What is the meaning of “awrat parts”? How to cover oneself in order to obey it during namâz?
ANSWERThose parts of a discreet and pubescent person’s body that are harâm [prohibited] for him/her to leave uncovered during the performance of a namâz and/or whenever in company, and which are equally harâm for others to look at, are called awrat parts. Men and women were commanded to cover their awrat parts through the Sûras of Ahzâb and Nûr, which were revealed in the third year of the Hegira. In the Hanafî and Shâfi’î Madhhabs, a man’s awrat parts for namâz are between his navel and lower parts of his knees. The knees are awrat in the Hanafî and the navel is awrat in the Shâfi’î. The namâz performed with these parts open is not acceptable. When performing the namâz, it is sunnat for men to cover their other parts [arms, head, and feet]. It is makrûh for them to perform the namâz with these parts exposed.
As for women, their all parts, except their palms and faces, including their wrists, outer parts of their hands, their hair and feet are awrat for namâz in the four madhhabs. There are also valuable books saying that outer parts of hands are not awrat. According to them, it is permissible for women to perform namâz while outer parts of their hands up to wrists are bare. But, for having followed all the books, it is better for women to perform namâz wearing a gown with sleeves long enough, or a head cover large enough, to cover their hands. If one-fourth of a man’s or woman’s awrat part remains bare as long as one rukn, the namâz becomes annulled. If a smaller part remains exposed, the namâz does not become nullified. Thin tissue that lets the shape or colour of the thing under it be seen is equal to none.
When a sick person who lies naked under a blanket performs namâz by signs with his head inside the blanket, he has performed it naked. If he performs it keeping his head outside the blanket, he will have performed it by covering himself, which is acceptable.
When alone and not performing namâz, it is fard for women to cover between their knees and navels, wâjib to cover their backs and bellies, and adab to cover their other parts.
It is harâm for men to look at the awrat parts of other men and for women to look at those of other women. As it is harâm for men to look at women’s awrat parts and vice versa, so it is equally harâm for men and women to look at the awrat parts of their own sexes. A man’s part of awrat for other men are the same as those of a woman for other women: the area between the knees and navel. In the Hanafî Madhhab, the knees are awrat, but the navel is not awrat. Likewise, the awrat parts of a woman for other women are as such. A woman’s parts of awrat for men nâ-mahram to her, on the other hand, are all her body with the exception of the hands and face. It is harâm to look at the awrat parts of nâ-mahram women even without the feeling of lust.
[mahram: one of the eighteen women whom Islam has prescribed as a man’s close relatives, and vice versa; nâ-mahram: not one of the eighteen women whom Islam has prescribed as a man’s close relatives, and vice versa.] It is purported in the Qur’ân al-karîm:
(O My Messenger, “sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam”! Tell the Believers not to look at harâms and to protect their awrat parts against harâms! Tell those women who have îmân not to look at harâms and to protect their awrat parts from committing harâms.) [Sûrat-un-Nûr 30]
It is stated in hadîth-i sharîfs:
(The eyes of a person who looks at a nâ-mahram woman lustfully will be filled with fire and he will be flung down into Hell. The arms of a person who shakes hands with a nâ-mahram woman will be tied around his neck and then he will be sent down to Hell. Those who talk with a nâ-mahram woman lustfully without any necessity will remain in Hell a thousand years for each word.) [Riyâd-un-nâsihîn]
(Looking at one’s neighbour’s wife or at one’s friends’ wives is ten times as sinful as looking at nâ-mahram women. Looking at married women is one thousand times as sinful as looking at girls. So are the sins of fornication.) [Riyâd-un-nâsihîn]
(On the Day of Judgment, melted hot lead will be poured into the eyes of those who look lustfully at the faces of women who are nâ-mahram to them.) [Majma’ul-anhur]
(If a person, upon seeing a nâ-mahram girl, fears Allah’s torment and turns his face away from her, Allahu ta’âlâ will make him enjoy the taste of worships.) [Hâkim, Bayhaqî, Abû Dâwud]
A man, if he feels secure of lust, can look at the heads, faces, necks, arms, legs below the knees of the eighteen women who are harâm for him to marry by nikâh [Islamic marriage contract]. He cannot look at their breasts, at spaces under their arms, at their flanks, thighs, knees, or upper parts of their back.
Paternal and maternal uncles’ or paternal or maternal aunts’ sons are not mahram to a woman. The situation is the same with brothers-in-law of a woman. It is harâm for her to talk to them, joke with one another, or to stay alone [halwat] with them in the same room. It is, in turn, harâm for a man to talk to his sisters-in-law and paternal or maternal uncles’ and paternal or maternal aunts’ daughters.
It is etarnally harâm for a man to marry eighteen mahram women. He can talk to and stay alone with them in the same room. A woman, in the same way, cannot marry eighteen mahram men.
It is gravely sinful for women to go out with bare head, hair, arms and legs, to let their voice be heard by nâ-mahram men without necessity, to sing to them, to let them hear their voices through films or records or by reading the Qurân-al karîm or by reciting the mawlid or the adhân.
Seven or ten year old attractive girls as well as all girls who have reached the age of fifteen or the age of puberty are equivalents to women. It is harâm for such girls to show themselves with bare head, hair, arms and legs to nâ-mahram men, or to sing to them, or to talk to them softly and gracefully. Women are permitted to talk to nâ-mahram men seriously in a manner that will not cause fitna when there is necessity such as buying and selling.
It is harâm for women and girls to go out with dresses that are thin or tight or of fur, wearing their ornaments such as ear-rings and bracelets without covering them, wearing like men, cutting their hair short like men. Therefore, it is not permissible for them to wear trousers, not even ample ones. Trousers are men’s clothing.
It is declared in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(Those women who dress themselves like men and those men who ornament themselves like women are accursed.) [Targhîb-us-salât]