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In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu `alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
Shariah places great emphasis on shame and modesty. The niqab (face veil) is a reflection of shame and modesty.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam – May Allah’s Peace and Salutations be upon Muhammad) said, الحياء شعبة من الايمان, Modesty is a branch of Iman (Mishkat Al-Masabih. Maktabih Rahmanih – Chapter on Iman – page 13).
When Shuaib (Alaihis Salaam) sent his daughter to call Musa (Alaihis Salam) after he had given water to their goats, she held her hand over her face while speaking to him. (Surah Al-Qasas 28:25).This was an expression of shame and modesty.
The face is the centre of beauty and attraction of the person. Society is overwhelmed with lasciviousness, temptations and mischief. It is not permissible for a woman to remove her niqab in the presence of non-Mahram males unless there is a genuine need which is recognized by the Shariah.
The order of niqab is deduced from the following verse – “And say to the believing women that they must lower their gazes and guard their private parts, and must not expose their adornment, except that which appears thereof, and must wrap their bosoms with their shawls, and must not expose their adornment except to their husbands or their fathers or the fathers of their husbands, or to their brothers or the sons of their brothers or the sons of their sisters, or to their women , or to those owned by their right hands, or male attendants having no (sexual) urge, or to the children who are not yet conscious to the shames of women. (Surah Nur Ayats 30-31.)When the woman exposes her beauty it shows a sign of shamelessness and immorality.
Allah Ta’ala commands that females should conceal their entire body “except that which appears thereof.” Scholars differ as to what is meant by the phrase “except that which appears thereof.” Sayyiduna Ibn Mas’ood (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) mentions that it refers to the clothing of women. This is also the view of Ibrahim Nakh’i and Hasan (May Allah Ta’ala have mercy on them both.) Other scholars opine that it refers to the hands and face. This is the opinion of Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) and others.
The first explanation is emphatic that a woman should don the veil as she is not permitted to expose her face.
According to the second interpretation a woman is permitted to leave her hands and face open. However, this does not contradict the encouragement to don the niqab as exposing these features is due to the fact the there is a need and the laws of niqab is to safeguard societies from fitna.
Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) himself explains that a woman should leave her face open only when at home. When she leaves her home she would have to adorn the hijab.
Qadi Baidawi and Khazin say “except that which appears thereof ” refers to those parts of a woman which gets uncovered while working and includes her face, hands, veil and sheet. (Mariful Quran vol. 6 page411- 412 Ed. Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom)
Imam Shafi (Rahmatullahi alaihi) is of the view that the face and the palms do not form a part of the concealed (satr) of a woman. Nonetheless, it should still be concealed from non-Mahram (those men to whom marriage is permissible), unless there is a genuine need for the face to be exposed.
Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) says that the face is excluded from being a satr of a woman. However, due to the high risk of immorality and weakness of resistance, the latter Fukaha of the Hanafi school of thought say that it is compulsory to wear niqab to cover the face which is the focal point of beauty.
The noble companions of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam) were exalted even above angels. Despite all these honourable qualities the hijab was seen as necessary between the men and the women to safeguard the purity of their hearts.
After the ayat of niqab was revealed whenever the wives of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa Sallam) had to leave their homes they would cover their faces. If they needed to visit their families or a sick person, the niqab would form a part of their normal dress code. (Maariful Quran page 142)
Niqab is more important today because of the high level of free mixing with non-Mahram males and females. Niqab assists in reducing the level of fitnah that is likely to take place.
Below are two (2) inspirational accounts of young women in niqab:-
I started wearing the niqab in the first year of university. My decision to wear it was to help me in my religion as an act of worship. It helps and protects me. I feel [it] empowers me, and it helps me to realise and get closer to achieving my aim of pleasing my creator. Now, when I speak I believe I have a voice, I have an opinion, I’m my own person – my own personality comes across. When people speak to me, they do not think about my appearance. People listen to my voice judge me for whom I am, rather than what I look like.
Our ancestors when they came here, did they not wear the niqab. Their purpose was to earn a livelihood, and give a better life to their children. Their aim was to work and blend in with the society. We on the other hand were born here. We are a part of the society.
To take the niqab off would be stripping me of my identity as a woman and stripping me of my beliefs. Without my beliefs I am nothing.
Majority of my co-workers are non-Muslims. They haven’t had a problem communicating with me. They’ve never seen the niqab as a barrier, and they see me for who I am and they see beyond the niqab. (Extract from BBC News)
The hijab reminds people who see it that Allah exist, and it serves as a constant reminder to me that I should conduct myself as a Muslim. Just as police officers are more professionally aware while in uniform, so I had a stronger sense of being a Muslim wearing my hijab. (Extract from Albalagh)
Explain to your parents that you are carrying out an act of Allah (SWT), through His Noble Quran which is binding upon you.
Apply wisdom in your speech bearing in mind that you are addressing your parents.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Saeed Ahmed Golaub