Ruling on a Woman Removing her Clothes in a Place other Than her own House

I have read these two hadeeths:
I came out of the bathhouse and the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Where are you coming from, O Umm ad-Darda’?” I said: From the bathhouse. He said: By the One in Whose hand is my soul, there is no woman who removes her clothes in a place other than the house of one of her mothers but she is destroying every screen between her and the Most Merciful, may He be glorified and exalted.”
At-Targheeb wa’t-Tarheeb, 1/119
“There is no woman who removes her clothes in a place other than her husband’s house but she has removed the screen between her and her Lord.”
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in ad-Radd al-Mufhim, p. 73
My question is: We have a sports club near us that is a respectable place and very well monitored. Inside it there is a room for exercise that is only for women. All the women in charge of this building and those who frequent it are religiously committed and wear hijab, and they do not allow any man to enter it at all. The doctor has advised me and my sister to exercise in order to overcome our general state of weakness and muscular and joint pain. They have also given similar advice to my mother, because she suffers from osteoporosis. My sister and I go to that gym wearing full hijab and covering ourselves properly, but when we enter it we exercise wearing clothing like that which we wear in front of our mahrams; there is no indecency there or extreme uncovering at all; only our heads and forearms are uncovered, and that is in safe rooms that are entirely enclosed inside this building, and all the people around us are women. Is it permissible for us to do that or does it come under the heading of what is forbidden by the two hadeeths quoted above?
I would also like to find out from you any exemptions to the prohibition in the two hadeeths if there is any? Does it also mean that it is not permissible to go to beauty parlours or hairdressers who work with women who wear hijab for the purpose of simple and permissible beautification in which there is nothing that is contrary to the laws of Allah, in places that are safe, where all the workers are women, even if one of my mahrams is going to take me there and back by car? (And does that apply) even if I am a bride and even if it requires me to uncover a little as a woman uncovers in front of her mahrams?
What is the ruling on beauty parlours or cosmetic surgery clinics that are operating on a larger scale than that and in which more extensive procedures are carried out?
I hope that you can respond in detail; may Allah reward you with good.

Praise be to Allaah.

My advice to my brothers is not to let their women go to swimming clubs and sports clubs, because the Prophet (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him) urged women to stay in their homes. When speaking about women going to the mosques, which are the places of worship and shar’i knowledge, he said: “Do not prevent the female slaves of Allaah from going to the mosques of Allaah, although their homes are better for them.” This is also in accordance with the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):

“And stay in your houses” [al-Ahzaab 33:33]

Moreover, if a woman gets used to that she will form a strong attachment to it, because her emotions are so strong. Then it will distract her from her religious and worldly duties, and it will become all that she thinks and talks about. If a woman does something like this, it will be a means of taking away her modesty, and if a woman’s modesty is taken away from her, do not even ask about the evil consequences that may follow, unless Allaah blesses her with righteousness which will restore to her the modesty which is her birthright.

I will conclude my answer by repeating my advice to my believing brothers not to let their womenfolk – whether they are their daughters, sisters, wives or anyone else under their guardianship – go to these clubs. I ask Allaah to bless all of us with strength and caution against the misleading ways of temptation, for He is able to do all things. Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.

[From the fatwas of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih ibn ‘Uthaymeen for al-Da’wah Magazine, issue # 1765/54]

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