Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Are the feet of a woman awrah? i.e do we have to cover our feet

A question that came up on my previous post about halal footwear (http://ilovehishmatheblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/high-heels-can-negate-ones-hijab.html) was the question, are the feet of a woman awrah? How, and in what manner did the Sahaba cover their feet? What is the evidence for covering the feet? And if the feet are awrah how can we go about this "stylishly" in sandals?:D C'mon now, admit the last one's the one you wanted to ask most, ha ha. But on a serrious note, I bet ya'll are most interested in what manner the Sahabiyat covered their feet, and where they got the notion that they had to.

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم ,
IS THE FOOT OF A WOMAN CONSIDERED AWRAH?
Um... yuck. About the photo I mean. No offense Aishwarya, but I don't wouldn't let that guy suck on MY feet.

The Prophet sallalahu allahi wa salaam said in a sahih hadith I have memorized but whose source at this very moment alludes me: “The woman is ‘Awrah, when she leaves [her home] Shaytān (satan - may Allah curse him) looks at her.” All of a woman is awrah. Awrah is an Islamic term that means "beauty". There are different kinds of beauty out there and in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) sexual beauty is termed "hard awrah". Hard awrah is what must be covered by our hijabs. HARD AWRAH IS WHAT IS COVERED BY THE JILBAB AND KHIMAR which are a fard obligation in the Holy Qu'ran http://ilovehishmatheblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/not-imitating-disbelievers-and-what.html. Jilbab is only fard (an obligation) for when one leaves the home, and within the home modest clothing sufficient for salat may be worn instead in front of non-maharam men [and consult the evidences to study this conclusion more in depth for I am not a scholar and this is my humbly educated opinion on the subject and Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala and His Messenger know best], though there are merits in wearing jilbab in front of non-maharam men at all times, even after you have reached the situation and age in life where the Qu'ran makes it permissable for you to remove your jilbabs. We know the following about feet, that they do not have to be covered in front of non-maharams, because of the following hadith: Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Prophet (sallalahu allahi wa salaam) brought Fatimah a slave which he donated to her. Fatimah wore a garment which, when she covered her head, did not reach her feet, and when she covered her feet by it, that garment did not reach her head. When the Prophet (sallalahu allahi wa salaam) saw her struggle, he said: There is no harm to you: Here is only your father and slave. (Hadith no. 4 Sunan Abu Dawud Book 32, Number 4094) . Fatimah R.A did not have to cover her feet or her head (and we know the head is an obligation of khimar to cover) so obviously since this is an issue and feet and head are mentioned in the same instance as things that away from non-maharam men could bring harm, the feet are part of the hard awrah as much as the head (hair, neck, ears, and in some opinions, face) is. This hadith does not make it clear if covering the feet was necessary for salat (prayer) but it does seem to say that there would be harm in the action if a woman failed to cover her feet in front of non-maharam men.
Although often taken as strong Islamic evidence that the face was never and obligation to be covered by those who fight niqab as being mustahaab or wajib/fard this hadith is popularily quoted on hijab blogs that support modest dressing but not niqab or jilbab: Narated By 'Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin : Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (sallalahu allahi wa salaam) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (sallalahu allahi wa salaam) turned his attention from her. He said: O Asma', when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands. (Abu Dawud, Book 027, Hadith Number 4092). It is unfortunatley not classed as sahih (authentic) because the chain of narration cannot be directly linked to Aisha R.A who it is attributed to. Narrated by Abu Dawud it is a mursal narration at the level of hasan which means it may be considered but not leaned upon for any fatwa which is why it is consequently quite useless in an arguement against niqab---or using it prove that the feet must be covered but that the hands might show. But if it were really from Aisha R.A it would prove that the feet had to be covered and that for women other than the Prophet's wives RA it was merely halal, rather than mustahaab. I am just explaining the importance of this hadith not be sahih so no one tries to bring it up in debate to prove something. This hadith actually is too weak to be considered deciding proof. Or believe me, I'd use it, he he he. My family are anti-niqab and I am anti-sock as often as possible in my own naffs.

The hanafi madhab though is of the opinion that the feet may show so it is a valid opinion. Their rulings comes from the following sources:

i) If the establishment of the nakedness is by the saying of Allah, the Exalted, (from the Qu'ran, translated), "And let them not show their beauty, except that of it which is apparent," then the foot is not customarily a location of beauty (it may be for a minority, but regulations are set according to the general rule), and thus Allah, the Exalted, has said, (from the Qu'ran, translated), "And let them not strike their feet in order to make known that adornment which they are hiding," i.e. the ringing of anklets, and this conveys that the feet themselves are of the beauty which is apparent. This is fortified by the fact that the Mother of the Believers, `A'ishah, said, commenting on the verse, (translated), "And let them not show their beauty except that of it which is apparent", "the toe-ring, a silver ring which is [placed] on the toes." [Narrated by Ibn Abi Hatim, as quoted by Ibn Taymiyyah in Hijab al-Mar'ah , p. 17.]ii ...INSHAALLAH ALL I WILL CHECK THE STRENGTH OF THIS HADITH If the establishment is by the Prophet's saying, "The woman is to be covered," along with it being established that some of her body is excluded due to hardship of [avoiding] exposure, then, by analogy, it should necessitate that the feet also be excluded, due to the corroboration of hardship. This is because she would be put to hardship by her foot showing when she walked barefooted or with shoes, for she may not always find khuffs or socks with which to cover them. Along with this, desire is not aroused by looking at the foot such as is aroused by looking at the face, and so if the face is not `awrah, in spite of the plentiful arousal of desire, then the foot is more appropriate to remain uncovered in view of the hardship associated with covering it. [See Fath al-Qadir : al-Hidayah with its commentaries, vol. I, p.225, and al-Bunayah , vol. II, p.63.] This opinion has been reported by al-Hasan [ibn Ziyad al-Lu'lu'i] from Abu Hanifah. Al-Marghinani graded it as the more authentic opinion in al-Hidayah , and Ibn al-Humam and al-`Ayni acknowledged this in their commentaries thereof. This view has been presented as the madhhab position by later texts, such as Nur al-Idah and al-Durr al-Mukhtar . Al-Thanawi concluded in I`la al-Sunan that it is sounder from the point of rationale. Some of these scholars voiced that the feet are not nakedness in that she is not required to cover them, but they are nakedness for the purposes of looking and touching, i.e. it is not permissible for strange men to look at or touch her feet.

But in the following sahih hadith, where men were clearly cursed and condemned to hellfire for dragging their garments on the ground in arrogance (showing off their wealth by a wanton display of how much fabric they could afford) women were allowed what men were nor ONLY in order to COVER THEIR FEET. Abdullah, son of Umar bin Khattab reported that Allah's Messenger sallalahu alahi wa salaam said: "On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will not look upon the man who trails along his garment in pride." There upon Umm Salamah (a woman of the Sahaba, may Allah be pleased with her) asked, "What should women do with their garments?" The Prophet sallalahu alahi wa salaam said: "They should lower their garments a hand span," (half their shins down). Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) further said, "Women's feet would still be uncovered." Allah's Messenger sallalhu alahi wa salaam replied: "Let them lower them a forearm's length, but not longer." (At-Tirmidhi)

This states that yet again, as in the case of Fatimah where her modest garment (similiar to an overhead abaya) did not quite hit the foot, that a woman's foot was to be covered when she left the home, to the extent that an exception to a rule was made ONLY for the purpose of covering her feet in front of non-maharam men in public. All of the madhabs are of the same opinion that the feet should be covered when in front of non-maharam men except for hanafi, because of the Prophet's (sallalahu alahi wa salaam) advice to Fatimah. Him saying that there was no harm in her feet showing in front of maharam men is taken to mean that the HARM AND THE WORRY is in the feet being exposed in the presence of non-maharam men, and this is emphasized by the allowance made for the Muslimah's clothing to contain more fabric than a man's garment even though women are just as subject to flaunting their wealth and social status as men are. An exception was made for their modesty, and that exception was made so that the feet, which are harmful to be seen by non-maharam men, could be covered. Ibn `Abidin reported this as one of the authentic views in Radd al-Muhtar. It may be noted that Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah, the Hanbali, also favored this opinion. He says,"And similar [is the case with] the foot. It is permissible for her to show it [in salah] according to Abu Hanifah, and [this] is the stronger [position], for `A'ishah considered it of the apparent beauty. . . . . So, this is an evidence that women used to show their feet initially, just as they used to show their faces and hands . . . . for they used not to walk in khuffs or shoes. [Moreover], to cover these in [salah] poses a great hardship, and Umm Salamah said, 'A woman should pray in an ample garment which covers the tops of her feet,' and so when she makes sajdah, the bottoms of her feet may show." [ Hijab al-Mara'ah wa-Libasuha fi al-Salah , pp. 17-18].

SHOULD ONE WEAR SOCKS? HOW DID THE SAHABIYIAT COVER THEIR FEET?
Not every one of the Sahabiyiat wore khuffs (leather shoes/slippers) or socks all the time or had the ability to afford them so those who say that the wearing of socks is wajib/fard are making legislation where Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala gave none to His Messenger sallalahu alahi wa salaam. If one is to examine the evidence FOR covering the feet we see no actual mention of the women of the sahabiyiat wearing khuffs or socks as part of their hijab. What we DO SEE from the evidences for covering the feet, is that the overgarment (jilbab) was used to cover the feet. The Prophet sallalahu alahi wa salaam said (of a woman's public clothing, which was the jilbab): "They should lower their garments a hand span," (half their shins down). Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) further said, "Women's feet would still be uncovered." Allah's Messenger sallalhu alahi wa salaam replied: "Let them lower them a forearm's length, but not longer." (At-Tirmidhi). And.. Fatimah wore a garment which, when she covered her head, did not reach her feet, and when she covered her feet by it, that garment did not reach her head. When the Prophet (sallalahu allahi wa salaam) saw her struggle, he said: There is no harm to you: Here is only your father and slave. (Hadith no. 4 Sunan Abu Dawud Book 32, Number 4094). So both Umm Salamah and Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with them) covered their feet in most circumstances with their jilbab. My opinion is, since Umm Salamah's feet did show when she was in sajood, the same way a woman who is a niqabi might have her face exposed during salat, there is no actual way to say that a foot may never show by accident, by what is "apparent of" as Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) her notes that "And let them not show their beauty except that of it which is apparent", "the toe-ring, a silver ring which is [placed] on the toes." [Narrated by Ibn Abi Hatim, as quoted by Ibn Taymiyyah in Hijab al-Mar'ah , p. 17.]ii the foot must be covered by the jilbab. If it peeks out when walking for a slight second, it is showing by what is necessary to expose but should not be left exposed BY the garment for long periods of time. When one is not moving, none of the foot should be seen. If the garment is too short for this, then socks must be worn, for in my opinion covering the feet must be part of the jilbab. This is what I believe was done by the Sahabiyat most sincerly. In conclusion, it is preferable and more precautionary to cover the feet with tights/socks even when wearing a jilbab to prevent the foot from showing when walking and making sajood but if the garment is long enough to cover the feet then one does not have the extra obligation of socks/tights. However, due to the existence of scholarly disagreement on some details, one who follows another opinion in good conscience should not be criticized. And Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala and His Messenger knows best.

I do want to add though that the Prophet sallalahu allahi wa salaam was not afraid or ashamed to talk about/or address the issue of sex, instances when it is halal, and instances when it is not, so I am going to be very blunt with my sisters here married or not, and even the very young girls should be aware of this information in the same way they should be taught not to talk to strangers as children. I had posted some pictures here and these were the tamest pictures I could find off of a foot-fetish site, of which there are many. They range from random pictures taken of women's feet on the street with the women unaware, of men and women licking feet, of women stepping on men (yeah, I'd do that too ladies if some guy tried to take a picture of my feet), of women massaging a man's sexual organ with her feet... Yeah. And forgive me inshaAllah for the horrible image that now be in your head but I think it is necessary to know what is out there in order to protect yourself from it. The police study how crimes are committed so that they can prevent them, so I thought you should know about foot fetishists before you decide whether or not your feet are awrah since there is alot of Islamic evidence to say that they are. I have removed them though, at the request of a sister whose opinion I care about, because she found them disturbing, but in case you can't envision how this fetish is, all you have to do is type "foot fetish" into google and some ugly things will come up.

Foot fetish, or podophilia is a medical term for a pronounced sexual interest in a woman's feet. It is the most common form of sexual preference for otherwise non-sexual objects or parts of the body.
[World Health Organization, International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, (2007), Chapter V, F65 Disorders of sexual preference.
^ Dobson, R. "Heels are the world's No 1 fetish." The Independent; February 25, 2007 ]

In order to estimate the relative frequency of fetishes researchers at the University of Bologna examined 381 Internet discussions of her foot fetish groups, in which at least 5,000 people had been participating. Researchers estimated the prevalences of different fetishes based on (a) the number of discussion groups devoted to a particular fetish, (b) the number of individuals participating in the groups and (c) the number of messages exchanged. It was concluded that the most common fetishes were for body parts or for objects usually associated with body parts (33% and 30% respectively). Among those people preferring body parts, feet and toes were preferred by the greatest number, with 47% of those sampled preferring them. Among those people preferring objects related to body parts, footwear (shoes, boots, etc.) was most preferred (64%). (And I totally am with them on this because my mother owner a clothing boutique for a few years and there was a man that came in and always stole ONE right pump and tried to take pictures of women's feet while he was in the shop).

[ Scorolli C, Ghirlanda S, Enquist M, Zattoni S, Jannini E A (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Researchadvance online publication 15 February 2007; doi: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3901547. http://www.nature.com/ijir/journal/v19/n4/abs/3901547a.html retrieved March 2007.]

In August 2006, AOL released a database of the search terms submitted by their subscribers. In ranking only those phrases that included the word "fetish", it was found that the most common search was for feet.

[AOL's Accidental Release of Search Data - The Sexmind of America. http://aphrodisiology.com/aol-sex-data, accessed June 2007. ]

ANOTHER MIRACLE ABOUT SCIENCE IN ISLAM---something explained by the Prophet sallalahu alahi wa salaam that we are just learning about now: Neurologist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran proposed that foot fetishism is caused by the feet and the genitals occupying adjacent areas of the somatosensory cortex of the human brain, possibly entailing some neural crosstalk between the two. Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala always know best, and sometimes we have yet to discover what He was already told us.

[Kringelbach, Morten. Bodily Illusions. http://www.kringelbach.dk/Preprint_Beagle_BodilyIllusions.html, last accessed Sept 2006.]

Foot fetishisms is so widely acknowledged by modern medicine that actual treatments exist in modern medicine to attempt to cure the condition. One is cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy seeks to change the patient's behavior without analyzing how and why it shows up. It is based on the idea that fetishism is the result of conditioning or imprinting which is wholly agreed upon in Islam, though Islam will also analyze how something occurs . Our sexuality is often conditioned by images and ideas in our societies and in Islam, we try to protect the image of sexuality, and leave it to the safe space between a husband and wife, not out in public. This is done by not engaging in sexual acts in public, and by covering what might be sexually attractive of ourselves. One possible therapy in Cognitive Therapy is aversive conditioning: the patient is being confronted with his fetish and as soon as sexual arousal starts, exposed to a displeasing stimulus. Today a common aversive stimulus are photographs that show unpleasing scenes such. Another possible therapy is a technique called thought stop: the therapist asks the patient to think of his fetish and suddenly cries out "stop!". The patient will be irritated, his line of thought broken. After analyzing the effects of the sudden break together, the therapist will teach the patient to use this technique by himself to interrupt thoughts about his fetish and thus prevent undesired behavior. This is what the jilbab is doing in Islam if a man is suffering from his brain sending confusing neural crosstalk. He is reminded of his role and modesty in Islam as soon as he sees the jilbab, which interupts the stimulus, and helps him to control and understand those brain patterns. Pharmaceutical treatment consists of various forms of drugs that inhibit the production of sex steroids, above all male testosterone and female estrogen. By cutting down the level of sex steroids, sexual desire is diminished. Thus, in theory, a patient might gain the ability to control his fetish and reasonably process his own thoughts without being distracted by sexual arousal. Also, the application may give the patient relief in everyday life, enabling him to ignore his fetish and get back to daily routine. But it doesn't actually solve the problem of the confusing brain patterns the same way cognitive therapy (already practiced by Islam---in a less jarring way than modern science has often done---"modern science" was historically big on painful stimuli such as electric shock treatement as aversive stimulus). (And THEY deign to call Islam barbaric---ha).Anyways... yet again, so my conclusion is that the feet are awrah in front of non-maharam men and that the sahabiayat used their jilbab (overgarments) to cover their feet (as in this picture above, then women are not wearing socks but you can hardly even tell---the foot is not entirely exposed at any period of time). If your jilbab does not cover your feet, then you should wear socks, but due to the existence of scholarly disagreement on some details, one who follows another opinion in good conscience should not be criticized. And Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala and His Messenger knows best.And for all those socks with those it can't be socks sandals girls, well right now it is a huge fashion trend, gorgeous printed tights or plain cute socks with peep toes, flats, and sandals. OF COURSE WITH US MUSLIMAHS, WE SHOULD HAVE A JILBAB OVER ALL THAT LEG SPELNDOUR! But you have to have been sleeping under a rock if you live by those old school style rules like no white after labour day (we're Muslims after all---what about hajj?!) and no socks with sandals is that kinda rule. I'll admit, if my jilbab is long enough to cover my feet and i live someplace hot, I am not going to go to the extra effort of wearing socks. I am not and uber-cautious person by nature. BUT IF my garments don't cover my feet, no matter where in the world I am, I am gonna be covering my feet with sock in front of non-maharam men, even if I have to wear thermal woolies: D Ha ha I hope not. I think it looks lovely unless I borrow my husbands tube socks. THEN it looks kinda lame, but with tights, it is always pretty. And when I buy black pantyhose I kind just snip of the legs and only wear those. I hate panty-hose waist bands. My socks are all tights and I keep the waistbands on the nice fun print ones (cuz I want them to last a long time) but staple black I just keep the legs on.
Yes, indeed, you have to have been sleeping under a rock if you missed out on the fact that all the runways are in tune with people wearing tights and socks with open toe sandals, celebs like Sarah Jessica and Gwenyth Paltrow in tights, and the girls on Gossip Girls making red tights a shopper's dream find. I don't follow ANY of this stuff (a hate trashy celeb gossip and I don't follow celeb fashion--I like runways better) and I STILL know about it:D I don't know why people think that Islamic clothing as per the sunnah is restrictive. It's not. Actually, you simply get to have more clothing than a non-muslim woman, or a Muslimah with bad hijab (and I am not saying if you don't cover your feet you've got bad hijab, just gotta add that because it is one valid opinion, though it is the minority thought among the four madhabs, it is STILL VALID all you harraam police).
Wouldn't these polka-dot tights just look daaaaaarling with a pair of black-bowed peep toe shoes, flat or kitten-heeled?

10 comments:

Iman said...

Thank you for this post! It cleared up some things.
And personally, I don't think it's necessary that you put a warning but you might want to put the picture as a link that sisters can click on, that way no one has to see it if they don't want to.
Jazakallahu Khair! :)

Boxie said...

ya finished reading it.. well my computer read most of it. Its so funny lessening to him (british guys voice) when he try's to say anything other then English. I like the post it was interesting. keep up the good work.

Aalia said...

THANK GOD u took those pictures away!! They scared me!!

Anyways I wear tights/stockings with my sandals! :-D

Pixie said...

Aalia: i still think they were necessary, cuz I'd still be flashing my feet if I hadn't seen 'em:D

Ayan said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you sis! :)

I really needed a post on this issue and appreciate all your efforts. inshAllah from now on I will cover my feet (either with extra long abaya or socks/tights).

VeiledSunset♥ said...

Salam,
Keep in mind that foot fetishist are not the majority of our brothers in God (or any men, for that matter). Considering that in Surat Al Noor, God says "...not display their ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof..." Foot fetishists are not an "ordinary" case. Feet are not typically sexual, and if some sick minded man wants to think of feet as sexual, that's their issue, not ours. I don't believe that I have to cover my feet. Socks are uncomfortable and often gross during the summer (who wants sweaty feet all summer long??!)

Pixie said...

Veiled Sunset: wa alaykom e salaam ramatullah wa barakto,

"Keep in mind that foot fetishist are not the majority of our brothers in God (or any men, for that matter)" LOL, of course, of that I am glad, but as I concluded, out of all the non-sexual organs (that means beyond the vagina, breasts, and butt) the feet are the most commonly cited part of a woman's body a man is likely to be attracted to, ironically. Beyond the mouth even. That is simply a fact cited by sexual researchers.

"...Considering that in Surat Al Noor, God says "...not display their ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof..." Foot fetishists are not an "ordinary" case..."

Surat Al Noor in this ayah is not elaborating on those who might see a woman but what may show on a woman. If you study what the companions said what may show thereof, they will say the jilbab, the hem of the garment worn under the jilbab, the rings on the hand, the kohl of the eye rim (but they did not say the face even). None of them said the feet.

But as I stated in this article, one manner of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) says the feet are okay to show.

Personally, I don't wear socks or tights or closed shoes unless it is cold out. BUT I AM on the opinion that the feet are awrah and must be covered, at that is majority school of thought, if not practice. I cover my feet with my jilbab. M skirts/abayas are long enough to cover my feet when I am standing, sitting, and walking at a normal pace. I never said socks are part of the hijab. But covering the feet was, according to the opinion of those who lived under the guidance of the Prophet sallalahu alahi wa salaam.

Feet are not typically sexual, and if some sick minded man wants to think of feet as sexual, that's their issue, not ours. I don't believe that I have to cover my feet. Socks are uncomfortable and often gross during the summer (who wants sweaty feet all summer long??!)

Gadgetgirl said...

I love the way u write. So funney with fatcs! =D

MakModen said...

Thank you so much for this post! I live in a hot and humid country and wearing socks are just so unbearable... I wear abaya and loose long pants inside that covers my feet, but I cannot stand socks. my feet are the sweaty type, I cannot stand wearing closed shoes all the time either... I've been walking around with guilt all these time... thank you so much for the lengthy explanation...

Habiba Kaba said...

IDk, i disagree with veiledsunset. I don't think a man should be labeled as a sicko if he thinks feet can be attractive. If that's the case, what about men who like other parts of women that women may not see as enticing. Also, a woman's feet can be used to describe or give hints to the rest of her. The same goes with a woman's calves and forearms. Most people know that you can tell a woman's bodytype and overall shape from their wrists and forearm shape and tone. So, the feet, particularly to the ankles, can tell alot about a women's body. BTW, thinking feet look attractive is different from a foot fetish, which is a physical and sexual thing. I