Is the hair of the woman a ‘aurat’?
Question:

I was told by an Imam that women's hair is a ‘aurat’. He added that everything on a woman’s body is a ‘aurat’ except for her face! Can you please tell me if this is what the Quran says, and if not, what is the meaning of the ‘aurat’ of women in the Quran?

Reply
:

It is always possible to determine the meaning of a Quranic word by studying all the verses where this word is used. When we do that we can quickly arrive at the conclusion that nothing in the Quran confirms or remotely justifies what this Imam has told you.
When we look at verses where the word ‘aurat’ is mentioned in the Quran, we find 3 verses, they are 33:13, 24:58 and 24:31.

[33:13] A group of them said, "O people of Yathrib, you cannot make a stand so go back." A certain group among them asked the Prophet to excuse them, saying: "Our homes are
‘aurat’ (exposed/naked)," when they were not exposed. They just wanted to flee.

[24:58] O you who believe, those whom your right hand possess, as well as those who have not yet attained puberty, should seek your permission at three times: Before the Fajr Salat, when you relax your dress at
noon and after the Isha Salat. These are three ‘aurat’(exposed/private times) for you. Outside these times, there is nothing wrong for you, or for them, to go around mingling with one another. God thus clarifies the revelations for you. God is Knowledgeable, Wise.

It is clear from the above two verses that the word ‘aurat’ means nakedness.
The use of ‘aurat’ in 33:13 speaks of houses. A group asked the Prophet to be excused from fighting by using the excuse that they needed to stay behind to guard their exposed/naked houses. They only wanted to flee the fighting.
In 24:58 God describes the 3 private times as ‘aurat’, how can a time be naked? It is symbolic of the fact that during the 3 private times mentioned in 24:58 people can relax and be exposed in their dress if they like, knowing that they will not be disturbed.
So when we come to the third verse, which speaks of the ‘aurat’ of women, it becomes easy to determine the correct meaning:

[24:31] And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to guard their private parts and not to show their beauty spots except that of it which is normally shown. They shall also cover their cleavage with their ‘khimar’. They shall not show their beauty spots except in the presence of their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, other women, their slaves, the male attendants who have no sexual desire and the children who are yet to attain awareness of women’s
‘aurat’ (nakedness). They shall not strike their feet so as to reveal details of their hidden beauty spots. You shall repent to God all you believers, so that you may succeed.

In harmony with the correct meaning of the word ‘aurat’ derived from 33:13 and 24:58, it is clear that the ‘aurat’ of women which is mentioned in 24:31 simply means the nakedness of women.
The verse speaks of children who are not aware yet of the sexual connotation in the ‘aurat’ (nakedness) of women.
Needless to say, the words in 24:31 do not speak of children who are not used to seeing women’s hair!

Related subjects
:
- Women's dress code in the Quran
- The manipulation of the word khomorihhinna in 24:31