Thursday, September 16, 2010

Does the Niqab have a basis in Shariah?

Media around the globe reported Thursday that a leading Al-Azhar “scholar” has said Niqab “has no basis in Shariah and there is nothing in the Qur’an and Sunnah that supports it”. While it is true that there is a difference of opinion among the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence on the obligation of wearing a face-veil – with some considering it Wajib (obligatory) and others Mustahabb (recommended) – there have never been any questions raised on the validity of wearing a face-veil.
There are numerous Ahadith that conclusively prove that the entire community of Muslim women covered their faces with an external garment as they went about their business – not just the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

n Narrated Ayesha (part of a much longer narration): “...When he reached my place in the morning, he saw the figure of a sleeping person and he recognized me on seeing me, as he had seen me before the order of compulsory veiling (was prescribed). So I woke up when he recited Istirja’ (i.e. “Inna lillahi wa inna llaihi raji’un”) as soon as he recognized me. I veiled my face with my head cover at once, and by Allah, we did not speak a single word, and I did not hear him saying any word besides his Istirja’. (Al-Bukhari, 5/59, no. 462)
n Narrated Ayesha: “The woman is to bring down her Jilbab from over her head and (then place it) upon her face.” (Bukhari, 6/60, no. 282; Abu Dawood, 32/4091)
n Narrated Ayesha: “The riders used to pass by us when we were with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in Ihram. When they came near, each of us would lower her Jilbab from her head over her face, and when they passed by, we would uncover our faces.” (Abu Dawood, 1/1833)
n Narrated Asim Al-Ahwal: “We used to enter upon Hafsah Bint Sirin who had put her Jilbab thus and covered her face with it, and we would say to her: May Allah have mercy on you, Allah 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...’ (Qur’an, 24:60)
“And she would say to us: What comes after that (verse)? 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 Jilbab.” (Al-Bukhari, 3/311:1)
n Narrated Ibn Abbas: “Allah commanded the believing women, when going out of their homes for some need, to cover their faces from above their heads with their Jilbab, leaving one eye (or both) to see the path.” (Tafsir At-Tabari, 2/123)
n From Asma’ Bint Abi Bakr, that she said, “We are used to covering our faces from the men, and cutting our hair before that in Ihram (for Haj).” (Ibn Khuzaymah, 4/203)
n From Ibn Abi Khaytamah: We entered upon Umm Al-Mu’minin on Yawm At-Tarwiyah and we said to her, ‘O Mother of the Believers! Here is a woman who refuses to cover her face and she is a Muhrimah (in iharm). So Ayesha lifted her Khimar from her chest, and covered the woman’s face with it. (At-Talkhees Al-Habeer of Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalani, 2/272)
n Narrated Ayesha: “When (the Verse): ‘They should draw their veils over their Juyubihinna,’ was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces.” (Al-Bukhari, 60:282:1)
n Narrated Ayesha: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used to offer the Fajr prayer and some believing women covered with their veiling sheets used to attend the Fajr prayer with him and then they would return to their homes unrecognized. (Al-Bukhari, 8:368:1)
n Narrated Umm Atiya: We were ordered by the Prophet (peace be upon him) to bring out our menstruating women and veiled women in the religious gatherings and invocation of Muslims on the two Eid festivals. These menstruating women were to keep away from their Musalla. A woman asked, “O Allah’s Apostle ‘What about one who does not have a Niqab?” He said, “Let her share the veil of her companion.” (Al-Bukhari, 8:347:1)
n Narrated Thabit Bin Qays: A woman called Umm Khallad came to the Prophet while she was veiled. She was searching for her son who had been killed in the battle. Some of the Companions of the Prophet said to her: You have come here asking for your son while veiling your face? She said: “If I am afflicted with the loss of my son, I shall not suffer the loss of my modesty.” (Al-Bukhari, 14:2482:1)

As is obvious from these narrations, Muslim women have a historical precedent of covering their faces that goes back to the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that is independent and completely exclusive of cultural or any other influence. May Allah enable the women of our time to follow those who have preceded them in faith, despite the discouragement and deviation of those who hate to see them doing so. – SG

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