Muslim Dress and Modesty
Both men and women are required to wear modest, loose clothing that do not reveal certain parts of their anatomy - thus naturally there is a difference in the dress codes for men and women, undoubtedly this will encourage modesty in behavior and attitude within and amongst the people. Nevertheless, clothing may also be used to enhance beauty whilst having dignity. Therefore, nudity or scantily clad dressed persons of either gender is considered shameless and unlawful in God's Message.
O Children of Adam! Indeed, We have bestowed upon you from on high [the knowledge of making] garments to cover your nudity, and as a thing of beauty: but the garment of God-consciousness is the best of all. Herein lies a message from God, so that man might take it to heart. [7:26]
Restraining the gaze and screening most of the bareness from the gaze of a stranger, especially of the opposite sex, and avoiding the causes where sexual excitement may arouse is actually mandated as a means to avoid falling into conduct that may lead to extra-marital or pre-marital sex. God says, And do not come near to fornication/adultery, it is a shameful deed and an evil, and opening the road to other evils. [17:32]
Furthermore, [Prophet], tell believing men subdue their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do.
And say to the believing women, that they should subdue their gaze and guard their nakedness [Arabic: Furuuj], that they should not display their adornments [Arabic: Zeenah], except what seems appropriate to her, that they should draw their gowns [Arabic: Khumur] over their garment slits [Arabic: Juyub], and not display their adornments [Arabic: Zeenah], except to their husbands, their parents, their husband’s parents, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their maids, or those whom their right hands possess, or male servants who do not desire them, or small children who are not aware of women’s need for privacy, and that they should not let their feet draw attention to what they conceal of their adornment (Zeenah). O you believers, turn all together towards God, that you may attain bliss.[24:30-31]
Apparently from the above verse, the injunction that they should draw their gowns [Arabic: Khumur] over their garment slits [Arabic: Juyub], and not display their adornments [Arabic: Zeenah], does not necessarily relate to the use of a khimar as such but is, rather, meant to make it clear that a woman's garment slits [Arabic: Juyub] are not included in the concept of “reveal, except what seems appropriate” of her body and should not, therefore, be displayed.
Traditionally, scholars have differed in regards to what may be exposed for both men and women based upon variant narrations (often contradictory) from ‘secondary sources’.
A Muslim male or female may adopt the interpretation of such scholars, but it is not meant to be sacrosanct. Often these interpretations were collated centuries after the demise of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
However, practically it may be inferred from the ablution parts of the body what constitutes as the parts that are acceptable to “reveal, except what seems appropriate…”:
O you who believe! When you get up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet up to the ankles. And if you are unclean, then cleanse yourselves. And if you are ill or on a journey, or any of you has come from the privy, or you have had sexual contacts with women, and you find no water, simulate washing then with clean earth, and wipe your faces and your hands therewith. Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to keep you clean and to complete His Favour upon you, so that you may be grateful. [5:6]
Nevertheless, every Muslim individual male or female must use his/her sincere discretion basing his/her motive upon the guidance of God alone, and not peer pressure from the ‘clergy’ nor from ‘secular liberals.’
O" you believers, turn all together towards God, that you may attain bliss."
"but the garment of God-consciousness is the best of all. Herein lies a message from God, so that man might take it to heart."
God Almighty, uses flexible language, to allow culture, climate, circumstances, social dynamics and other variables play a role in their discretion in following God's guidance.
And Allah knows best
For Younger Readers
God teaches in the Quran, the holy book of Muslims that:
Both believing Men and Women must be Mindful of God and have Modesty in their attitude, conduct and dress.
It is the responsbility of each and everyone to follow God's guidance in using his/her discretion.