Friday 26 December 2008 (28 Dhul Hijjah 1429)

Is it obligatory in Islam that women should always wear a black dress when they 
go out? We are told that this is so by some people posing as scholars. Please 
explain. (M. Amin)

No, there is no Islamic requirement that women should wear black when they go 
out. What they should wear is what maintains a proper standard of decency, 
according to Islamic values and the traditions of society. The color of their 
garments is not an issue as long as they do not appear in eye catching attire. 
In many Muslim countries, people use a wide range of colors and these are 
acceptable if they do not violate Islamic values and standards of propriety. 

We should also recognize that standards differ from one society to another. In 
North Africa, for example, women wear white when they are in mourning. This is 
considered odd in other Arab countries. Following local traditions that do not 
violate Islamic values is acceptable in such cases. 

It is unfortunate that some people, particularly among those who think that 
they are guardians of Islamic values, feel that they should impose plain black 
as the only color of women's clothes in public. Such people are often very 
rigid in their views. You often discover that the best way to deal with them is 
to thank them for their advice. If you are certain that they are in the wrong, 
then you need only to ignore them

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