Hijab for Slaves

Jun 14, 2023 | Miscellaneous, Women’s Fiqh


Assalamualaikum Wa Rahmat

I have question about hijab, I will appreciate your answer.

In islam hijab is mandated for women and we as muslims are taught that wisdom behind the ruling is it prevents or rather lessens the risk of muslim women from being molested considerably. Furthermore shariah requires muslim women to present themselves modestly whenever they move around in public.

I came to know when it comes to female slaves covering themselves it is not allowed for them to put a veil on their bodies like a free muslim woman. Some People quote the example of Umar(RA) I do not know if this report is authentic where it is stated that the 2nd Rashidun caliph once struck a slave girl for wearing a hijab, she was reprimanded for this action of adopting the manners of a free woman. It is also said that Imam Ibn Hanbal believed that slave girl is only allowed to cover certain parts of her body extending from breasts till her knees.

Growing up I have watched preachers like Dr. Zakir Naik defend the system of hijab whenever he is doing dawah and promoting islam in front of non Muslims, with reasons that hijab advocated in shariah is the best system that serves the interests of women and protects society from many harassment related crimes.

Is it true that a slave girl muslim or non muslim is not allowed in shariah to put on the veil ?

If hijab is mandated to promote modesty in society then why slave women are prevented from putting it on ?


When we look at the reasoning and wisdom behind rulings in Islam there are two separate concepts to take into consideration. The first is known as the ‘illah. The ‘illah is the basis for the ruling. If the ‘illah is found the ruling will take effect and if the ‘illah is not found the ruling will not take effect. The second concept is known as hikmah (wisdom)These are the additional wisdoms and benefits that may exist with a ruling. However, rulings are not based on wisdoms.

As an example, the ‘illah for shortening prayers is to be a traveller. Hence, as soon as one is considered a traveller they will shorten the prayers and when they are no longer a traveller they will pray their salat full. A wisdom behind the ruling of shortening prayers is to create ease and comfort due to the hardship associated with travelling. However, as mentioned before the ruling is not based on the wisdom. Hence, even if a person is travelling first class with a lot of comfort the ruling will not change and they will still shorten the prayers as they are a traveller.

To answer the question at hand, the ‘illah behind covering the hair for a woman is that she is mature and in the presence of non-mahrams. If these conditions are found she will have to cover her hair and if she is not mature or not in the presence of non-mahrams then she will not have to cover her hair.

As for the other elements, such as promoting modesty and protecting them from harassment, these are additional wisdoms which may apply in some contexts but are not absolute and are not the basis for the ruling as mentioned before.

From the statemen of ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) we know that a slave woman is not required to cover her hair. The jurists have mentioned that this is to differentiate her from free women but also to create a level of ease as she would often have to serve her master’s guests who would not be her mahrams yet she would be in her working clothes. Hence, to create a level of ease she would not be required to adopt the strict dress code that a free woman would have to adopt.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لِأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَنْ يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رحيما

ومنها أن ذلك أطهر لقلوب النساء والرجال، قال الله تعالى: وَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُنَّ مَتَاعًا فَاسْأَلُوهُنَّ مِن وَرَاء حِجَابٍ ذَلِكُمْ أَطْهَرُ لِقُلُوبِكُمْ وَقُلُوبِهِنَّ {الأحزاب:53}

مصنف ابن أبي شيبة (2/ 41)
عَنْ أَنَسٍ، قَالَ: رَأَى عُمَرُ أَمَةً لَنَا مُتَقَنِّعَةً، فَضَرَبَهَا وَقَالَ: «لَا تَشَبَّهِي بِالْحَرَائِرِ

الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (6/ 367)
وحكم أمة غيره) ولو مدبرة أو أم ولد (كذلك) فينظر إليها كمحرمه

قوله فينظر إليها كمحرمه) لأنها تخرج لحوائج مولاها وتخدم أضيافه وهي في ثياب مهنتها، فصار حالها خارج البيت في حق الأجانب كحال المرأة داخله في حق المحارم الأقارب، وكان عمر – رضي الله عنه – إذا رأى جارية متقنعة علاها بالدرة وقال: ألقي عنك الخمار يا دفار أتتشبهين بالحرائر هداية ودفار بالدال المهملة كفعال مبني على الكسر من الدفر وهو النتن

البناية شرح الهداية (2/ 132)
قال: وما كان عورة من الرجل فهو عورة من الأمة، وظهرها وبطنها عورة وما سوى ذلك من بدنها ليس بعورة؛ لقول عمر – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ – ألق عنك الخمار يا دفار أتتشبهين بالحرائر ولأنها تخرج لحاجة مولاها في ثياب مهنتها عادة، فاعتبر حالها بذوات المحارم في حق جميع الرجال دفعا للحرج.

البناية شرح الهداية (12/ 160)
قال: وينظر الرجل من مملوكة غيره إلى ما يجوز له أن ينظر إليه من ذوات محارمه؛ لأنها تخرج لحوائج مولاها وتخدم أضيافه، وهي في ثياب مهنتها فصار حالها خارج البيت في حق الأجانب كحال المرأة داخلة في حق محارم الأقارب. وكان عمر – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ – إذا رأى جارية متقنعة علاها بالدرة، وقال: ألق عنك الخمار يا دفار أتتشبهين بالحرائر.

Answered by:
Ifta Research Fellow

Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel