Al-jawab billahi at-taufeeq (the answer with Allah's guidance)
A woman’s Awra (is that which must be kept hidden) whilst performing Salat consists of the whole body except the face, hands and feet. Allah Most High says: “O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel (Zeenah) at every time and place of prayer”. (Surah al-A’raf, 31).
The majority of the Companions (RA), their followers (Tabi’un) succesors, the four Imams, Jurists and Mufassireen (commentators) of the Qur’an have deduced from this verse (along with the other evidences) the obligation of covering one’s Awra in prayer. (Ahkam al-Qur’an, 4/205, Ma’arif al-Qur’an (English), 3/565).
Aisha (RA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who experiences menstruation (i.e. who has reached puberty) except with a head cover (khimar)”. (Sunan Abu Dawud, no. 641, Sunan Tirmizi, Sunan Ibn Majah and others).
The great Hanafi jurist, Imam al-Haskafi (RA) states in his renowned Durr al-Mukhtar:
“The Awra for a free woman (i.e. not a slave) is her full body including her descending hair according to the correct opinion, except for the face, hands and feet”. (Radd al-Muhtar, 1/405).
Therefore, a woman must cover herself properly when performing Salat. Everything besides the face, hands and feet must be covered. The face must be covered properly so that no hair is exposed. Also, care should be taken that no part from above the wrists and ankles is exposed.
It must be remembered that the Awra whilst performing Salat must be covered regardless of another person being present or otherwise, and regardless of whether one is performing Salat in dark or light. (Maraqi al-Falah, 210).
The feet, according to the more correct opinion, is not regarded as part of Awra. However, due to the difference of opinion with regards to it, it would be more precautious and advisable to cover them.
Finally, the Awra must be concealed during Salat and must remain concealed until the end. If quarter of a part/organ that requires concealment is exposed during Salat, then, if this remains to the duration of reciting Subhan Allah thrice, Salat will become invalid, otherwise, it will be valid. (Maraqi Falah, Nurul Idhah Pg. 66).
And Only Allah Ta'ala Knows Best.
Answer last updated on:
2nd November 2006
Ulamaa ID 04