Seeking Sacred Sunni Knowledge

The Shafi'i Stance on Women Covering Their Face

Compiled by Abul Layth for all English Speaking Shafi’is

Last Updated: Sept 17th 2008 

This article is a compilation of all of the statements of the shafi’i jurists that I could find specifically on the issue of covering the face. I am sure there are more, and if I find more, I will add them to this collection. I have taken many of these quotes from the SeekingIlm research paper “Defending the Obligation of Niqab”. Many, however, are newly translated and are taken from my own personal research regarding this legal issue. I hope this collection of statements encourages all Shafi’is to implement the madh-hab’s official stance on the issue.

According to the Shafi’i Jurist Ibn Naqib Al-Masri there is agreement of the school that a woman is to cover her face in front of the ajnabi (unrelated non-mahram male). He states in his ‘Umdatus-Saalik,

وقد نقل الاتفاق على منع النساء من الخروج سافرات الوجوه ولا فرق بين الفتنة وعدمها 

    Translation of Shaykh Nuh: “A majority of the scholars have been recorded as holding that it is unlawful for women to leave the house with faces unveiled, whether or not there is likelihood of temptation.”

“Al-Ittifaaq” means ‘agreement’. Another translation:”There is agreement of the scholars…”[pg 512 of the ‘Umdah]

 Imam An-Nawawi in his Rawdatu-Taalibin quotes Imam Al-Haramayn Al-Juwayni as stating,

اتفاق المسلمين على منع النساء من الخروج سافرات

    “There is agreement of the Muslims that it is unlawful upon women to leave their homes while their faces are uncovered.”Quoted by Al-Khatib Ash-Shirbini in his Mughni Al-Muhtaaj ((3:128-129 )), quoted in Fat-hul-’Allam Sharh Murshid Al-Anaam, quoted in Tuhfat Al-Minhāj Bi-Sharh Al-Minhāj of Ibn Hajr Al-Haytamī, Vol. 7 page 193, published by Dār Al-Fikr, by Imām Taqiyud-dīn Abū Bakr ibn Muhammad Al-Husaynī Ad-Dimashqī Ash-Shāfi’ī in his Kifāyatul Akhyār Vol. 2 page 42, and elsewhere.

 The Shafi’i, Ibn Rislaan, also stated,

    “The Muslims are in agreement that it is prohibited for women to come out of their homes while their faces are uncovered.” (Quoted by Imam Ash-Shawkani in his Nayl Al Awtār 6/114]

Imām An-Nawawi said while talking about Salah, “The ‘Awrah of a free woman is everything but her hands and face…”

Shaykh Sulaymān Al Jamal in his Haashiyah explaining what is meant says,

وهذه عورتها في الصلاة . وأما عورتها عند النساء المسلمات مطلقًا وعند الرجال المحارم ، فما بين السرة والركبة . وأما عند الرجال الأجانب فجميع البدن  

    “And this is her ‘awrah in Salah. And her ‘awrah amongst the muslim women and the Mahārim men (fathers etc) is what is between her navel and knees. As for her ['awrah] in front of Ajānib (foreign) men it is all of her body.” ((Haashiyatul Jamal ‘Alal Sharh Al-Minhaaj 1/411 ))

And Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdillah Al Jordāni said,

    “And know that Al-Awrah is of two types,1) ‘Awrah in the Salah 2) ‘Awrah when she leaves it. And All of her is a must for her to cover.’

He continues after discussing the issue of when an unrelated man is looking at her and he states,

ويجب عليها أن تستتر عنه ، هذا هو المعتمد 

     ”And it is obligatory upon her to cover from him, and this is the Mu’tamid (the established position in the school).” [Fat-thul ‘Allām bi Sharh Murshid Al Anām 1:34-35]

The Great Shafi’i Jurist Ash Sheikh Taqiyud Din Al Hisni said,

    “And it is makrūh (hated) that one makes Salāh in a garment with pictures on it, and that a woman wear niqāb, unless she is in the masjid and in it are men who are ajānib, and they are not caring about looking, so if she fears that they are looking at her, it is harām for her to lift the niqāb, and this happens in a lot of places such as the going to Bayt Al Maqdis…” [Kifāyatul Akhyār 1/181]

Ash-Shaykh Muhammad ibn Al Qāsim Al Ghazzi Ash-Shafi’i said,

    “And the entirety of the free woman is ‘awrah except her face and hands, and this is her ‘awrah in Salāh. As for her ‘awrah when she leaves Salah, then her ‘awrah is all of her body.” [Fat-hul Qarīb bi Sharh Al-Faath At Taqrīb page 19]

Ash-Shaykh Muhammad Az-Zuhri Al-Ghumraawi Ash-Shaafi’i stated,

    “It is forbidden for man to look at anything of the ajnabiyyah (unrelated, marriageable woman) including her face, hair, fingernails, whether she be free or a slave.”

He says further down,

    “So as for the free Ajnabiyyah it is forbidden to look at any part of her even if there is no shahwah (desire). The same ruling is for touching and sitting alone with them. According to the established opinion (mu’tamad) the slave is just like her. There is no difference in whether she is beautiful or not.”

He states on the next page, “And it is Haraam upon her to unveil anything of her body, including her face and hands, in front of a pubescent boy or a female disbeliever.” ((Anwaar Al Masaalik Sharh Umdat As-Saalik page 217 ))

Shaykh Zakariya Al-Ansaari (rahimahullah) stated, when discussing Salah, “And the ‘Awrah of a free woman is everything save the face and the hands.” Shaykh Ash-Sharqaawi states in his explanation of this,

وعورة الحرة .. أي : في الصلاة . أما عورتها خارجها بالنسبة لنظر الأجنبي إليها فجميع بدنها حتى الوجه والكفين ولو عند أَمنِ الفتنة

     ”And this is her ‘awrah in Salah. As for her ‘awrah outside of it, when the Ajnabi (unrelated marriageable man) can look at her, then all of her body including the face and the hands, even if there is security from fitnah.” ((Tuhfat At-Tullaab Sharh Tahreer Tanqih Al-Lubaab page 174 ))

Imām Ash-Shirwāni said,

قال الزيادي في شرح المحرر : إن لها ثلاث عورات :
ــ عورة في الصلاة ، وهو ما تقدم ــ أي كل بدنها ما سوى  الوجه والكفين ــ .
ــ وعورة بالنسبة لنظر الأجانب إليها : جميع بدنها حتى الوجه والكفين على المعتمد .
ــ وعورة في الخلوة وعند المحارم : كعورة الرجل

“[Imām] Ziyādi in Sharh Al-Muharar said: For a woman there is three [types of] ‘Awrahs,

1) ‘Awratu-fis-Salāh (the ‘awrah of prayer) – and that was mentioned before – It is everything of the body except the face and the hands.
2) The ‘Awrah with regards to an un-related man looking at her: It is the entire body including the hands and the face, according to (the opinion that is) relied upon.
3) The ‘awrah in privacy and amongst her Mahrams (those people related to her and un-marriable): It is like the ‘Awrah of men. [i.e. from her navel to her knees]. ((Haashiyat Ash-Shirwaani Alaa Tuhfat Al-Muhtaaj ))

 Imām Taqiyud-Dīn As-Subkī said,

“And what is the closest (in opinion), from what our companions have produced is that the face and the hands of a woman are ‘awrah in nathr (i.e. looking) and not in the Salāh.” ((Quoted by Imām Al-Khatīb Ash-Shirbinī in his Al-Mughnī Al-Muhtāj. ))

 Al-Hāfidh Ibn Hajr Al ‘Asqalāni said in his Fat-hul Bāri said,

لم تزل عادة النساء قديمًا وحديثاً يسترن وجوههن عن الأجانب

    “And it has not ceased to be a custom for women, from the older generations and the newer ones, to cover their faces from non-related men.” ((Fat-hul Bāri 9/235 ))
The following quotes were added on Sept. 17th 2008 :
Imam As-Suyuti said in Al-Istinbat At-Tanzil,

هذه آية الحجاب في حق سائر النساء، ففيها وجوب ستر الرأس والوجه عليهن


“This is the verse of Hijab regarding all women. In it is the wujub (obligation) upon them of covering the head and the face.” (3/118)

He also stated in Al-Ashbaah wan-Nathaa’ir,

وعورتها كل البدن حتى الوجه والكفين في الأصح

“And her ‘awrah is all of her body including her face and hands according to the most correct view (Al-‘Asahh).” (pg. 410)

Imam Ar-Ramli stated in his Nihayatul-Muhtaj, 

وعلى المرأة ستر وجهها وكفيها من رؤوس الأصابع إلى المعصم ظهرا وبطنا

“And upon the woman is that she cover her face and hands from the tips of the fingers to the wrists, the top and bottom.” (6/187)

Shihab stated in his commentary,

ومذهب الشافعي رحمه الله كما في الروضة وغيرها أن جميع بدن المرأة عورة حتى الوجه والكف مطلقا

“And the school of Ash-Shafi’i, may Allah have mercy upon him, is as stated in Ar-Rawdah and other than it, that all of the woman is ‘awrah including the face and the hands.”

34 Responses to “The Shafi'i Stance on Women Covering Their Face”

  1. Umm Layth says:

    Ibn Hajr’s statement!

  2. Chiley says:

    Where are the Quran verses, for just like Christianity I will not believe a man who is not one of the prophets. For their assumptions and interpretations are bias.

  3. Abul Layth says:

    Chiley, we have collected the proofs from the Qur’an and the Sunnah here:

    This article was simply a collection of statements from some of the Shafi’i jurists, that is all.

  4. Abdul Rahiim as-Siini says:

    Assalamu alaykum WR WB,

    Firstly, jazakALLAH for your time and effort involved. AlhamduliLLAH it is clear to see that the mu’tammad in our school is that it is wajib.

    Just a quick one though, even in Minhaj at-Talibin (Nawawi – RAH) every masala is classified and even “fil-aswah ” is deemed as the the strongest opinion, all-the-while the descenting view is weak but has its valid evidences and supporters.

    In this case have you found any of the Shafi’ akabir who held onto this wek view? with or without their evidneces, just who they were and what book this opinion was recorded in?

    I only ask because even Shaykh Nuh (DB) in speaking on this issue said that the niqab is non-negotiable in his company (whilst travelling) and in Jordan and Syria. HOWEVER, himself and also even according to his shaykh (i think its that same one he used to learn Hayatus Sahaba with) that hijab is minimum universally (and niqab in those specs abovementioned). I just wanted to know why Sh. Nuh leant on this position for his salikiin and where its from… from a fiqha stance.

    Believe me, this is with good intent InshALLAH i ask for the weaker opinions in defence of Shaykh Nuh’s (DB) audio on hijab being the minimum universally (instead of niqab being the minimum).

    JazakALLAH wasalam

  5. Abul Layth says:

    Salamu ‘alaykum Sidi As-Siini,

    I think it is best that your forward your question to Shaykh Nuh. I believe that he utilizes the rukhsa found within the Hanafi madh-hab for his verdict, not that of the Shafi’i view.

    However, I could be mistaken, and you should feel free to ask either him or someone close to him. We are not his spokesmen or affiliated with the noble shaykh in any way.

    If you are asking if there were any Kibaar of the Shafi’i school who held that the face was not ‘awrah fi nathr, then I do not know of any of the kibaar that held such a view, though I do not deny the possibility of such.

  6. Ikhlas says:

    As salamu alaykum,

    The position of Imam Nawawi is that the face is Awrah.However the position that Ibn Hajr al Haytami reports is that Many early Shafis did not included the face and hands as part of the Awrah, this is the position we were taught to apply to teh sisters while living in the UK by our teachers.

  7. Abul Layth says:

    Sidi, if you could bring us the quote and references for that opinion please do.

  8. Ikhlas says:

    As salamu alaykum, I received this during class as an alternative opinion for the sisters in the west. I’ll ask for a reference from Ibn Hajr’s(Haytami) works.Shaykh Afifi’s classes won’t start again for another month so you might have to wait.
    Jazakullah Khair

  9. IrfanIbnIsmail says:

    im shafi-south India, and the shafi scholars here have been increasingly insisting on covering the face and there is an increase in covering the face among the women here.alhamdulilah

    my doubt is when looking at the traditional dress code i dont find the niqaab among them.
    even malayasia, indoneisa etc is shafi. to my knowledge, the traditional dress code over there dont include the niqaab???

    any particluar reason for that??

  10. Ikhlas says:

    i found this on suuni path.

    I have noticed from reading the Reliance of the Traveler and other Shafi’i fiqh references that the relied upon position of the Shafi’i madhab with regard to niqab is obligation. It seems to be required for women to cover their hands and face. For the most part, this isn’t practised in Malaysia and I was wondering if there were acceptable alternative opinions within the madhab that allow the more lenient position (of exposing the hands and the face) to be followed (which to my knowledge is the relied upon position of the Malikis).

    The Shafi`i Madhhab has differentiated, with regard to face-veil (niqab) and covering the hands in public, between it being a qualified order (amr) connected with self-respect (muru’a) rather than an obligation in itself (wajib), however, the conclusive position seems indeed to be the latter as you said. Al-Shirbini said in Mughni al-Muhtaj: “The obvious meaning of the words of the Two Shaykhs [Nawawi and Rafi`i] is that covering (satr) is obligatory in itself (wajib li-dhatih).”

    Yet the Madhhab *allows* exposing the hands and face if there is no fear of enticement (fitna), especially in trading, witnessing, engagement and marriage, and other transactions, as they are NOT part of nakedness (`awra), and *commands* it in Hajj, although some have deduced that in the context of prohibited gazes they ARE, as related from al-Subki by al-Shirbini and favored by Dr. Sa`id al-Buti in his book Ila Kulli Fatatin Tu’minu bilLah (“To Every Young Woman That Believes in Allah”).

    A Permissive Ruling?

    Some cite al-Haytami’s assertion in al-Fatawa al-Kubra (1:199): “The sum of our [Shafi`i] Madhhab is that Imam al-Haramayn [Ibn al-Juwayni] related consensus (ijma`) over the permissibility for women to go out bare-faced but men must lower their gazes.”

    In Hashiyat Sharh al-Idah fi Manasik al-Hajj (p. 276) al-Haytami repeats this ruling but adds: “This is not contradicted by the consensus over her being commanded to cover her face. The fact that she is commanded to do so for the general welfare does not presuppose its obligatoriness.” And (p. 178): “Her need to cover her face stems only from her fear that someone’s gaze might lead to a sexual impropriety (fitna), even if we say that it is not obligatory (wajib) for her to cover her face in the public thoroughfares as we have determined elsewhere.”

    This is similar to Qadi `Iyad al-Maliki’s assertion of “Consensus (Ijma`) that it is not obligatory for her to cover her face while walking down her street but it is a sunna, and that it is obligatory for men to lower their gaze.” The Shafi`is cite this ruling and the Yemeni Shaykh Jamal al-Din Muhammad ibn `Abd Al-Rahman ibn Hasan ibn `Abd al-Bari al-Ahdal (1277-1352) even recommends it in his book `Umdat al-Mufti wal-Mustafti (3:90-91), an abridgment of a collection of books of fatawa which is of great significance given the lateness of the author. He apparently ignored al-Shirbini’s comment in the Mughni: “The statement of the Qadi [`Iyad] is weak.”

    The Likelier Ruling

    At the same time, al-Nawawi in al-Rawda and al-Shirbini in al-Iqna` and Mughni al-Muhtaj both report that Imam al-Haramayn clearly stipulated that the stranger’s gaze to a woman’s face is forbidden (haram) whether or not there is fear of fitna [short of a valid excuse in the Law such as one of the transactions mentioned] and that “women are therefore forbidden to leave the house barefaced (saafiraat), by agreement of the [law-abiding and knowledgeable] Muslims… since it is more appropriate and decorous in the Law to block the avenue of enticement.”

    The latter ruling takes precedence in the Shafi`i School just as al-Nawawi (especially al-Rawda) takes precedence over al-Haytami. Furthermore, al-Haytami’s Fatawa and Sharh al-Idah come last even in the hierarchy of his own books[;] one would have to adduce his Tuhfat al-Muhtaj which is more authoritative, but not more so than the Rawda.

    It remains to double-check Imam al-Haramayn’s actual statement about consensus; however, none of his works is actually authoritative in the Madhhab by itself.

    Malay Practice

    The continuous habitual exposure we see in SE Asia suggests either one of two scenarios: [1] laxity that stems from custom and culture without grounding or justification in the Madhhab. The proof of this is that SE Asian Islam was originally brought by the Hadramis, who are not nearly so liberal, al-Ahdal being unrepresentative. There are also Tariqa and other groups in Malaysia that use niqab and have become notorious for doing so, since they are perceived as a protest or a rebellion, which confirms that its neglect in those parts stems from culture rather than religion.

    Or [2] South-East Asian Muslimas do not feel the need to cover their faces because they do not fear that someone’s gaze might lead to sexual impropriety, and this was known by the Hadrami Masters, therefore they did not insist on it, especially in light of the apparent permissiveness of the view from Imam al-Haytami’s perspective and because the Hadramis are known to rely heavily on the latter (rather than on al-Nawawi and al-Rafi`i as do all other Shafi`is.)

    One could surmise the situation is closer to the first scenario as illustrated by the following conversation in Brunei between a local Fiqh teacher and a traveller:

    Traveller: Is it not the custom for Muslim males in Brunei to dye their hands with henna in their nikah celebration?

    Fiqh Teacher: Yes.

    Traveller: But is it not expressly forbidden in the Shafi`i Madhhab – the state Madhhab and that of the entire Malay population – as a haram practice for men unless in case of medical necessity?

    Fiqh Teacher: Yes.

    Traveller: Does anything explain this contradiction between the people’s custom and the Fiqh they say they follow?

    Fiqh Teacher: No.

    However, in the West (and perhaps even the South East) it is evident that the niqab would cause fitna rather than pre-empt it. Therefore, as Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali said, it should not be used there (whether by Shafi`iyyas or Muslimas of the other three Schools). The hijab is enough. However, when the hijab can be worn without danger to one’s person or honor or property, then it is corruption (fisq) or dissimulation of unbelief (nifaq) to go on not wearing it, or to wear a false version of it such as a head-scarf that leaves the throat and neck bare with a cute tuft of hair visible here and there. It should be sufficient warning to such a person that the Salat she prays in that garb is invalid and Allah knows best.


  11. Abul Layth says:

    It remains to double-check Imam al-Haramayn’s actual statement about consensus; however, none of his works is actually authoritative in the Madhhab by itself.

    This is a very strange statement indeed, considering that the Imam of the Madh-hab, Imam An-Nawawi, quotes him saying:

    اتفاق المسلمين على منع النساء من الخروج سافرات

    “There is agreement of the Muslims that it is unlawful upon women to leave their homes while their faces are uncovered.” [Rawdat-Talibin]

    Not to mention Al-Haytami himself quotes this view in his Tuhfah! The scholars have relied heavily upon this statement, as can be seen in their works (ex: Shirbini, Al-Hisni in Kifayah, etc).

  12. Abdur Rahiim As-Siini says:

    “However, in the West (and perhaps even the South East) it is evident that the niqab would cause fitna rather than pre-empt it.”

    That’s an oddity!!!

    Throughout the whole explanation (and any other kitab on the subject of covering, women’s travelling, who is and isn’t a mahram and women’s issues in general, where the word “Fitna” is used) the word “fitnah” has always been associated with “sexual impropriety” (in their own words). We are not denying the permissible usage of the word in other contexts, but never in the discussion of women’s issues especially related to covering to prevent fitnah, is it associated with anything other than sexual impropriety.

    So how is it “evident” that wearing a niqab for a lady to not bare any of her beauty would create more of an opportunity of sexual impropriety than a lady who bears the inviting beauty of her face?


    Wasalam with love

    Abi Hakeem Abdur Rahiim as-Siini

    ps – for anyone trying to get to the new link to the Sunnipath answers compilation

  13. Abdur Rahiim As-Siini says:


    “…It remains to double-check Imam al-Haramayn’s actual statement about consensus…”

    Which statement? the one just under “Permissive ruling” -

    “Some cite al-Haytami’s assertion in al-Fatawa al-Kubra (1:199): “The sum of our [Shafi`i] Madhhab is that Imam al-Haramayn [Ibn al-Juwayni] related consensus (ijma`) over the permissibility for women to go out bare-faced but men must lower their gazes.””

    Or the one in the end of the 1st paragraph of “The likelier ruling” -

    “…women are therefore forbidden to leave the house barefaced (saafiraat), by agreement of the [law-abiding and knowledgeable] Muslims…”

    In the end alhamduliLLAH, the rukhsa is there and its the very first quote in Haddad’s response – al-Fatawa al-Kubra (1:199).


  14. Abul Layth says:

    “…It remains to double-check Imam al-Haramayn’s actual statement about consensus…”

    SubhanAllah! I just realized that was stated! If they mean the quote from Imam Al-Juwayni regarding the agreement of the Muslims that it is forbidden for them come out with their face unveiled, then they simply can not be serious!?!????

  15. Abdur Rahiim As-Siini says:

    Sorry Abul Layth

    Although we know what the mu’tammad is, we have to be fair in light of ‘research’ but “they” are just quoting.

    Unfortunately, i dont have fatawa al-kubra, neither is my arabic anywhere near being able to understand it even if i did have it.

    So that leaves you mate, to look to see whether there’s something ommitted in both those quotes from al-haytami (i.e. al-Fatawa al-Kubra (1:199) and Hashiyat Sharh al-Idah fi Manasik al-Hajj (p. 276)) If its found in there verbatim as per above, then neither is there threat of fatawa al-kubra not being his compilation, nor is there threat of his being unreliable in quoting imam al-haramayn, nor is he unreliable in his statements in our school, period. So we’d be forced to accept that there is a valid position within the school.

    I remember learning that al-haytami is the mu’tammad of our school. I can’t remember on what issue, but there was one (so far from what we’re being taught) where his view is taken over an-Nawawi. Maybe you remember which?…


  16. Abdur Rahiim As-Siini says:

    Lastly (for today inshALLAH),

    i found this guy,4481.10.html

    About half way down the page, “Advisor – Global administrator” quotes Zakariyya al-ansari.

    Coz that now leaves it open from al-haytami and al-ansari (both we regard as shaykh al-islam).

    One of the resident muftis of SF:

    “Sh. Ali Juma mentioned that when Ramli and Ibn Hajr haven’t discussed an issue, then one refers to the books of Zakariya al-Ansari. If it isn’t found in there, then to the books of Khatib as-Shirbini viz. his Mughni ,as well as al-Iqna.”

    I assume he’s speaking of the grand mufti of Egypt Shaykh Ali Jumu’ah?


  17. Admin says:

    Brother, the problem is regarding Al-Juwayni and seemingly casting aspersions on his declaring agreement of the Muslims on this issue. When Imam An-Nawawi and others quote him, it is over.

    I have come upon some more quotes from the Shafi’is that I will be adding to the end of the article:

    Imam As-Suyuti said in Al-Istinbat At-Tanzil,

    هذه آية الحجاب في حق سائر النساء، ففيها وجوب ستر الرأس والوجه عليهن

    “This is the verse of Hijab regarding all women. In it is the wujub (obligation) upon them of covering the head and the face.” (3/118)
    He also stated in Al-Ashbaah wan-Nathaa’ir,
    وعورتها كل البدن حتى الوجه والكفين في الأصح
    “And her ‘awrah is all of her body including her face and hands according to the most correct view (Al-‘Asahh).” (pg. 410)
    Imam Ar-Ramli stated in his Nihayatul-Muhtaj,

    وعلى المرأة ستر وجهها وكفيها من رؤوس الأصابع إلى المعصم ظهرا وبطنا
    “And upon the woman is that she cover her face and hands from the tips of the fingers to the wrists, the top and bottom.” (6/187)
    Shihab stated in his commentary,
    ومذهب الشافعي رحمه الله كما في الروضة وغيرها أن جميع بدن المرأة عورة حتى الوجه والكف مطلقا

    “And the school of Ash-Shafi’i, may Allah have mercy upon him, is as stated in Ar-Rawdah and other than it, that all of the woman is ‘awrah including the face and the hands.”

    Ar-Ramli and An-Nawawi both discuss the issue and their verdicts are the mu’tamad of the school.

  18. Abdur Rahiim As-Siini says:

    I agree entirely that it is the relied upon position. My original question was regarding any other recognised view within the school.

    “Fil asaH”, the most sound opinion, is that opening for the difference of opinion. Where in Minhaj at-talibin (in the khutbatul kitab):

    wa haythu aqulu: (al asah awi sahih) famin alwajhayni awil aujuh, fa in qawy al khilaf qultu: (al asah), wa illa asahih.

    Both show that there is difference of opinion when using either categories (i.e. asah au sahih), only difference that one is strong valid evidence backing the other opinion (Qawy al khilaf, my teacher said this difference of opinion here is not like today i say this and i say that, but he’s talking about valid evidence-backed difference of opinion is implied – not stuff that just gets disregarded – the difference of opinion is strong would summarize the statement with the abovementioned undertone), and one isn’t (strongly backed).

    So really, even using Imam Nawawi we see, that there is/was a difference of opinion recognised (even though the mu’tammad is as per his qawl asah).

    I assume this is what Shaykh Nuh (DB) is leaning on in his nasiha as well as his shaykh – shaykh shaghouri.


  19. Abdur Rahiim As-Siini says:

    And if you say Ramli is the mu’tammad then so too is al-Haytami by virtue of excellence in scholarship and acceptance by the majority of the school.

    Whereas Nawawi is at the phase of Rafi.

    In fact, the majority of shafi’ followers are probably in SE asia, in which case they have adopted the tuhfa as the mu’tammad.


  20. Abul Layth says:

    And if you say Ramli is the mu’tammad then so too is al-Haytami by virtue of excellence in scholarship and acceptance by the majority of the school.

    Whereas Nawawi is at the phase of Rafi.

    In fact, the majority of shafi’ followers are probably in SE asia, in which case they have adopted the tuhfa as the mu’tammad.


    In response we quote Imam Al-Bulqini:

    “The Mu’tamad (the established view) of the Madh-hab in both Hukm (court rulings) and Fatwaa (legal verdicts) is whatever is agreed upon (ittafaq ‘alayh) by the two Shaykhs (i.e. Nawawi & Raafi’i). Then precedence is for Nawawi and then Imam Ar-Rafi’i. Then what has been declared the correct opinion (rajahah) by the majority. Next then is the [scholar with] more knowledge and then the scholar with more wara’ (piety). Our Shaykh [i.e. Ibn Hajr Al-Haytami (born 909 AH)] said that this is what the researching later scholars held firmly to, and it is the canonical view (‘itimaaduh) of our Shaykhs.”

    [Quoted in “Reliance of the Traveller” page 870-871 referencing from Kitaab Fat-hul Mu’een bi Sharh Qurra Al-’Ayn bi Muhimmat ad-deen.]

    So, Al-Haytami established and followed the structure as well.


    It seems based upon the statements of the earlier scholars, as well as everyone else except Al-Haytami, that Imam Al-Haramayn did not hold the view reported by Al-Haytami Rahimahullah.

    The following is the statement and entire section on covering the face and lowering the gaze in Mughni Al-Muhtaj of Ash-Shirbini:

    I have underlined the quote from Imam Al-Juwayni. Furthermore, as we quoted within the original post the opposite of Ibn Hajr’s claim has also been recorded by:

    “Imam An-Nawawi in his Rawdat-At-Talibin, in Fat-hul-’Allam Sharh Murshid Al-Anaam, also by Imām Taqiyud-dīn Abū Bakr ibn Muhammad Al-Husaynī Ad-Dimashqī Ash-Shāfi’ī in his Kifāyatul Akhyār Vol. 2 page 42, and elsewhere.”

    None of these a’immah quoted Al-Juwayni with the words ascribed to him by Al-Haytami in his Fatawa – which is not written with his own hand but actually recorded Q & A from his students.

  21. Abdur Rahiim As-siini says:

    To begin with, i appreciate this as a discourse between seekers of diin – so i thank you wa jazakALLAH. In fact, you guys are certainly my seniors, and i am barely a student but one benefitting from your inputs walhamduliLLAH.

    Secondly, I am glad and happy to see that it has been penned that the bee’s knees of our school is an-Nawawi (RAH). Something i hold onto personally anyway (not that my views weigh into the matter by even an atom’s weight). I am merely trying to understand whether it is an equally available option to practice on the sayings of Al-Haytami without having to search into an-Nawawi’s aqwal. It seems from your last quote that Haytami suffices without the approval of Ramli so that discards the quote of “Admin” above in quoting Ramli in the same kettle of fish as Nawawi (Or at least, if there is a disagreement between Haytami and everyone else other than shaykhayn, Haytami is relied upon according to your source). In fact i assume you selected Imam Al-Bulqini as he is also one to be admired. He takes this position to establish who is and isn’t our authority in the school (again from his understanding of who is to be admired) through the statement of 1 single Haytami (RAH).

    Therefore, is it not fair to conclude that before discarding al-Haytami’s references altogether, one MUST look into where he sourced them from. Then one can analyse the strength of that sanad before haytami but not as of Haytami.

    In the end, even if it results in some evidence coming to light upon the weakness of the sanad of this qawl from imam al-haramayn, the possibility is still there (although weak) and is relied upon by al-haytami and we can conlcude is valid, though weak.


  22. question says:

    Salamu alaykum,

    Jazakallaah khayr for the article, i am confused, according to shafi’i madhab if i do not cover my face and hands, does this mean i am sinning?

  23. Abul Layth says:

    Salamu alaykum,Jazakallaah khayr for the article, i am confused, according to shafi’i madhab if i do not cover my face and hands, does this mean i am sinning?

    Wa’alaykum Salam wr wb,

    The established opinion of the Shafi’i school (as well as the Hanbali, and a view of the Malikis) is that the face is ‘awrah in front of non-mahram men – though not in salah unless non-mahram men are looking upon her.

    It is the view of the Hanafi madh-hab that a woman’s face is not essentially ‘awrah, however, it is to be covered in front of non-related men (the modern view), and in times of fitnah it is necessary for her to cover her face.


  24. question says:

    jazakallah khayr, I’m shafi’i and so if I do not cover my face, then am I sinning according to the shafi scholars?

  25. Abul Layth says:

    Yes, as the fard/wajib is a command from Allah or His Messenger, that if not done, results in sayyi’at.

  26. Safiyya-Malaysia says:

    Abdur-Rahiim As-Siini,

    قال الإمام النووي في الروضة ج7/21:نظر الرجل إلى المرأة فيحرم نظره إلى عورتها مطلقا و إلى وجهها و كفيها إن خاف الفتنة و إن لم يخف فوجهان
    قال أكثر الأصحاب لا سيما المتقدمون لا يحرم لقول الله(و لا يبدين زينتهن إلا ما ظهر منها)و هو مفسر بالوجه و الكفين لكن يكره قاله الشيخ أبو حامد و غيره
    والثاني :يحرم قاله الإصطخري و أبو علي الطبري و اختاره الشيخ أبو محمد و الإمام و به قطع صاحب المهذب و الروياني
    و وجهه الإمام بإتفاق المسلمين على منع النساء من الخروج سافرات و بأن النظر مظنة الفتنة و هو محرك الشهوة فاللائق بمحاسن الشرع سد الباب فيه و الإعراض عن تفاصيل الأحوال كالخلوة بالأجنبية أ.ه
    و التحريم هو الذي صححه النووي في المنهاج حيث قال:و يحرم نظر فحل بالغ إلى عورة حرة كبيرة أجنبية و كذا وجهها و كفيها عند خوف الفتنة و كذا عند الأمن على الصحيح أ.ه
    و قال الخطيب الشربيني في المغني ج3/167:و ظاهر كلام الشيخين أن الستر-أي ستر الوجه و الكفين- واجب لذاته
    قلت:و عند أصحابنا إذا قالوا الشيخان يريدون بهما الرافعي و النووي كما هو معروف في مصطلحات المذهب
    فإذا علمت أخي طالب العلم أن الذي أطبق عليه المحققون في المذهب أن المعتمد في المذهب ما اتفقا عليه الشيخان-يعني الرافعي و النووي-فإن إختلفا و لم يوجد لهما مرجح أو وجد لكن على السواء فالمعتمد ما قاله النووي علمت أن مذهب الشافعية الراجح فيه هو وجوب النقاب لا إستحبابه
    و هذا هو الذي فهمه المتأخرون الذين تدور عليهم الفتيا في المذهب كالسبكي و الرملي و الهيتمي و الأنصاري و الشربيني
    قال السبكي كما هو في مغني المحتاج :إن الأقرب إلى صنع الأصحاب أن وجهها و كفيها عورة في النظر لا في الصلاة و إطلاقه الكبيرة يشمل العجوز التي لا تشتهى و هو الأرجح في الشرح الصغير و هو المعتمد لأن لكل ساقطة لاقطة
    و قال الشيخ زكريا الأنصاري في فتح الوهاب ج2/55:و ما ذكرته من تحريم نظر الفحل إلى وجه المرأة و كفيها و عكسه عند أمن الفتنة هو ما صححه صاحب الأصل و الذي في الروضة كأصلها عند أكثر الأصحاب حله أ.ه
    و قال الخطيب الشربيني في الإقناع في حل ألفاظ أبي شجاع ج1/124:و يكره أن يصلي الرجل متلثما و المرأة منتقبة إلا أن تكون في مكان و هناك أجانب لا يحترزون عن النظر إليها فلا يجوز لها رفع النقاب أ.ه
    و ثم مسألة أخرى لم يتعرض لها-في المذهب من المتقدمين- إلا الخطيب وهي-المغني/ج3/167- هل يحرم النظر إلى المنتقبة التي لا يتبين منها غير عينيها و محاجرها أو لا؟
    قال الأذرعي لم أر فيه نصا و الظاهر أنه لا فرق لاسيما إذا كانت جميلة فكم من المحاجر من خناجر أ.ه
    و قال الشيخ زكريا الأنصاري في أَسْنَى المطالب
    ( قَوْلُهُ نَظَرُ الْوَجْهِ وَالْكَفَّيْنِ إلَخْ ) قَالَ الْمَاوَرْدِيُّ عَوْرَتُهَا مَعَ غَيْرِ الزَّوْجِ كُبْرَى وَصُغْرَى فَالْكُبْرَى مَا عَدَا الْوَجْهِ وَالْكَفَّيْنِ وَالصُّغْرَى مَا بَيْنَ السُّرَّةِ وَالرُّكْبَةِ فَيَجِبُ سَتْرُ الْكُبْرَى فِي الصَّلَاةِ وَكَذَا عَنْ الرِّجَالِ الْأَجَانِبِ وَالْخَنَاثَى وَالصُّغْرَى عَنْ النِّسَاءِ وَإِنْ قَرُبْنَ وَكَذَا عَنْ رِجَالِ الْمَحَارِمِ وَالصِّبْيَانِ وَهَلْ عَوْرَتُهَا مَعَ الشَّيْخِ الْهَرِمِ وَالْمَجْبُوبِ الصُّغْرَى أَوْ الْكُبْرَى وَجْهَانِ قَالَ شَيْخُنَا أَصَحُّهُمَا ثَانِيهِمَا مَعَ زِيَادَةِ الْوَجْهِ وَالْكَفَّيْنِ عَلَى مَا فِي الْمِنْهَاجِ ( قَوْلُهُ مِنْ الْمَرْأَةِ إلَى الرَّجُلِ إلَخْ ) الْمُرَاهِقَةُ كَالْمُرَاهِقِ فِي حُكْمِهِ الْآتِي ( قَوْلُهُ وَاَلَّذِي صَحَّحَهُ فِي الْمِنْهَاجِ كَأَصْلِهِ التَّحْرِيمُ ) أَشَارَ إلَى تَصْحِيحِهِ ( قَوْلُهُ وَوَجَّهَهُ الْإِمَامُ بِاتِّفَاقِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ إلَخْ ) نُقِلَ فِي الرَّوْضَةِ وَأَصْلِهَا هَذَا الِاتِّفَاقَ وَأَقْرَأَهُ وَعَلَّلَ بِهِ فِي الشَّرْحِ الصَّغِيرِ وَهُوَ الْمُعْتَمَدُ وَكَلَامُ الْقَاضِي عِيَاضٍ مَرْدُودٌ بِأَشْيَاءَ مِنْهَا قَوْلُ الْأَصْحَابِ مَعْنَى كَوْنِ الْمُرَاهِقِ كَالْبَالِغِ أَنَّهُ يَلْزَمُ الْمَنْظُورَ إلَيْهَا الِاحْتِجَابُ مِنْهُ كَمَا يَلْزَمُهَا الِاحْتِجَابُ مِنْ الْمَجْنُونِ قَطْعًا وَقَوْلُهُمْ يَحْرُمُ عَلَى الْمُسْلِمَةِ كَشْفُ مَا لَا يَبْدُو مِنْهَا عِنْدَ الْمِهْنَةِ لِلْكَافِرَةِ وَفَتْوَى النَّوَوِيِّ بِأَنَّهُ يَحْرُمُ عَلَى الْمُسْلِمَةِ كَشْفُ وَجْهِهَا لَهَا عَلَى أَنَّ بَعْضَهُمْ نَقَلَ أَنَّ الْقَاضِيَ إنَّمَا نَقَلَهُ عَنْ أَكْثَرِ الْعُلَمَاءِ وَعَلَيْهِ فَلَا مُخَالَفَةَ ( قَوْلُهُ قَالَ الْبُلْقِينِيُّ التَّرْجِيحُ بِقُوَّةِ الْمُدْرِكِ إلَخْ ) قَالَ شَيْخُنَا مُرَادُهُ بِذَلِكَ أَنَّ الْمُدْرِكَ مَعَ مَا فِي الْمِنْهَاجِ كَمَا أَنَّ الْفَتْوَى عَلَيْهِ ( قَوْلُهُ وَالْفَتْوَى عَلَى مَا فِي الْمِنْهَاجِ ) قَالَ فِي التَّوَسُّطِ بَلْ الظَّاهِرُ أَنَّهُ اخْتِيَارُ الْجُمْهُورِ ا هـ وَجَزَمَ بِهِ فِي التَّدْرِيبِ وَقُوَّةُ كَلَامِ الصَّغِيرِ تَقْتَضِي رَجْحَتَهُ , وَقَالَ ابْنُ عَبْدِ السَّلَامِ لَوْ كَانَ لِرَجُلٍ امْرَأَةٌ تَنْظُرُ مِنْ طَاقٍ فِي غُرْفَةٍ أَوْ غَيْرِهَا إلَى الْأَجَانِبِ أَوْ يَنْظُرُونَ إلَيْهَا مِنْهَا وَجَبَ عَلَيْهِ بِنَاءُ الطَّاقِ أَوْ سَدُّهَا قَالَ الْأَذْرَعِيُّ هَلْ يَحْرُمُ النَّظَرُ إلَى الْمُنَقَّبَةِ الَّتِي لَا يَبِينُ مِنْهَا إلَّا عَيْنَاهَا وَمَحَاجِرُهَا لَمْ أَرَ فِيهِ نَصًّا وَالظَّاهِرُ أَنَّهُ لَا فَرْقَ وَلَا سِيَّمَا إذَا كَانَتْ جَمِيلَةً فَكَمْ فِي الْمَحَاجِرِ مِنْ حَنَاجِرَ ( قَوْلُهُ فَلَيْسَ فِيهِ أَنَّهَا نَظَرَتْ إلَى وُجُوهِهِمْ إلَخْ ) أَوْ أَنَّ ذَلِكَ لَعَلَّهُ كَانَ قَبْلَ نُزُولِ الْحِجَابِ أَوْ كَانَتْ عَائِشَةُ لَمْ تَبْلُغْ مَبْلَغَ النِّسَاءِ إذْ ذَاكَ

    فعليك أخي بها فقد نص المحققون في المذهب على أنه ما لم يتعرض له النووي و الرافعي و الرملي و الهيتمي و زكريا الأنصاري يؤخذ بكلام الشربيني-عليهم جميعا رحمة الله-د
    بعد هذا العرض السابق أخي تعلم أن الصحيح عند الشافعية وجوب ستر الوجه و الكفين لا ندبهما

  27. Abu Layth says:

    Salamu ‘alaykum Safiyya from Malaysia,

    The article claims that Imam Al-Bayhaqi (r) held this view. Though I certainly do not doubt such a view he held, considering most if not all of the major Shafi’i Imams held the face to be ‘awrah fin-nathr, I would like to see where he said it. Is it possible you could provide such?

    jazakum Allahu Khayran,

    Abu Layth

  28. Safiyya - Malaysia says:

    Salaam to all Muslims,
    Abul Layth, I’ll get back to you some time next week, Insha Allah as my hands are full right now and can hardly recall any statement of Imam Al-Bayhaqi’s statement in support of the issue discussed. Please give me time to find that statement of his. Thank you. Btw, to Abdul Rahiim As-Siini, the issue about Niqab as per Shafi’ie is finalised as it is evident from the verdict of Shaykhayn (Nawawi & Rafi’ie) – the Qawl Mu’tamad – opon which the Fatwa is pronounced upon that it is WAJIB LA-DHATIHI for women to veil their faces in the presence of non-Mahram men as the face is considered ‘Awra pertaining to Nazar (i.e. prohibited gaze) as far as free adult woman is concerned (which is clearly spelt out by Imam Nawawi in his Minhaj At-Talibin – that the face and hands being the ‘Awra of women who have reached puberty whether or not there is likelihood of temptation) – the view of certain giants like Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami (reported to hold the view that woman’s face is not ‘Awra) may safely be dismissed as this is his personal view and many Shafi’ie scholars are reported to have their personal views about many issues against the views of Shaykhayn like As-Subki, As-Suyuti, et al but when it comes to pronounce Fatwa of the School (regarding what is relied-upon), they did not issue any verdict except according the the Tarjeeh made by the Shaykhayn. Since Shaykh Khatib Shirbini has declared the opinion of Qadi Iyad as “Dha’eef” and Shaykhul-Islam Zakariyya Al-Ansari has denounced it as “Mardud”, one (a Shafi’ie) has no choice but to adhere to Qawl-Mu’tamad rendered by the Shaykhayn regarding this issue and not to rely to other [weaker] opinions that exist within the School as this is (as Imam As-Subki said) tantamount to following one’s whims and fancies and mocking the religion. Wallahu’alam.

  29. Safiyya - Malaysia says:


  30. Aslam says:

    Assalamu ‘alaikkum wa Rahmathullah ya ikhwaan,

    Great piece of research work, masha Allah. May Allah bless all who help in clarifying the Deen to the people.

    I came across these hadiths which supports non-veiling. Could you please throw more light on this. Has any Shafi’i scholar commented on this hadith. Jazaak Allahu khairan.

    Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 22 Narrated Anas: The Prophet stayed for three days between Khaibar and Medina, and there he consummated his marriage to Safiyya bint Huyai. I invited the Muslims to the wedding banquet in which neither meat nor bread was offered. He ordered for leather dining-sheets to be spread, and dates, dried yoghurt and butter were laid on it, and that was the Prophet’s wedding banquet. The Muslims wondered, “Is she (Saffiyya) considered as his wife or his slave girl?” Then they said, “If he orders her to veil herself, she will be one of the mothers of the Believers; but if he does not order her to veil herself, she will be a slave girl. So when the Prophet proceeded from there, he spared her a space behind him (on his she-camel) and put a screening veil between her and the people.


    Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 523 Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet stayed with Safiya bint Huyai for three days on the way of Khaibar where he consummated his marriage with her. Safiya was amongst those who were ordered to use a veil.


    Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 7, Book 65, Number 375 Narrated Anas: I know (about) the Hijab (the order of veiling of women) more than anybody else. Ubai bin Ka’b used to ask me about it….”


    Sunan Abu Dawud Book 14, Number 2482: Narrated Thabit ibn Qays: A woman called Umm Khallad came to the Prophet (saws) while she was veiled. She was searching for her son who had been killed (in the battle) Some of the Companions of the Prophet (saws) said to her: You have come here asking for your son while veiling your face? She said: If I am afflicted with the loss of my son, I shall not suffer the loss of my modesty. The Apostle of Allah (saws) said: You will get the reward of two martyrs for your son. She asked: Why is that so, Apostle of Allah? He replied: Because the people of the Book have killed him.


    Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Prophet (saws) brought Fatimah a slave which he donated to her. Fatimah wore a garment which, when she covered her head, did not reach her feet, and when she covered her feet by it, that garment did not reach her head. When the Prophet (saws) saw her struggle, he said: There is no harm to you: Here is only your father and slave. Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 32, Number 4094.

    All the good is from Allah and the bad is from the evil of my nafs and the eternally accursed.

    Jazaakumullah khairan.


  31. Yousef says:

    assalaamu alaikum

    You said that showing face is sinful. Imam Zaid Shakir writes:

    “The Ja’faris and Zaydis among the Shiites, and all of the Sunni schools, with the exception of a small group of Hanbalis, agree that the face of a believing woman is NOT part of her body that is SINFUL to display publicly (‘Awra).

    They argue that were that the case, she would not be enjoined to display her face during prayer, the pilgrimage or during those human interactions that demand her identification.”

    whats your opinion on this ?

    • Rafael says:

      Wa alaykum as salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

      If you quote, quote honestly. The article also states a mere sentence later:

      “However, as mentioned above, the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools hold that it is from the rules of normal public decorum, affirmed by Qur’anic degree, that a woman covers her face in public.”

      Saying the face is awrah is different from saying that she has an obligation to conceal her face: even if it seems the same in practice, the difference encompasses situations where for various reasons it can be considered superior not to cover the face. Furthermore this distinction informs us that the covering of the face is not connected with the face being awrah, but is a separate obligation with its own individual conditions and evidences. What that means is, just because the face is not part of the awrah, doesn’t negate that there is obligation to cover it.
      (That all cats have tails, does not mean that horses don’t as well — but that doesn’t make a horse a cat.)

  32. Anon says:

    Abu Layth, do all 4 madhabs say that it is an obligation to cover the face?

  33. Anon says:

    A Translation of Sh. Taha Karaan’s Fatwa on a Woman Covering Her Face and Hands
    Many have forwarded questions to requesting details on the ruling of women covering their faces and hands in the Shafi School. Therefore, students of Shaykh Ml. Taha Karaan at the Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah have translated his fatwa on the issue from Arabic into English. Following is the English translation, and then the Arabic original.

    Preliminary Remarks
    I [the respected shaykh, Ml. Taha Karaan] was asked regarding a woman covering her face and hands in the Shafi School; and thus, responded that it is not obligatory [wajib] for her. Moreover, this is what Ibn Hajar maintained in Tuhfah, differing with both Ramli and Khatib. Ibn Hajar’s position is preferred [rajih] in light of both the Madhhab and as well the evidence [dalil]. Subsequently, I decided to elaborate on the issue, thereby to provide additional detail.
    Perhaps, confusion may arise when evaluating this issue along with the issue of looking at a strange woman’s face. Therefore, the ruling of looking shall be clarified prior to the issue of covering.
    Looking at a Strange Woman’s Face and Hands [al-Nazr ila Wajh al-Ajnabiyah wa Yadayha]
    Looking at a strange woman’s face can be one of three scenarios:
    1)       Done with desire. This is absolutely unlawful.
    2)       Done while fearing fitna. This is also unlawful without conjecture.
    3)       Regarding the third scenario, it is when there is no desire and fitna is not feared. In the Madhhab, this is a point of khilaf [difference of opinion].
    The khilaf found in the third scenario is as follows:
    1)       The majority of the As-hab, most especially the early ones, opined that it is not unlawful. However, Sh. Abu Hamid and others added that it is disliked.
    2)       Abu Said al-Istakhri and Abu Ali al-Tabari opined that it is unlawful. Abu Muhammad al-Juwayni and Imam al-Haramayn preferred this view. Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi and Ruyani affirmed it authoritatively. Both Imam Rafi and Imam Nawawi authenticated it. Consequently, it is the Madhhab.
    Differentiating Between the Two Issues
    In reviewing the matters of covering and looking, one may develop an understanding that looking at the face and hands is impermissible; and thus, obligatory for a woman to cover those parts.
    On the contrary, the issue of covering or exposing is an entirely separate topic within the Shafi School. There is no need to infer the Madhhab’s stance by relying on the issue of looking. Indeed, the issue of covering is based on what is related from authorities, and not based on mere inference.
    The Difference of Opinion between Ibn Hajar, Ramli, and Khatib
    If we look at what is related regarding the issue, we find Minhaj’s commentators (Ibn Hajar, Ramli, and Khatib) differing. There are two views:
    1)       Ibn Hajar considers that it is not a fundamental obligation, yet enforceable in relation to the public’s common interest.
    2)       Ramli and Khatib consider covering a fundamental obligation.
    Each has a basis for his view, as follows:
    Ibn Hajar’s View
    After relating from Imam al-Haramayn that there is agreement [ittifaq] on preventing women from going out with their faces uncovered, Ibn Hajar stated,
    “What Imam al-Haramayn transmitted does not negate Qadi Iyad’s citation of an agreement [ijma] that it is not binding on a woman to cover her face in the street. Rather, it is sunnah, and men must lower their gazes; this is supported by the ayah. Women are not bound to uncover when the leader orders it, due to it being disliked [makruh]. – And, the leader may put a stop to what is disliked [makruh] when it is for a public benefit. – The obligation of covering is upon them without forbiddance, even though it is not nakedness [awrah]. Oversight of the public’s interest is specific to the leader or his deputies.” (Tuhfat al-Muhtaj 7/193)
    Two points should be noted from the quotation:
    1)       The face and hands are not part of a woman’s awrah. Therefore, the default ruling is that they do not need to be covered.
    2)       The agreement related by Imam al-Haramayn is for a leader binding the state’s citizens on account of public interest, not because a shari’ principle makes it obligatory. This does not contradict the ijma that Qadi Iyad transmitted, which Imam Nawawi acknowledged.
    Ramli and Khatib’s View
    Khatib and Ramli considered the matter as follows:
    Ramli stated,
    “What Imam al-Haramayn transmitted regarding preventing women – meaning the government’s preventing them – contradicts what Qadi Iyad relates: that it is not obligatory for a woman to cover her face in the street, rather sunnah; and it is incumbent upon men to lower their gazes. In Sharh Sahih Muslim, Imam Nawawi acknowledged it [iqrar, إقرار]. The claim of some [like Ibn Hajar] is that there is no contradiction; them being prevented is not on account of covering being fundamentally obligatory. Rather, because it is in the public’s interest and in leaving it is a breach of magnanimity [maruah, مروءة]. [The claim] is rejected. It is evident [zahir, ظاهر] from Imam Nawawi’s and Imam Rafi’i’s words that covering is fundamentally obligatory. The reconciliation is not accepted, and Qadi Iyad’s statement is weak.” (Nihayat al-Muhtaj 6/188)
    And, Khatib mentioned,
    “It is evident [zahir] that they both [Rafi'i and Nawawi] consider covering obligatory for a woman. This is the apparent analysis of shaykhayn’s words. However, trying to make this understood from their words [istizhar, استظهار] is weakened as Imam Nawawi acknowledged [iqrar, إقرار] Qadi Iyad’s claim of ijma. Istizhar is only considered in the absence of what is expressed [tasrih, تصريح]. Acknowledgement [iqrar] is equivalent to expression [tasrih]. It is not necessary, in point of fact invalid, to make istizhar from Imam Nawawi’s words that conflicts with his expressed statement [tasrih]. It is not acceptable to ascribe a view to one who has remained silent. This is one of Imam Shafi’is famous principles. How is it possible to ascribe an opinion to one who has expressed something to the contrary?” (Mughni al-Muhtaj 4/209)
    Rashidi’s Objection
    Rashidi raised an objection to Ramli. He considered that the refutation that Ramli – and likewise Khatib – directed towards Ibn Hajar was out of context. He mentioned in his marginalia on Nihayah,
    “What that someone [like Ibn Hajar] claimed is not understood. The bottom line of his claim is that what Imam al-Haramayn related does not necessitate covering the face being obligatory in the street.  In fact, it is permissible that it be for a public interest, like he mentioned. This is inevitable. His refutation is unsound; what is evident [zahir] from their words is what he mentioned. The contradiction is not between permissibility which Qadi Iyad mentioned and unlawfulness, it is between it and the agreement on preventing them, like what preceded.” (Hashiyat Nihayat al-Muhtaj 6/188)
    Ml. Taha’s Fatwa
    I say: what is clear to me, and Allah knows best, is that the basis of Ramli and Khatib’s refutation is sound, according to their point of view. It is based on there not being any need for reconciliation, as reconciliation is only done between two solid pieces of evidence. And, neither of them considers Qadi Iyad’s claim as solid evidence. With that, the Madhhab according to them is based on making istizhar of shaykhayn’s words. Hence, the obligation to cover would be fundamental. Therefore, one who considers that according to the Madhhab, the fundamental obligation is to cover, then the claim of [Qadi Iyad’s] ijma would be unsound; thus there is no need for reconciliation.
    Regarding one who takes the Madhhab from Imam Nawawi’s acknowledgement [iqrar] of Qadi Iyad’s claim of ijma, it is established that the Madhhab does not consider covering [the face and hands] a fundamental obligation. Moreover, when it is not considered fundamentally obligatory, it harmonizes the agreement that Imam al-Haramayn related with what Imam Nawawi acknowledged from Qadi Iyad. This is Ibn Hajar’s view; he reconciled between the two. With that, the prevention that Imam al-Haramayn related is not an obligating shari’ ruling. In effect, it is an issue of public interest, and the state’s leader [or his representatives] holds the authority to obligate the people to do it.
    To conclude, my preferring [tarjih] Ibn Hajar’s opinion over that of Ramli and Khatib is considering iqrar equivalent to tasrih, and preferred over istizhar.
    With prayers and salutations on the Prophet Muhammad. And, praises to Allah in the beginning and end.
    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
    سئلت عن حكم ستر المرأة وجهها ويديها في المذهب، فأجبت بأن ذلك ليس واجبا عليها، وهو الذي جرى عليه ابن حجر في التحفة، خلافا للرملي والخطيب، والذي جرى عليه ابن حجر هو الراجح مذهبا ودليلا.
    ثم رأيت أن أفصل الكلام في المسألة بعض التفصيل، فكتبت ما يلي:
    لا يبعد أن يقع اشتباه بين هذه المسألة ومسألة النظر إلى وجه الأجنبية ويديها، لذا رأيت أن أبين حكم النظر قبل الخوض في حكم الستر.
    للنظر إلى وجه الأجنبية ويديها ثلاثة أحوال:
    أحدها: حيث يكون بالشهوة، فالنظر حرام قطعا.
    والثاني: حيث تخشى الفتنة، فالنظر حرام بلا خلاف أيضا.
    أما الحال الثالث: وهو ما إذا لم تكن شهوة ولا تخشى فتنة، فهذا موضع اختلاف في المذهب:
    فذهب أكثر الأصحاب لا سيما المتقدمون إلى عدم التحريم، لكن زاد الشيخ أبو حامد وغيره إثبات الكراهة.
    وذهب أبو سعيد الإصطخري وأبو علي الطبري إلى التحريم في هذه الحالة أيضا، واختاره الشيخ أبو محمد وابنه الإمام، وبه قطع الشيرازي والروياني، وإياه صحح الرافعي والنووي، فهو المذهب.
    هذا، والنظر في مسألة النظر قد يؤدي بالناظر إلى الظن بأنه لما لم يجز النظر إلى وجهها ويديها كان عليها أن تستر هذه الأعضاء وجوبا، إلا أن لمسألة الستر والكشف تفصيلا مستقلا في المذهب لا نحتاج معه إلى استنتاج موقف المذهب من خلال مسألة النظر، فالمقام مقام نقل لا محل استنتاج.
    فإذا توجهنا إلى النقل في المسألة وجدنا شراح المنهاج الشهاب ابن حجر والشمس الرملي والخطيب الشربيني اختلفوا فيها على رأيين:
    • فابن حجر يرى عدم وجوب الستر لذاته، بل للمصلحة العامة؛
    • والخطيب والرملي يريان وجوب الستر لذاته.
    ولكل من الرأيين أساس يعتمد عليه صاحبه، وإليك بيانه:
    قال ابن حجر في التحفة (7/193) بعد النقل عن إمام الحرمين اتفاق المسلمين على منع النساء أن يخرجن سافرات الوجوه، قال: ولا ينافي ما حكاه الإمام من الاتفاق نقلَ المصنف عن عياض الإجماع على أنه لا يلزمها في طريقها ستر وجهها، وإنما هو سنة، وعلى الرجال غض البصر عنهن للآية، لأنه لا يلزم من منع الإمام لهن من الكشف لكونه مكروها – وللإمام المنعُ من المكروه لما فيه من المصلحة العامة – وجوبُ الستر عليهن بدون منع، مع كونه غير عورة، ورعاية المصالح العامة مختصة بالإمام ونُوَّابه.اهـ
    يستفاد من كلامه هذا -رحمه الله-:
    - أن الوجه والكفين ليس من العورة، فالأصل فيها عدم وجوب الستر.
    - ثم الاتفاق الذي حكاه إمام الحرمين إنما هو شيئ يلزم الإمام الناس به للمصلحة لا لموجب شرعي أصيل، فلا ينافي الإجماع على أصل الجواز الذي نقله القاضي عياض وأقره عليه النووي.
    ورد الخطيب والرملي هذا الجمع بما يلي:
    قال الرملي في النهاية (6/188): وما نقله الإمام من الاتفاق على منع النساء – أي منع الولاة لهن – معارض لما حكاه القاضي عياض عن العلماء أنه لا يجب على المرأة ستر وجهها في طريقها، وإنما ذلك سنة، وعلى الرجال غض البصر عنهن للآية، وحكاه المصنف [النووي] عنه في شرح مسلم وأقره عليه، ودعوى بعضهم عدم التعارض في ذلك إذ منعهن ليس لكون الستر واجبا عليهن في ذاته بل لأن فيه مصلحة عامة وفي تركه إخلال بالمروءة – مردودة، إذ ظاهر كلامهما [أي النووي والرافعي] أن الستر واجب لذاته، فلا يتأتى هذا الجمع، وكلام القاضي ضعيف.اهـ
    ومثله كلام الخطيب في المغني (4/209).
    يظهر منه أن تمسكهما في إيجاب الستر عليها هو ظاهر صنيع الشيخين لا غير، لكن هذا الاستظهار يضعف إلى جانب إقرار النووي للقاضي عياض في دعوى الإجماع، فالاستظهار شيئ لا يصار إليه إلا عند فقد التصريح، والإقرار في قوة التصريح، فلا ينبغي بل لا يصح أن يستظهر من صنيع النووي شيئ يخالف تصريحه، وإذا لم يصح أن ينسب لساكت قول – وهي قاعدة مشهورة لإمامنا الشافعي – فأنى يصح أن ينسب إلى مصرِّح قول يخالف تصريحه؟
    وللرشيدي اعتراض على الرملي، فإنه يرى أن الرد الذي وجهه الرملي – وكذا الخطيب – إلى ابن حجر ليس في محله، قال في حاشيته على النهاية: هذا لا يلاقي ما ادعاه هذا البعض، لأن حاصل دعواه أن ما حكاه الإمام من الاتفاق على منع النساء لا يلزم منه أن ذلك لوجوب سترها وجهها في طريقها، وإن فهمه منه الإمام حتى وجهه به، بل يجوز أن يكون للمصلحة التي ذكرها، وهذا لا محيد عنه، ولا يصح رده بأن ظاهر كلامهما ما ذكر لأن المعارضة التي دفعها ليست بين الجواز التي ذكره القاضي عياض والحرمة، وإنما هو بينه وبين الاتفاق على منع النساء كما سبق.اهـ
    قلت: الذي ظهر لي – والله أعلم – أن منشأ الرد الرملي والخطيب سليم من وجهة نظرهما، ذلك بأن ردهما يقوم على عدم الحاجة إلى هذا الجمع، لأن الجمع لا يكون إلا بين مسلَّمين، ووهما لا يسلمان دعوى عياض، مع أن المذهب عندهما – بناء على استظهارهما موقف الشيخين – وجوب الستر لذاته، فمن تقرر عنده أن المذهب وجوب الستر لذاته، وأن دعوى الإجماع غير صحيحة، لا يحتاج إلى الجمع.
    أما من يستوحي المذهب من إقرار النووي لعياض ثبت عنده أن المذهب ليس وجوب الستر لذاته، فإذا لم يجب لذاته فلا بد من توجيه الاتفاق الذي حكاه الإمام كي يتلاقى مع ما أقر النووي عياضا عليه، وهذا الذي حدا بابن حجر إلى الجمع بينهما بأن المنع الذي حكاه الإمام ليس حكما شرعيا أصيلا، وإنما هو من باب المصلحة العامة التي للسلطان الحق في إلزام الناس به.
    وأخيرا، فإن ترجيحي لرأي ابن حجر على رأي الرملي والخطيب مبني على ترجيح الإقرار الذي هو في قوة التصريح على الاستظهار الذي لا يصار إليه إلا عند إعواز التصريح.
    وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وآله وصحبه وسلم، والحمد لله في البدء والختام.


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