There are 7 verses in the Quran that deal with the dress code for both believing men and women. 7:26 describes the best garment is the garment of righteousness and 7:31 commands us to dress up nicely for going to masjids are common for both men and women. 24:30 is for believing men whereas 24:31, 24:60, 33:55 and 33:59 are for believing women. Therefore, there are 6 verses in the Quran for believing women that can be summarized as follows for better understanding of dress code for believing women:
Rule 1: The best garment is the righteousness (7:26)
Rule 2: To dress up nicely for going to masjids (7:31).
Rule 3: To cover their chests or bosoms (24:31)
Rule 4: To relax the dress code at family settings for the young women (24:31, 33:55).
Rule 5: To maintain modesty is better for the elderly women (24:60).
Rule 6: To cover in an appropriate way for the believing women including prophet’s wives at prophet’s life (33:59).
However, let us examine the relevant verses both in Arabic and English translations including the meaning of crucial individual Arabic words used in the verses that deal with the dress code of believing women:
[7:26] O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your shame as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment of righteousness. That is from the signs of God so that they may take heed.
Yaabanee [O Children] Aadama [(of) Adam] Qad [Verily] Anzalnaa [we have sent down] Alaykum [to you] Libaasan [clothing] Yuwaaree [it covers] Saw-aatikum [your shame] wa-Reesan [and (as) an adornment]. wa-Libaasut-[but the clothing] Taqwaa [(of) the righteousness] Dhaalika [that] Khayrun [(is) best]. Dhaalika [that] Min[(is) from] Aayaatil– [(the) signs] Lahi [(of) Allah] La’allahum [so that they may] Yadhakkaroon [remember].
[7:31] O children of Adam, you shall be clean and dress nicely when you go to the masjid. And eat and drink moderately. Surely, He does not love the immoderate ones.
Yaabanee [O children] Aadama [(of) Adam] Khudhoo [take] Zeenatakum [your adornment] Inda [at] Kulli [every] Masjidan [masjid] Wa-Kuloo [and eat] Wa-Ish’raboo [and drink] Wa-Laa– [and (do)not] Tus’rifoo [be extravagant]. Innahu [indeed He] Laa– [(does) not ] Yuhibbul– [love] Mus’rifeen [the extravagant ones].
[24:31] And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal their body parts except what is needed. They shall place covers over their chests and shall not expose except to their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, other women, the male servants or employees whose sexual drive has been nullified, or the children who have no knowledge of private body parts of the women. They shall not strike their feet when they walk in order to shake and reveal any private parts of their bodies. You all shall repent to God, O you believers so that you may succeed.
And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes, and maintain their chastity.Wa-Qul– [And say,] Lil’Muminaati [to the believing women] Yaghdudna [they should lower] Min [of] Absaarihinna [their gaze] Wa-Yahfazna [and they should guard] Furoojahunna [their chastity]. They shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary.Wa-Laa [and not] Yubdina [display] Zeenatahunna [their adornment] Illa [except] Maa [what] Zahara [is apparent] Minhaa [of it]. They shall cover their chests,Wal-Yadribna [and let them draw] Bi-Khumurihinna [their head covers] Alaa [over] Juyoobihinna [their bosoms], and shall not relax this code in the presence of other thanWa-Laa– [and not] Yubdina [display] Zeenatahunna [their adornment] Illa [except] :(1) their husbands, (2) their fathers, (3) the fathers of their husbands, (4) their sons, (5) the sons of their husbands, (6) their brothers, (7) the sons of their brothers, (8) the sons of their sisters, (9) other women, (10) the male servants or employees whose sexual drive has been nullified, or (11) the children who have not reached puberty. They shall not strike their feet when they walk in order to shake and reveal certain details of their bodies. Wa-Laa– [and not] Yadribna [let them stamp] Bi-Arjulihinna [their feet] Li-Yu’lama [to make known] Maa [what] Yukh’feena [they conceal] Min [of] Zeenatahunna [their adornment]. All of you shall repent to GOD, O you believers, that you may succeed. Wa-Tooboo [and turn] Ilaal– [to] Lahi [Allah] Jamee’an [altogether] Ayyuhal– [O you] Mu’minoona [believers] La’allakum [so that you may] Tuf’lihoona [succeed].
Notes: The words, “Yadribna” comes from a multiple meaning root word “Daraba” (verb) means to beat, strike, cover, set up, travel, take away, give, get out, draw over, separate etc. and “Khumurihinna” comes from the root word “Khimar” (noun) means cover or any cover along with a prefixed “Bi” means in, with or by in the verse are mistranslated as “let them draw” and “their head covers” instead of “ cover” or “draw over” (verb) and “with their cover” (noun) respectively because of influence of tradition or hadith. The Arabic words, “Raas” means head and “Shaar” means hair are not in the verse and therse is no reason to confuse the commandment in the verse to associate with head cover or anything like this.
[33:55] The women may relax (their dress code) around their fathers, their sons, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, the other women, and their (female) servants. They shall reverence GOD. GOD witnesses all things.
Laa-[(there is) no] Junaaha [blame] Alayhinna [upon them] Fee [concerning] Aabaa-ihinna [their fathers] Wa-Laa-[and not] Abnaa-ihinna [their sons] Wa-Laa– [and not] Ikhwaanihinna [their brothers] Wa-Laa– [and not] Abnaa-e [sons] Ikhwaanihinna [(of) their brothers] Wa-Laa– [and not] Abnaa-e [sons] Akhwaatihinna [(of) their sisters] Wa-Laa– [and not] Nisaa-ihinna [their women] Wa-Laa– [and not] Maa [what] Malakatu [they rightfully possess (verb)] Aymaanuhunna [they rightfully possess (noun)]. Wa-Ittaqeenal– [and fear] Laha [Allah]. Innal-[indeed] Laha [Allah] Kana [is] Alaa [upon] Kulli [all] Shayin [things] Shaheedan [a Witness].
[24:60] The elderly women who do not expect to get married commit nothing wrong by relaxing their dress code, provided they do not reveal too much of their bodies. To maintain modesty is better for them. GOD is Hearer, Knower.
Wal-Qawaa-idu [and postmenopausal] Minan– [among] Nissa-el– [the women] Laatee [who] Laa– [not] Yarjoona [has desire] Nikaahaan [(for) marriage] Fa-Laysa [then not is] Alayhinna [on them] Junaahun [any blame] An [that] Yada’na [they put aside] Thiyaabahunna [their (outer) garments] Ghayra [not] Mutabarrijaatin [displaying] Bizeenatin [their adornment]. Wa-An [and that] Yasta’fifna [they modestly refrain] khayrul– [(is) better] Lahunna [for them]. Wal-Lahu [and Allah] Samee-un [(is) All-Hearer] Aleemun [All-Knower].
[33:59] O Prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and the wives of the believers to cover themselves in an appropriate way that they can be recognized and are not harmed. God is Forgiving, Merciful..
Yaa-ayyuhaan-[O] Nabiyu [Prophet] Qul [tell] Li-Azwaajika [your wives] Wa-Banaatika [and your daughters] Wa-Nisaa-el– [women] Muminina [(of)the believers] Yudneena [to draw] Alayhinna [over themselves] Min [of] Jalaabeebihinna [their (outer) garments]. Dhalika [that] Adnayaa [(is) more suitable] An [that] Yu’rafna [they should be known] Falan [and not] Yu’dhayna [harmed]. Wa-Kanal-[and is] Lahu [Allah] Ghafooran [Oft-Forgiving] Raheeman [Most Merciful].
Note: The word, “prophet” (Nabi) in the Quran consistently refers to Muhammad when he was alive.
From the above verses, it is clear that the believing women are advised to cover their chests not to wear head cover or veil (hijab) as it is not supported or advocated by the Quran. The instructions related to women’s dress code is very general as God has not exactly specify how much they will cover or how much how much they will reveal (for example, what He has done in the case of ablution – 5:6) leaving the decision with the believing women themselves to adjust them in their particular situations and what they use for their clothing. The right or privilege that is given to them by God, no one neither the society nor the state can take it away from them.
It also appears from the relevant verses that the dress code is a recommendation rather than a commandment from God to protect the believing women from the harassment by the wicked men as there is no punishment is indicated in this world or in the Hereafter in the event of violating the dress code. Either ignoring what God asks us to do in His book, or following innovated laws not stated in the Quran, is a clear sign of disregarding God and His message. The women who are wearing head cover or veil (Hijab or Burqu in Arabic) expecting reward from God are committing gross offence being unaware that it is not from God’s scripture. However, there would be no sin for them if they wear it because they like it or because of the tradition being aware that it is not religious, for it is not from God.
May God bless us all to follow His message.
The individual word meanings are taken from the http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword