بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Imam Bukhari (رحمه الله) explains the ruling of this mas’alah beautifully in his “Saheeh”.
There are two scenarios:
- A person is in an area where others can see him
- A person is alone in seclusion where no one can see him
For the first case, it is compulsory to screen oneself while taking a bath. Imam Bukhari (رحمه الله) explains this under the title:
“Chapter: To screen oneself while taking a bath around people:
- Umm Hani bint Abi Talib (رضي الله عنها) said: “I went to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) in the year of the conquest of Mecca and found him taking a bath while Fatima was screening him.”
Ibn Battal said, the scholars of fatwa all agree that, if a person was to enter a public bath naked, that he is sinful and he will no longer be considered a reliable, upright person. Therefore, any testimony he gives in an Islamic court of law would be rejected.
As for the second case, Imam Bukhari (رحمه الله) explains it in the following manner:
“Chapter: Whosoever took a bath naked alone in seclusion, but whoever conceals himself then concealment is better. The Messenger said: “Allah is more deserving that you should feel shy before Him than people.”
Thereafter Imam Bukhari mentioned two hadiths of the Rasool (ﷺ) where he related that two Prophets of the past bathed naked when in seclusion. After relating these stories the Messenger (ﷺ) remained silent, which shows that bathing naked when in seclusion is allowed in this Shariah as well. However, Imam Bukhari indicates that concealing oneself with a lower garment etc. even when in seclusion is best and part of hayaa and modesty. Hayaa is, after all, an integral part of our Imaan. The hadith which Bukhari indicated to is collected in full by Imam Abu Dawud (رحمه الله) in his ‘Sunan’:
“It was narrated from Bahz bin Hakim, from his father that his grandfather 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 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.'”
Furthermore, under the first chapter mentioned above, entitled, “To screen oneself while taking a bath around people”, Imam Bukhari had also mentioned a second hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas, who said that Maimunah (رضي الله عنهما) said: “I screened the Prophet (ﷺ) while he was taking a bath of major ritual impurity (janabah).”
Maimunah (رضي الله عنها) is one of the ‘Mothers of the Believer’ and an honourable wife of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), yet he had himself screened. Hazrat Shaikh, Maulana Muhammad Zakariyah Kandhalvi (رحمه الله) said, that by this chapter Imam Bukhari (عليه الرحمة) is stating that, even if a person is bathing with a lower garment on, it is still best to conceal his-self with another screen.
Even though our clothing does not prevent Allah from seeing below it, walking around naked is abandoning an etiquette that we should adopt in front of Allah.
In his commentary of Mishkaat, Mulla Ali Qari (رحمه الله) quotes Ibn Hajr Makki’s (رحمه الله) summary on this issue:
“The summary of the ruling for the one who takes a bath naked is:
- If he is in a secluded place where no such person, upon whom it is haram to look at his awrah, can see him, then it (bathing naked) is permissible for him. However, it is more virtuous to conceal oneself out of shame in front of Allah.
- If he is in a place where such a person, upon whom it is prohibited to look at his awrah, can see him, then it is compulsory to screen himself by the consensus of the scholars.”
- Mufti Azam Azizur Rahman said: “If the walls of the bathroom are very high and there is no possibility of being exposed, then it is permissible to take a bath naked even if there is no roof. However, it is better not to bathe naked.” ‘Fatawa Darul Uloom Deoband Qadeem’ (Vol.1 Pg.130) He also said: “Taking a bath naked in a secluded place is permissible. Where there are people then tie a cloth from one’s navel to knee and bathe.” Ibid “Question: Is it permissible to take a bath in an enclosed place without a lower garment? Answer: It is permissible to take a bath naked in such places.” Ibid.
- Faqeehul Ummah said: “To bathe naked in a secluded place is established from the Prophet. This hadith is in Bukhari and Muslim.” ‘Fatawa Mahmoodiyah’ (Vol.28 Pg.115). He also said: “When there is a partition and no one is looking, then it is permissible for all (males and females) to shower naked.” ‘Fatawa Mahmoodiyah’ (Vol.28 Pg.117)
- Mufti Maulana Yusuf Ludhyanvi said: “It is permissible to take off one’s clothing and take a bath in an enclosed place. It is better to sit and take a bath in this situation.” ‘Aap ke Masail aur unka Hall’ (Vol.3 Pg.107) He also said: “It is permissible (for a male and female to take a bath naked) once no one is looking.” Ibid (Vol.3 Pg.119)
- Mufti Rasheed Ahmed Ludhyanvi said: “It is permissible to take a bath in a bathroom that does not have a roof, rather (it is also permissible to take a bath) in an open area, once one is alone. However, it is better to have a partition on all four sides. There is no need for a roof [unless someone can see from above. Translator’s note] The Messenger took a bath by erecting four walls of cloths, instead of wearing one. From this, it is established that it is better to take a bath behind a partition than (to take one in the open) with a lungi etc. on.” ‘Ahsanul Fatawa’ (Vol.2 Pg.31-32) He also said: “It is best to sit and take a bath because there is more concealment in it. From the narrations, it can be gathered that the Messenger sat and took a bath.” ‘Ahsanul Fatawa’ (Vol.2 Pg.5)
- Mufti Fareed said: “It is permissible to bath naked, however, it is best to use a lower garment.” ‘Fatawa Faridiyah’ (Vol.2 Pg.64) He also said: “It should be clear that a person shold take a bath where he is alone. Even then, he should refrain from exposing his awrah. The leeway of exposing one’s awrah is based on the need. If there are people present there, then it is fardh on the male to cover his awrah from navel to knee.” ‘Fatawa Faridiyah’ (Vol.2 Pg.72)
- Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani said: “It is best to tie a cloth and take a bath. However, it is permissible without any reprehensibility to bathe naked once there is full arrangements of a partition.” The answer is correct. Mufti Muhammad Ashiq Ilahi. ‘Fatawa Usmani’ (Vol.1 Pg.315)
- Mufti Rafi Usmani said: “There is a leeway to take a bath naked in a closed bathroom. However, it is better to tie a lower garment etc.” ‘Imdadus Saileen’ (Vol.1 Pg.516)
- Mufti Maulana Khalid Saifullah said: “The best method is that one should not become completely naked at the time of a bath. It is best to conceal ones private parts with a cloth. However, if someone takes a bath naked in an enclosed place, then there is no sin. There is nothing in the Quran or Hadith which states that one’s home would be deprived of blessings if one takes a bath naked.” ‘Kitabul Fatawa’ (Vol.2 Pg.61) He also said: “A person should always try as much as possible to remain concealed. However, this ruling is one of caution and istihbab. In two cases, concealing one’s awrah is wajib. One, is in salah and two, is when people are looking. Therefore if while performing wudhu or ghusl, one’s awrah was exposed a little and no one was looking, then there is no problem.” ‘Kitabul Fatawa’ (Vol.2 Pg.60)
 Saheeh Bukhari Chapter 21 Hadith #280
 Sharh Ibn Battal Vol.1 Pg.396, Thereafter he named, Abu Hanifah, his students, Malik, Thawri, and Shafee (رحمهم الله), At-Tawdheeh Vol.4 Pg.639, Umdatul Qari Vol.3 Pg.346
 Saheeh Bukhari Chapter 20 Hadith #278 & #279
 Imam Nawawi states, “The Ulama say, to conceal oneself with a lower garment etc. while taking a bath in seclusion is better than revealing oneself.” See ‘Al-Minhaaj Sharh Muslim’ (Vol.4 Pg.32)
 Sunan Abu Dawud, Chapter Regarding Nudity #4017, Tirmithi # 2769. He classified is as hasan.
 Saheeh Bukhari Chapter 21 Hadith #281
 See Fathul Baari of Ibn Rajab Hanbali Vol.1 Pg.333-334
 Al-Abwaab wat Tarajim Vol.1 Pg.62
 On the other hand, Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri was of the opinion that, concealing oneself in an unoccupied place outside, is required. However, if a person is positive that others will not pass by and see him, then there is no problem in bathing naked. As for nowadays with private bathrooms in the homes, then there is no problem in bathing naked. See ‘Faidhul Bari’ (Vol.1 Pg.469). The muhaddith, Hazrat Maulana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi has indicated that this is also a possible meaning of reconciling between the ahadith. See ‘Al-Abwaab wat Tarajim’ Vol.1 Pg.62 والله اعلم
 Hafiz Ibn Battal says: “The fuqaha state that covering oneself in seclusion is mustahab, not wajib.” Sharh Ibn Battal on Saheeh Bukhari Vol.1 Pg.395, Tawdheeh by Ibn Mulaqqin Vol.4 Pg.622, Tuhfatul Qari by Idris Kandhalvi Vol.1 Pg.109. However, some Hanafis and Shafees consider it wajib to cover ones awrah even in seclusion unless there is a valid reason to expose it. See ‘Al-Mihaj’ by Nawawi (Vol.4 Pg.32), ‘Al-Kawakib Ad-Darari’ by Kirmani (Vol.3 Pg.140), ‘Al-Kawthar Jari’ by Al-Kurani (Vol.1 Pg.468), ‘Al-Bahrur Raiq’ by Ibn Nujaim (Vol.1 Pg.468), ‘An-Nahrul Faiq’ (Vol.1 Pg.182), ‘Raddul Muhtaar’ by Ibn Abideen (Vol.2 Pg.93), ‘Tawaliul Anwaar’ by Al-Sindhi (Vol.1 Pg.522), ‘Fathul Mulhim by Usmani (Vol.3 Pg.142). Siddique Hasan Bhopali was also of this opinion, see his ‘Al-Siraj Wahhaj’ (Vol.2 Pg.22). Hanafi scholars have mentioned that valid reasons to reveal one’s awrah in seclusion are stooling, istinjaa, bathing, removing pubic hairs, sexual intercourse and medical reasons.
واعلم أن ستر العورة خارج الصلاة بحضرة الناس واجب إجماعا إلا في مواضع وفي الخلوة فيه خلاف والصحيح الوجوب إذا لم يكن الانكشاف لغرض صحيح كذا في شرح المنية (البحر الرائق) قوله ( إلا لغرض صحيح ) كتغوط واستنجاء وحكي في القنية أقوالا إلا في تجرده للاغتسال منفردا منها أنه يكره ومنها أنه يعذر إن شاء الله ومنها لا بأس به ومنها يجوز في المدة اليسيرة ومنها يجوز في بيت الحمام الصغير. (رد المحتار)
Ibn Hajr Asqalani states that, the famous opinion amongst the earlier Shafee scholars, like others, is that it is only makrooh to reveal oneself in seclusion without a valid reason. See ‘Fathul Bari’ (Vol.1 Pg.655). The following is in ‘Fatawa Mahmoodiyah’: “Question: Zaid exercises. However, his awrah remains exposed. He simply has on briefs. He is in seclusion when exercising. What is the ruling on this? Answer: It is not prohibited to exercise in this manner in seclusion. (However) it would not be permissible to come in front of people with his awrah exposed in this manner. And Allah knows best. Faqeehul Ummah Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi, Mufti Saiyyid Ahmed Ali Saeed.” (Vol.28 Pg.117)
 Al-Bahrur Raiq (Vol.1 Pg.467), Raddul Muhtaar Vol.2 Pg.93
 See Mirqatul Mafateeh Vol.2 Pg.138
قَالَ ابْنُ حَجَرٍ: وَحَاصِلُ حُكْمِ مَنِ اغْتَسَلَ عَارِيًا أَنَّهُ إِنْ كَانَ بِمَحَلٍّ خَالٍ لَا يَرَاهُ أَحَدٌ مِمَّنْ يَحْرُمُ عَلَيْهِ نَظَرُ عَوْرَتِهِ حَلَّ لَهُ ذَلِكَ، لَكِنَّ الْأَفْضَلَ التَّسَتُّرُ حَيَاءً مِنَ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى، وَإِنْ كَانَ بِحَيْثُ يَرَاهُ أَحَدٌ يَحْرُمُ عَلَيْهِ نَظَرُ عَوْرَتِهِ، وَجَبَ عَلَيْهِ التَّسَتُّرُ مِنْهُ إِجْمَاعًا