Islamic Studies

What do I have to Cover for My Salah to be Accepted?

Asalamu alaykum,

Suhaib! A number of sista’z is saying that we don’t have to cover ourselves for prayers? Waz up with dat?

The Answer:

What a women must cover for her prayers to be valid

The Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] said,

“لَا يَقْبَلُ اللَّهُ صَلَاةَ حَائِضٍ إلَّا بِخِمَارٍ”

“Allah will not accept the prayers of a woman unless she is wearing a khimār [hijab].”

This hadith was related by Ahmed and the famous compilers of the Sunnan save al-Nasī.

A look at this hadith

Al-Tirmidhi said it was “a good hadith.” Imām al-Hākim said that it “Met the conditions of Muslim.” Imam al-Dhahabī concurred with al-Hākim. Ibn Khuzaimah and Ibn Hibān both considered this hadith to be sound.” See the footnotes of al-Talkhis al-Haibar fi Takhrij al-Rāfi al-Kabīr of Ibn Hajar vol. 1 pg. 665. Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyah print 1989. al-Shaikh al-Bāni considered it sound as well see hadith num. 596 in his Sahih of Sunna Abu Dawōd.

Not only should she wear khimār [hijab] but should also wear something that covers the rest of her body save her face and hands

When Um Salamah was apprised of the aforementioned hadith, she went to the Prophet [sa] and said:

أتصلي المرأة في درع وخمار وليس عليها إزار‏؟‏ فقال‏:‏ ‏”‏إذا كان الدرع سابغاً يغطي ظهور قدميها‏”‏

“Should a women prayer with a shirt, and khimār, with out an izār?” [a skirt that covers her from the waist down] The Prophet responded, “If her shirt is long covering the tops of her feet.”

A look at this hadith

This hadith was related by Abu Dawōd and al-Hakim the latter considering it sound according to al-Bukhari’s conditions with al-Dhahabī agreeing. See Jāmi al-Hadith of al-Suyutī vol. 3 pg. 452.

Imam Mālik
related it mawquf as noted by Abdul Haq, but Ibn Hajar said in Bulugh al-Marām that the hadith is raised to the Prophet [sa]. See Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihāyatu al-Muqtasid of Ibn Rushd vol.1 pg. 273 Dar al-Sālam print 2006.

Statements of the Female Scholars from the Companions

Ibn Rushd said, “The majority of scholars held that a woman must wear a scarf and a long shirt [that covers the tops of her feet] for prayers.

He writes a few sentences later. “This was also the fatwa of the female scholars of fiqh from the companions: Umm Salama, Āisha, Maymōnah saying, “If a woman prays without the proper covering, she must repeat her prayers.” [Note: that Malik held that she should make it up if the time of that prayer was still in]

Other Scholars

Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah

“It is incumbent upon a women to cover herself when she prayers alone.” (Majmō al-Fatawa vol. 22 pg. 109)

Dr. Attiyah Saqar al-Azharī

“It is agreed upon that a person is ordered to cover his/herself for his/her prayer to be valid even if alone.” (Fatwā Dār al-Iftā al-Masriyah vol. 2 pg. 28)

Dr. Wahba Zuhaylī

“A woman must cover her entire body for prayers, saver her face and hands.” (Al-Fiqh al-Islamiȳi wa adilatuh, vol. 1 pg. 665 Dār al-Fikir fourth edition)

And Allah knows best


About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • “Should a women prayer with a shirt, and khimār, with out an izār?” [a skirt that covers her from the waist down] The Prophet responded, “If her shirt is long covering the tops of her feet.”

    I know you just answered the question on the Hanafi mathhab, but in the Maliki mathhab, is it necessary for all of the feet to be covered?

  • Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah.

    jazakallah khayr yaa shk.

    can you please clarify on position on the following.

    sister wears a hijaab and a regular top covering down to middle of thighs, lower garment a semi-loose trouser/pants and socks covering ankle and feet

    1. While standing feet are not covered by garment from ankle down but covered with socks.
    2. In state of juloos, individual thighs are cleary identifiable, due to the pulling of the pants. (Just like men when praying their salah)

    Will prayers be accepted, right now we just workin on the sisters to get their prayers done in an acceptable manner. May allah guide us to that which best in his eyes swt.

    jzk allah lhair

  • Asalamu alaykum,

    As al-Sheikh al-Dardir mentions in Aqrab al-Maslik,a woman must cover everything save “Her face and hands.” Thus, the position of the school is that she's to cover her feet. As I understand, the position of showing the feet is strictly a Hanafi enterprise :).


  • Walakum Salaam WaRahmatullah,

    Shukran for the post – may Allah swt reward you.

    Suhaib you wrote in the post:

    “Allah will not accept the prayers of a menstruating woman unless she is wearing a khimār [hijab].”

    …but aren't the menstruating women exempt from praying during that time?

    Confused :-S

  • Assalamu alaikum,

    Sisters from the Indo-Pak subcontinent (who may otherwise wear a khimar with a jilbab over their clothes when out) often pray with a traditional shalwar kameez, which covers everything, yet the shirt is not extending all the way to their feet. Putting aside the issue of whether the feet should be covered (obviously many of them follow the hanafi opinion), is it acceptable to pray like this, when the shirt is only long enough to come down the knees? And how far does the khimar need to come down?

    JazakAllahu khairan.


  • Assalamu Alaikum,

    The term “menstruating women” (or in Arabic حائض) refers to a woman who has reached the age of menstruation, i.e. the age of puberty. So the meaning is that for a woman above the age of puberty, she must cover herself for prayer to be accepted.

    WAllahu a3lam.

  • InshaAllah Imam Suhaib will answer in detail, but I heard Dr. Talat Affifi, Shaikh in Azhar school of dawah, say that the looseness requirement does not apply in Salat if the woman is by herself. Allah knows best.

  • So they had socks back in the day? I've always wondered about that…. Did they wear cottony socks (sans elastic of course) or those kuffs? How easy was it to cover one's feet in the time of the prophet (s)? I just figured just sandals or just bare feet would be the most practical….
    Any Islamic archeologist out there?

    • I don’t think they wore socks. But the women used to walk with their dresses long enough to touch the ground.

      An ex slave of Ibraheem ibn Abdur Rahman ibn Awf asked Umm Salama (the Prophet SAW’s wife) “I am a woman who lets her dress drag and I walk in filthy places (so what should I do)?” Umm Salamah said that the Prophet SAW replied “What comes after it, purifies it”

      This hadith talks about purifying the bottom of a woman’s dress and how no matter where the woman walks on, her dress will be purified and fit to be prayed with once she walks away from the filthy area (as in, the dirt that comes after it, will purify it). It is interesting to note that this hadith mentions how women back in the Prophet SAW’s time used to wear their dresses, it was long enough that it dragged on the floor and covers the feet. So they didn’t wear socks but the y still covered their feet.

      For the hadith, see Nasir ad-Deen al-Albani, Sahih Ibn Majah no 430. Recorded by Malik, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.

      And Allah knows Best

  • AsSalamualaikum, can a women pray with veil??? If she prays with veil is it valid?? In some public area where there is no option to pray in public can she veil her face ?? Is this valid?

    JazakumAllah Khair.

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