Is swimming un-Islamic for women?
I have come across this point of view recently that swimming for women is un-Islamic, even if this is done in an area to which no men have access. Could you please comment on this? Also, can you please tell of a religiously acceptable dress-code for swimming for women?
I think the view you’ve come across is based on a very strict understanding of someone. The requirements of dress and general behaviour for men and women while in each others’ company have been mentioned clearly in the Quran. They are:
What is binding on Muslim women is that (like men are expected to do regarding women), they should keep their gazes in check while in the company of men (which means that they should not stare at each other nor look at the private parts of each other), and they should wear clothes that properly cover their private parts (so that they don’t appear prominent). In addition, women have also been asked to properly cover their chests and, if they embellish themselves, they should not disclose their beautifying make up and ornaments except for what is apparent to anyone; this is not binding if they are in the presence of close male relatives with whom they can’t get married because of closeness of their relations with them. That is what a Muslim woman is expected to observe under all circumstances, as menioned in surah al-Nur (24: 30-31).
If women are swimming with their bodies adequately covered and there are no men around, why should there be any problem in that from an Islamic point of view? While swimming for ladies living in urban areas may be a regarded as a luxury, for women living in places where they have to travel on boats, launches etc., in lakes, rivers and seas etc., it becomes a matter of life and death for them to be able to swim. The Shari’ah is interested only in the fact that obscenity is avoided and that men and women should be dressed in the proper manner. I hope it helps.