Must a Woman Wear Niqab (Veil)?
The general understanding in Islam regarding Sunnah, is that if the Prophet or any of his wives (RA) or companions (RA) are recorded in authentic hadith to have engaged in an act that is not haram (prohibited) as defined by Qur'an or Sunnah, then the act is declared halal (permissible). If the companions engaged in an act that the Prophet was aware of and did not speak out against, it is halal.
It is well-known that the wives of the Prophet covered their faces any time non-mahram men were near. A woman named Asma, who was not a wife of the Prophet , was also recorded as covering her face. Easily, one can conclude that wearing veil is halal (permissible).
However, Muslims and Muslimahs across the world have been in "hot debate" for centuries, over the issue of whether or not covering the face is obligatory upon a Muslimah. Those who argue that it is not required, point to the use of the word khimar in the Qur'an, and explain that today's modern khimar does not cover the face, and argue that khimar has never referred to the covering of the face, but only to that of the hair, neck, and bosoms. While one cannot deny the support of Hadith that indicate that the Prophet's wives wore khimar, one must realize that they also covered their faces at all times in the presence of non-mahram men.
The group of scholars agree that it is a highly recommended act to cover the face. The scholars also agree that a woman must cover her adornment, yet some scholars argue that this does not include the face.
BASING ON CULTURE VS. QURAN AND SUNNAH. ...Most Muslim men, even in America, would be pleased if their wives veil, but some state that a veil draws too much attention, causing men to look upon her more than normal. However, one must realize that when men 'look', they have nothing of her to see! Regardless, this issue must stick to understanding and implementing Qur'an and Sunnah, and not making excuses based on the current culture. Muslims are ordered not to imitate the dress of any non-Muslim culture, so, surely, we cannot make the choice to wear Niqab based on the pressures of modern day society; instead, we choose, insha'Allah, to fear Allah, swt, and not mankind!
When in a state of ihram, the muslimah cannot wear niqab. However, according to several scholars, such as Sheikh ibn Baz, even when in a state of ihram, "she should lower her headcovering or outer cloak over her face when she is in the presence of non-mahram men." So, it is to say that she should not cover her face around the other women during ihram, but that she should cover it if a non-mahram man approaches. He bases this on the hadith below, narrated by 'Aisha .
In Fathul Bari, chapter Hajj, a tradition reported on the authority of Aisha (RA) says:
"A woman in a state of Ihram (during Hajj and Umrah) should stretch her head - cloth over to her face to hide it."
Hadith - Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and ibn Majah, Narrated 'Aisha. [In his work Jilbab al-Marah al-Muslimah, al-Albani states (p. 108) that it is hasan due to corroborating evidence. Also, in a narration from Asma, Asma also covered her face at all times in front of men.]
- Narrated 'Aisha (RA) who said, "The riders would pass us while we were with the Messenger of Allah ). When they got close to us, we would draw our outer cloak from our heads over our faces. When they passed by, we would uncover our faces."
According to Shaikh ibn Uthaimin, "she is not required to cover her face during the prayer unless there are non-related men around her. She must then cover her face from them, as it is not allowed for a woman to uncover her face except to her husband and her male relatives i.e., mahram."
If a woman is not around any non-mahram men and does not fear that any will enter her area of salah, she may reveal her face and hands. This is agreed upon by the group of scholars.
So, whether agreeing that niqab is required or not, one must surely acknowledge that it is a desirous sign of piety. What better example of sunnah to follow for a muslimah than that of the Prophet and his wives RA. Every Muslimah is encouraged to cover to the fullest, showing only one or both eyes.
A woman does not have to wear a niqab (affixed veil), but she should emulate the female companions by using her hijab or other items, to lift and cover her face when a non-mahram man approaches, even during ihram (hajj), as this is in accordance with sunnah.
Hadith - Muwatta 20.16
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that Fatima bint al-Mundhir said, "We used to veil our faces when we were in ihram in the company of Asma bint Abi Bakr as-Siddiq."
The following Fatawa is from Sheikh Ibn Uthaimin:
"The Islamic hijab is for the women to cover everything that is forbidden for her to expose. That is, she covers everything that she must cover.
"The first of those bodily parts that she must cover is her face. It is the source of temptation and the source of people desiring her. Therefore, the woman must cover her face in front of those men that are not Mahram (i.e. father, huband, etc.).
"As for those who claim that Islamic hijab is to cover the head, shoulders, back, feet, shin and forearms while allowing her to uncover her face and hands, this is a very amazing claim. This is because it is well-known that the source of temptation and looking is the face. How can one say that the Shariah does no allow the exposure of the foot of the woman while it allows her to uncover her face?
"It is not possible that there could be in the Esteemed, Wise and Noble Shariah a contradiction. Yet everyone knows that the temptation from uncovering the face is much greater than the temptation that results from the uncovering of the feet. Everyone also knows that the most sought after aspect of the woman for men is the face. If you told a prospective groom that a woman’s face is ugly but her feet are beautiful, he would not propose to such a woman.
"However, if you told him that her face was beautiful but her hands, palms, or shins were less than beautiful, he would still propose to her. From this one can conclude that the face is the first thing that must be covered.
"There are also evidences from the Book of Allah (SWT) and the Sunnah of our Prophet (SAW). There are also statements from the Companions, the leading Imams and the great scholars of Islam that indicate that it is obligatory for the woman to cover all of her body in the presence of non-Mahram men. This obviously indicates that it is obligatory upon the woman to cover her face in front of such men."
Refutation For those who claim niqaab is not wajib and the face and hands of a woman can be seen by (ghairMahrrum) strange men.
Refutation from Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen
This is taken from the book "Hijaab" by Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen from Saudi Arabia. Printed by Madrasah Arabia Islamia Azaadville- South Africa.
Translated by Hafedh Zaheer Essack, Rajab 1416 (December 1995)
The Ulamah who are of the opinion that it is permissible to look at the face and hands of a strange woman (who is not mahrrum) say so mainly for the following reasons.
The hadeeth of Ayeshah (Radhiallaahu Ánha) when Asmaa (Radhiallaahu Ánha) the daughter of Abu Bakr came to the Rasulullaah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: 'O Asmaa! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands. But this hadeeth is WEAK because of 2 main weaknesses.
There is no link between Ayeshah (Radhiallaahu Ánha) and Khalid bin Dareek, who narrated the hadith from her. And in every chain of narrators Khalid bin Dareek is mentioned.
In the chain of narrators Sa'eed bin Basheer appears, who is known by most of the Muhaditheen as being a weak narrator.
This has been mentioned by Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Rahimahullah), An-Nasai (Rahimahullah), Ibn Madeeni (Rahimahullah) and Ibn Ma'een (Rahimahullah). This is also why Imaam Bukhari (Rahimahullah) and Muslim (Rahimahullah) did not except this hadeeth to be in their books. (From Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen in the book "Hijaab" pages # 17 and 18.)
We also have to see that the Muhadith Abu Dawood when he quoted this hadeeth put with it that it is Mursal (with a broken chain that does not lead up to the Sahabah).
(From The Book "Hijaab wa Safur" under the fatwaa of Shaikh Abdul Aziz Bin Bazz on Page #61. Also stated as being weak by Shaikh Nasiruddeen Al-Albaani in his Daeef Sunan Abu Dawud in Kitab-ul-Libas under hadeeth number 4092 (which is the original hadeeth number.)
An other thing that shows the weakness of this hadith is that after the ayah for hijab (Surah Al-Ahzaab – Verse #59) was revealed then the women of Sahaba wore a complete veil and covered the faces and hands. This includes Asmaa (Radhiallaahu Ánha) the daughter of Abu Bakr, who is supposed to have narrated this hadeeth. Asmaa (Radhiallaahu Ánha) covered herself completely including the face, this has been narrated in authentic hadeeth in Imaam Malik's "MUWATTA Book 20 Hadeeth # 20.5.16."
What Age Must a Female Wear Niqab?
It is unquestionable that a female must begin covering by the age of puberty. In all situations, Muslims are to use the Prophet's example for guidance. The Prophet married 'Aisha before she had reached puberty and consummated the marriage when she was approximately 9 years old. Getting married at such an age was not uncommon until recent times.
Puberty begins two weeks before the onset of the first menstrual period, i.e. this is the time in which she is capable of becoming pregnant.
May Allah swt guide each parent to adequately prepare the daughter for hijab and their other responsibilities, in time for puberty. Amin.
If a mother or father recently converts to Islam and has a daughter who has reached puberty, s/he should immediately begin covering the daughter. The parents should educate the daughter to understand and appreciate the reasons and advantages for covering as a Muslimah is instructed to. The new revert to Islam should not feel apologetic for covering a daughter who was not previously covering. It is as much of an advantage to her as to the new adult muslimah revert, and children do not always know what is best for them, so, like other decisions you make daily for your children, do not leave the issue of wearing hijab up to your children. Make the transition as a family, not you first, then just hoping the children follow suit on their own.
Some guidelines for preparing a child for hijab.
It is encouraged that as soon as the child is able to walk, she does not wear clothes that resemble the kafr, and that she should always have her knees and as much as possible of the arms and legs covered when leaving the house or having guests over.
She should be taught modesty in behavior and dress from the cradle.
It is ideal to sew small jilbabs (light overcoats) and khimaar (head/neck/chest covering) for the young muslimah, properly preparing her for full coverage at puberty. It is actually less fitnah on the parent to dress her in the simple attire of a muslim, as compared to looking for fashionable clothes in a shopping mall.
At the age of 7, the parent should order her to pray salah, and of course, she must be wearing hijab (the entire head and body covering) for the salah.
By the age of 10, her parents may and should punish her for missing fard (obligatory) salah, and once again, she must be wearing hijab to perform salah.
When she reaches puberty, insha'Allah, she will wear niqab (literally: draw the khimaar over her face).
By the age of puberty, she should already be used to wearing hijab (which is in her fitrah [natural state] to be covered).
She may have already chosen to veil prior to reaching puberty, and with the proper instruction, she will look forward to and embrace this step in becoming a young woman.
Hijab is not something a muslim parent gives as an option to a child. The muslim parent is responsible for seeing that the young muslimah is properly covered according to Qur'an and Sunnah.
Parents will have to determine when their daughter has reached puberty, not the child, unless of course, she is a muslim revert with non-Muslim parents, in which case she should seek the counsel of a Muslim wali.
Depending on a woman's environment, she may simply keep her face uncovered and then draw the khimaar up over her face on the rare occasion of a non-mahram's presence; or, if this is too much fitnah to constantly draw it over her face, such as circumstances when men are frequently present, she may choose to affix a screen (i.e. the Niqab) that does this for her without her needing to use a hand to hold it over her face.
Hadith - Bukhari, Narrated Hishams father
Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married 'Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumated that marriage when she was nine years old.
Hadith - Abu Dawud, narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin
[Also recorded al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and ibn Majah. Al-Albani says it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 2, p. 1280.]
The Prophet said: Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a khimaar.
Hadith - Dawud, Narrated As-Saburah
[Also recorded by Ahmand and al-Hakim. Al-Syuti has give in a notation signifying that it is authentic. Al-Albani has graded it hasan. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 2, p. 1021.]
The Prophet said: Order your children to pray at the age of seven. And beat them [lightly] if they do not do so by the age of ten. And separate them in their bedding.
Who Can She Uncover in front of?
A Muslimah should not uncover her adornment in front of any non-Mahrahm male. Muslimahs should especially be careful and remain covered, modest, and quiet around in-laws.
If a gay male is aware of female body parts, he should not be allowed to view a woman uncovered. And, of course, a bi-sexual male should not be allowed to view a woman without proper covering.
In addition, a Muslimah should not uncover that which she normally uncovers, in front of any non-Muslim female whom she fears may describe her to others. She may also choose to remain covered around any Muslim female whom she fears may describe her physical attributes to their husband or others.
The Noble Qur'an - An-Nur 24:30-31
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them. Verily, Allâh is All-Aware of what they do.
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like palms of hands or one eye or both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils* all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husband's sons, their brothers or their brother's sons, or their sister's sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islâm), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allâh to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.
* the arabic word here is Khumaar, which is the plural form of Khimaar.
Hadith - Bukhari 7:167
The Prophet said, "A woman should not look at or touch another woman to describe her to her husband in such a way as if he was actually looking at her."
Hadith - Muslim, narrated Aisha
A eunuch used to come to the wives of Allah's Apostle and they did not find anything objectionable in his visit considering him to be a male without any sexual desire. Allah's Apostle one day came as he was sitting with some of his wives and he was busy in describing the bodily characteristics of a lady and saying: As she comes in front four folds appear on her front side and as she turns her back eight folds appear on the back side. Thereupon Allah's Apostle said: I see that he knows these things; do not, therefore, allow him to enter. She (Aisha) said: Then they began to observe veil from him.
Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #3109, narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud [Tirmidhi transmitted it.]
The Prophet said, "A woman should be concealed, for when she goes out the devil looks at her."
Muslimahs should not socialize with non-mahram men, and should only speak out of necessity to non-mahram men. Allah swt knew that mankind would be tempted to let their guard down and their hijab down, around in-laws. Surely Allah swt is all merciful to provide us the guidance we need in every aspect of our lives. In reference to socializing with in-laws, such close relations can easily lead to adultery which has the death penalty.
Hadith - Bukhari and Muslim
The Prophet said, "The in-laws are death."
The Dress of a Muslimah Among Other Women
From a Lecture by Saalih as-SaalihBismillaahi ar-Rahmaani ar-Rahiim. Alhamdulillaahi Rabbi-l-Aalameen Sallallaahu 'alaa Nabiyyinaa Muhammad wa aalihi wa sahbihi wa sallam.
Question: Our Shaykh Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen, rahimahullaah, was asked that there is a phenomena with some women and it is them wearing short dresses and tight dresses which exposes their features and some dresses without sleeves exposing the chest and the back and appearing almost naked and that when we advice them they say that they don't put such clothes except in the presence of other woman. And that the 'awrah of the woman with the women is from the navel to the knee. So what is the ruling regarding this and what is the ruling regarding these types of clothes with wearing them in the presence of Mahrams? May Allaah subhaanahu wa Ta'ala reward you abundantly on the behalf of the Muslims and Muslimaat. Answer: The answer for this is to say that it is authentically related from the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, to have said, 'Of the people of Hell there are two types whom I have never seen: The one possessing whips like the tail of an ox and they flog people with them. The second one the women who would be naked in spite of their being dressed, who are seduced to wrong paths and seduce others with their hair high like humps. These women would not get into Paradise and they would not perceive its odour, although its fragrance can be perceived from such and such distance.' [ Saheeh Muslim Volume 4, hadeeth number 6840]. The people of knowledge interpreted the term "dressed but naked" as those women who put on tight clothes or light clothes which does not shield what is underneath or short clothes. And Shaykh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah, rahimahullaah, mentioned that the dress of woman in their homes at the time of the Prophet, alayhi-s-salaat was-salaam, was from the ankle (--) up all the way to the palm. All of this covered while in their homes. And that when they leave to the market it is known that the women of the Companions used to put on dresses that flow over their ends dragging on the earth and the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, made it permissible for them to lower or to make permissible for the lower end to extend to an arm span, not to exceed that. However as to what became unclear to some woman from the saying of the Prophet, alayhi-s-salaat was-salaam, a woman should not look to the 'awrah of another woman nor man to look the 'awrah of men. And their understanding that the 'awrah of a respected woman is the part between her navel and her knees. So they understood from this that this hadeeth indicates that it is ok to have short to wear or put on short clothes.
However, this misunderstanding of theirs is refuted by the fact that the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, did not say 'the dress of a woman is between the navel and the knee'. He didn't say this. So that we take from this an evidence.. However, he said 'the woman should not look to the private parts of the woman, the 'awrah of the women. So he forbade the one who looks. Why? Because the one who puts on flowing over clothes sometimes she may uncover her private parts or for any other reason. So the Prophet forbade that the woman looks at the 'awrah of the other woman. Do you understand? Do you understand the difference between the two? The Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, did not say that 'the dress of a woman is between the navel and the knee'.
And when the Prophet, alayhi-s-salaat was-salaam, said: 'The man should not look to the other man's private parts" so did they, the Companions, wear 'izaar, the waist-garment, from the navel to the knee? Or did they put on pants from the navel to the knee? And is it now sound for a woman to go out and meet other women having on her nothing except that which shields from the area from the navel to the knee? No one says this. And this is not the case except with the woman of the kaafirs, the kaafir woman. So this is the thing which was understood by some women from this hadeeth, is incorrect. And the hadeeth's meaning is obvious and appearant. If the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, did not say that the dress of the woman should be between her navel and her knee so the woman should fear Allaah, subhaanahu wa Ta'ala, and should assume shyness and bashfulness which is from the characteristic of the woman and this is from eemaan, from faith, as the Prophet said, 'Bashfulness is a branch of faith.' Similarly also we know the parable which says, 'More bashful than a woman kept in her private quarter'. This is a parable because of the shyness that the woman should assume. And we did not know, not even concerning the woman in the pre-Islamic era, nisaa ul-jaahiliyyah, the woman of jaahiliyyah, that they used to shield that which is between the navel and the knee only. This was not the case with the women nor it was the case with the men. So do these women then, do they want that the Muslim Woman be in a worse situation than the woman of jaahiliyyah? And in summary, the dress is something and looking at the 'awrah is something else. The dress, libaas, of a woman when she is with another woman, the legal dress is to cover that which between the palms and to the ankles. This is the legal. However, if the woman needs to tuck up her dress because of work or something else then she may tuck it all the way to the knee. And similarly if she needs to tuck up the sleeves, if she needs to tuck up the sleeves all the way to the shoulder then she may do so as it is a need, whenever there's a need. However, to have this to be the normal dress which she puts on, then no. And the hadeeth does not indicate this under any circumstances. And that's why if the address was to the one looking, not to the one being looked at. And the Prophet, alayhis-salaat was-salaam, did not mention anything about the dress. And he did not say that 'the dress of the woman is between the navel and the knee'. So that's what keeps women from having this kind of misunderstanding.
As with respect to their mahrams, then the same in terms of looking, like the looking of a woman to a woman. Meaning: that it is permissible for the woman to uncover in the presence of her mahrams that which she uncovers in the presence of other women. She may uncover the head, the neck, the feet, the hands, the arm and the shin. But she should not make her dress short. This is a quick drawing over on the answer of our Shaykh, rahimahullaah, concerning this question which often comes or is often presented by many of our sisters. So I ask Allaah, subhaanahu wa Ta'ala, to make it a benefit for them and for all of us. Alhamdulillaahi Rabbi-l-Aalameen, wa sallallaahu 'alaa nabiyyinaa Muhammad wa aalihi wa sahbihi wa sallam.