Kindly let me know the opinions of following ulema / fuqaha regarding face covering / niqab. imam abu hanifa, imam shafi, Imam Ahmed, Imam malik, Imam taimiya & Imam Ibn qayyim
Imam Abu-Hanifa (Rahmatullah alaih)- the face and palms is excluded from hijaab but the condition is there should be no fear of fitna. The Hanafi Jurists have said due to the immorality of times and weakness of resistance, it is compulsory for a female to cover her face which is the
focus of her beauty.
Imam Shaf’ie, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmed (Rahmatullah alaih) –It is not permissible for a lady to expose her face and palms whether there is danger of fitna or not.
Veil is legitimately defined as the dress that covers the whole body of the woman including her head, face, hands and feet. It should be long, loose and plain not defining her shape. Veil has been prescribed for women to block the road to sin. In short, veiling is a source of covering the face, hands, feet and other parts of the body. Allah Ta’ala states, ‘And they should draw their veils over their bosoms.’ (24:31)
‘O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (except eyes to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed.’ (33:59)
The Purpose of Veiling
The purpose of veiling is to safeguard woman from the biased looks of men and provide her a pure atmosphere at home so that she can perform her household duties properly and contribute to improve the whole society as Allah states, ‘And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the former times of ignorance.’ (33:33)
History shows that the children, who were brought up by their mothers in observance of the social values and religious obligations, later became the leaders of the nation. They admitted that the credit of their booming career goes to their mothers who bestowed on them the qualities of sincerity, faithfulness, honesty, self-reliance and social service; and encouraged them to continue their education. Veiling gives an esteemed position to woman and protects her from sexual harassment by people. On the other hand, a woman, who displays her beauty and wears tight, short and transparent clothes, attracts men towards her. Consequently, they try to exploit her sexually using all possible techniques. Sometimes, woman also becomes weak and surrenders herself to the lust of men. Veiling provides security to woman and promotes a pure atmosphere in the society. But those who consider themselves as modern people consider it a disgrace and construe it as shackles for the woman. In comparison to the right and wrong, this world and the hereafter, paradise and hell, the observance of veiling is much smaller than that.
The rationale of veiling
Woman is Allah’s beautiful creation. On one hand, she satisfies man’s sexual desires and on the other hand, she plays a significant role in the growth of the human generations. No doubt, woman has a great attraction for a man. Due to this attraction, it is feared he will indulge in sins. Therefore, Allah has forbidden man strictly from fornication and adultery. He has also forbidden woman from exhibiting her charm. Regarding make-up and perfume, it is permissible for woman to wear them in front of her husband and closely related members of the family as Allah states, ‘They will not reveal their adornment except to their husband or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women.’ (24:31)
The first verse regarding veil was revealed in al-Madina when Umar ibn al-Khattaab admonished the prophet’s wife, Sawdah bint Zam’ah, while going outside without a veil. Allah Ta’ala states, ‘O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (except eyes to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed.’ (33:59)
Generally, the veiling covers the whole body including head, face, hair, bosom, hands and feet. But in the absence of men it is permissible for woman to uncover her face as narrated by Aaisha [Radhiallaahu anha], ‘Some riders passed by us while we were with Allah’s Messenger [Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam] in the state of ritual consecration. When they came face to face, one of us let down her cloak (veil) from her head on her face and when they preceded us, we uncovered it.’ (Abu Dawud)
The Advantages of Veiling
The veiling system contains a number of advantages particularly in a society where the rape, sexual molestation and disrespect of woman are very common. Some of them are listed below:
1. Veiling is a protection for Muslim woman against the behaviour of the wicked;
2. It is an identify of the Muslim that distinguishes her;
3. It gives her an honoured position in the society;
4. It acts as a barrier between men and women to keep them away from sins;
5. It is a means for observing chastity of woman;
6. It awakens the fear of Allah in the heart of man and woman and saves them from falling in the abyss of evil;
7. It teaches man to respect the veiled woman, provide her protection from the curious persons and ensure the uplift of the high morals and social values in the society.
The Disadvantages of Unveiling
Due to mixing up with the non-Muslims, particularly, in the countries where the Muslims are in minority, the practice of unveiling has become a regular feature. But it is very harmful for the Muslim society. Unveiling has a number of disadvantages. Out of them, some are as follows:
1. It is a violation of the Qur’aan and Hadith;
2. It shows woman’s weakness in belief;
3. It is a cause of temptation for men and women;
4. It strips off her modesty that is an integral part of Faith as the Prophet [Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam] said, ‘Modesty is part of Faith.’ (al-Bukhari)
5. It subjects her to sexual harassment;
6. It hurts her dignity and feelings and it stains her chastity;
7. It prompts woman to take part in commercial advertisements and films as a showpiece and a source of enjoyment for the viewers.
Here are some recommendations that must be adhered to by a veiled woman when going out. They are as follows:
Veiling is the tradition of Muslim women. Since its prescription, the prophet’s wives, daughters and other believing Muslim women have strictly observed it. Today also, the Muslim ladies must keep it up. The veiled woman must understand the rationale of veiling and fulfill its requirements.
She must avoid wearing perfume and showing her finery in any way.
She must not be encouraging while dealing with men at the time of need.
She must be harsh in voice and avoid speaking softly, because it can be misconstrued as an invitation to strangers.
She must not stamp her feet letting her anklets tinkle or any other action that calls attention towards her.
She must be careful and reserved in her motions and even in looks while walking outside.
The women who display their beauty are often subjected to sexual exploitation by immoral people.
It is a fact that the life of the world is nothing but superficiality while the actual life is the life if the Hereafter where everyone will be rewarded for their deeds. The righteous will enjoy Allah’s pleasure. All blessings will be at their disposal. While the sinners and transgressors will be doomed to punishment that cannot be imagined. The evidence from the Qur’aan and Hadith confirm that Allah’s punishment will be severe.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon them to be chaste and veiling is a must for woman. However, she can uncover her face in the presence of the people who are closely related to her. She can freely move in front of the men in her common dress that has prescribed in the pleasure and comfort of her home.
It is the face from which the brands of beauty gush forth, passions are stirred up and the lusts are excited. The woman is bound to veil her hair, face, bosom, palms and feet according to the teachings of Islam.
As a matter of fact, the charm of woman is incorporated in her personality and dress. So, Allah has ordered woman to draw cloaks and hide her beauty from the strangers and distant relatives.
References: ma’ariful-Quran, vol. 7, pgs. 217-219., Fathul-Bari, vol. 10. pg. 677 Hadith # 4795, Umdatul-Qari. Vol. 19, Fataawa Rahimiya, vol.4 pg. 94-106
and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
Mufti Ebrahim Desai