Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: The Islamic dress code for women as well as men entails wearing modest attire that is intended to preserve their human dignity, while concealing parts of the body that may invite undue attention from members of the opposite sex. Proper Islamic attire is meant to manifest purity and chastity, the same philosophy underlying the dress code for Christian sisters, monks or those who are in a convent.

This obligation and requirement is imposed in Islam on both genders. According to the teachings of the Qur’an, further explained by the Prophetic precedents, which together constitute the twin fundamental sources of Islam, both men and women are to do everything possible to guard their looks, actions and thoughts while coming in contact with members of the opposite sex. They are advised to avoid clothes that are tight, transparent, or that which reveals the contours of their body and invite attention from members of the opposite sex. For obvious physiological reasons, the requirements differ between the genders. With respect to the requirements for women, it is that any clothes worn must be loose (in terms of fitting) and modest while covering the entire body except the face, hands or feet up-to ankles when required for daily work.

The above dress code is based on the consensus among jurists and scholars belonging to all of the schools of jurisprudence that Muslims follow all over the world. The only difference of opinion among them pertains with respect to the permissibility of revealing face and hands, which, according to the majority, is perfectly justified for daily business and human interactions. This position is elaborated in all the works of the Qur’anic exegeses as well as expounded in the leading works of Islamic jurisprudence. Examples of the first category are the works of Tabari, Qurtubi, Ibn `Atiyyah, IbnKathir, while the works of the latter include those of Ibn Al-Humam, Ibn `Abideen, An-Nawawi, Shirazi, Suhnoon, Dusuqi, IbnQudamah, etc., the modern works of jurisprudence include those ofJad Al-haq, Makhluf, both ex-rectors of Al-Azhar, the preeminent Islamic University in the world, and Al-Qaradawi, Zaydan, etc., of the contemporary jurists.

It must however be pointed out that the above dress code for women is only applicable when women venture out to public space where they come in direct contact with members of the opposite sex, while they are free to wear what they choose in the confines of their homes with their spouses.

It is true that some Muslim men and women may or may not observe all of the above rules, but it must be stressed that those who are conscious of their religion would insist on them as an absolute requirement (as they are within their right to), and they would consider failure to be able to do so as a definite breach of faith. The fact that others may not live up to the ideals should not be used against those who wish to do so.