion.

Additional considerations:

  • When performing Salah at home, a woman needs to be in complete hijab, she has to cover everything except her face and hands (and feet according to some madhabs). This applies even if there is no one except her mahrams in the home and even if she is alone.

    لا يقبل الله صلاة حائض إلا بخمار

    Salat of a women who has reached the age of menstruation is not accepted without a Khimar

    Tirmizi , Ibn Majah etc.

  • The permission of uncovering or looking at a mahram is conditional on safety from temptation and desire. If there is any risk, then the men and women should avoid looking at each other and should cover themselves fully.

    وأجمعوا أنه لا يجوز أن ينظر أحد إلى ذات محرم منه نظر شهوة

    The scholars have a consensus that it is not permitted for anyone to look at his mahram woman with lust

    al-Istidhkaar

  • The genitals can only be uncovered by a female in front of her spouse or owner (for a slave concubine) and must be covered in front of everyone else, including the other mahrams. Similarly, a man can only uncover his genitals in front of his wife or concubine.

    وقل للمؤمنات يغضضن ... يحفظن فروجهن

    And tell the believing women to ... guard their private parts

    Quran 24:31

    والذين هم لفروجهم حافظون إلا على أزواجهم أو ما ملكت أيمانهم

    And they who guard their private parts. Except from their wives or those their right hands possess

    Quran 23:5-7

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One must keep in mind that there is no awrah between a man and his wife. The evidence for that is Aaishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and I used to do ghusl i.e., from janaabah (impurity following intercourse) from one vessel, taking it in turns to dip our hands into the vessel.

I do no wish to post the entire link, but I read a fatwah that but between a woman and her mahrams, she has to cover her awrah and that it is not permissible to wear tight clothing, either in front of one's mahrams or in front of other women, if it is excessively tight and shows the womans charms. In another fatwah by Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan he says that it is not permissible for a woman to wear short clothes in front of her children and mahrams, or to uncover more than is customary in front of them of that which will not cause any fitnah. She may wear short clothes in front of her husband only. The learned scholar, who is now 87, goes on to say that undoubtedly for a woman to wear something tight that shows her bodily charms is not permitted, except in front of her husband only, but in front of anybody else, it is not permitted, even if it is in the presence of other women, because she could be a bad example to others if they see her dressing like this they may do the same.

As for men, the awrah is that part between the navel and the knee, although I think the Maliki mathab is a bit different on this matter.

Again, the rules of this message board do not allow me to post links, look up the article by Muhammad ibn Adam entitled "A Detailed Exposition of the Fiqh of Covering One’s Nakedness (awra)."

I hope this helps.

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  • There are no rules against posting links on this site. We only expect posts to quote or summarize the salient points so the answer doesn't become useless if the link dies. See also meta.stackexchange.com/q/225370/132874 and islam.meta.stackexchange.com/q/953/22
    – goldPseudo
    Apr 13, 2020 at 20:01
  • I am confused as I posted a link in another thread and was faulted for it by one of the moderators. I even provided a comment with the link.
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    Apr 13, 2020 at 20:09
  • If you have questions about site policy or how the site itself works, you can ask on Islam Meta.
    – goldPseudo
    Apr 13, 2020 at 20:46
  • @YanMala thank you for your answer. But given a lot of Islamic scholars agree that a woman's whole body is part of her awrah (except for the face and what is necessary)...should that mean you have to wear hijab and a full abaya? Or is the awrah of a woman restricted to what the Quran says, the area of the chest and the thighs? Apr 14, 2020 at 3:04
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    @EPICTubeHD The 'awrah of a woman in front of mahrams is different among the schools. It includes at least the private parts and the area from the navel to the knees, this is the limit among the Shafi'is. The Hanafis add to it the belly and back. The Malikis and Hanbalis add to it the entire body except the head\neck, hands and feet.
    – UmH
    Apr 14, 2020 at 6:17
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Assalamualaikum Sister you have to show the required modesty that is covering whole body except face and hand upto wrist even in front of Marham like - sibling, or son or other male relative. In front of women I don't actually know. In between husband and wife in private it's their wish. They can be wearing dress or remain undressed or in underwear or whatever they want in private only.No modesty is obligatory between husband wife in their private place.

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A Muslim woman can wear tight clothes (leggings, skirts etc) in front of her mahram men provided that it covers her awrah. A woman's awrah in front of her mahram men is her private parts. A woman's private parts are her vulva and anus [[1]. Recommended precaution is to cover the area between navel and knees. The portion of the dress which covers her private parts, should be made of thick cloth and should not reveals her skin colour. Tight clothes reveal outline of body shape of a woman. The body shape is part of 'zeenah' which a woman does not need to hide from her mahram men and her husband according the Quranic verse 24:30. Muhammad Jawad Mughniyya writes: "The schools concur that it is wajib to cover (the body’s) colour, not its shape" [2].

Some modern scholars opine that women should not wear short and tight clothes in front of mahram men as it might tempt them and can lead to 'fitna'. But some men lusting after their mahram women is the exception rather than the rule. Exceptions don't disprove the rule. The awrah of men and women is determined by Quran and hadith and is not subject to change with the changes of time and place.

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    The 'awrah of a woman in front of mahrams is different among the schools. It includes at least the private parts and the area from the navel to the knees, this is the limit among the Shafi'is. The Hanafis add to it the belly and back. The Malikis and Hanbalis add to it the entire body except the head\neck, hands and feet
    – Ahmed
    Jul 7, 2021 at 14:24
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I think this will depend on what is culturally appropriate. For example, in Bangladesh, women won't wear a hijab when around close or extended family (mahram); but will do so when going shopping or visiting - that is when they are out in public. Not every nation has the same rules here ...

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  • -1 Your impulse and the actions of some arbitrary group of muslims does not determine what Islam requires. You and those muslims could be ignorant, negligent or indifferent to Islam's teachings.
    – Qaaf
    Mar 30, 2023 at 17:40

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