Seeking Sacred Sunni Knowledge

Part 1: In Defense of The Obligation of Niqab

We have chosen to rewrite the niqaab articles mentioning the various discourse and disagreement…

 

was-salam

18 Responses to “Part 1: In Defense of The Obligation of Niqab”

  1. Umm Ayesha says:

    Assalaamu `Alaikum

    Jhazzak’Allaahu Khairun Insha’Allah, Can’t wait for Part 2

    Bout time an article like this come out, May Allah Azza wa jal Reward the Seeking Ilm staff for producting this Article, Ameen. Wassalam

  2. Niqab is not required in the Islamic Law

    Allah says in the most Holy Quran “And Say to the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (see the explanation below), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna” (Surah An-Nur, Verses #30 and #31)

    We will see how the Salaf understood this matter:

    1) The opinion of the Sahaba:
    Ibn Abbas (ra) is one of the most learned men of the Sahaba (Companions). Prophet Muhammad (saw) even prayed for him saying “O Allah, make him acquire a deep understanding of the religion of Islam and instruct him in the meaning and interpretation of things.” He with reference to Surah An-Nur “except only that which is apparent” as Ibn Kathir narrated with a Sahih (authentic) chain of narrators, said it’s “The hand, the ring, and the face.” Abdullah Ibn Omar Ibn Al-Khattab (ra) said “the face and the two hands”. Anas Ibn Malik (ra) said “the hand and the ring”. Ibn Hazm said: “all of this (statements) are in the highest of accuracy. And so are statements by Ali (ra), Aisha (ra), and other Tabi’een”.

    Now you have to think who would understand these verses better than Aisha (ra) the MOST knowledgeable woman in the matters of Islam and the wife of Prophet Muhammad (saw)?

    2) Scholars among the Tabi’een had many opinions on this matter:
    Some said a woman should cover all of her body except the face and the hands. This is the saying of Imam Malik, Al-Hadi, Al-Qasim (in one of his narrations), and Imam Abu Hanifa (in one of his two narrations).

    Some said she should cover all her body except the face, the hands, and the foot. This is the saying of Imam Abu Hanifa (in another narration), Al-Qasim, and Ath-thouri. Some said she should cover all her body except the face. This is the saying of Ibn Hanbal and Dawood.

    No one said the face of a woman is loins (‘Aura) except a weak narration from Ibn Hanbal and some Shafi’i scholars!

    Sa’id ibn Jubayr, ‘Ata and al-Awzai have stated explicitly that the showing of the face and hands is permissible. ‘Aishah (ra), Qatadah, and others have added bracelets to what may be shown of the adornments; this interpretation implies that a part of the arm may also be shown. Various scholars (such as Abu Yusuf) have allowed the exposure of the lower part of the arm up to a length varying between about four inches to one-half of the arm.

    Ibn Hazm is the Imam of the Dhahiri schools (Literal schools) mentioned many accidents prove that it is not required for a woman to cover her face.

    3) The opinion of late scholars:
    Assuredly a woman is permitted to show her face and hands because covering them would be a hardship on her, especially if she must go out on some lawful business. For example, a widow may have to work to support her children, or a woman who is not well-off may have to help her husband in his work; had covering the face and hands been made obligatory, it would have occasioned such women hardship and distress. Al-Qurtabi says, it seems probable that, since the face and hands are customarily uncovered, and it is, moreover, required that they be uncovered during acts of worship such as Salat and Hajj, the exemption (referred to in the verses of Surah al-Nur) pertains to them.

    In addition to this, we may infer from Allah’s words, “Tell the believing men that they should lower their gazes”, that the faces of the women of the Prophet’s time were not veiled. Had the entire body including the face been covered, it would have made no sense to command them to lower their gaze, since there would have been nothing to be seen.

    Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: Asma, daughter of AbuBakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (saw) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (saw) turned his attention from her. He said: O Asma’, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands. (Narrated by Abu Dawood # 4092).

    This Hadith has three authentic narrations and was correct by all Major Hadith scholars such as Albani.

    Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Abbas: Al-Fadl (his brother) was riding behind Allah’s Apostle and a woman from the tribe of Khath’am came and Al-Fadl started looking at her and she started looking at him. The Prophet turned Al-Fadl’s face to the other side. The woman said, “O Allah’s Apostle! The obligation of Hajj enjoined by Allah on His devotees has become due on my father and he is old and weak, and he cannot sit firm on the Mount; may I perform Hajj on his behalf?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, you may.” That happened during the Hajj-al-Wida (of the Prophet). (Narrated by Bukhari # 589, Muslim, and others).

    This Hadith is very authentic since it was narrated by Bukhari and Muslim. If she was covering her face then Ibn Abbas would know that she is beautiful! Also prophet (saw) did not order the girl to cover her face. This hadith was not abrogated since it happened during Hajj-al-Wida (10 AH) while the Aya of Hijab was revealed in the 5th year after the Hijra.

  3. Abul Layth says:

    1) The opinion of the Sahaba:
    Ibn Abbas (ra) is one of the most learned men of the Sahaba (Companions). Prophet Muhammad (saw) even prayed for him saying “O Allah , make him acquire a deep understanding of the religion of Islam and instruct him in the meaning and interpretation of things.” He with reference to Surah An-Nur “except only that which is apparent” as Ibn Kathir narrated with a Sahih (authentic) chain of narrators, said it’s “The hand, the ring, and the face.” Abdullah Ibn Omar Ibn Al-Khattab (ra) said “the face and the two hands”. Anas Ibn Malik (ra) said “the hand and the ring”. Ibn Hazm said: “all of this (statements) are in the highest of accuracy. And so are statements by Ali (ra), Aisha (ra), and other Tabi’een”.

    Now you have to think who would understand these verses better than Aisha (ra) the MOST knowledgeable woman in the matters of Islam and the wife of Prophet Muhammad (saw)?

    We have shown the weakness in the chains. Again you ignore 33:59. Further, Why don’t you go ahead and mention the many reports of ‘Aa’ishah covering her face, as well as promoting the women amongst her to do so? Or do you realize that if you do, your argument falls apart!?

    2) Scholars among the Tabi’een had many opinions on this matter:
    Some said a woman should cover all of her body except the face and the hands. This is the saying of Imam Malik, Al-Hadi, Al-Qasim (in one of his narrations), and Imam Abu Hanifa (in one of his two narrations).
    Some said she should cover all her body except the face, the hands, and the foot. This is the saying of Imam Abu Hanifa (in another narration), Al-Qasim, and Ath-thouri. Some said she should cover all her body except the face. This is the saying of Ibn Hanbal and Dawood.

    No one said the face of a woman is loins (‘Aura) except a weak narration from Ibn Hanbal and some Shafi’i scholars!

    This is a lie on Imam Ahmad, and you can see the Hanbalīs quoting him regarding this. Imam Al-Hajjāwī, Imām Al-Bahūtī, Ibn Taymiyya and the school of the Hanbalis agree that the face of the woman is ‘awrah in nathr. We have quoted them extensively. See for yourself the lies of the above quote by reading the article!

    It is true that the Ahnāf maintain that the face is not ‘awrah. However, they say that it is wājib to cover the face when there is fitnah, especially in front of the non-related man.

    The Hanafi Mujtahid ‘Alim Damaadafaandi (داماد افندي )after mentioning the words in al-muntaqaa that state that a woman covers her face when she fears fitnah,

    “And in our times (zamaaninaa) the forbiddance (of uncovering the face – kashf) is waajib, rather it is Fardh due to the ghalabah (governance, domination, etc) of Fasaad (all types of evil such as zinaa specifically). And it is reported from ‘Aa’ishah that all of the free woman is ‘awrah except for one of her eyes, so this is adequate (or i.e. considered), due to the actuation of the necessity (dhroorah).”

    [This quote can be found in Majma' al-anhar, sharh muntaqaa al abhar]

    Furthermore, Another Hanafi Imaam, Shaykh Haskafi (الحصكفي ) stated, “And it is forbidden for a mature woman to expose her face while amongst men, not due to it being ‘awrah, but due to the fitnah.”

    [Ad-Durr Al Mukhtaar in the Haamish of Haashiyah of Ibn 'Aabideen]

    Another Hanafi ‘Aalim, Ibn Nujaym (ابن نجيم ) Rahimahullah stated,

    قال مشايخنا : تمنع المرأة الشابة من كشف وجهها بين الرجال في زماننا للفتنة

    “Our Scholars have stated: The mature woman is forbidden from uncovering her face while amongst men, in our times, due to the fitnah!”

    [Al-Bahr Ar-Raa'iq Sharh Kanz Ad-Daqaa'iq]

    As for the author’s claim of “some of the Shafi’is”, then this statement is inaccurate. Imām Al-Juwaynī and Ibn Rislaan quote agreement of the scholars that women are not allowed to go out of their homes with their faces uncovered. Imām An-Nawawī quotes this on several occasions. Imām Al-Ghazzālī also holds that it is necessary for the woman to cover her face in front of non-related men. Ibn Nāqib Al-Masrī in his Shafi’ī primer, “Umdat As-Sālik” declared that there is agreement of the Muslims on this fact. Imām Taqiyud-Dīn Al-Hisnī also believes it to be wājib. Ibn Hajr Al-’Asqalaani defends this stance in his Fat-h and elsewhere. Please see the article so that you can see for yourself the official stance of the Shāfi’ī school.

    Sa’id ibn Jubayr, ‘Ata and al-Awzai have stated explicitly that the showing of the face and hands is permissible. ‘Aishah (ra), Qatadah, and others have added bracelets to what may be shown of the adornments; this interpretation implies that a part of the arm may also be shown. Various scholars (such as Abu Yusuf) have allowed the exposure of the lower part of the arm up to a length varying between about four inches to one-half of the arm.

    If these reports are authentic, then one can see bracelets without seeing skin. It also goes to prove that the CLOTHING is what is apparent, as is authentically narrated from Ibn Mas’ūd Radhiya Allahu ‘Anhu.

    3) The opinion of late scholars:
    Assuredly a woman is permitted to show her face and hands because covering them would be a hardship on her, especially if she must go out on some lawful business. For example, a widow may have to work to support her children, or a woman who is not well-off may have to help her husband in his work; had covering the face and hands been made obligatory, it would have occasioned such women hardship and distress. Al-Qurtabi says, it seems probable that, since the face and hands are customarily uncovered, and it is, moreover, required that they be uncovered during acts of worship such as Salat and Hajj, the exemption (referred to in the verses of Surah al-Nur) pertains to them.

    In addition to this, we may infer from Allah ’s words, “Tell the believing men that they should lower their gazes”, that the faces of the women of the Prophet’s time were not veiled. Had the entire body including the face been covered, it would have made no sense to command them to lower their gaze, since there would have been nothing to be seen.

    Does hardship determine what is harām and halāl? We make Salāh while in WAR! Is that not a hardship?! We are obliged to fast while travelling if after fajr (according to the shafi’iyya), is that not hardship? Some could argue that Salāh period is a hardship, or that fasting period is a hardship.

    The law is the law, and part of its implementation is struggle. If someone is obliged to do something, they do it. The excuse of relative hardship is not a proof at all. Millions of women cover their faces and they do not say it is a hardship.

    As for the argument that lowering the gaze nullifies Hijaab, then this is non-sense.

    A) It is possible that parts of a woman be exposed accidentally, hence the necessity of lowering the gaze.

    B) The woman’s eye’s are showing, and can be fitnah.

    C) There were both jew and christian women in Arabia (and elsewhere), hence it is necessary to lower the gaze in front them as they did not cover their bodies properly.

    D) Mushrikeen still existed in Makkah and Arabia, and they did not cover their bodies. Hence the necessity to lower one’s gaze.

    E) Slave women in those times were naked as well. And the majority of scholars say in such cases it is necessary to lower the gaze.

    Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: Asma, daughter of AbuBakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (saw) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (saw) turned his attention from her. He said: O Asma’, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands. (Narrated by Abu Dawood # 4092).

    Weak. We have explained why in the second article and responded to the claims of Muhammad Al Albaani, who himself contradicts himself and his own principles regarding Ibn Lahī’ah in the chain!

    Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Abbas: Al-Fadl (his brother) was riding behind Allah ’s Apostle and a woman from the tribe of Khath’am came and Al-Fadl started looking at her and she started looking at him. The Prophet turned Al-Fadl’s face to the other side. The woman said, “O Allah ’s Apostle! The obligation of Hajj enjoined by Allah on His devotees has become due on my father and he is old and weak, and he cannot sit firm on the Mount; may I perform Hajj on his behalf?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, you may.” That happened during the Hajj-al-Wida (of the Prophet). (Narrated by Bukhari # 589, Muslim, and others).

    Not proof at all. We have responded to this in the second article. You should read it there. To read it please go here:

    http://seekingilm.com/archives/47#fadhl

    Shukran,
    Abul Layth

  4. UMM ABDULLAH says:

    Akhee i must congratulate on posting this article which is Masha’Allah comprehensive full of evidences and concise. We must continue to defend the hijab and make dua for ALL muslim women and men May Allah guide them to their deen and bless them with a deeper understanding and appreciation. Ameen
    your appreciative sister in islaam

  5. Abul Layth says:

    Jazaakum Allahu Khairan Umm Abdullah. I am glad you benefited from it, and hope that others benefit from it as well.

    -Abul Layth

  6. Sara says:

    It’s intersting how some scholars state that women are to cover their faces in times of ‘fitna’. How exactly is that defined? If it is normal for women to walk around semi-naked in certain parts of the world, then a woman who has everything covered but her hands and face will be LESS of a ‘fitna’ than if she were in a place wher is was normal for women to cover their faces.

    Also, in times of ‘fitna’ what directives are men given to modulate their behaviour? If they are the ones who cannot control themselves at the sight of a woman’s face, why in the onus on her to cover up? In the long term isn’t it more beneficial to teach our boys not to treat women like sex objects?

    I also would like to ask about the hadith that mentions all of a woman being awrah. So far I’ve not had anyone bother to answer my questions anywhere. How does this viewpoint fit into the claims that Islam is fair and just to women? Isn’t one of the biggest problems we complain about in the Wset is women being reduced to sex-objects? But I find that amongst certain Muslims, there is almost a neurotic obsession with women’s sexuality, as the interpretation of this hadith implies. That everything a woman does is judged by whether or not it is attractive to the opposite gender. And if we are required to ‘stay at home’ how then are we to fulfil out roles in society effectively? (Or are we such a danger to society with our hyper-sexuality that we should not?) Again, would it be more effective to educate our men and bring up our boys NOT to view women in terms of their sexuality just like we women are taught to?

    I sincerely hope someone can answer these questions in a reasonable manner.

  7. Admin says:

    It’s intersting how some scholars state that women are to cover their faces in times of ‘fitna’. How exactly is that defined? If it is normal for women to walk around semi-naked in certain parts of the world, then a woman who has everything covered but her hands and face will be LESS of a ‘fitna’ than if she were in a place wher is was normal for women to cover their faces.

    1) What is “fitnah” in your understanding?

    2) I do not believe, based upon your contemptuous attitude towards Hijab, that you know the reason WHY hijab is worn.

  8. hasan says:

    Sara’s suggestion is that men be taught to cease treating women as sex objects. That is indeed something that needs to be taught. The verse in the Quran to lower one’s gaze applies equally to the man and woman. However, it is foolish to believe that men will be able to look at a woman with scarce clothing and not be attracted to it. It is the nature of men. The trends in American and European culture prove it. The second that women began to slowly bare their bodies, rape, fornication, and adultery began to become rampant. So much so, that modern studies show that twenty-five percent of married american adults have cheated on their spouses at least once. And almost fifty percent of Americans from ten to twenty have had extra-marital sex. Their is almost a direct proportion between these social problems and the way women dress.

    If you are a Muslim, all these statistics do not need to be proven to you. Allah says in the Quran in Surah Ali Imran, verse 14: Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women, ….” Allah then goes on to mention other things men love, but then he clarifies that these are only things of this world, and that men should not focus on such things as much.

    So it is naive and simplistic to say that women should not need to cover themselves as much. Obviously, in a utopian society, women would not need to that, and men would control themselves. However, we do not live in such a society. And Allah made his rules according to what is best for us in this very real world. It is like saying that is unfair for a person living in a violent area to have to stay home at night because he might get shot. Of course, he should not have to do that, but it is for his own sake that he should remain in his house. And that is what Allah wants: both the men to not treat women as sex-objects, like you said; but also for women to cover themselves as a safeguard in case those men are not so noble.

    A funny video that relates to this topic might be interesting:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWueNl6na5E

  9. Abdul Wahid says:

    Ameen ameen Allahu’akbar, what is the position of the other madhabs regarding the niqab? Barak’Allahu feek, salam

  10. Hasan Ashraf says:

    Assalamu Alaikum

    My mother wears niqab in a masjid where the sheikh has said specifically NOT to wear it because it causes fitnah in the US. When my mother prays, many women tell her that she must take off the niqab while praying, otherwise her prayer will not count. I know that women should not wear niqab while in ihram, but is that true during salah?

  11. Abul Layth says:

    We quoted Imam Taqiyud-Din Al-Hisni, the great Shafi’i jurist, above as saying:

    “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]

  12. Hasan Ashraf says:

    Jazakullah

  13. Umm Mujhaidah says:

    Salamualkum

    What about the sisters residing in the west. Who must work & attend schools, and by wearing veil/jelbab it would make their affairs much more difficult. Would that be a “necessity” for not wearing a jelbab or covering the face?

    Jazkalllah khair

  14. Abul Layth says:

    Wa’alaykum Salam wr wb,

    There is agreement of the jurists that “Haajah” lit. “need” creates an exception for the obligation of covering the face for women. What is “haajah” and what is not, however, varies based upon the scholars one asks. Reliable scholars, such as Shaykh Nuh Keller and his masters in law from Syria, state that such above reasons are “need”. He also views da’wah as a fundamental “need” as well.

    As for your specific claim of “must” in the case of working, then yes such is a NEED. As for schooling, then such may take a different ruling in the law. The aim of these articles is to show that the woman’s face is principally ‘awrah in the case of a man looking upon a woman. However, as Qadhi Ibn ‘Arabi stated, there are certainly needs that arise and such cases should be taken to qualified and reliable scholars of law.

    was-Salam,
    Abul Layth

  15. Salmaan says:

    FYI

    I believe some good examples of what the maliki fuqaha have said regarding the niqab and the awrah of a woman can be found here:

    http://www.aslein.net/showthread.php?t=7404

  16. Salmaan says:

    The Mālikī school’s viewpoint:

    In the concise commentary (al-Sharḥ al-Ṣaghīr) of al-Dardīr entitled, Awḍaḥ al-Masālik ilā Madhhab Mālik, the [author notes that] “the ʿawra of a free woman in relation to an unrelated man [...] is her entire body, except the face and hands. As for these two, they are not a part of the ʿawra.”

    Ṣāwī adds in his marginal gloss,

    Thus it is permissible to look at those two [parts of the body], and there is no difference whether one sees the palms or the backs [of the hands], as long as there is no seeking or feeling [sexual] pleasure in so doing. If there is, then it is impermissible [to look at either the hands or the face].

    As to whether [a man’s feeling sexual pleasure] obligates [a woman] to cover her hands and face, that is the position of Ibn Marzūq who states that it is the best known opinion (mashhūr) of the madhhab. [The contrary opinion that a woman] is not obliged to do so, but rather that the man must lower his gaze, is the corollary of what Mawwāq narrates from [Qāḍī] ʿIyyāḍ. Zarrūq notes in the Waghlīsiyya in the case of an attractive woman, that she is obligated to cover her face, but for others it is merely recommended.

    Taken from suhaib webb’s webpage and also mentioned by Sheikh Hamza Muqbal al Maliki on a post on sunniforum.com here:

    http://www.sunniforum.com/forum/showthread.php?45832-Niqab-fist-length-beard-and-trousers-above-ankles/page10&highlight=beard

  17. Salmaan says:

    btw – my posts are just a brotherly FYI rather than someone trying to create fitnah.

    May Allah bless and reward your efforts in deen.

    Wassalamu alaikum

  18. admin says:

    lol…

    If I ever get the time insha’allah, I am going to go back and edit some of the material in this article, and combine the proofs collected since the publishing of this article almost 4 years ago. The weaker maliki view is just that. What we have presented here is the legitimacy of the view that the face is ‘awrah in front of the ajnabi. If people want to ignore this majority view, that is between them and their Lord. The Qur’an and the clear reports from the righteous predecessors of Islam clearly point to the fact that a woman is to cover her face in front of an ajnabi, and that a man is not too look at unrelated women too.

    was-salam

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