What Islamic proofs are there that all women must wear hijab in an Islamic state e.g. Iran?


What proofs are there from the Quran and Sunnah that all women must wear hijab outside of their houses in an Islamic State as is the case with Iran right now? What about non-Muslim women, slave women, etc. in the time of the Prophet (s) and Imams (a.s.)?


1. Islam is not a private and personal faith in the hearts of individuals or a mere practice in a mosque. All Islamic laws have individual as well as social aspects. Take the example of daily prayers as perhaps the most spiritual and supposedly individual act of worship. Yet, there is a great social aspect to you. Thus, congregational prayers are very much encouraged in Islam.

2. Hijab and modesty in general is for the purpose of maintaining a safe society in which men and women can interact in a professional and modest manner; a society in which women are not seen as sex objects by men, a society in which illicit sexual drives are minimized.

3. To obtain a modest society the Almighty Allah has ordered men and women to observe Hijab as mentioned explicitly in Surah al-Noor, and Surah al-Ahzab. The Hijab of men is to lower their gaze and guard their private parts, and the Hijab of women besides that is to also cover their bodies.

4. The social laws of Islam are not limited to Muslims only. All citizens of an Islamic state are required to abide by the Islamic law, or it will serve against its purpose. The title of ‘al-Dhimmee’ (living under an Islamic treaty) is given to People of the Book living in an Islamic country for the purpose of: on the one hand undertaking to abide by the Islamic laws, and on the other hand being protected by the Islamic state. Therefore, a non-Muslim is not allowed to publically drink alcohol as it is against the law of the land. Likewise, a non-Muslim woman is not allowed to appear in public with a singlet and short skirt as it serves against the second above mentioned principle.

5. There are some authentic narrations that allow a new Muslim woman to offer her prayers while her hair is not covered. Surely, the narrations are about women who pray in the privacy of their homes for the purpose of gradual introduction to Islam. Please refer to Wasaelu-Shi’a vol. 4, pp. 409-412. Sheikh al-Horr al-A’meli (the author) has collected 11 narrations in which the Imams (P) have allowed a new Muslim woman to pray without covering her hair unless if she so wills. The same ruling is mentioned about young girls under the age of puberty for the purpose of training them to pray.

6. You may wonder: if the law of Hijab applies to all women, then why does the Almighty God in the Quran state: “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the womenof the believers to draw their cloaks all over their bodies…” (33:59). Likewise, in Surah al-Noor the law is addressed to‘believing women’. These Ayaat mean the Islamic law of Hijab is an obligation on Muslim women as part of their faith, although the same law will apply to non-Muslim women who choose to live in an Islamic state, whether they believe in the law or not.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Follow-up Question:

I’ve used the same core argument as the above before in my discussion with some other people, but in the past I’ve faced a very strong counter argument. The counter argument was that in the time of the Prophet and Imams, slaves would walk around wearing very little clothing, and as per the shariah this is halal (the ‘awra of a slave woman is different than a free Muslim woman.) Furthermore, there is no indication that any law was made to enforce hijab on dhimmi (non-Muslims living in Islamic state) women in the time of the Imams or the Prophet, and in fact, as per the shariah it is halal to look at their hair and arms, if without lust.

If the argument given in the answer above is valid, why is it that the Imams and the Prophet did not act in a similar fashion? In fact, the evidence indicates that they acted opposite to this, at least in regards to dhimmi and slave women. Hence, if an argument is to be made for the validity of enforcing hijab, at most, it can only be in regards to free Muslim women. What are your thoughts?


1. There is no validated historical evidence that female slaves appeared publically without any Hijab. the most we have is about their prayers as I stated in the previous answer.

2. any suggestion that they were exempt from Hijab faces some problems:

a. it contradicts the Ayaat of Hijab, because obviously not all female slaves were non-Muslims. As we know some were Muslims and some not. The Ayah clearly makes Hijab obligatory in front of strangers on believing women- slave or free- so, the distinction of free versus slave is against the text of the Quran.

b. Hijab is not just an Islamic innovation. It used to be practied by the People of the Book and even Zorastrians (of Iran). What Islam had done was to complete and correct the practice after being distorted by the Jahili people. Therefore, at early Islam there was no such phenomena of women appearing in public semi-naked as of today.

c. Whatever has been the common practice at the time of the Imams (P) does not mean our Imams had endorsed it. Surely, the state was usurped from them and they were isolated.

d. The conlcusion of allowing non-Muslim women appearing in public as they wish in an Islamic society, will result in what we observe today in countries likes Lebanon and Eygpt; i.e spread of sexual corruption.

e. one of the comments non-Muslims have on us is: they only care about their girls, but they rape ours! The idea of enforcing Hijab (as a means of protection) on Muslim women, but not on non-Mulism women confirms those thoughts!

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei