Question: Can a woman take her ḥijāb off in front of a potential suitor?
Answered by: Dr. Yasir Qadhi
In the Name of Allāh ﷻ, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. All praise is due to Allāh, and may peace and blessings be upon His Messenger Muḥammad ﷺ.
The majority of scholars, including Shāfiʿīs, Mālikīs, and Ḥanafīs have said that a woman should not uncover her hair in front of a potential suitor.1 Their reasoning is that a man who proposes does not have a different status than any other non-maḥram man until the nikāḥ is done.
However, a group of Ḥanbalī scholars,2 including Imām Aḥmad himself,3 hold that it is permissible for a woman to uncover her hair and dress in normal clothes in the presence of a potential suitor, similar to how she would appear in front of her maḥrams. Among contemporary scholars, Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn4 and Shaykh Ibn Bāz5 allow looking at the hair of a potential future wife as long as one is not in seclusion with her. So, for example, if a man comes to visit a family with the intention of proposing, the lady may sit with her father and other relatives in front of this man wearing what she might typically wear if he were not present.
This opinion is based on a number of narrations from the lives of the companions of the Prophet ﷺ. The first is that of Jābir ibn ʿAbdillāh (rḍa), where he mentions that the Prophet ﷺ said, “If one of you proposes to a woman, if he is able to, let him look at her in a manner that which will make him want to propose to her.” Then, Jābir (rḍa) mentions that he himself saw a woman he was planning to propose to in her house clothes (interpretation of the narration).6 There is also a narration of ʿUmar (rḍa) where he looked at the daughter of ʿAlī (rḍa) while she was not fully covered, with the intention of proposing to her.7
This position would also allow for a certain level of beautification, akin to how a woman might present herself normally in front of her maḥrams. This includes wearing basic makeup and of course having her hair uncovered. Furthermore, she should not wear provocative or suggestive clothing; rather, she should wear loose clothing that covers most of her body. In such circumstances, both parties should look dignified without any indecency or overtly sexual clothing.
In conclusion, according to a group of scholars, it is permissible for a woman to show her hair to a potential suitor while modestly dressed (and this opinion is the one that make more sense in light of the goals of the Sharīʿah). It is important to point out that this is purely a matter of choice; if a woman does not wish to do this, there is no compulsion on her. Given the reality of our times, it is also highly recommended that some degree of compatibility be ascertained by both sides before entering into the nikāḥ.
And Allāh ﷻ knows best.
Disclaimer: This fatwa is the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of every member of the Fiqh Council.
- Al-Sunan al-Ṣaghīr 2356, Chapter of Nikāḥ https://app.turath.io/book/12415?page=2224 and Bidāyah al-
Mujtahid, Chapter on the Preliminaries to Nikāḥ, https://app.turath.io/book/21739?page=488 ↩︎
- Al-Inṣāf, Chapter of Nikāḥ, https://app.turath.io/book/19228?page=9089 ↩︎
- According to a Riwāyah found in Fatḥ al-Bāri, Volume 10 https://app.turath.io/book/1673?page=5151 ↩︎
- “حكم إظهار المرأة شعرها عند رؤية الخاطب لها” – https://binothaimeen.net/content/8832 ↩︎
- “هل يجوز النظر إلى شعر المخطوبة؟” – https://binbaz.org.sa/fatwas/23829/هل-يجوز-النظر-الى-شعر-المخطوبة ↩︎
- The Ḥadīth mentions, “I used to hide to see a woman I was interested in marrying until I saw her and liked her, then I married her”. This means that he was waiting outside her house, then saw her when she came out of her house for chores or something of the like, not knowing that he was there. The implication here is that she was not in her full jilbab or covering, as women wear ordinary clothes in their houses and often have their hair uncovered. See Abū Dāwūd 2082 https://sunnah.com/abudawud:2082 ↩︎
- Muṣannaf ʿAbd al-Razzāq 11194 https://app.turath.io/book/84?page=2966 ↩︎