In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Quran: Chapter 22, Wa Maiinyaqnut’, Sura: 33 ‘Al-Ahzab’ ‘The Confederates’, Verse: 55
Verse 55: It is no sin on them (the Prophet’s PBUH wives, if they appear unveiled) before their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their brother’s sons, or the sons of their sisters, or their own believing women, or their female slaves. And (O ladies), keep your duty to Allah. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Witness over everything.
Explanation by Ibne Kathir (‘Imad Ad-Din, Isma’il bin ’Umar bin Kathir b.702 Hijri in Basra, Syria– d.774 H/ b. 1301 Christian Era– d. 1373CE)
Relatives before whom a woman does not need to observe Hijab:
لَّا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِنَّ فِي آبَائِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَائِهِنَّ وَلَا إِخْوَانِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَاء إِخْوَانِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَاء أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ وَلَا نِسَائِهِنَّ وَلَا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ …
It is no sin on them before their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their brother’s sons, or the sons of their sisters, or their own (believing) women, or their (female) slaves. And (O ladies) have Taqwa of Allah. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Witness over everything.
When Allah commands women to observe Hijab in front of men to whom they are not related, He explains who are the relatives before whom they do not need to observe Hijab. This is like the exceptions stated in Surah An-Nur, where Allah says:
وَلاَ يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلاَّ لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِى إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِى أَخَوَتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّـبِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُوْلِى الإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُواْ عَلَى عَوْرَتِ النِّسَآءِ
And not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons, or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or their right hand possessions, or theTabi`in among men who do not have desire, or small children who are not aware of the nakedness of women. (24:31)
The Ayah contains more detail than this, which we have already discussed in the Tafsir of the Ayah and do not need to repeat here.
Ibn Jarir recorded that Ash-Sha`bi and Ikrimah said concerning the Ayah, لَّا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِنَّ فِي آبَائِهِنَّ (It is no sin on them before their fathers…),
I said, “What about the paternal uncle and the maternal uncle — why are they not mentioned!”
He said: “Because they may describe her to their sons, so it is disliked for a woman to remove her covering in front of her paternal uncle or maternal uncle.”
وَلَا نِسَائِهِنَّ (or their own women),
means that they do not have to observe Hijab in front of other believing women.
وَلَا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ (or their (female) slaves.
Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said:
“This means female slaves only.”
This was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim.
… وَاتَّقِينَ اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدًا ﴿٥٥﴾
And (O ladies) have Taqwa of Allah. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Witness over everything.
means, and fear Him in private and in public, for He witnesses all things and nothing is hidden from Him, so think of the One Who is always watching.
Notes by samia2010oct: This Verse is very easy to understand. In Quran addressing the wives of the Prophet Peace Be Upon Him is a way of addressing all Muslim women because all Muslim women look up to the wives of the Prophet Peace Be Upon Him as examples for their own lives. In the Holy Quran whatever order is given to the wives of the Prophet Peace Be Upon Him, is meant for all the faithful women who believe in Allah and His Messenger Peace Be Upon Him.
This Verse tells Muslim women about some people in front of whom they can appear unveiled. It is Big Sin, Gunaahe Kabira, for women to appear unveiled before Na Mahram. For further reading about ‘The concept of Mahram and Na Mahram’ please visit http://www.usislam.org/islam/Concept_Of_Mahram_And_NaMahram_In_Islam.htm