Some Questions and Answers on Niqab

Collected from many Live Fatwa sessions from

Question: Assalamu Alaykum. I have a question regarding the daleels for NOT wearing niqab (as refutations for the daleels supporting niqab). ie, what do those who say niqab is not wajib base their opinion on? & what do they think of the early scholars' opinions on the tafaseer as well as ahadith supporting the obligation to cover the face. I have been searching for this & hope u can shed some light of some specific daleels (besides the daleel relating to fatima r.a.). your input is appreciated. Jazak Allah khair

Answer: Sheikh Nasirudeen Al-Albani has written a book entitled "HijabulMaraatilmuslima" answering the challange of Al-Mawdudi in his book Alhijab. Al-Albani goes for no niqab. He refers to the Hadith of Al-Bukhari that tells a youthful female came in Hajj to ask the Prophet a question on Hajj. Al-Fadl the cousin of the Prophet was a young youth. He started looking at that woman and the Prophet was turning his face. The Prophet did not tell that woman to wear a niqab. Had it been obligatory, he would have told her. This is a daleel that a woman can do without a niqab. We advise you to go through these two books as well as Al-Mufassal by Abdul-Karim Zaidan.

Question: A number of scholars, Maududi included, have claimed that Neqab is a requirement for Muslim women. What do you think and is there any book that discusses this issue and clarifies the position of Islam, by discussing the evidence the proponents of Neqab present?

Answer: A fard or haram should not be of controversial issues in the principles of thought or the rules of shari'a. A great many scholars have elaobrated on this statement, including whom who emphaiszed this the most are Malik, Abu Hanifah, Ahmed and Ash-Shafi'i. This is why Al-Imam Ahmed, in many questions he sued to answer makruh instead of saying haram.

We see that there are two major thoughts concerning niqab. For example, Maududi's book "Al-Hijab," is supportive to the niqab. That book is versus to Al-Albani's "Hijjab ul-Marratil Muslimah," which advocates the opinion of no niqab, referring to authentic narrations of Al-Bukhari when a youthful, attractive female asked the Prophet (SAAWS) a question on Hajj, she was uncovering her face. Al-Fadhil ibn Abbas, his (SAAWS) cousin started looking at her but the Prophet (SAAWS) was turning his head from that gaze. Had uncovering the face been haram, the Prophet (SAAWS) would have told her that she should wear a niqab, but he didn't do that. If I say anything next to that exposure of opinions and studies, I cannot believe that there is room for a clear-cut answer to say niqab is fard or uncovering the face is haram. I'm not goping to object to any woman if she prefers niqab nor am I objecting any man if he wants to cover his face. This is personal business and everyone should feel that they have the option in the arena of what is halal.

Question: As-Salamu `alaykum. I was watching a TV program that broadcasts some court cases. When I tuned to this channel, it was about a Muslim woman who is suing the State of Florida's Vehicle and License Department because it asked her to remove her face veil (niqab) so that an ID photo can be taken. One of the Muslim leaders in that state was on the cross-examination and argued that the woman can remove her niqab only in case of death!

What would you say to Muslim women who live in the West generally and in the US particularly about the issue of niqab? Is it so difficult to remove the niqab that she must file a case against the State, which doesn't even require her to uncover her hair, as some states do require for the drivers' license?

Answer: Dear brother, we commend your eagerness to become well acquainted with the teachings of Islam, which is the way Allah has chosen for the welfare of His servants.

As for your question, bear in mind that the majority of Imams — including those of the four schools of fiqh as well as others — hold the opinion that a woman is not obliged to cover her face and hands. However, a group of scholars, the majority of whom belong to the Hanbali School, teach that a woman must cover her face and hands as well.

It goes without saying that Muslims precede others in keeping the public interest and security of the nation. Therefore, if the law governing a given country requires uncovering the face of the woman for genuine reasons, such as identification, the Muslim woman, like all other women, abides by the law.

In response to your question, the prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal Nadvi, Imam of Calgary Mosque, Alberta, Canada, and Former Professor at King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, states:

“The issue of niqab (covering the whole body including the face and hands) is a basic condition of hijab (Muslim woman’s dress) in one school of fiqh, while it is recommended part of hijab in other schools. But what is agreed upon in all schools is to remove the niqab[i.e., to uncover the face]) for some genuine reasons such as identification or medical purpose.

The case you mentioned may be a reason to remove the niqab if the police officer is in need to do so, and there is a legal requirement by the law to show the face, regardless of the faith and this applies to all faiths.

However, this should not be a way of discrimination against a veiled woman just to tease her. Therefore, the sister has to insist on her right to use niqab and fight for this right IF she is targeted for discrimination and the law does not require showing the face.”

Dr. Rif`at Fawzi, professor of Shari`ah at Cairo University, adds:

“It is permissible, as far as Shari`ah is concerned, to remove the niqab (face cover) for some genuine reasons such as identification or to get a photo for ID or driving license.

Therefore, if a Muslim woman is asked to remove the face cover to get a photo for such genuine reasons, then she is permitted to do so and Almighty Allah will forgive such matters. Added to that, she will keep the photo and such matters are pardoned for the facilitation of the affairs of people.”

Question: Will I be harming the image of Islam if I wear the niqab? I have done a great deal of research and I have found that a number of scholars state it is mustahab. I understand completely that it is not fard but wish to take this step, seeking to please Allah. I am facing a lot of opposition as I live in a Western country. Please advise.

Answer: In The Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

"Indeed, living in a Western country is a good chance to help you give others a good idea about Islam. Wearing niqab is good in some aspects, but it gives wrong message to women in the West and wearing it makes them feel that Islam is very difficult to practice as lots of them think that it is very difficult to change from the American or Bristish life styles and wear the niqab.

Having said this, I advise Muslim sisters living in Western societies to wear clothes that are acceptable in the environment where they live, but those clothes should not give wrong message to the Westerners about Islam. Those clothes should symbolize modesty and respect for our women according to the teachings of Islam."

Question: I am a woman who wears niqab in Australia. I am having second thoughts about keeping it on because I feel that it has a negative da`wah towards my family and a bit towards my husbands family. I also think that if I did take it off I would do more da`wah towards my family who are misguided. It will lessoen the hate towards becoming Muslim and warm my mothers heart and other relatives hearts toward Islam.

I have looked into the issue of niqab and if it's Sunnah or fard; and I feel itss more Sunnah than fard. The thing is that my husband doesn't want me to take it off because he is a jealous man. How can I get through to him that maybe it's better for me to take it off to do more da`wah to my family and also to those around me? I feel that the niqab forms a barrier to giving da`wah in the west. Is it better to take off niqab in these western countries if one believes it's Sunnah?

Answer: As salamu `alaykum. I an not a supporter of niqab and find it a complete turn off in terms of communicating with people. To me it says 'Stay Away' - I do not wish to acknowledge or have dialogue with you - please do not invade my space'.

My feeling is that when I awake every day I think to myself what can I do today to address the misunderstandings about Islam - How can I make someone more aware about Islam - what can my presence in this world on this day do to influence someone positively about Islam and I go about my work with the help of Allah. Niqab will not allow me to do this and as far as your husband is concerned - let him get over himself - the situation with Islam in the world today is far too important compared with petty jealousy. Wa salam

Question: Question If a husband asks the wife to wear niqab in the west, is she obliged to obey him and wear it? If she doesn't accept it, will Allah be disappointed with her?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

It is not obligatory in Islam for a woman to wear niqab (face veil); Hijab, however, is obligatory. Since Allah did not mandate niqab, you have no right to force your wife to cover her face.

Furthermore, by this kind of approach you are being unwise and harsh; that will only help to drive her away from Islam. In this time and age of ours, it is absolutely necessary for us to understand the pressures on us, and present the compassionate and leniency of Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Present Islam as it really is: simple and easy" and "You have been sent to bring good news, rather than doom!"

Therefore, be gentle and treat your wife compassionately.


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