Pardah or an Islamic dress

Q419 :Why is it obligatory that women should wear pardah? Is it true that they have to wear it in front of men of their own age group? What about their relatives or other men?

A419 : The pardah is the name of a special dress which prevails in certain Muslim countries. It fulfills the requirements of Islamic dress, but it is not the only type to do so. In other Muslim areas, the pardah is not known, but Muslim women there have a little different type of dress which also fulfills the requirements outlined by Islam. What every Muslim woman should do is not to appear before any man who is neither her husband nor a relative to whom she may not be married unless she wears something which meets the requirements of Islam. She has to cover all her body, from head to foot, with the exception of her face and the lower part of her hands [arms], i.e. below the wrists. Her dress must be modest, somewhat loose so as not to describe the shape of her body. It is also important that her dress must not be transparent or eye catching. It should not be an imitation of the dress distinctive of non-believing women. Anything that meets these requirements is appropriate. There is no distinction between men of her own age group or other men. She must wear her Islamic dress in front of all people: young, middle-aged or elderly men. The only exceptions are her father, her brother, paternal and maternal uncles, nephews, her father-in-law, and men who have the same sort of relationship with her through breast-feeding.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )