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Is it Permissible to Pray with Niqab On?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Shafiifiqh.com
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Question:

Is it permissible for a woman to cover her face during Salah?  I accept the position of the school, but can you please provide an evidence for this?  It is a question that has surfaced in our community and a clear evidence would really help me keep some problems from developing

Answer:

Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

It is disliked [makruh] for a woman to pray wearing niqab [a face covering], except for when she is praying in the company of others who might look at her face. In this instance, it is impermissible for her to lift her niqab. Khatib Shirbini stated,

ويكره أن يصلي…والمرأة منتقبة إلا أن يكون في مكان وهناك أجانب لا يحترزون عن النظر إليها فلا يجوز لها رفع النقاب

“It is disliked when he prays…and the woman wearing niqab, except for when in a place where there are strange men who do not guard their gazes; then, it is not permissible for her to lift her niqab.” (Iqna’ 2/111)

The disliked nature of a woman wearing niqab in prayer (and in tawaf according to some) is related from various Tabi’in, like Hasan al-Basri, Tawus, and Jabir b. Zayd. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 2/347-48) Hafiz Busayri related that Aishah did make tawaf wearing niqab. (Ithaf al-Khayrat al-Maharah 3/201) Ibn Abd al-Barr related a consensus [ijma] that a woman does not need to pray with her face veiled. (Tamhid 6/365)

In light of the above, a woman does not need to pray with her face veiled, and it is disliked. If a woman fears that she will be peeped at by strange onlookers, then she should keep her face covered.

 

And Allah the Exalted knows best.

Shafiifiqh.com Fatwa Dept.

This answer was collected from Shafiifiqh.com which was a repository of Islamic answers as per the Shafi’i madhhab. The website no longer functions. At its peak, many ‘ulama were involved with the site including Shaykh Mawlana Taha Karaan, Shaykh Abdul-Fattah ibn Abdullah, and Shaykh AbdurRagman Khan.

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