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Is the Voice of a Woman Awrah?

27 February, 2024
Q Assalamu Alaikum. Is women's voice awrah? Is it allowed for men to listen to women singing (nasheeds)?


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

There is no basis either scripture or jurisprudence – for the view that women’ voice is awrah in Islam. We have reports that the Prophet was present in a wedding ceremony where the girls were singing and he listened to them.

In responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

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Women’s Voice in Islam

While addressing the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who are the mothers of the faithful, Allah says, {O wives of the Prophet! You are not like other women. If you are reverent, then be not overly soft in speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease be moved to desire, and speak in an honorable way.} (Al-Azhab 33:33)

One may safely infer from the above verse that women’s voice is not an awrah or that men cannot hear it.  Otherwise, Allah would have ordered the Prophet’s wives not to speak to men at all.

Interaction between men and women

Instead, Allah orders them to observe proper etiquettes and abide by the Islamic manners of interaction between males and females and thus avoid tones or style that may arouse lustful thoughts in men, especially who are sick at heart.  

Hence no wonder we learn from the sources that during the Prophet’s time men and women used to interact everywhere and converse. They were present even in the mosques, often asking questions. They would go as far asking the Prophet questions regarding spousal intimacy in the presence of his companions.

Let’s not forget the story of a woman standing up questioning Umar during his sermon on the minbar when the latter proposed a radical reform policy on mahr (dowry). Umar was forced to retract his position, after hearing her explanation!

Furthermore, the Prophet’s wife Aishah used to lecture to men and women. Hundreds of males and females have transmitted hadith from her. We have testimonials of companions and successors praising Aishah as one of the best speakers after the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Thanks to the legacy of Aishah, Islamic history has witnessed thousands of women scholars of hadith and jurisprudence, many of them teaching females as well as males. Even the great imams such as Ash-Shafi`i, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Hajar, and others had learned from eminent women teachers.

So, there is no basis either scripture or jurisprudence – for the view that women’ voice is awrah in Islam.

Can women sing in Islam?

Now coming to the question of women singing, there are those who give a blanket ruling it is haram. This view also does not stand to scrutiny in the sources. We have reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was present in a wedding ceremony where the girls were singing. On noticing the Prophet (PBUH), they added the following lines: “Among us is a Prophet who knows what happens tomorrow!” The Prophet immediately interjected and told them to cut out those words and continue singing as before.

If women were not allowed to sing in the presence of men, the Prophet (PBUH) would not have heard them; and he would have categorically forbidden them, and they would have stopped immediately. 

Therefore, if anyone still insists on the view that women cannot sing in the presence of men would amount to questioning the Prophet’s credentials as a trustworthy messenger. No Muslim can ever even think of entertaining such a thought!

Allah Almighty knows best.