“Does a woman who wears hijab have to cover her feet? This seems to be a topic of confusion since some say it falls under the category of ‘what is apparent’ while others say it does not fall under this category. Can a woman uncover her feet for medical reasons such as during pregnancy when feet are swollen and wearing closed shoes can harm her wellbeing (i.e. restricting blood flow)? Will a woman who wears open shoes be sinful for it even if those shoes don’t attract attention and are a norm of the society in which she resides? JazakumAllah khairan.”
According to research that has been provided on the matter, the main difference between the scholars of jurisprudence regarding this topic is concerning if the woman is obliged to cover her feet or not when praying. The majority of scholars hold that it is required for her to do so when praying; some scholars actually make it a condition for the females to do so for their prayer to be valid. The basis for their differences is mainly due to them differing on the authenticity of the following narration,
عَنْ أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ، أَنَّهَا سَأَلَتِ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَتُصَلِّي الْمَرْأَةُ فِي دِرْعٍ وَخِمَارٍ لَيْسَ عَلَيْهَا إِزَارٌ قَالَ “ إِذَا كَانَ الدِّرْعُ سَابِغًا يُغَطِّي ظُهُورَ قَدَمَيْهَا”
Umm Salamah said that she asked the Prophet (ﷺ), “Can a woman pray in a long gown and veil without wearing a lower garment?” He replied: “If the gown is ample and covers the surface of her feet.” [Reported by Abu Dawud]
A group of scholars have declared this report to the Prophet (ﷺ) to be an error since it is actually a report from Umm Salamah from her own words. However, Shaykh Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and Al-Imam as-San’aani have stated that these words from Umm Salamah could not have possibly come from herself and that she must have gotten this advice from her husband, the Prophet (ﷺ).
As for the ruling concerning a woman uncovering her feet in public in front of non-mahram men, then I’m unaware of much difference between the scholars regarding it being impermissible, and the basis for this verdict is the following narration:
عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” مَنْ جَرَّ ثَوْبَهُ مِنَ الْخُيَلاَءِ لَمْ يَنْظُرِ اللَّهُ إِلَيْهِ ” . قَالَتْ أُمُّ سَلَمَةَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَكَيْفَ تَصْنَعُ النِّسَاءُ بِذُيُولِهِنَّ قَالَ ” تُرْخِينَهُ شِبْرًا ” . قَالَتْ إِذًا تَنْكَشِفَ أَقْدَامُهُنَّ . قَالَ ” تُرْخِينَهُ ذِرَاعًا لاَ تَزِدْنَ عَلَيْهِ”.
It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said:
“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Whoever drags his garment out of pride, Allah will not look at him.’ Umm Salamah said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what should women do with their hems?’ He said: ‘Let it down a hand span.’ She said: ‘But then their feet will show.’ He said: ‘Let it down a forearm’s length, but no more than that.'” [Reported by at-Tirimidhi and others. As-Silsilah As-Saheehah (460)].
Ash-Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen rahimahullah, said,
“.. ففي هذا الحديث [رقم 4] دليل على وجوب ستر قدم المرأة وأنه أمر معلوم عند نساء الصحابة رضي الله عنهم”
“Therefore, in this hadith is a proof for the obligation for the women to cover their feet [in public] and also a proof that this was the common practice among the female companions.” End quote. [Treatise “Hijaab”, Hadith (#4)]
Note: In relation to medical needs for uncovering the feet, I would suggest consulting a physician to see if there are any measures that can be taken to prevent swelling when having the feet covered.
And Allah knows best.
AbdulFattaah Bin Uthman