WHAT IS THE AWRAH FOR A MAN IN FRONT OF A MAN AND A WOMAN IN FRONT OF A WOMAN? A DETAILED EXPLANATION.
The awrah is the area that needs to be covered and it differs among men and women according to the situation. Lets examing how and when the awrah differs among men and women
1. Awrah for women in front of women .
Awrah for women in front of women is only the private parts. A girl who has Attained puberty need not cover any other area apart from the private parts. The evidence for this is in the below hadiths.
Narrated AbuSa'id al-Khudri:
The Prophet (sal) said: A man should not look at the private parts of another man, and a woman should not look at the private parts of another woman. A man should not lie with another man without wearing lower garment under one cover; and a woman should not be lie with another woman without wearing lower garment under one cover.
(Abu Dawud-authenticaged by albani Albani)
Abd al-Rahman, the son of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri, reported from his father:
The Messenger of Allah (sal) said: A man should not see the private parts of another man, and a woman should not see the private parts of another woman, and a man should not lie with another man under one covering, and a woman should not lie with another woman under one covering.
( Sahih Muslim)
Some scholars say by using the above hadiths that the awrah of a women is between the naval and the knee but this is not what is mentioned in these hadiths. Its only the private parts that are mentioned. Sheikh Salih Al Uthaymin said:
"With regard to her mahrams what she may uncover is the same as that which she may uncover in front of other women, so she may uncover her head, neck, feet, hands, forearms and calves, etc. But she should not make her clothes short".
(Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 12/276, 277)
The above fatwa of Imam Uthaymin is only his opinion and there is no evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah to prove that a women cannot wear a short dress in front of other women.
2.Awrah for men in front of men.
The awrah for men in front of men us the same as that women and that is the private parts. Its based on the same hadiths as mentioned above for women. Some scholars are of the view that the awrah for men is what is between the navel and the knees. This argument could be accepted if there are no opposing evidences but the truth is there are many hadiths stating otherwise. The hadiths proving that the Thigh is not an awrah is as follows.
Narrated by Aisha (rali):
"The Prophet was sitting with his thigh exposed when Abu Bakr asked, and received permission to enter. The same thing happened with 'Umar. However, when Uthman sought permission to enter, the Prophet covered himself with his clothes. When they left, I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, you permitted Abu Bakr and 'Umar to enter while your thigh was exposed. When 'Uthman asked permission to enter, you covered yourself with your clothes.' He said, 'O 'Aishah, should I not be shy of a man who, by Allah, even the angels are shy of'?"
(Bukhari,Muslim and others)
Some argue that in the above hadith, the narrator was not shure whether the prophet (sal) uncovered his thigh or his shank But the below hadiths clearly mention that the prophet (sal) uncovered his thigh to everyone implying the thigh is not an awrah.
Anas (Rali) Narrates:
"During the battle of Khaibar, the Prophet's gown was withdrawn from his thigh until I could see its whiteness."
If the thigh was an awrah the prophet (sal) would have never exposed his awrah like this. The other hadth is as below
Abu'l-'Aliyat al-Bara Narrated:
"Ibn Ziyad delayed the prayer. 'Abdullah b. Samit came to me and I placed a chair for him and he sat in it and I made a mention of whit Ibn Ziyad had done. He bit hit lips (as a sign of extreme anger and annoyance) and struck at my thigh and said: I asked Abu Dharr as you have asked me, and he struck my thigh just as I have struck your thigh, and said: I asked the Messenger of Allah (Sal) as you have asked me and he struck my thigh just as I have struck your thigh, and he ( Prophet (Sal)) said: Observe prayer at its prescribed time, and if you can say prayer along with them. do so, and do not say." I have observed prayer and so I shall not pray."
If the thigh was the awrah the prophet (sal) would have not touched it. Based on these evidences it is very clear that the thigh is not an awrah and this view was supported by scholars like sheikh Salih al Uthaymin,Ibn Jareer,Ibn Hazm and others.
3.The awrah for a women in front of mahram men such as father,brother etc.
As for what need to be shown for a women among the mahram men such as her father,brothers etc, Allah says n the Quran
'and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent , and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women”
based on the above verse a women can show her adornment to her mahram men. the word Juyubihinna in the above verse means to cover the bossoms.
There is debate on upto which part she can show her body to her mahram. But there is a hadith which clarifies this below.
Narrated by Muawiah ibn Haydah,
" I said : Apostle of Allah, from whom should we conceal our private parts and to whom can we show? He replied : conceal your private parts except from your wife and from whom your right hand possesses (concubines). I then asked: Apostle of Allah, (what should we do), if the people are assembled together? He replied: If it is within your power then no one will look at it, then you should try that no one can look it. I then asked: Apostle of Allah, if one of us is alone? He replied: Allah is more entitled than people that bashfulness should be shown to him (feel shy more to Allah than to people)."
(Abu Dawud and Tirmidihi and others and authenticated by Albani)
Based on the above hadith t i clear that the awrah for a women or man in front of the mahram is the private parts. Some scholars are of the view that a women may show her neck,hands, head to this category as mentioned in the verse mentioned above and not anything else but there is no sound evidence from the sunnah of our messenger (sal) stating such a thing and what is evident from the authentic hadith is that her private parts is what she should conceal. Another important thing that needs to be mentioned is that slave women need not cover their heads because hijab is only for the free believing women.
Anas (rali) reported: ‘Umar (rali) once saw a slave-girl that belonged to us (to Anas) wearing a scarf, so Umar poked her and told her: ‘Don’t assume the manners of free woman.”
(Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah-Graded Sahih by Albani in irwa al ghaleel)
Anas (rali) narrated:
“The slaves of `Umar (rali) used to serve us with their hair uncovered and hitting their breasts.”
(Baihaqi Sunan wal Kubra-authenticated by Albani in al irwa)
4. Elderly women who have passed child bearing age need not wear the hijab.
Allah says in the Quran
“And as for women past childbearing who do not expect wedlock, it is no sin on them if they discard their clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment. But to refrain is better for them. And Allaah is All‑Hearer, All‑Knower”
From the above verse a women who has passed the childbearing age and has no intention to marry can uncover her head and not wear the hijab in front of non mahram men. This also includes for women with or without husbands.
Apart from this a women can be naked in front of a blind man or a child who is not mature enough to know about nudity. Allah (Swt) says:
"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their khimār over their breasts and not display their beauty except to their husband, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex"
The prophet (sal) told Fathima bint Qays(rali) to observe her iddah in Ummu Makthoum (rali)'s house by saying:
"for he is a blind man and you can take off your garment.”
(Sahih Muslim and others)