What is the ruling on spouses wearing sheer and form-fitting clothes in front of one another?
Praise be to Allah.
The basic principle is that a woman may adorn herself for her husband, and he may adorn himself for her, each wearing whatever is permissible for them of clothes, perfume and so on.
Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable” [al-Baqarah 2:228].
Al-Qurtubi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The words wa lahunna (translated here as “And due to the wives”) mean that they have marital rights over the men as the men have over them. Hence Ibn ‘Abbaas said: I adorn myself for my wife as she adorn herself for me, and I would not like to ask for every right that I have over her, for then she will ask for every right that she has over me, because Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable” [al-Baqarah 2:228]; that is, adornment without committing sins.
Tafseer al-Qurtubi (3/123).
Similarly, the basic principle is that it is permissible for the wife to wear in front of her husband something that shows her ‘awrah, and it is permissible for the husband to do likewise, because the issue of guarding the ‘awrah is not applicable between spouses, or between husbands and concubines.
It was narrated that Mu‘aawiyah ibn Haydah al-Qushayri said: I said: O Messenger of Allah, with regard to our ‘awrah, what may we uncover of it and what must we conceal? He said: “Cover your ‘awrah (completely) except from your wife and those whom your right hand possesses (i.e., concubines).” I said, O Messenger of Allah, what if the people live close together? He said, “If you can make sure that no one sees it, then do not let anyone see it.” I said, O Messenger of Allah, what if one of us is alone? He said, “Allah is more deserving that you should feel shy before Him than people.”
Narrated by at-Tirmidhi (2794), Abu Dawood (4017) and Ibn Maajah (1920). Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi.
Based on that, is it permissible for the wife to wear short clothes for her husband, or sheer clothes through which the body can be seen, or tight clothes that show the shape of the body? The answer is: Yes, that is permissible. By the same token, the husband can wear similar things for her. As it is permissible for each of them to see the other naked, then there is no point in forbidding these features in clothes – being short, sheer or tight.
There follow some fatwas of the scholars concerning this matter:
1. The scholars of the Permanent Committee were asked:
Is a woman’s wearing tight clothes haraam or not, noting that her intention in doing this is to beautify herself for her husband only?
If the woman wears these clothes only in her husband’s presence, there is nothing wrong with that, otherwise it is not permissible, because they usually show the shape of the body, and emphasize the woman’s charms.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Razzaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Ghadyaan.
Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah (24/34).
2. In al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah (6/136) it says:
It is not permissible to wear sheer or see-through clothes if they show the ‘awrah to the extent that it shows the colour of the skin, whether it is white or red, either in the case of a man or a woman, even in her house. That applies if anyone other than her husband will see her, because of the evidence concerning that. In addition to that, it is contrary to dignity and is different from the way the early generations (salaf) dressed, and it is not valid to pray wearing such clothes. However, it is permissible for a woman to wear such clothes if no one will see her except her husband. End quote.
3. Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (may Allah preserve him) said:
It is not permissible for a woman to wear short clothes in front of her children and mahrams, or to allow anything to appear in front of them except that which is customary to uncover, in which there is no risk of temptation. Rather she may only wear short clothes in the presence of her husband only.
Al-Muntaqa min Fataawa Fadeelat ash-Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (3/170).
4. Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan also said:
Undoubtedly, for a woman to wear tight clothes that show the charms of her body is not permissible, except in the presence of her husband only. In the presence of anyone other than her husband, it is not permissible, even if that is in the presence of women, because it sets a bad example to others, and if they see her wearing such things, they may follow her example.
Moreover, the woman is instructed to cover her ‘awrah with loose and concealing clothes in front of everyone, except her husband. She should cover her ‘awrah in front of women, just as she covers it in front of men, except that which is customarily uncovered in the presence of women, such as the face, hands and feet, which are things that are uncovered by necessity.
Al-Muntaqa min Fataawa Fadeelat ash-Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (3/176, 177).
It is important to pay attention to other Islamic rulings having to do with short, sheer and tight clothes, for both spouses:
1. It is not permissible for a man to wear long garments that reach the ankles, because of the prohibition on isbaal (letting the garment come below the ankles).
Please see the answers to questions no. 762 and 97786.
2. It is not permissible for him to wear garments that are red, or dyed with saffron, or dyed with safflower. However, that is permissible for the wife.
For more details, please see the answer to question no. 72878.
3. It is not permissible for him to wear clothes made of natural silk; however, this does not apply to artificial silk.
Please see the answer to question no. 30812.
4. It is not permissible to wear clothes made from leather of animals of which the meat is not permissible to eat, even if it has been tanned.
Please see the answer to question no. 9022.
5. It is not permissible for either of them to wear the clothing of the disbelievers that is unique to them.
Please see the answer to question no. 108996.
6. It is not permissible for the wife to wear clothes that are worn only by men, such as the thobe and shemagh, and it is not permissible for the husband to wear clothes that are worn only by women, such as dresses and skirts..
And Allah knows best.