Undergarments ?!?

As I was going around reading the blogs that I normally enjoy I caught this one about undergarments on ILoveHishma. I really can’t agree with what she wrote or her reasoning behind it. I don’t want to make a big deal out of what she is saying but I want to maybe bring another perspective.

The premise of the article is that a Muslim woman who wears hijab and overgarments should only wear long clothing underneight their overgarment, something which is suitable for salaat.

Unless I’m totally misunderstanding the article, I think this is what she is saying. She reasons this out by stating that the women of a sahaba prayed at home and prayed in their garments worn around the home, which they would then wear under their overgarment.

Yes this is probably accurate, but at that period of time most people owned only 1 or 2 items of clothing, for women this would undoubtly be a dress-like garment for around the house and another type of garment worn on top when outside of the women. There is a hadeeth about a husband and wife sharing the same piece of clothing or garment for going out because they were too poor to afford two garments. If anyone has the exact hadeeth I am mentioning, please share it. Clothing was a big deal during their time, everything was hand made and cloth was handwoven and therefore expensive.  They would wear their garments until they were worn out and then they would probably patch it. This was the norm around the world until fairly recently.

So I do not think this reasoning has much validity when it comes to justifying what should be worn under an overgarment.

As far as I can remember, I have never heard of any scholar from Sunnism, Shia’aism or Salafiyyah stating that a woman has to wear anything specific under their overgarment. From what I have been taught, all that matters is how you appear when you go out and that certain areas of the body are covered on both Muslim men and women. How you cover up is a matter of personal choice (jilbab, abayaah, long tunic, manteau, chador, etc) and what you wear under really shouldn’t matter at all. As long as your covered and nothing is sticking out, you’re wearing proper hijab. A Muhajabah wearing skinny jeans and a tube top under her jilbab or abayaah with her hijab worn properly is no more improperly dressed than if she were wearing a long gown under her abayaah. It comes down to personal preferences.  Some women prefer wearing gowns and dresses and will do so whether they are at home or outside of it, other women prefer jeans and a teeshirt.

To put it into a cultural context, here in Saudi Arabia many of the young women go out in a variety of different kinds of clothing. Some do wear casual jalabeeyas or skirts under their abayaahs but most wear PJ pants,khaki’s, jeans or even…skinny jeans and whatever kind of top strikes their fancy be it a tank top, teeshirt or a sweater and unless they take their abayaah off in the bathroom to do wuduh you are none the wiser. In Iran it’s a similar situation where most women wear knee or calf length manteau with pants and many top it off with a chador, yes you can see the pants usually sticking out, but you can’t tell what sort of a shirt she has on under their manteau.

I wanted to point this out because I don’t want any Muslim woman new to covering to be afraid of covering and think that you have to go out in a bazillion different long layers because there is a fear of not being covered up enough under ones overgarment.


15 thoughts on “Undergarments ?!?

  1. I completely agree with you, sister. I have a technical history book about textiles and it took about 300 weaving hours to make about one meter of cloth. One of the most important functions of women in most societies was to make cloth and clothes. Women spent their lives spending most their daylight hours spinning, weaving and sewing – and sewing was the least time consuming part. It is not a myth that a garment was expected to last three generation. The wealthy, up to modern time, wore layers and layers of cloth (you should see pictures of some of the royal Korean outfits!) to demonstrate their wealth.

  2. Yes! The wealthy had layers… I read this summer in a book about arab dress, too. Part of me wishes we had durable clothes like that, and that it wasn’t so…?… to maintain them with stitches and patches. I think it would be nice to shift back a bit, so that the cost of clothes reflected the labor that went into them, things that were well made rather than cheaply and quickly made, and that it would be ok to have fewer “outfits”.
    Personally, I prefer underclothes that I can pray in, at least on the bottom half. I really really hate all the changing I have to do, going in and out with the kids. I like to keep it as simple as possible, with out over heating under my abaya. So if I can take off my abaya when I come home, and then throw on a long circle khimar to cover my arms to pray, I’m good.

  3. Interestingly, this was the norm even in Europe and the U.S. until mass-produced clothing became affordable. Most people had clothes that they wore for farmwork and around the house, and had a nice outfit that they wore for church, weddings, etc. Both of these items would have been similar cut and similarly modest.

  4. “Unless I’m totally misunderstanding the article”–It’s very confusingly written. In the comments she says that you can wear a cleavage-covering tank and capris in front of other women, so I don’t think that she is saying you have to be completely covered all the time–just maybe that she likes to wear something underneath which she can also pray in. But maybe not, it is confusingly written.
    I personally wouldn’t be comfortable to wear capris, skinny jeans or a tank in front of other women or children because they do reveal too much shape. I have only read from scholars that clothing that is shape revealing, like pants and close fitting tops like tanks, should not be worn in front of anyone but the husband and very young children. I mean, the whole idea of being naked but clothed is about tight clothes–pants are especially revealing–so I wouldn’t wear those in front of anyone but the hub.

    • From my reading it sounds like she is saying a muhajabah sister should always wear long covering items under their overgarments because of the possibility of salaat in them, regardless of whether when she goes outside she is around men or women or both. yup, the writing was a bit confusing.

      But, I digress, I wouldn’t wear skimpy or form-fitting clothing around other women either, unless I was extremely close friends with them because that will open up the possibility of gossip, envy and of course…the evil eye! (auzhoobillah). I forget the exact details, but if I recall it’s perfectly acceptable to breastfeed in front of other women, hence your chest doesn’t need to be covered and amongst women as long as you’re covered from the navel to the knee that is acceptable. But, I am not entirely sure, these minor details sometimes escape me. Around mahrams you essentially don’t need to wear anything. Ive never heard of anything specifically being said about being able to wear very very little around husbands and small children. I had always heard that around mahrams-in general, be they young or old, it’s OK to wear as little or as much as you want because you can not marry them. But as far as children and non-husband mahrams go, I think it’s in poor taste to be half-naked around you’re them anyway, unless you’re bathing or something like this.

      Allahu alim

    • Also, which scholars say that clothing that is shape revealing can be worn infront of husbands and small children. I’m curious as every mazhab and marj’ah has different rulings on minor things like this. So it’s good to know.

      If anyone can bring rulings from their mazhab about this, please do! I’m going to go and inquire on a list I belong to about this.

    • Regarding awrat and what must be covered in Sunnism I found this on SunniPath.
      Awrah when you’re alone
      “It is necessary (wajib) (and recommended according to another opinion) in the Hanafi school, to cover one’s minimum nakedness (between the navel and knee for both men and women) even when alone. The exception to this is when there is a need, such as taking a shower, relieving oneself, or changing one’s clothes. Even in such situations, it is recommended to minimize the exposure. ”

      Awra in front of Muslim women
      “The Awra of a woman in front of fellow Muslim women is the same to that which is a man’s Awra in front of other men, i.e. from the navel up to and including the knees. ”

      Awra infront of Mahram’s (except husband)
      “it will be permissible for a woman to expose the following parts of her body in front of Mahram males: head, hair, face, neck, chest, shoulders, hands, forearms, and legs from below the knees. It will not be permissible to expose the stomach, back or any area which is between the navel and knees. (See: al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 5/328 & al-Hidaya, 4/461).”

      So that pretty much sums it up.

      This ruling is based on the verse of the Qur�an in Surah al-Nur:

      �They (believing women) must not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband�s fathers, their sons, their husband�s sons, their brothers, their brother�s sons, their sister�s sons or their women�� (24-31).

  5. Just found this from Ayatollah Khamenei – it was about wearing swimsuits in front of other women:

    Q: What is the rule concerning women’s wearing swimsuit in the swimming pools specified for females? Is their a shar‘ī limit for clothing?
    A: In front of other females, a woman is not obliged to cover more than her private areas. Therefore, there is no objection to her wearing swimsuit in the swimming pool which is special for women.

    I think it’s different in terms of Sunni/Shia though… like in Shia, for men the awrah is their private parts. I understand that for Sunni Muslims, it is from navel to knee. The awrah for women around women seems to follow the same thing – for Shia, private parts and for Sunni, navel to knee. Correct me if I’m wrong though, I haven’t studied the concept of awrah in Sunni Islam so I might be wrong.

    So I have really gone from your question… in terms of that, I don’t think there is a limit to what you would wear in terms of your mahrams/women, but I think that maybe it’s good err on the side of caution – so to follow the awrah (not showing private parts or navel to knee) for those who are not your husband or small children.

    • thank you for the info…yes, thats what I recall learning as well. That the area to be covered is the private parts and that the chest does not fall into that realm as breastfeeding infront of women is perfectly acceptable. No you didnt go away from my question, the ruling you provided is pretty accurate, and alhamdullah, I thought for awhile there my mind was going because I just could not remember which was considered awra for women.

      of course, as you said, it’s always a good thing to err on the side of caution and not overly flaunt your body in front of all your mahrams, because well…thats just strange…but it is, according to scholarly ruling OK.

  6. I think you completely misunderstood this post. The sister on that blog was simply saying, that whatever your overgarment is– it should be able to accomodate something that is loose underneath. This doesn’t mean that we have to wear something loose and covered from neck to ankle underneath the abaya/jilbab etc. it just means that the overgarment should not be tight. Some sisters choose to make their abayaat very fitted– this isn’t correct. The shape of the body should NOT be apparent while wearing an overgarment.

    Ilovehishma is just giving us something that we can use to check up on this– the fact that the sahabiyaat used to wear loose enough clothing around the house that they could pray in it— and an overgarment OVER these showing that it must have been very loose.

    Hope this helps.

    • Ahhh, OK, I thought she was saying that one had to completely cover in long loose clothing under the overgarment. I wish she could have been a bit clearer.

      yes, skin tight overgarments are definitely a no-no and incredibly tacky.

      • Ironically, the new post on this site echoes what was said on ilovehishma’s post on undergarments. You’re right though Umm Ibrahim, it was a bit unclear, and although this was the idea I was leaning towards while reading the article it was her comments in the comments section that really helped me to understand.

  7. I think she was saying that as well; though the article was a bit long-winded and not entirely to the point; that an overgarment should be loose enough to encompass loose clothing underneath; whether it is what is actually worn under or not. There is a certain group here, basically a sect who turn Islam into a series of abstract, highly politicised concepts, who insist jilbab is wajib but they almost make the jilbab a symbolic gesture; they say as long as its a dress like garment in a certain cut then this is the proper jilbab. Its what represents the jilbab as opposed to the jilbab itself. Even though many of their jilbabs are so tight and even see-through; that you could barely fit underwear underneath it. I can always recognise their sisters; and one sister you could clearly see her very skimpy underwear underneath, yikes. Several of the well known abaya/jilbab manufacturers in the UK (especially those based in London) belong to this political group/sect and you can see it in their designs, unless you buy several sizes too big (and most of them only do skinny sizes lol so you’d have to be a size 00) there is no way their dresses will qualify as jilbab.

  8. What “muslimah November 29, 2009 at 12:33 pm“ said is exactly what I meant:D Sorry for crazy schizo writing style LOL. The overgarment HAS to be loose enough to fit clothes sufficient for salat, and be worn when leaving the home. Inside the home, it may be sufficient just to wear garments sufficient for salat (even among non-maharam men).

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