The issue of the Niqaab has continued to arouse extended controversy and debate between ‘Ulamaa (scholars) and Fuqahaa (jurists) both past and present concerning whether it is Waajib (mandatory) or Mustahabb (favoured by Allah ta’aalaa) for the woman. And whether she subsequently falls into sin by exposing her face or not. Each of the two sides clings to their own opinion that they in turn support with evidence from the Quraanic Ayaat, the Prophetic ahadeeth and the practice of the Sahaabah and their views.
One of the views on this is that the Niqaab is legally binding on the woman and she who abandons it is a sinner. It says that the woman’s face – which she is ordered not to reveal to non-relatives – is definitely part of the Auwrah (private areas that are never to be exposed). The other view says that the Niqaab is simply recommended and encourages the woman to cover her face; however, it does not place it on the level of being mandatory. Consequently, this opinion does not consider the woman falling into sin when she exposes and unveils her face as long as in doing so, she has not applied facial makeup.
The dispute continues between the two viewpoints and takes on, on certain occasions, bitter aspects. The advocates for making the face veil mandatory accuse the other group of following their own desires. The other group accuses their opponents of being obstinate fanatics. The matter is much broader than this and does not require accusations of obstinacy nor of following the desires but rather requires making Ijtihaad (judgement based on the Sharee’ah) and following Daleel (proof from the Sharee’ah) to the best of one’s ability.
To give the benefit of the doubt in such a situation is better and most befitting for the Muslim, limiting the points of difference and narrowing the gap of disagreement are two factors which are sought after. I do not want in this rush to take a side with one group over the other: nor to validate the proofs of which I see the truth in this issue. Rather the aim is, as I said, to narrow the controversy and to highlight the points agreed upon.
Thereby, we may adopt them and work on spreading them. As for the point of disagreement – it will remain under the category of Ijtihaad whose scholarly advocate will be rewarded whether he attains truth or was mistaken.
Please Consider The Following
First: The two views agree upon the legitimacy of the Niqaab, that it is a consummate perfection for a woman and more virtuous for her, as well as closer to the aims of the Sharee’ah – which is to prevent Fitnah – and is an obstruction to excuses as well as severing the path of those who follow their lusts. It is therefore more appropriate that the efforts should be directed to encourage wearing the Niqaab, and to motivate people towards it, and to show and explain its virtues and merits. This implies that covering the face with the Niqaab should be the general rule and uncovering the face the exception.
Second: In spite of the fact that there are differing views on the Islaamic ruling regarding whether the Niqaab is obligatory or recommended, it is undoubtably one’s duty to unify the call for it and cooperate as much as possible in urging young women about its necessity and to limit their desire to expose their faces as much as possible. Indeed, it is merely gracious to both parties, unlike what is happening now between opposing sides – which is to leave the matter loose and dangling through the claim that the Niqaab is only Mustahabb, and being aloof from spreading the call for it. This is indeed an inversion of the truth and poor judgement in the matter.
Hence, my brother Muslims, when you are asked: ‘What is the form of the Hijaab according to the Sharee’ah, especially from a woman who loves the Deen?’ you should urge and encourage her to wear the Niqaab even if you are of the opinion that it is only Mustahabb.
Lastly: We truly hope from Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa for the day when all believing women rush to cover their faces with full contentment of their souls and desire for their Deen is the strongest of desires. This is a hope which, without any doubt, is shared with me by those who are of the opinion of it being Mustahabb and those who are of the opinion of it being Waajib.
I pray that Allah guide us along the Straight Path, and protect us from deviation after having followed guidance. And may Allah bless the Leader of His Messengers, Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), his family and his companions, and all who follow in their footsteps until the Final Hour, Ameen.
Compiled by I.A. Palmer