The following is a translation from arabic.
Question: In the book “Social System”, Third Edition, 1410AH in the chapter entitled, “Looking at Women” the author discusses the subject matter of what constitutes the dress of women in the public life. It is clear from the hadith of Umm Attiyah that wearing the Jilbaab is an obligation (Wajib) when she enters the public life and this is not the point of contention. The author uses the following ayah from Surah al-Ahzab to conclude that the Jilbaab is draped/drawn (yudneena) down to the floor until it conceals the feet: “.. to draw their cloaks (Jalabeeb) all over their bodies” [Al-Ahzab:59]In the explanation it mentions that the preposition min used here is not ‘partative’ (min al-tab’eed) but rather ‘explanatory’ (min al-bayaan). So they should drape their Jalabeebs down towards the floor. The question still remains: how is this used to conclude that the Jalabeeb must drape to the ground and not to the top of the feet?
This is further clarified when the hadith Ibn ‘Umar where the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said: “‘On the Day of Judgement, Allah will not look towards the one that trails his garment behind themselves in haughty pride.’ Umm Salamah asked ‘What are the women to do with the hems of their dresses?’ He answered? ‘Let them increase their hems the length of a handspan’ She enquired: ‘Then their feet will be uncovered!’ He then replied ‘Let them increase a fore arm’s length and no more’ ”. The questions that I have are as follows:How is the discussion of prepositions (min) used to conclude that the draping is all the way to the floor.
1. The term yudneena in the ayah which means to drape, is this ‘Aam or Mutlaq? Which means it’s the draping unrestricted until it hits the floor?
2. Does the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar restrict the term yudneena (ie. Making it Muqayyad or Tahksis) which limits how far down it should be draped?
3. What is our understanding of this hadith and how far down should the Jilbaab be draped?
Finally the paragraph after the hadith appears to be contradictory. On one hand it states the feet must be covered and on the other hand it states the feet need not be covered even if shoes and socks are worn.The ayah: “to draw their cloaks all over their bodies.” [TMQ. al-ahzaab:59]
Answer: The preposition (min) here is partative (lit tab’eed). This means that the lowering (irkhaa) and the dropping (idnaa) (of the jilbaab), if this is done for any part of the jilbaab then that is sufficient. I.e. if the woman extended even the sleeves of the jilbaab then that would be enough.
If the (min) is explanatory (lil bayaan) then it means that the whole jilbaab must be lowered and draped down to the floor. Hence the meaning is that the woman should lower her jilbaab to the ground such that the lower hem is draped down to the floor i.e. the dress that the woman wears is over her (normal) clothes. This is the jilbaab, which is long and drapes down to the floor.This is the correct meaning, i.e. the (min) is explanatory and not partative.The word ‘yudneena’ to lower is absolute (mutlaq). It affirms (muthbita) and does not negate (munfiya). Thus, the lowering according to the ayah required in the ayah is not restricted. So whatever insures that it is lowered i.e. reaches the ground then that is enough.The hadeeth of Ibn Umar has restricted the absolute (mutlaq) by a hand span as the maximum ie the hadith of ibn umar has restricted the lowering such that it does not exceed a hand span.
Our understanding of the hadeeth of ibn umar is in the following manner:
The man who wears a long garment and drags it on the ground i.e. wears a long garment which reaches the floor to show off to the people out of pride. Then this man has committed a haraam due to the qareena (stated in the hadith): ‘Allah will not look at him on the Day of judgement.’ The hadith gives the reason (‘illah) of the prohibition as being takabbur (haughty pride).
When Umm salamah asked the Messenger of Allah (saw) about the woman trailing their garments on the ground the Messenger (saw) informed her that it is allowed for a woman to trail her garment a handspan from the ground. Umm salamah said: ‘but the feet will be uncovered.’ Thus a handspan is not enough to cover the feet. (this is because when the woman walks or moves about her feet, if she does not wear socks or cover them, then her feet or part of them will be exposed). The Messenger (saw) allowed women to increase by a maximum of a forearms length. (This definitely insures that the feet are covered during walking.) Therefore, the required extent to which the garment should go down is that it should not exceed a forearms length.
There is no contradiction:
The ayah gives the meaning that the woman should drape down her jilbaab ie lower it to the ground until at least the feet. The one who wears a garment to her feet has lowered it. And the one who wears a garment going down to her feet ie reaching the ground then she has lowered her garment and the one who trails the garment on the ground by a hand span, forearms length, more or less, she has lowered her garment.
The hadeeth gives the meaning that this lowering has been restricted and given a reason (‘illah) with regards to women.
As for the restriction it should not exceed a forearm.
As for the ‘illah, it is that the feet should be covered.
This is because the extra part on the ground which the Messenger (saw) has permitted has an ‘illah as in the saying of Umm Salamah ( may Allah be pleased with her): Then their feet will be uncovered.’
The understanding of the ayah with the hadith indicates:
The obligation on the woman is to drape down her jilbaab to the ground such that the feet are not uncovered. She must drape down her jilbaab at least to the feet. This is because anything less than that is not irkhaa (draping down). She must cover her feet because they are ‘awrah. If the feet are covered by socks, shoes etc. then it is allowed for her to lower her jilbaab reaching the feet. If the feet are not covered then her garment should come down to the ground so as to cover her feet by one or two hand span to a maximum of a forearm.
From this it becomes clear that there is no contradiction:
Thus, the obligation is to drape down the jilbaab to the ground to cover the feet by a hand span to a forearm. If the feet are covered by socks then the lowering of the jilbaab does not have to cover feet which are already covered.
As for if the garment does not reach the ground to the feet as bare minimum then the woman will be sinful if she goes out in public life even if her feet were covered by long socks and trousers. This is because the jilbaab must be draped down i.e. it must reach the feet as minimum since this is what it means to drape down the jilbaab, otherwise it would not be considered draping down if the jilbaab is above the feet.