I have read that slaves do not veil from strangers. I want someone to give a proper explanation of how does that reconcile with 24:31:

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their chastity, and not to reveal their adornments except what normally appears. Let them draw their veils over their chests, and not reveal their ˹hidden˺ adornments except to their husbands, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, their sons, their stepsons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, their fellow women, those ˹bondwomen˺ in their possession, male attendants with no desire, or children who are still unaware of women’s nakedness. Let them not stomp their feet, drawing attention to their hidden adornments. Turn to Allah in repentance all together, O  believers, so that you may be successful. — Dr. Mustafa Khattab, The Clear Quran

My confusion is that if a slave is a believer then she can not reveal her adornment except to the people in this list. Strangers are not in the list. How to explain this?

  • I hope you are not a pimp commercially allowing access to whoever you call your slaves. Commented Apr 23 at 22:06
  • @GyroGearloose Cut down on the offensive behavior, please. Commented Apr 27 at 19:38
  • @SyedM.Sannan keeping slaves is an offensive behavior to me, but I will try and restrain from mentioning that too often. Commented Apr 27 at 19:42
  • @GyroGearloose The question isn't about personal moral values, it's about the ruling of Islam. Islam allows it. What an individual believes / does on a personal level is absolutely none of our business. Please check the StackExchange guidelines once again. Besides the main point, it's EXTREMELY EXTREMELY unlikely that a person owns slaves today in this world and also has internet access. Commented Apr 27 at 19:43
  • @SyedM.Sannan did not the Prophet incite to free slaves? So it may not be haram to keep slaves, but still makruh. Commented Apr 27 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


Refer to Did scholars say that the awrah of a female slave is from navel to knee?

Most of the scholars hold that the 'awrah of a slave woman with respect to a stranger is more relaxed compared to that of a free woman. They hold that it is equivalent to the 'awrah of a (free) woman in front of her mahrams. The evidence of this is covered in the answer to the question linked above.

As for verse 24:31, the argument as I understand it is as follows:

  1. the verse is addressed literally to all believing women - believing women include slaves who are Muslims
  2. The verse forbids women from expose their adornments to strangers - with some listed exceptions
  3. strangers are not listed as exceptions for slaves
  4. Hence slaves must observe Hijab from strangers

The answer to this is that the ruling on 'awrah is not derived from verse 24:31 in isolation, rather it is derived by combining the various sources of law and by reconciling them with it.

The verse may be reconciled with the evidence on the 'awrah of slaves as follows:

  • The verse is implicitly addressed to free women only, it is not addressed to slave women
  • The list of exceptions in the verse is not exhaustive or comprehensive. There are other exceptions even if they are not listed explicitly within the verse.

Not addressed to slave-women:

Believing women (مؤمنات) might include slaves literally but what is meant in this verse is a significant sub-group of them and not all of them. For example it does not apply to minors or insane women, even though they are technically believing women. In the same way it does not apply to slaves who are believers. This specification is done due to the evidence on the 'awrah of slave women that is mentioned in the answer linked above.

There are a number of examples within the Quran where a general category is addressed but what is meant in the context is a more specific subset of them. To illustrate this I will present some other examples from the Quran:

  • The Quran says that a fornicator is to be whipped 100 times:

    الزانية والزاني فاجلدوا كل واحد منهما مائة جلدة

    The woman or man found guilty of sexual intercourse - lash each one of them with a hundred lashes

    Quran 24:2

    The word زانية literally includes every woman who has fornicated, regardless of whether she is free or a slave. But it is understood that the verse is specific to free women and not applicable to slaves. Instead, for slaves the punishment is half of that, i.e. 50 lashes as stated in a separate verse at another place:

    فإن أتين بفاحشة فعليهن نصف ما على المحصنات من العذاب

    If they should commit adultery, then for them is half the punishment for free women

    Quran 4:25

  • The Quran commands believing women to cover their entire bodies with a Jilbab:

    يا أيها النبي قل لأزواجك وبناتك ونساء المؤمنين يدنين عليهن من جلابيبهن

    O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves of their outer garments.

    Quran 33:59

    The phrase ونساء المؤمنين (women of the believers) literally includes all Muslim women, regardless of whether they are young or old. However the verse is implicitly understood to be specific to young women as there is a relaxation for very old women in another verse:

    والقواعد من النساء اللاتي لا يرجون نكاحا فليس عليهن جناح أن يضعن ثيابهن غير متبرجات بزينة وأن يستعففن خير لهن

    And women of post-menstrual age who have no desire for marriage - there is no blame upon them for putting aside their outer garments [but] not displaying adornment. But to modestly refrain [from that] is better for them.

    Quran 24:60

  • The Quran says that divorced women have to observe a waiting period of three menstrual periods:

    والمطلقات يتربصن بأنفسهن ثلاثة قروء

    Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods

    Quran 2:228

    The wording literally includes all women who are divorced, but it is known that here what is meant is a portion of them and not all of them.

    The word مطلقات literally includes all divorced women - regardless of whether they are pregnant or not. However it is understood that verse 2:228 is implicitly specific to ones who are not pregnant. The pregnant ones must instead wait until they give birth:

    وأولات الأحمال أجلهن أن يضعن حملهن

    for those who are pregnant, their term is until they give birth.

    Quran 65:4

    The word مطلقات literally includes all divorced women - regardless of whether the marriage was consummated or not. But it is understood that verse 2:228 is implicitly specific to those with whom marriage was consummated and for the others what applies is:

    يا أيها الذين آمنوا إذا نكحتم المؤمنات ثم طلقتموهن من قبل أن تمسوهن فما لكم عليهن من عدة تعتدونها

    O You who have believed, when you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, then there is not for you any waiting period to count concerning them.

    Quran 33:49

  • The verse about entering homes forbids us from entering any home that is not our own:

    يا أيها الذين آمنوا لا تدخلوا بيوتا غير بيوتكم حتى تستأنسوا وتسلموا على أهلها

    O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants.

    Quran 24:27

    The phrase بيوتا غير بيوتكم literally includes all homes that are not our own, but here it is understood to be implicitly specific to those homes which have owners. Regarding completely abandoned homes the rule is:

    ليس عليكم جناح أن تدخلوا بيوتا غير مسكونة فيها متاع لكم

    There is no blame upon you for entering houses not inhabited in which there is convenience for you.

    Quran 24:29

  • The Quran says that we can marry whomever we please of women:

    فانكحوا ما طاب لكم من النساء

    Then marry those that please you of women

    Quran 4:3

    The word ما طاب لكم من النساء literally includes all women whom one might desire. But it is understood that it is implicitly specific to some of them and does not include some others such as the mahrams, polytheists and women who are already married. Because there are other verses which make exclusions for them in other places:

    حرمت عليكم أمهاتكم وبناتكم وأخواتكم ... والمحصنات من النساء

    Prohibited to you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters ... and married women

    Quran 4:23

    ولا تنكحوا المشركات حتى يؤمن

    And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe

    Quran 2:221

Specification by the Sunnah:

Once it is established that the scope of a verse can be made specific then this specification can be proven from the Quran itself or it can be proven from the Sunnah as that too is a source of revelation.

يا أيها الذين آمنوا أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الأمر منكم

O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you.

Quran 4:59

من يطع الرسول فقد أطاع الله

He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah

Quran 4:80

I will give only one example of specification of the Quran by the Sunnah to illustrate this.

The Quran says:

والسارق والسارقة فاقطعوا أيديهما جزاء بما كسبا نكالا من الله

[As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah.

Quran 5:38

The word سارق literally includes every thief - even a child or an insane one. But it is understood that the verse is specific to one who is adult and sane and the hand of a child or insane thief is not cut because of the Sunnah:

رفع القلم عن ثلاثة عن النائم حتى يستيقظ وعن الصبي حتى يحتلم وعن المجنون حتى يعقل

The pen has been lifted from three: a sleeper till he awakes, a boy till he reaches puberty, and a lunatic till he comes to reason.

Abu Dawud

Similarly the word سارق is inclusive of every thief - regardless of the value of the thing which they have stolen, even if it is something worthless. However the verse is understood to be specific to a thief who steals something valued at above some threshold (nisab) because of the Sunnah:

لا تقطع يد السارق إلا في ربع دينار فصاعدا ‏ ‏

The hand of a thief is not to be cut off except for one-quarter of a Dinar or more.


Not exhaustive

The verse 24:31 is not exhaustive. It does not list some cases where women are permitted to uncover their adornments, such as:

  • In front of paternal and maternal uncles
  • In front of mahram relatives through breastfeeding
  • In front of son-in-law
  • In situations when uncovering is a necessity, such as when getting medical treatment or surgery from a male doctor when no female doctor is available

All those are accepted exceptions to the verse because of separate evidence. The case for female slave is also proven through separate evidence and hence should be reconciled in the same way.

Further also note that it is permitted to uncover everything - even the private parts - in front of the husband although this is not permissible in front of the other mahrams - yet this is not mentioned in the verse. Rather it says categorically to guard the private parts without any exception:

وقل للمؤمنات يغضضن من أبصارهن ويحفظن فروجهن ولا يبدين زينتهن إلا ما ظهر منها

And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof

Quran 24:31

While the permission of exposing private parts to the husband is implied from the separate verse:

والذين هم لفروجهم حافظون إلا على أزواجهم أو ما ملكت أيمانهم فإنهم غير ملومين فمن ابتغى وراء ذلك فأولئك هم العادون

And who guard their private parts. Except from their wives or from those (bondwomen who are) owned by their hands, as they are not to be blamed. However, those who seek (sexual pleasure) beyond that are the transgressors.

Quran 23:5-7

Hence the 'awrah for slaves would also be an exception - even if it is not explicitly mentioned in this verse - because there exists separate evidence for that.

  • Me also having a hard time answers a similar questions. If this is the condition in just matter of slaves how are these people even going to tolerate things which are in more complex like Aiding deviants against aggressive Kuffar or other subjects. Commented Apr 23 at 13:46
  • The cases you mentioned is when Quran says exceptions to another verse for some special cases. But a Quranic verse cannot be nullified by some other reports.
    – Shafeek
    Commented Apr 24 at 11:51
  • 1
    That is a rule of your own making and hence has no importance near me.The Sunnah is revelation just like the Quran. The Quran can be made specific by the Sunnah islamweb.net/ar/article/178495
    – UmH
    Commented Apr 24 at 11:57
  • ^ THIS! Even Prophetic intuition is considered revelation as the Prophet PBUH is, by consensus, infallible in the matters of religion and in the matter of committing sins, and according to a valid opinion, infallible in every intellectual matter as well. Unless there comes a Quranic verse chronologically proceeding the said hadith, marking its contents abrogated, authentic hadith are used just as much for rulings. Commented Apr 27 at 19:42

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