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Q15: Is the Veil/Niqaab obligatory

Question:

Assalamu-alaikum. A teacher of mine is of the opinion that veil/niqaab is optional. He says: this is to cater for those women who want to adopt such professional fields which may involve relating with others e.g. Doctors, dentists a business woman etc hence it is optional. As a result the vast majority of people here do not where veil. Furthermore, whenever i would attempt to speak on the issue of veil and its obligation , i am often attacked with comments such as : you are being fanatical or that is not within hanafi teachings and the face is no part of the awrah . Can you please comment on this?

Another Question- is the face considered part of the awrah

Answer:

The veil is indeed obligatory in Islam. There is no doubt about it. A verse was revealed about it:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لِأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَنْ يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا | 59

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks round them. That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

The event behind this revelation was when Umar Radhiyallahu Anhu requested the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam to order women to wear the veil. This hadith is in Bukhari:

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ أَنَّ أَزْوَاجَ النَّبِىِّ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – كُنَّ يَخْرُجْنَ بِاللَّيْلِ إِذَا تَبَرَّزْنَ إِلَى الْمَنَاصِعِ – وَهُوَ صَعِيدٌ أَفْيَحُ – فَكَانَ عُمَرُ يَقُولُ لِلنَّبِىِّ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – احْجُبْ نِسَاءَكَ . فَلَمْ يَكُنْ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – يَفْعَلُ ، فَخَرَجَتْ سَوْدَةُ بِنْتُ زَمْعَةَ زَوْجُ النَّبِىِّ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لَيْلَةً مِنَ اللَّيَالِى عِشَاءً ، وَكَانَتِ امْرَأَةً طَوِيلَةً ، فَنَادَاهَا عُمَرُ أَلاَ قَدْ عَرَفْنَاكِ يَا سَوْدَةُ . حِرْصًا عَلَى أَنْ يَنْزِلَ الْحِجَابُ ، فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ آيَةَ الْحِجَابِ | بخارى – كتاب الوضوء – باب خُرُوجِ النِّسَاءِ إِلَى الْبَرَازِ – حديث 146 – ص 26 ج1 – قديمى كتب خانه

Likewise, there are other verses of the Quran and ahadeeth which show that the veil was to be worn and that all the Sahabiyyaat practised upon it: The women wore it and the men encouraged it. And this practice has been adopted from Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam’s era through the centuries until this age. Therefore, this is also classed under Ijmaa’ (the type of evidence where something has been agreed upon by all the learned people).

Even if a command is not given in the Quran, we must still act upon it because Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam has commanded so, and Allah has instructed us to obey His messenger’s every command:

قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ | آل عمران:31

Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

وَمَا آَتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ | الحشر:7

And whatsoever the messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it). And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is stern in reprisal.

وَحَدَّثَنَا نَصْرُ بْنُ عَلِىٍّ الْجَهْضَمِىُّ وَإِسْحَاقُ بْنُ مُوسَى الأَنْصَارِىُّ قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا مَعْنٌ عَنْ مَالِكٍ عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ سَعِيدٍ عَنْ عَمْرَةَ عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ إِنْ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- لَيُصَلِّى الصُّبْحَ فَيَنْصَرِفُ النِّسَاءُ مُتَلَفِّعَاتٍ بِمُرُوطِهِنَّ مَا يُعْرَفْنَ مِنَ الْغَلَسِ. وَقَالَ الأَنْصَارِىُّ فِى رِوَايَتِهِ مُتَلَفِّفَاتٍ. (مسلم – كتاب المساجد – باب اسْتِحْبَابِ التَّبْكِيرِ بِالصُّبْحِ فِى أَوَّلِ وَقْتِهَا وَهُوَ التَّغْلِيسُ وَبَيَانِ قَدْرِ الْقِرَاءَةِ فِيهَا – حديث 1491)
المتلفعات : مستترات الوجوه والأبدان
المروط : جمع المرط وهو الكساء من صوف وغيره

To say ‘that is not within hanafi teachings’ and other similar comments, disproving what Islam has said is totally wrong. One needs to be very careful in these matters, particularly when refuting what has been said in the Quran as this could lead to one losing his faith in Allah. It is important for us to remain steadfast on deen and endeavour to have faith like that of the Sahabah, who would say:

سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا | البقرة:285

We hear, and we obey.

With regards to the face, it is not considered part of the ‘awrah. This is due to the mas’alah of salah, as she is allowed to keep her face and hands up to the wrists open during salah. The rest of her body is awrah and thus if any part of it is exposed the salah will be void.

But this does not mean that it is lawful to expose it in front of non-mahram males. To put it in an easier perspective, according to the laws of our countries the two main private parts and breasts for women are considered to be part of the ‘awrah. But you don’t see women going to work or other public places in a bikini on a daily basis. It is still considered inappropriate and most women would still feel ashamed to expose themselves that much. The reason why the face must be covered is that it is the most handsome and attractive part of the body and as such revealing it could lead to temptation, resulting in adultery.

( وَتُمْنَعُ ) الْمَرْأَةُ الشَّابَّةُ ( مِنْ كَشْفِ الْوَجْهِ بَيْنَ رِجَالٍ ) لَا لِأَنَّهُ عَوْرَةٌ بَلْ ( لِخَوْفِ الْفِتْنَةِ ) كَمَسِّهِ وَإِنْ أَمِنَ الشَّهْوَةَ لِأَنَّهُ أَغْلَظُ (الدر المختار)
الشَّرْحُ
قَوْلُهُ وَتُمْنَعُ الْمَرْأَةُ إلَخْ ) أَيْ تُنْهَى عَنْهُ وَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ عَوْرَةً ( قَوْلُهُ بَلْ لِخَوْفِ الْفِتْنَةِ ) أَيْ الْفُجُورِ بِهَا قَامُوسٌ أَوْ الشَّهْوَةِ ).
وَالْمَعْنَى تُمْنَعُ مِنْ الْكَشْفِ لِخَوْفِ أَنْ يَرَى الرِّجَالُ وَجْهَهَا فَتَقَعُ الْفِتْنَةُ لِأَنَّهُ مَعَ الْكَشْفِ قَدْ يَقَعُ النَّظَرُ إلَيْهَا بِشَهْوَةٍ | رد المحتار

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