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Women's issues » General Rules

A woman is allowed to keep her face and hands uncovered in the presence of a non-mahram man, provided that she does not fear of getting into a harãm act, that the exposure of her face and hand does not cause men to gaze at her in a forbidden way, and that it does not give rise to immorality in general. Otherwise, it is obligatory on her to conceal [her face and hands], even from those who are mahram to her. It is not permissible for a woman to expose the top part of her feet to a non-mahram onlooker. However, she is allowed to keep her feet —top as well as sole— exposed during salãt, if she is in a place where she is immune from the looks of a non-mahram person. A woman is allowed to use antimony (kohl) on her eyelashes and wear rings in both hands, provided that it is not intended for drawing lustful attention of men towards herself and that she is confident of not getting into a harãm act. Otherwise, it is obligatory on her to cover [the eyes that have kohl and the hands with rings] even from those who are mahram to her. It is permissible for a woman to go out, wearing perfume even if non-mahram men can smell her perfume; in so doing, she should not aim to arouse or attract such men. It is permissible for a woman to ride in a car by herself with a non-mahram driver as long as she is confident of not getting into a harãm act. It is not permissible for a woman to masturbate until she reaches climax and has discharge. If she did so, it is obligatory on her to perform major ablution (ghusl); and this ghusl will make up for wudhu, [if she intends to pray after that]. A woman who is barren is permitted to expose her private parts [to the doctor] for the sake of treatment, if she desperately needs to become pregnant and that failure to do so would place her in a difficulty of the kind that would normally exempt her from other obligations. “The baby should be breast fed by its mother because it has been mentioned in ahãdíth that, ‘There is no milk that a baby drinks more blessed than the milk of its mother.’ It is better to breast feed the child for twenty-one months; it should not be less than that. Similarly, the child should not be breast fed for more than two years; it is better, if the parents agree on weaning the child earlier.” (1) It is recommended for the wife to do the household chores and to provide the needs of the husband unrelated to conjugal matters like cooking, sewing, cleaning, laundry, etc. These things are not an obligation on her. “It is permissible to listen to the voice of a non-mahram woman without any sexual overtures. “Similarly, it is permissible for her to make herself be heard by non-mahram men except when there is fear of getting sucked into a harãm act. However, she is not allowed to soften or make her voice palatable to an extent that would normally arouse the listener, even if that person was mahram to her.” (2) “If a woman is in need of medical examination to treat her disease and the non-mahram doctor is better equipped to treat her, that doctor is allowed to look at her body and touch it if need be. If it is possible to treat her by either of the two methods (looking or touching), he [should restrict himself to one and] would not be allowed to use the other [method].” (3) Some scholars say, “In order to confine all kinds of sexual activity to wedlock and for the benefit of the husband, the wife and the entire family, Islam has imposed hijãb on the woman when she meets the men who are not mahram to her.” (4) Alfred Hitchcock, the famous movie producer said, “The eastern woman was very attractive by herself and this attraction gave her tremendous power. But by taking great steps in bringing herself on a par with her western sister, the eastern woman has gradually abandoned the hijãb; and this has gradually decreased her attractiveness [and hence her power].” (5) Will Durant, while discussing the sexual behaviour of women, said, “The woman knows that indecency leads to lower self-esteem and degradation, therefore she taught that to her daughter.” (6) In other words, by nature she is inclined towards decency and chastity; and that covering her body increases her honour and position in the eyes of men.

1 Sayyid as-Sistani, Minhaju 's-Saliheen, vol. 3, p. 120.
2 Ibid, p. 15.
3 Ibid, p. 13.
4 See Shaykh Murtaza Mutahhari, Masalatu 'l-Hijab as quoted in the first issue of al-Kawthar, p. 92.
5 See al-Kawthar; [Translator's Note: The quotation has been translated from Arabic. Original source not traceable.]
6 Translator's Note: Translated from Arabic. Orignal source not traceable.
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