The Boundaries: Who Can See A Woman Without Her Hijab?

If there is a symbol that reflects the modest yet beautiful nature of Islam, it is the hijab. The Quran is very clear about the purpose of the hijab, how to maintain it, and of course the people who can see a woman without her hijab. But fact is that in today’s day and age, there is still a lot of misunderstanding about the attire.

So let us help you with the “who”. As you go through the post, you will surely end up with a good idea about who can see you without the veil, why it is important to limit who you show yourself to without a hijab, and the basis for the hijab in Islam. 

The Basis For a Hijab

The real reason behind a hijab is to help you stay in line with Islamic principles. It is to help with maintaining a modest and humble lifestyle, one that has been preached by Prophet Muhammad (SAW). This goes for both men and women.

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Also remember that a hijab is not a required attire in all Muslim nations. It is only mandatory in nations with Sharia law such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, etc.

Who Can See a Woman Without Her Hijab?

Firstly, a constant rule of thumb is that your immediate family is allowed to see you without your hijab. In any setting where it is just them, you can comfortably keep your hijab off.

who can see a woman without her hijab

We created a table to highlight the people who Islam considers acceptable, to see you without a hijab on:

AcceptableSomewhat AcceptableNot Acceptable
– Immediate family members
– Sons and daughters of immediate family members
– Husband
– Female servants
– Close women friends and acquaintances
– Nurses, doctors, and professionals with a valid need
– Small children
– Muslim women who are not close to you
– Female in-laws
– Selective female co-workers
– Very close male family members
– Young children
– Very selective male servants
– Random male strangers
– Male friends
– Male co-workers
– Fiancee
– Male members of husband’s family

Table: Who Can & Can’t See a Woman Without Her Hijab

Surah An-Nur talks about the hijab and the people who can see you, and here we mention the part specifically for women:

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.”

As you can see, the Quran explicitly mentions the members of the family and the people who are able to see a woman without her hijab. It slightly ventures out of the immediate family, and mentions that the sons of a Muslim woman’s siblings are also permitted.

In the case of men, Muslim women have to wear a hijab when they are not in the presence of immediate family members. You can do without your hijab In the presence of women as long as it is a modest female only environment.

Different muslim scholars may have different opinions on the exact guidelines, but the above guidelines are generally accepted.

There are certain exceptions to this rule as well. For example, women may feel comfortable around other close male relatives and as such may opt to not wear the hijab. There is nothing wrong with that. In the same way, just because a woman is in the presence of other women does not mean they should take it off. The environment should be one of trust and safety.

Is It a Sin to Remove the Hijab in Front of Non-Acceptable People?

If there is no valid reason not to, then it may become a sin. Say if you open your hijab out in the open and a man gets aroused seeing you, he will be at fault for not lowering his gaze, and you will partially be at fault as well for enabling the situation. Not to mention you are also taking away Allah’s protection upon you.

Our Prophet has been quoted in the hadith At-Targheeb wa’t-Tarheeb as saying:

“There is no woman who removes her clothes in a place other than her husband’s house but she has removed the screen between her and her Lord.” 

So remember many times before taking off the hijab, what consequences can be.

When Can a Woman Take off Her Hijab?

We say it again; unless there is a need to, women should keep the hijab on when in the presence of people beyond what is stated in Surah An-Nur. A woman can take off her hijab In the presence of other women, but you are still instructed to practice modesty. If the situation makes you uncomfortable then it is best to avoid taking it off.

But bear in mind that modesty should not come at the price of uncomfortability or a valid need. If you find yourself feeling sick, or in a valid situation where you need to take it off, then you have every right to do it.

For example, prominent Canadian Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmed Katty has said:

“If your medical condition requires that you should take off your hijab, you may do so until such time that your condition improves, without incurring sin.” 

He also touched upon safety in another fatwa and said:

“If you have genuine reasons to fear for your safety, then you are allowed to remove hijab while wearing modestly as best as you can.”


Does the Quran Say to Wear a Hijab?

Yes, most definitely. It is mandatory for Muslim women to be veiled when not in the presence of certain people beyond your immediate family members.

At What Age Does a Muslim Girl Have to Wear a Hijab?

A young Muslim girl has to wear a hijab once she enters puberty, typically around the ages of between 7 and 12.

Can a Man See a Woman Without Her Hijab Before Marriage?

The broad answer is no. A woman can only take off the hijab in front of her husband after the nikah. Prior to that we are recommended to practice modesty during whatever times you interact with your potential husband.

Is It Illegal For a Woman to Not Wear a Hijab?

No. However, different Muslim nations have different mandates about wearing the hijab. We recommend reading more about the laws for any country that concerns you.

Last Words

The hijab is a tool to help you be a better Muslim. The ones who can see you without your hijab have been set as such because they are usually trustworthy people. The additional guidelines are there to protect your modesty. But note that it is only when you are modest in thought, mentally and physically clean, and follow the 5 pillars of Islam, can a hijab bring out the best in you.

As you go through life with your hijab, you will surely figure the rest out. For now, remember who can and cannot see you without your hijab.


Talha Ubaidullah
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