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IslamQA: Can a Muslim woman show her hair and body before a non-Muslim woman?

Salam. Brother, what do you think of some scholars having an opinion which says that muslim women's awrah cannot be seen by those of non-muslim women, and that when they visit us home and if we're having a night over with them, we should cover ourselves like when we go outside? Jazakallah.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are different opinions on that due to the fact that there are no clear Quranic verses or hadith narrations that apply to it. According to the Ḥanbalī scholar al-Mardāwī (d. 1480 CE) it is permissible and has the same ruling as Muslim women before other Muslim women. The contemporary Azhar-educated Egyptian scholar Saʿd al-Dīn al-Hilālī also prefers this opinion.

However, scholars from the Ḥanafī, Shāfiʿī and Mālikī have all expressed the opinion that Muslim women should treat non-Muslim women similar to men in regards to dress code, meaning that they should wear the hijab before them.

Umar forbad non-Muslim women from entering the bath houses used by Muslim women. The Companion Ibn ʿAbbās says that a Muslim woman should not show her ʿawra to Jewish or Christian women since they may go on to describe the Muslim woman to their husbands (since they are under no religious obligation not to do that). So the problem many scholars have with Muslim women showing their ʿawra to non-Muslims is that they believe it will cause private information about a woman’s appearance to be made public by the non-Muslims.

Due to these considerations it is best to try to wear the hijab before non-Muslim women, but a person can use their own judgment and social intelligence. If a Muslim woman has a close and trustworthy non-Muslim female friend then that is different from her showing her ʿawra before just any non-Muslim woman. Some scholars such as al-Qurṭubī made exceptions for a woman’s non-Muslim maidservant, who was allowed to see what other Muslim women.

I cannot say what you should do regarding your specific question, but the above are the scholarly opinions on it.

Sources:

And God knows best.
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