Tafseer Surah Nur Verse 60 (24:60)


In Quran 24:60, it has been said that old women are allowed to discard outer cloths without adorning themselves or showing their adornment to strangers.

The word adornment is not clear to me.

If it is ornament/jewelry then

Q1.1 Which things get exposed after removing outer cloths while ornaments are still hidden?

Q1.2 What is the logic in hiding ornaments even for an old woman?

And if it is hair, neck, feet, face, hands then

Q2.1 Which things get exposed after removing outer cloths while hair, neck, feet, face, hands are still hidden?

Q2.2 What is that cloth which is allowed to put off while keeping hair, neck, feet, face, hands hidden from strangers?

Q2.3 What benefit/relief will an old woman get by exposing that thing (answer of Q 2.1)?

Please answer


As Salaamu Alaikum,

Adornment in the verse refers to both ornament (jewelry) and the parts of the body which must be concealed. It is in this context the word ‘Zinah’ has been used in previous verses of the same Surah.

The verse states that there is no harm upon old women to discard their outer clothing in front of men who are Maharim and not Maharim to them.

However, they must not display their ornament. (Tafseer Ibn Jareer vol. 18 pafs 196, 197, Dar Ihya Turath Al Arabi Beirut 2001). It means that they must not display the bangles, necklaces, anklets that can be visible to others after they have removed their large outer sheet (jilbaab). (Hashiya As Saawi Ala Tafseer Al Jalalain vol.3 pg.147Dar Al Fikr).

It must be noted that the allowance for old women to discard their outer garment, does not mean that their bodies, necks hair etc. will be visible. It simply means that due to their old age where they are not marriageable and no one would have sexual desires towards them, they are allowed to discard their large outer sheet/garment (the jilbaab). However, they must wear their clothing like the loose gowns which conceal their actual body and its shape from being visible, and must also cover their heads with the khimar (hijab or head cover) (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 304 Amjad Academy Lahore Pakistan).

After removing the large outer garment, these old women must ensure that the bangles, anklets and necklaces that are on their bodies do not become displayed.  The ornaments are a means of attraction and if it is visible and displayed to men, they would look at the women who are wearing these. This itself would be a cause of fitnah. This is the logic in hiding ornaments even in old women.

The commentators have also stated that ‘without displaying adornment’ means that there is no harm upon the old women to remove their outer sheets when they do not intend to reveal their adornment to men.  Displaying the adornment means for a woman to show her beauty which is necessary to conceal. (Tafseer Ibn Jareer vol.18 pg.198 Dar Ihya Trurath).

Due to the fact that the large outer sheet (jilbaab) covers the entire body properly, leaving no possibility of any part being visible, when this is removed, other parts would be visible, (seeing that the woman would only be wearing a gown and the khimar or anything like this).

This means that in this case the face of the woman, and hands up to the wrists will become visible. At this, time it is possible that a woman’s intention of having these areas visible could be to show her beauty and make it visible to others, so that they would look at her. The verse tells her that the condition on which she is allowed to discard her outer garment is that she must not have the intention of displaying her beauty to others by wanting others to look at her.

As the great Mufassir Abu Hayan says, ‘There are many of those grey hair old women, who have a desire that their beauty become visible to others’. (Tafseer Al Bahr Al Muheet vol.8 pg.70 Daar Al Fikr Beirut).

As mentioned earlier, the rule in this verse was issued regarding a special allowance which was given to old women when they are in front of men. In this case, as mentioned by Imam Al Qurtubi, ‘they (the old women) are just like the young women with respect to covering the body, except that because of her old age, she has been given the allowance to discard the large outer sheet (jilbaab) which is thrown, or worn over her loose gown and khimar (hijab head cover)’.

Imam Al Qurtubi, the great Mufasir has also quoted the statement of the great Tabiee scholar Ata, who said, ‘The allowance of discarding the jilbaab is only when she is at home. When she leaves to go out (and exit her home), it will not be allowed for her to remove her jilbaab (outer garment). (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.12 pg. 283 Maktaha Rasheediya, Queta).

2.1          As mentioned before, the things which get exposed after removing the outer garment is the face and both hands upto the wrist.

2.2          The cloth/garment which is allowed to remove is what is known as the jilbaab. As explained by the commentators of the Holy Quran, Jilbaab is a long sheet that is pulled over the head and covers the face and hangs in front of the person. Hence, it will be an outer sheet that is worn over the khimar (cloth that covers the head) and hangs over the face. When the Jilbaab is removed only the face and hands up to the wrists become visible. The hair, neck, feet and arms do not become visible.

2.3          There is no benefit that an old woman gets by discarding the Jilbaab. But it is an allowance which Allah has given her due to her old age. If she wishes, she can practice upon it in accordance to the condition, and if she wishes, she may practice upon the original law of not discarding the Jilbaab. As stated by Allah, this is the best for her. Allah says in verse 60 of Surah Nur, ‘And that they refrain (even from this) is better for them.

And Allah knows best,

Mufti Waseem Khan