Thursday, February 26, 2009

When people ask me about Niqab

Occasionally I will get asked why I chose to wear niqab. Depending on who is asking I have some short standard answers. If it a non muslim I explain that its a part of dressing modestly in Islam and I believe it to be a command from God. My answer to Muslims is similar but I usually try to go into some of the reasons or proofs that I have for finding it to be fard.

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.

(Al-Ahzāb 33:53)

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.


Lazeena Umm Yusuf said...

I love that book! People ask my to borrow it but I can't risk it not being returned back to me. The moment I started niqaab I was like "Why'd I punk out for so many years? This is the best feeeling!!!!"

Amber said...

If you don't mind me asking, what did Umar think of your decision to wear niqab? Was he all for it or did you have to convince him?

I just ask because it's a change that affects the whole family.

Jamilah said...

Umm Yusuf

Asalamu Alaikum! Yes I love my book too. This is actually the newer on... the one before was just 3 essays! Unfortunately the publisher of this title seems to have dropped off the planet. Their website is down and we can't get in touch with them for our bookstore :(

I love your comment about punking out! Yes I felt that way too.

Amber -

He reads this so I'm sure he'll comment, but he was fine with it as far as I know. :)

Noshi said...

asalamu alaikum sister,

I don't think the first ayah you posted is actually an ayah. I think it's a hadith. Can you tell me the the Surrah it's from, because in the citation it doesn't say. I only ask because whenever I read an ayah, I always have to go read Dr. Muhsin's translation. I find it's the best one and easiest to understand, inshaAllah.

Anyways, I don't think niqaab is fardh, but I do think it's very beautiful mashaAllah.

Jamilah said...

Actually you are right, its not... thank you for catching that. Its actually a part of a tafsir. I'll fix it now.

What leads you to not think its fardh? Just curious really. Are there any proofs that you find that make you feel that way?

Umar said...

I am fine with it. I was concerned at first, mostly about how others would react, what they might say or do. I still worry about that some but I just have to trust in Allah to protect her.

Noshi said...

I go by Sheikh Albani's opinion.

The hadith narrated by Aisha (ra) that talks about when the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wasalam) saw a woman, after the age of puberty, without hijab on. And he pointed to the hands and face and said this is all that is allowed to be apparent.

I can't find the exact hadith right now, but I'm pretty sure you have heard of it. InshaAllah.

Jamilah said...

yes Noshi I've heard of that hadith and its considered to be a weak narration. Not a lot of people know that.

Jamilah said...

Ok Noshi, I found it on a quick search, is this the one:

Aisha said, "Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr (that is, Aisha’s sister), entered upon the Apostle of God (pbuh) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of God turned his attention from her and said, "O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her except that she displays parts of her body except this and this," and he pointed to her face and hands. (Sunan Abi Dawud)

This hadith is found only in the hadith collection of Abu Dawud (no. 4095). According to Abu Dawud, it is considered weak because the narrator who transmitted it from Aisha is not known

Noshi said...

Yes, that's the one. Well, many people do believe it's daeef. But, Sheikh Albani would not use it as support if it was weak. He's a muhadith whereas Sheikh Ibn Baz and Sheikh Uthaymeen, who believe niqaab is fardh, are not. So, I really don't think Sheikh Albani, despite being a muhadith, would support his stance with a daeef hadith.

Jamilah said...

Well, like I said I'll never tell a sister she has to wear it. Many top scholars have agreed that it is fard. The person who collected that hadith said it was weak, and so do a lot of others. Allah knows best.

Noshi said...

Indeed, He does. I would never tell a sister she has to wear it. I think I might point out that hijab is fardh to a sister, but not stamp it on her as something she MUST do right then and there. It takes a lot of effort to put on hijab and niqaab. MashaAllah. I wear niqaab; I just don't think it's fardh.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikum wr wb,

I am not convinced about niqab as fardh (although I do wear it myself and could not imagine not wearing it). I see the evidences and understand that it is better.

Before I made hijrah i wore niqab in my country for a year. It was a vicious year. Had the back of my hijab burnt with cigarettes, chewing gum pressed onto me, abuse in public and a few people tried to punch on with me, but that is not a good idea for them! cos I kicked their arse. I ended up taking niqab off for the duration of my time there for my safety - sadly. Now I have made hijrah, the niqab is back on alhamdulillah. Love it! I was walking today and I remembered something funny and I loved that I could crack up laughing under my niqab and no one knew.

Jamilah said...


Thank you for your post... what country were you in that all of that mean stuff happened?

Sacrifice4Allah said...


I have been reading here and there about niqaab and i actually bought one yesterday. I believe it is Sunnah to wear it and lately i have been looking towards wearing the niqaab. I tried it on at home and i felt surprisingly comfortable!

Jamilah said...


It is pretty comfy actually. And you get used to it. Give it a try one day and see how you like it!

Sacrifice4Allah said...

InshaAllah i will! :)

Pixie said...

For me, the reason I think it is only mustahaab, not fard is because there are hadiths that talk about a woman's face being very beautiful, or having a mark on her face, and the Prophet S.A.W did not tell the woman to veil, but told men to lower their gaze. And she was a believer. But I am still cautious with this and don't say niqab is something outdated because maybe this woman was just starting to practice her faith and we don't always stress the importnace of hijab on people who have just taken their shahada until they master more important aspects of their faith. So for me, the only way I can see the niqab as fard, is if we take it to mean that facial veiling was part of the jilbab as it was commanded. Which to me is entirely possible since I have studied the subject of jilbab in depth. It is one valid opinion out of about five feasible ones as to how jilbab looked and what it consisted of.

Anonymous said...

Sheikh Nasirudeen Al-Albani has written a book entitled "HijabulMaraatilmuslima" answering the challange of Al-Mawdudi in his book Alhijab. Al-Albani goes for no niqab. He refers to the Hadith of Al-Bukhari that tells a youthful female came in Hajj to ask the Prophet a question on HajjAl-Fadl the cousin of the Prophet was a young youth. He started looking at that woman and the Prophet was turning his face. The Prophet did not tell that woman to wear a niqab is because in Hajj while in ihram the woman does not use a veil anyway according to sahih hadith.. outside the precincts of the haram is different issue.. Sahih Bhukari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 523:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
The Prophet stayed with Safiya bint Huyai for three days on the way of Khaibar where he consummated his marriage with her. Safiya was amongst those who were ordered to use a veil.. Nowadays NIQAB/veil is being targeted as we see in the west, it would be much better if the muslimah who dont wear the veil stand and support the muslim women using veil at least for the wives of the prophet peace be upon them wore veils and so did the later generations so are the muslim women of today better than them to not veil?.. there is strong support for veil than not to veil..

crescentimes said...

Ohh! great with this book new one and so nice I love this book but my couzin borrow it and she lost it so worse.


Samira Ahmed said...

Assalaamu sister i just started niqab Im 17 years old and alhamdulilaah my both parents are muslims :) anyway its hard to wear niqab in Finland and when im im school i take off my niqab but other wise i wear niqab always alhamdulilaah but wallahi i love niqab so much to wear but i can't even wear the niqab without my own family criticising me :( , make dua for me , jzk. x Love you the sake of allah sister

Sameh said...

The hadeeth narrated by At-Tirmizi "The woman is 'awrah.." has been graded weak by scholars of hadeeth.

Jamilah said...


From my research I've found it to be saheeh.