The reason I even started to look into niqab is because a teacher and friend of mine was a niqabi. She never pushed it or said anything about it, but just to know her made you want to be like her. Not in that scary, creepy stalker sense, but because she was a very decent example of a muslimah. She was and is a wonderful role model. When I asked her about it, she directed me to a small book called '4 Essays on the Obligation of Veiling'. I ordered the book and read the whole thing in a couple of days. The proofs contained in the book changed my views dramatically.
I wanted to wear niqab right away, but at the time I worked in an office and was too scared to do it. I would wear it to the office and home and everywhere else, but not at work. I felt stupid about it. I was actually just going to go to my HR department to say I was going to start wearing it when I got laid off! Turns out that was the best thing to happen to me. Now I work in an Islamic School and I can wear it full time and not look back.
Anyway, moving on. The proofs that changed my views are too many to name in one blog post, but I'll try to give you a few so you can get an idea of the impact they had on me.
First there is this Tafsir by Al-Qurtubi:
“And all of the woman is ‘awrah; her body, her voice, and it is not permissible for her to uncover that unless out of necessity, or need such as witnessing (in court), or a disease that is affecting her body…” [Ahkām Al Qur'ān 3/1579]
Which goes along with this Hadith: “The woman is ‘Awrah, when she leaves [her home] Shaytān (satan - may Allah curse him) looks at her.”
Both of the above state that all of a woman is 'awrah. Next there is this Ayat:
O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal, without awaiting its readiness. But when you are invited, then enter; and when you have eaten, disperse without seeking to remain for conversation. Indeed, that [behavior] was troubling the Prophet, and he is shy of [dismissing] you. But Allāh is not shy of the truth. And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a partition. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts. And it is not [conceivable or lawful] for you to harm the Messenger of Allāh or to marry his wives after him, ever. Indeed, that would be in the sight of Allāh an enormity.
Some will say that this ayat only refers to the wives of the Prophet. The ayat itself is specific to the Prophet but the generality of the words referring to veiling between men and woman seems to apply to all. The flaw of the heart that causes fitnah resides in everyone. This concept can be futher proven by the following hadith narrated by Umm Salamah:
“When my ‘Iddah (This type of ‘iddah refers to the 4 months and 10 days of mourning that Allah has legislated for a woman after her husband passes away) ended from [the death of] Abi Salamah, Rasūlullah (Sallalllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) came and spoke to me and between him and I was a Hijāb, and so he proposed to me…”
Now before anyone says 'it only says 'hijab' not veil, the Arabic word for cover is hijab, so these hadith and ayat are talking about either a curtain or veil of some sort. Another way to look at this concept would be that if in a woman's home they have a barrier or veil between her and a man why would she abandon that form of modesty when she left the home?
The next Ayat is probably one that we all know:
O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their Jalābīb all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allâh is Ever Oft¬-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Ahzāb 33:59)
What comes into question here is 'what is a Jalabib'. We can explore that further in the following hadith:
It was narrated that ‘Aasim al-Ahwal said: We used to enter upon Hafsah bint Sirīn who had put her Jilbāb thus and covered her face with it, and we would say to her: May Allah have mercy on you. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And as for women past childbearing who do not expect wedlock, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment” [al-Noor 24:60]. And she would say to us: What comes after that (of the āyah)? We would say: “But to refrain (i.e. not to discard their outer clothing) is better for them”. And so she said: [Referring to, 'But to refrain is better for them'], “It is to keep the Jilbāb.” [Narrated by al-Bayhaqi, 7/93. It is Authentic]
This hadith shows that Hafsah Bint Sirin, who was an older woman and a sahabiat, used to use her jilbab to cover her face. This is proof that the jilbab was worn as a complete body cover. It also shows how a woman of her age does not need to cover like that but it is best for her to continue to do so.
So these are just a few of the things that I found that led me to believe that veiling is fard. Now that I have come to this conclusion I feel naked without it. It is a very safe and respectable feeling. It also sort of forces you to dress properly. Wearing anything but an abaya with a niqab feels strange to me!
I will never tell a sister that she has to wear it, or look down on anyone who does not. If they ask, I'll pass them along to the book I mentioned above and give some advice, but I'll not push it. I've had plenty of people try to talk me out of it, but even more tell me that its a good thing. May Allah guide and bless the believing brothers and sisters.