Q: Your Eminence, once we heard you mention that a woman who offers Salah with her hands and feet uncovered must repeat the whole Salah. Please clarify this matter for us, knowing that we are practicing Muslims abiding by Shari`ah (Islamic law). Since we have heard this ruling, my wife has been covering her feet and hands during Salah.
A: Scholars (may Allah be merciful to them) stated that a woman’s entire body is `Awrah, and thus she has to cover it all in Salah except the face. This is based on what was reported in the Hadiths from Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) that state that all a woman’s body is `Awrah.
Scholars differed as to whether the hands should be covered or not. Regarding the feet, the Jumhur stated that they should be covered.
As for the face, there is nothing wrong in uncovering it according to Ijma` (consensus of scholars). In fact, uncovering it in Salah is Sunnah unless there is an Ajnaby present. The correct view in this regard is that a woman when offering Salah must cover all her body except the face and hands. According to the correct scholarly opinion, it is not obligatory to cover her hands, but if she covers them, this is better in order to avoid the divergent opinions of scholars who hold that covering them is obligatory.
As for the feet, it is obligatory to cover them according to Jumhur because all a woman’s body is `Awrah and the feet are considered `Awrah. Thus, there is no reason to uncover them and they should be covered whether by wearing socks or long garments while offering Salah.
What I said and clarified more than once on the program “Nur `ala Al-Darb (Light on the Way)” is that it is obligatory for a woman to cover her entire body so that nothing of it shows. She should not wear something see-through. Her garments must be concealing, not showing her hair and body except the face; for it is Sunnah to uncover it if there is no Ajnaby present. As for the hands, scholars differed as to the ruling on them, but it is better to cover them. If a woman uncovers them, there is nothing wrong with this. As for the feet, as mentioned above, it is obligatory to cover them.
As for having to make up for the Salah, this is due to having violated one of the conditions of Salah by offering Salah without covering the feet. Therefore, if a woman offers Salah without covering her feet, she has to make up for it. But if she does so out of ignorance of the ruling, may Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) forgive her for what is past and she does not have to make up for the past Salahs.
It was authentically reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that: He saw a man offering Salah quickly. He called him and the man came and greeted him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him, “Go back and offer Salah, for you have not offered Salah.” The man went back and offered Salah as he had offered it before, then he came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and greeted him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) returned the greeting and said to him, “Go back and offer Salah, for you have not offered Salah.” The man again offered Salah as he had offered it before. When he had done this three times, he said: By the One Who sent you with the Truth as a Prophet, I cannot do any better than this. Please, teach me. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “When you go to offer Salah, perform Wudu’ (ablution) properly, face the Qiblah (Ka`bah-direction faced in Prayer), pronounce Takbir (saying: “Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]”), and then recite whatever you can of the Qur’an. Then bow until you are at ease in that position, then rise until you are standing erect, then prostrate until you are at ease in your prostration, then raise yourself and sit until you are at ease in sitting. Do this throughout the entire Salah.” (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) The Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered this man to repeat the presently due Salah and did not order him to repeat any past Salah, because the man was ignorant about the ruling. It seemed that the man was accustomed to offering Salah in such a manner; but because he was ignorant about the ruling, the Prophet (peace be upon him) excused him from making up for the past Salahs and merely ordered him to repeat the Salah due at that time. This indicates that whoever is ignorant about a ruling of Salah then becomes informed about it has to only repeat the presently due Salah. As for past Salahs, they are waived because of ignorance. This is what is implied by the Hadith, for the Messenger (peace be upon him) did not order the man who offered Salah incorrectly to repeat his past Salahs due to ignorance and because this entails hardship.
In the same way, if a woman is used to offering Salah without covering her feet out of ignorance about the ruling, she does not have to repeat the past Salahs, in sha’a-Allah, according to the correct scholarly opinion. This is because she is excused because of ignorance. Thereafter, she has to abide by covering her feet and the rest of her body when offering Salah. This excludes the face and hands as mentioned above because they are not `Awrah according to scholars. But if she covers her hands to avoid the divergent opinions of scholars, this is good as stated above.
Fatwas of Nur `Ala Al-Darb