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Can Muslim women wear short sleeved tops if there is a good reason?

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are short sleeves for hygiene reasons acceptable?

Salaam everyone,

I am a Muslim lady and I work in operating theatres, where there are specific uniform policies for infection control purposes. Unfortunately I have to wear above the elbow  short sleeved tops. I can wear khimaar but again specific rules apply.

My question is does Islam allow women to wear short sleeved tops, if there is a true reason for it (infection control)? Please let me know, I have been doing this for 4 yrs now and never felt if it was  completely wrong or not because of the reasons I stated above.

thank you, I appreciate this,

salaam

- LA87


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1 Responses »

  1. Dear LA87, As-salamu alaykum,

    It can be difficult for Muslims working in non-Muslim environments to reconcile the demands of religion and the workplace. This is especially true for women. Obviously, rules of Islamic hijab require that a woman cover everything except her face and her hands in the presence of males who are not relatives. Non-Muslims don't always understand that the Hijab is not just a personal preference or a cultural attribute, but an integral part of a Muslim woman's religion and worship.

    On the other hand, the medical field has recently set guidelines for dress and there are important reasons behind that. All staff who deal with patients are expected to have bare arms up to the elbows, and to wash hands and arms between patients, in order to prevent the spread of the new infectious "superbugs" such as MRSA, which might cling to long sleeves then be spread to other patients.

    The UK has recently dealt with this issue by allowing Muslim nurses to wear disposable sleeves when treating patients. They are elasticized at the wrists and elbows and can be discarded after each treatment. This has caused some debate in the UK and has stirred up some anti-Muslim sentiment, as usual. See this article for more about the debate on this issue in the UK:

    Bare Above the Elbows: a British Debate

    Of course this option is not feasible for poor countries that cannot afford such things, and does not address the problems faced by Muslim nurses in countries that do not have such policies.

    I do not have a definitive answer to your question. I also searched online and could not find an answer from any reputable Islamic scholar.

    If it were me, I would reason that this is a case of "daroora" or necessity. Nurses are needed to care for the sick, but transmitting infection is not an acceptable risk. Therefore wearing short sleeves cannot be avoided in this situation.

    However, this is only my own opinion of what I would do in your situation. It is not a fatwa or legal ruling. For that you need to contact an Islamic scholar.

    And Allah knows best.

    Wael
    IslamicAnswers.com Editor

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