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What is the minimum standard of purdah [veiling]?

Allah Almighty says:

And say to the believing women that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts, and that they disclose not their natural and artificial beauty except that which is apparent thereof, and that they draw their head-coverings over their bosoms.

(Surah an-Nur, 24:32)

In commentary, the Promised Messiahas wrote:

They should draw their head-coverings across their bosoms and should thus cover up their heads and ears and temples.

(Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, p. 45)

Allah Almighty says:

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers that they should draw close to them portions of their loose outer coverings. That is nearer that they may thus be distinguished and not molested. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.

(Surah al-Ahzab, 33:60)

Hudur said:

Coats should extend below the knees, this is also part of modesty.

(Address to Lajna Ima’illah at Jalsa Germany, June 2, 2012)

Minimum veiling is to cover one’s head in a way that the forehead, temples, ears, and chin are covered, and jackets should extend below the knees. However, this minimum standard is only of benefit if it is observed with the spirit of veiling. If the outer form is observed only as a formality, then immodesty finds a way to express itself despite these standards. Huduraba said:

Clothes of Ahmadi girls should be modest and not such that would attract people’s attention toward them. Don’t follow fashion trends that  would  attract  the  gaze  of  strange  men. I have come to know that some women have started to wear burqa‘ [long coat and head covering] that are embellished with very beautiful embroidery and then some have words inscribed on the back. Now tell me, what kind of purdah is that? The pur- pose of purdah is to divert the attention of others from oneself; to let them realize that one has a sense of modesty. But if burqa‘ are embellished with trims and laces and words are inscribed to get people’s attention, then this is not purdah, nor is there any benefit of such burqa‘. Regarding the question of makeup, if you want to apply makeup, you have to fully cover your face when you go out. In that case, it is not just a matter of covering your forehead and chin; you should wear a full niqab [face veil].

(Address to Lajna Ima’illah at Jalsa Germany June 2 2012)

Hudur said:

A Waqf-e-Nau came to see me and she was wearing a coat with sleeves that were only up to her elbows. This kind of purdah is of no use.

(Maryam, January-March 2013 Issue 5, p. 39)

Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba said that even if an immodest dress is being worn inside the house, it needs to be checked. Huduraba stated that there is a difference between wearing churidar1 pajamas and wearing tights of the latest fashion. The shape of the legs cannot be seen in churidar pajamas, while that is not the case in these tights. A full shape of the legs, starting from the ankles, can be seen in these tights (Maryam, January- March 2013 Issue 5, p. 39).

  1. Churidar are tightly fitting trousers worn by both men and women in the Indian subcontinent [Publisher]

This standard of veiling is a responsibility of every Ahmadi woman, and being a role model in this regard is the responsibility of every office-holder. Huduraba said:

Let me impress upon the Jama‘at administration that as a first step they should determine that there should be no woman office bearer who does not observe purdah. If they do not find any women in a particular chapter who are fully observant, then attach that chapter with another nearby chapter or assign the offices to those who are observant even though they may be less knowledgeable. In case there is no one in a chapter who is observant and there is no other chapter nearby, then disband that chapter altogether. I hope that, by the Grace of Allah, this extreme situation will not be found anywhere. By the Grace of Allah, there are many pious women in the Jama‘at who vie with each other in good deeds. If not in older women, I see many among the younger women who are free of hypocrisy.

Lajna Ima’illah Annual Ijtema UK, November 19, 2006)
Updated on January 3, 2019

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