Women past childbearing are mentioned in the Qur’an in Surat An-Nur. Allah Almighty says, “As for women past childbearing, who have no hope of marriage, it is no sin for them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show adornment. But to refrain is better for them and Allah is Hearer, Knower.” (An-Nur: 60)
Women past childbearing mentioned in the above verse refer to elderly women who are no longer of age to conceive children. Such women are known as al-qawa`id min an-nisaa’. As per the above-mentioned verse, there is no sin on those elderly women if they want to take off some of their outer garments that they wore in front of men as part of their hijab.
The above-mentioned verse indicates that there is no sin on old women if they do so, provided that there is no temptation or ill intention involved.
Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, states the following: Surat An-Nur contains many rulings pertaining to preserving honor, like, for example, prescribing deterrent punishments for aggression against honor and stating proprieties to be followed so as not to fall in the abominable sin of transgressing honor. In Surat An-Nur also, Allah commands women not to show their inner adornment that must be screened from all people except for those who are mahram (closely related), and from whom harm is usually unexpected. This is done to preserve the Muslim woman, her reputation, and her family’s reputation, in addition to protect society from chaos and corruption. Women are ordered to screen all their bodies with clothes that are neither describing nor transparent.
Moreover, there are opinions stating that showing the face and hands is permissible in case of the absence of temptation. These judgments concern young women, but as for old ones, Allah says, “As for women past childbearing, who have no hope of marriage, it is no sin for them if the
y discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show adornment. But to refrain is better for them, and Allah is Hearer, Knower.” (An-Nur: 60)
The above-mentioned verse indicates that there is no sin on old women if they want to take off some of their thick clothes they used to wear outdoors for protection and screening. In other words, they may take off the hijab (head covering) which screens their heads, first, because the hijab may be heavy on them at this age, and second because their white hair does not tempt whoever sees it.
Thus, there is no sin on them if non-mahram men see some of their hair. However, refraining from this and continuing to observe the hijab is better. But they may discard the hijab provided that they do not adorn themselves temptingly, as, for example, through using dyes, with the intention of drawing people’s attention to them despite their old age. This is haram (forbidden) because of bad intention.
Nevertheless, some scholars are of the view that old women should screen themselves completely just like young ones, and that the discarding of clothing mentioned in the above verse means discarding the garment or the cloak that is worn over the veil (head covering), but keeping the head screened. In any case, some matters should be taken into consideration in this regard: temptation, intention, and the effect of surrounding circumstances.