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question asked by kl from united states of america on 23-feb-2000.

title:
seeing the woman before marriage

question:

recently a man told me that he has the right to ask me to remove my scarf so he
can see me before we marry. i have read the same things he has and did not come
to that conclusion.

is what he said true?

assalaam alaikum

answer:

the qur'an has given the following directions regarding the etiquette of
interaction between males and females, who are not directly related to each
other (as given in surah al-noor 24: 27 - 31):

when entering a place of residence, permission should be sought from its


inhabitants.

male members should:


lower their gaze - this actually implies that they should not seductively stare
at the female members and should keep their gaze clear of all indecency.

wear a decent dress that adequately covers their private parts.

female members should:

lower their gaze.

wear a decent dress that adequately covers their private parts.

avoid provocatively displaying their apparels and adornments or bringing to


attention their hidden apparels and adornments. this directive does not apply to
such apparels or adornments, which are normally visible - for instance any ring
that a woman may be wearing.

spread their head-coverings over their bosoms, as a part of refraining from


displaying their apparels and adornments.

while walking, they should not stamp their feet on the floor in an attempt to
catch others' attention by the sound of any apparels, which they may be wearing
on their ankles.

as should be quite obvious, these directives are for the expression, inculcation
and development of the value of hayaa[1] in the individual. keeping this
ultimate spirit of these directives in perspective, we may conclude that neither
a man nor a woman should unnecessarily and provocatively expose any part of
his/her
body.

in this case, as in many other cases, the qur'an has given the minimum standard,
which must be followed under all circumstances. on the other hand, one of the
sayings ascribed to the prophet (pbuh) in which he is reported to have advised
asma (ra) about her dress, gives us an excellent idea of the prophet (pbuh)'s
teachings in this respect. the basic idea of the prophet (pbuh)'s advice was
that when a woman truly abides by the value of hayaa she would completely avoid
exposing even a slightest part of her body to catch the eyes of any member of
the opposite sex. thus, such a woman would keep all parts of her body, except
her face and the palms of her hands, covered. the emphasis here, it must be
remembered, is on exposing any part of one's body with the intention of
attracting a member of the opposite sex. this advice is neither a part of the
islamic law, nor does it hinder a woman from exposing any part of her body for
any other purpose, for instance tucking up her sleeves while working, or
exposing any part of her body while getting a medical check-up. furthermore, if
seen in the correct perspective, we shall see that although this advice was
addressed to a woman, yet the basic spirit of this advice does not allow us to
restrict it to women only.

a person may look at his prospective bride keeping the above directives in
perspective. as far as the question whether you should remove your scarf for the
purpose, the answer would depend on the nature of the scarf. if it covers your
face, there is no harm in removing it (from the face). however, if it is a head
cover, then it would seem more prudent and more in keeping with the directives
of the shari`ah to avoid removing it.

24th february 2000


[1] hayaa is one of the basic values that islam wants to inculcate among its
adherents - for the ultimate purpose of cleansing their minds, bodies and soul,
for success in the hereafter. due to a lack of an accurate synonymous in the
english language, i have used the arabic word, which, over here, implies 'the
suppression of sexual interaction with the prescribed limit and the avoidance of
instigating sexual attraction or being instigated by a sexual attraction beyond
this limit'.

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