Suhaib! A number of sista’z is saying that we don’t have to cover ourselves for prayers? Waz up with dat?
What a women must cover for her prayers to be valid
The Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] said,
“لَا يَقْبَلُ اللَّهُ صَلَاةَ حَائِضٍ إلَّا بِخِمَارٍ”
“Allah will not accept the prayers of a woman unless she is wearing a khimār [hijab].”
This hadith was related by Ahmed and the famous compilers of the Sunnan save al-Nasī.
A look at this hadith
Al-Tirmidhi said it was “a good hadith.” Imām al-Hākim said that it “Met the conditions of Muslim.” Imam al-Dhahabī concurred with al-Hākim. Ibn Khuzaimah and Ibn Hibān both considered this hadith to be sound.” See the footnotes of al-Talkhis al-Haibar fi Takhrij al-Rāfi al-Kabīr of Ibn Hajar vol. 1 pg. 665. Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyah print 1989. al-Shaikh al-Bāni considered it sound as well see hadith num. 596 in his Sahih of Sunna Abu Dawōd.
Not only should she wear khimār [hijab] but should also wear something that covers the rest of her body save her face and hands
When Um Salamah was apprised of the aforementioned hadith, she went to the Prophet [sa] and said:
أتصلي المرأة في درع وخمار وليس عليها إزار؟ فقال: ”إذا كان الدرع سابغاً يغطي ظهور قدميها”
“Should a women prayer with a shirt, and khimār, with out an izār?” [a skirt that covers her from the waist down] The Prophet responded, “If her shirt is long covering the tops of her feet.”
A look at this hadith
This hadith was related by Abu Dawōd and al-Hakim the latter considering it sound according to al-Bukhari’s conditions with al-Dhahabī agreeing. See Jāmi al-Hadith of al-Suyutī vol. 3 pg. 452.
Imam Mālik related it mawquf as noted by Abdul Haq, but Ibn Hajar said in Bulugh al-Marām that the hadith is raised to the Prophet [sa]. See Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihāyatu al-Muqtasid of Ibn Rushd vol.1 pg. 273 Dar al-Sālam print 2006.
Statements of the Female Scholars from the Companions
Ibn Rushd said, “The majority of scholars held that a woman must wear a scarf and a long shirt [that covers the tops of her feet] for prayers.”
He writes a few sentences later. “This was also the fatwa of the female scholars of fiqh from the companions: Umm Salama, Āisha, Maymōnah saying, “If a woman prays without the proper covering, she must repeat her prayers.” [Note: that Malik held that she should make it up if the time of that prayer was still in]
Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah
“It is incumbent upon a women to cover herself when she prayers alone.” (Majmō al-Fatawa vol. 22 pg. 109)
Dr. Attiyah Saqar al-Azharī
“It is agreed upon that a person is ordered to cover his/herself for his/her prayer to be valid even if alone.” (Fatwā Dār al-Iftā al-Masriyah vol. 2 pg. 28)
Dr. Wahba Zuhaylī
“A woman must cover her entire body for prayers, saver her face and hands.” (Al-Fiqh al-Islamiȳi wa adilatuh, vol. 1 pg. 665 Dār al-Fikir fourth edition)
And Allah knows best