The Hijab of Women and its Boundaries

Translated by Zameelur Rahman

Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah and Abu Kurayb narrated to us. They said: Abu Usamah narrated to us: from Hisham: from his father: from ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her): she said:

“Sawdah (Allah he pleased with her) went out [in the fields] in order to relieve her need after the hijab had been prescribed upon her. She had been a bulky lady, physically taller than other women, and she could not conceal herself from one who had known her. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) saw her and said, ‘O Sawdah, by Allah, you cannot conceal [yourself] from us. Therefore, be careful when you go out.'” ‘A’isha said: “She turned back. Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was at that time in my house having his evening meal and there was a bone in his hand. Sawdah entered and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I went out and ‘Umar said to me so and so.'” ‘A’isha said: “Revelation came to him, then it was lifted from him and the bone was [still] in his hand and he had not put it [down]. He then said, ‘Permission has been granted to you that you may go out for your needs.'” (Sahih Muslim)

The subject of the hijab of women has, today, become a significant issue, on which discussion and debate has been ongoing, so we wish to produce an outline of the [correct] view on this [issue]. And Allah Most High gives success and is the Helper.

The Issue of the Hijab of Women and its Boundaries

Writings on the topic of the veiling and unveiling of women have proliferated in our time. The best that I have seen on this subject is a treatise by my late father Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (Allah have mercy on him) which he called Tafsil al-Khitab fi Tafsir Ayat al-Hijab, which is a section from his Ahkam al-Qur’an (3:393-483), in which he examined the verses and hadiths cited on the subject and exhausted the positions of the fuqaha (jurists) and the statements of the exegetes regarding the limits of hijab and its description. The sum of what he concluded after an extensive study is that the hijab that is legislated and commanded in the Book and the Sunnah has three levels, each above the other in hiddenness and concealment. All of them are mentioned in the Book and the Sunnah and none of them have been abrogated, but they have been prescribed for different circumstances.

They are:

[1] Hijab of the persons (ashkhas) of women in houses and walls, private quarters and howdahs, whereby foreign men do not see any part of their persons, garments or external or internal adornment, or any part of their body, including the face, the hands and the remainder of  the body.

[2] Hijab with burqa’ and jilbab, whereby nothing from the face and hands, the rest of the body and the clothing of adornment are shown, so nothing is seen besides their concealed persons from above the head to the foot.

[3] Hijab with jilbabs and items of clothing that resemble them, while exposing the face, the hands and the feet.

The default rule in the hijab of women is hijab of the first level which is that she is concealed in the house and does not emerge, except for a need, the explanation of which is to come. This is proven by the statement of Allah Most High, “and stay in your houses” (Qur’an 33:33). It is apparent that this command is not specific to the purified wives because none of the preceding and succeeding rules in this verse are specific to the Mothers of the Believers (Allah be pleased with them) by consensus. Likewise [this is proven by] His statement Most High, “And when ye ask of them anything, ask it of them from behind a veil” (Qur’an 33:53). This verse was revealed during the walimah (wedding feast) of Zaynab (Allah be pleased with her), whereupon a veil was drawn between her and the men.

Furthermore, this is proven by the following hadiths:

[1] It was narrated from ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The woman is ‘awrah. When she emerges [from her house] Satan looks at her.” Al-Tirmidhi transmitted it and said, “The hadith is hasan sahih (sound and authentic), gharib (uncommon)”. Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibban transmitted it in their Sahihs with this wording and added, “and the closest that she is to the Face of Her Lord is when she is in the depth of her home.” See al-Targhib by al-Mundhiri (1:136).

[2] It was narrated from Jabir (Allah be pleased with him), he said: “Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The woman advances in the shape of Satan and retires in the shape of Satan.” Muslim transmitted it (1:129).

[3] The hadith of the chapter transmitted by the compiler (Imam Muslim) as Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said therein, “permission has been granted to you that you may go out for your needs,” since this indicates that the permission to go out is restricted to [times] of need and in [times] other than need a woman stays in her house.

[4] It was narrated from ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The prayer of a woman in her house is more virtuous than her prayer in her room and her prayer in her chamber is more virtuous than her prayer in her house.” Abu Dawud transmitted it and al-Hakim transmitted it in al-Mustadrak from Umm Salamah (Allah be pleased with her) as [mentioned] in Kanz al-‘Ummal (8:259). Ibn Khuzaymah transmitted it in his Sahih, as [mentioned] in al-Targhib by al-Mundhiri (1:135).

[5]  It was narrated from Umm Humayd, the wife of Abu Humayd al-Sa’idi, that she came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I love to pray with you.” He replied, “I know that you love to pray with me. However, your prayer in your storage room is better than your prayer in your bedroom; your prayer in your bedroom is better than your prayer in your courtyard; your prayer in your courtyard is better than your prayer in the mosque of your people; and your prayer in the mosque of your people is better than your prayer in my mosque.” [The sub-narrator] said, “She requested that a prayer area be built for her in the deepest and darkest part of her house, and she prayed therein until she met Allah Most High.” Ahmad transmitted it in his Musnad (6:371) and Ibn Hajar in al-Isabah attributed it to Ibn Abi Khaythamah through this route, and this is an authentic chain. Al-Shawkani transmitted in Nayl al-Awtar (3:161) from Ibn Hajar that he said, “Its chain is sound (hasan).” Al-Mundhiri mentioned it in al-Targhib (1:135) and said, “Ahmad narrated it, as did Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibban in their Sahihs”.

[6] It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with them both) in marfu’ form, “Women do not have a share in leaving [the home] except in [times of] need.” Al-Tabrani transmitted it as [mentioned] in Kanz al-‘Ummal (8:263).

These hadiths prove with clarity that the default rule for the woman is that she is hidden in her house, her person is concealed from foreign men and she does not leave her house except for a need.

However, a woman may need to emerge for her natural needs. It will then be permissible for her to emerge in these kinds of situations while concealed in a burqa’ and jilbab whereby no part of her body is shown. This is the second level of hijab, and indeed this level has been commanded in the Noble Qur’an where Allah Most High said, “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their jilbabs over their [persons]” (33:59) and it is apparent that by casting the jilbab over the woman is meant concealing her entire body even her face.

Jilbab according to what was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them both) is that which covers from top to bottom. Ibn Hazm said in al-Muhalla (3:217), “Jilbab in the language of the Arabs, in which Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) spoke, is that which covers the entire body, not a part of it.” Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir and others transmitted from Muhammad ibn Sirin, he said: “I asked ‘Abidah al-Salmani about this verse ‘they should cast their jilbabs over their [persons]’ so he lifted the blanket [draped] around him, concealed his face with it and covered his entire head until it reached the eyebrows and covered his face, then he took out his left eye from the left side of his face”. This was [mentioned] in Ruh al-Ma’ani (22:89).

Ibn Jarir transmitted in his Tafsir (22:46) from Ibn ‘Abbas in the explanation of this verse, “Allah commanded the believing women [that] when they emerge from their houses for a need, they [must] cover their faces from above their heads with jilbabs and reveal [only] one eye.” It was also narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas and Qatadah, “[the woman] twists the jilbab above the forehead and tightens it, then she folds it unto the nose even if her eyes are exposed; nonetheless, she conceals the chest and most of the face.” Al-Alusi [mentioned] it in Ruh al-Ma’ani (22:89). In sum, this verse proves that the woman is commanded to cover her face when she emerges at her [time of] need.

Furthermore, this is proven by His statement Most High, “Such elderly women as are past the prospect of marriage, there is no [blame] on them if they lay down their garments” (24:60), since Allah Most High made it permissible for old women in this verse to lay down their garments and it is clear that the intended meaning of laying down the garments here is not laying down all clothes. The intended meaning of it is only to lay down the jilbab or shroud from the external garments, the laying down of which will not lead to exposing the ‘awrah. For this [reason] ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) explained garment in this verse as jilbab and shroud, and a similar [interpretation] was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar, Mujahid, Sa’id ibn Jubayr, Abu l-Sha’tha’, Ibrahim al-Nakha’i, al-Hasan, Qatadah, al-Zuhri, al-Awza’i and others as mentioned in Tafsir ibn Kathir. Hence, this verse proves that laying down the jilbab which necessitates exposing the face is specific to old women who have no prospect of marriage, and that it is not permissible for young women to lay down their jilbabs and expose their faces before foreign men.

It is clear that when the female Companions left for their needs they would go out concealed in jilbabs and hidden in shrouds and would not uncover their faces before foreign men. From the [narrations] that prove this are the following hadiths:

[1] Abu Dawud transmitted in Kitab al-Jihad, Bab Fadl Qital al-Rum from Qays ibn Shammas (Allah be pleased with him), he said: “A woman called Umm Khallad came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) while she was veiled (wearing a niqab) enquiring about her son who was killed. One of the Companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said to her, ‘You have come to ask about your son while you are veiled?’ She said, ‘If I am afflicted with the loss of my son I will never suffer the loss of my modesty.’ Then Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘He has the reward of two martyrs.’ She asked, ‘And why is that O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘Because he was killed by the people of the book.'”

[2] It was narrated from Umm ‘Atiyyah that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would bring out the unmarried women, old women, the women in the private quarters and the menstruating women in the two ‘Ids. As for menstruating women they would keep back from the place of prayer and would witness the supplication of the Muslims. One of them said, “O Messenger of Allah! If one does not have a jilbab?” He said, “Let her sister cover her with her jilbab.” This hadith was transmitted by a number of collectors of authentic [narrations], and this is the wording of al-Tirmidhi (no. 539), Bab Khuruj al-Nisa’ fi l-‘Idayn, and al-Tirmidhi said, “this hadith is hasan sahih.”

[3] Al-Bukhari transmitted [something] similar to it (no. 980 in Kitab al-‘Idayn) from Hafsah bint Sirin and its wording is: “so she said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, is there harm for any of us when she does not have jilbab that she not come out?’ He said, ‘Her companion should cover her with her jilbab.'”

[4] ‘Abd al-Razzaq and a group transmitted from Umm Salamah, she said, “When this verse ‘they should cast their jilbabs over their [persons]’ was revealed, the women of Ansar came out as if there were crows on their heads, from the tranquillity, and [draped] over them were black clothes that they would wear.”

[5] Ibn Mardawayh transmitted from ‘A’ishah, she said, “Allah Most High bless the women of the Ansar. When ‘O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women …’ was revealed they tore their thick outer garments and made veils from them, and they prayed behind Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as if there were crows on their heads.” See Ruh al-Ma’ani (22:89) for the two narrations.

[6] It was narrated from ‘A’ishah, she said, “Riders would pass us when we accompanied the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) while we were in ihram. When they came by us, one of us would let down her jilbab from her head over her face, and when they had passed on, we would uncover our faces”. Abu Dawud transmitted it in Kitab al-Hajj (no. 1833).

These hadiths clarify that the female Companions (Allah’s pleasure be on them) would, after the revelation of the [verses of] hijab, adhere strictly to covering their bodies with jilbabs and draw them over their faces when going out. The last hadith proves that this importance of hiddenness does not cease to continue even in the state of ihram in which it is prohibited for a woman that a piece of clothing touches her face.

The third level of hijab which is that women go out concealing the bodies from head to foot while uncovering the face and hands, at the time of need, is with the condition of safety (amn) from temptation (fitnah). This is proven by His statement Most High in Surah al-Nur, “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their ornaments except what appears thereof.” The exegetes have differed over the explanation of “what appears thereof”. It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar and ‘A’ishah (Allah be pleased with them) that they explained it as the face and hands, and this is the view of ‘Ata’, ‘Ikrimah, Sa’id ibn Jubayr, Abu l-Sha’tha, al-Dahhak, Ibrahim al-Nakha’i and others. And it was narrated from ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) that he interpreted “what appears thereof” as the shroud and jilbab. Hence, the verse according to the first explanation proves that the woman can uncover her face and hands at the time of need and this is further supported by the following hadiths:

[1] It was narrated from ‘A’ishah (Allah be pleased with her) that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr (Allah be pleased with them both) entered upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) while wearing thin clothing, so he turned away from her and said, “O Asma! Indeed when a woman reaches [the age of] menstruation, it is not proper that anything should be shown except this and this”, and he pointed to his face and hands. Abu Dawud transmitted it, but Abu Dawud and Abu Hatim al-Razi said: “it is mursal, Khalid ibn Darik did not hear from ‘A’ishah”.

[2] It was narrated from ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) in the event of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) returning from al-Muzdalifah that he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) made al-Fadl ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) his riding companion. He came to the pillars to throw pebbles at them and then came to the place of sacrifice (manhar). It is mentioned therein: a young slave girl from Khath’am sought a verdict from him and said, “Indeed my father is an old man and the obligation to Allah to perform Hajj has reached him. Is it permissible for me to perform Hajj on his behalf?” He said, “Perform Hajj on your father’s behalf.” ‘Ali said: “he turned the neck of al-Fadl, and al-‘Abbas asked, ‘Why did you turn the neck of your cousin?’ He said, ‘I saw a young man and woman [in such a situation] that they are not safe from Satan.'” Al-Tirmidhi transmitted it in Bab ma Ja’a anna ‘Arafata kullaha Mawqif (no. 885).

Abu Ya’la transmitted from al-Fadl ibn ‘Abbas, he said: “I was riding behind Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and a Bedouin with whom was a beautiful daughter began presenting her to Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the hope that he would marry her”. He said, “I began to glance at her, and the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) took hold of my head and turned it.” Al-Haythami mentioned it in Kitab al-Nikah in Majma’ al-Zawa’id (4:277) and he said, “its narrators are the narrators of authentic [narrations].” Either this was another incident, or one of the narrators erred in the explanation that the girl belonged to a Bedouin. And the hadith of al-Tirmidhi is clear in that her father was not with her. And Allah knows best.

[Further] detail of this event was transmitted by al-Bukhari in Kitab al-Isti’dhan (no. 6228) from ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) and its wording is: Al-Fadl ibn ‘Abbas rode behind the Prophet as his companion rider on the back of his she-camel on the Day of Sacrifice (yawm al-nahr) and al-Fadl was a handsome man. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) stopped to give the people verdicts. In the meantime, a beautiful woman from the tribe of Khath’am came, asking the verdict of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Al-Fadl started looking at her as her beauty attracted him. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) looked behind while al-Fadl was looking at her; so the Prophet held out his hand backwards and caught the chin of al-Fadl and turned his face to the other side in order that he should not gaze at her, [to the end of] the hadith.

This slave girl’s face was uncovered as is clear from the context of the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas since he said therein that she was beautiful and al-Fadl was attracted to her beauty. The hadith explains that the Prophet turned the face of al-Fadl away from glancing at her and he did not command the slave girl to cover her face because she was in the state of ihram, and he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) probably feared she would collapse or something else if she was required to conceal her face in such severe crowding, so he did not command her to [do] this. This is a proof that it is permissible for a woman to uncover her face according to a need when the rest of her body is concealed.

[3] It was narrated from Sahl ibn Sa’d that a woman came to Allah’s Messenger and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I have come to give you myself in marriage.” Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) looked at her. He looked at her carefully and fixed his glance on her and then lowered his head, to the end of the hadith. Al-Bukhari transmitted it in Bab al-Nazr ila l-Mar’ati qabla l-Tazwij (no. 5125). It is clear in this event that the woman’s face was uncovered at this time, and al-Sarakhsi adduced this as proof in al-Mabsut (10:152) that the face of a woman is not ‘awrah.

As for the positions of the fuqaha on the permissibility of looking at the face of a woman and her hands, the fuqaha have agreed on the impermissibility when it is with the intention of gratification (taladhdhudh), or if there was a fear of temptation inviting the man to be alone with her. There is no dispute in the prohibition of looking at the face of a woman and her hands in this case. As for when the man is safe from temptation and does not desire gratification by looking there is disagreement over its permissibility. The position of the Hanafis and the Malikis is the permissibility of looking at the face and hands in this case and this is the position of many of the Shafi’is and few Hanbalis. However the preferred [view] according to the Shafi’is and the Hanbalis is absolute impermissibility even if safe from desire and temptation.

The Position of the Hanafis on the Ruling of Looking at a Woman

Shams al-A’immah al-Sarakhsi said in al-Mabsut (10:152), “It is permissible to look at the area of apparent adornment of women and not the hidden [adornment] due to His statement Most High, ‘they should not display their ornaments except what appear thereof’ (24:31). ‘Ali and Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) said, ‘what appears thereof’ is kohl and the ring. ‘A’ishah (Allah be pleased with her) said one of her two eyes and ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) said her shoes (khuff) and shroud (mula’ah), and he adduced as evidence for this his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) statement ‘women are the snares of Satan by which he hunts men’ … and since the prohibition of looking is for fear of temptation and the greater part of her attractiveness is in her face, the fear of temptation in looking at her face is greater than it is when looking at other parts. ‘A’ishah reasoned similarly but she said, ‘if she finds no escape from walking on the road, then it is necessary that she opens her eye to see the road, so it is permissible for her to uncover one of her eyes due to this necessity, and what is established by necessity should not go beyond the scope of the necessity.’

“However, we [Hanafis] adopt the view of ‘Ali and Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) since reports have been transmitted giving a dispensation to look at her face and hands. From these reports is what was narrated that a woman offered herself [for marriage] to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and he looked at her face and did not desire her.

“And when ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) said in his sermon, ‘Know that you may not go in excess in the dowries of women’ and a woman with flushed cheeks said, ‘Are you expressing [a view] using your [personal] opinion or did you hear this from Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace), for indeed we find in the Book of Allah Most High the opposite of what you say…?’ Hence, the narrator mentioned that she had flushed cheeks, and this contains a clarification that her face was unveiled.

“And Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) saw the hand of a woman that was not dyed with henna and he asked, ‘is this the hand of a man?’

“And when Fatima (Allah be pleased with her) gave one of her two children to Bilal or Anas (Allah be pleased with them), Anas said, ‘I saw her hand and it appeared as if a half-moon.’

“It is thus proven that there is no harm in looking at the face and hands. Furthermore, the face is the site of kohl and the hand is the site of the ring…Moreover, there is no doubt that it is permissible to look at her garment, and fear of temptation is not considered in this, and looking at her face and hands is the same. Al-Hasan ibn Ziyad narrated from Abu Hanifah that it is permitted to look at her foot also, as was mentioned by al-Tahawi, because just as she is tried with showing her face in working with men and showing her hand in receiving and giving, she is tried with showing her feet when walking barefooted or wearing sandals, and she may not find shoes on every occasion [when she goes out]. It is mentioned in Jami’ al-Baramika, it was narrated from Abu Yusuf that it is permissible to look at her forearm also because in baking and washing clothes she is tried with showing her forearms also. It was said, ‘similarly, it is permitted to look at her front teeth also, because that appears from her when talking to men.’

“All of this is when looking is not with desire (shahwah). If one knows that if he looks, he will become desirous, then it is not permissible for him to look at any part of her because of his statement (Allah bless him and grant him peace), ‘whoever looks at the beauties of a foreign woman with desire, [melted] lead will be poured into his eyes on the Day of Resurrection’ and ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘do not follow up a glance with another glance for indeed the first is [permissible] for you and the second is against you’, meaning by the second that one does it intentionally with desire … And similar is the case if his preponderant opinion is that if he looks he will become desirous, because preponderant opinion in that thing the reality of which cannot be known [with certainty] is just like certainty.”

The Maliki Position

As for the Malikis, their position is what was mentioned by al-Kharshi in his marginalia on Mukhtasar Khalil (1:347): “The ‘awrah of a free-woman before a foreign man is her entire body, even her loose hair and forelock, with the exception of the face and hands, the outside of them and their inside. Furthermore, looking at them (the face and hands) without gratification and without fear of temptation and without a reason, is permissible, even if it is a young woman. Malik said, ‘a woman may eat with a non-near-relative (ghayr dhi mahram) and with her male servant, and she may occasionally eat with her husband and others of those with whom he dines’. Ibn al-Qattan said, ‘this contains proof of the permissibility of the woman showing her face and hands to a foreign man, since it is not conceivable to eat except in this manner [i.e. by showing the face and hands].'” An equivalent [passage] is [found] in Sharh al-Muwaq of al-Hattab (1:499) in more detail.

‘Alish said in Minah al-Jalil (1:133), “Thus, it is permissible for her to uncover them [i.e. the face and hands] before a foreign man, and he may look at them if he does not fear temptation. If temptation is feared then Ibn Marzuq said, ‘the well-known position of the madhhab is the obligation to conceal them.'” An equivalent [passage] is [found] in Mawahib al-Jalil by al-Hattab (1:399, 500).

The Shafi’i Position

The position of the Shafi’is is what was mentioned by al-Nawawi in Kitab al-Nikah from al-Minhaj in his statement, “It is prohibited for a mature male to look at the ‘awrah of a mature foreign free woman, and similarly [it is prohibited to look at] her face and hands when one fears temptation, and also when safe from temptation according to the correct opinion.”

Al-Khatib al-Shirbini said below his statement, “according to the correct opinion”, “and Imam [al-Juwayni] reasoned that the Muslims are in agreement on banning women from emerging while their faces are unveiled, and [he reasoned] that looking is the act in which one would most expect temptation and the stirring of desire … And the second view is that it is not prohibited, and Imam [al-Juwayni] attributed this to the majority (jumhur) [of the Shafi’is] and the two shaykhs (al-Nawawi and al-Rafi’i) attributed it to most (aktharin).

“[Al-Isnawi] said in al-Muhimmat that: It is the correct view because most have adopted it. Al-Balqini said, ‘giving weight (tarjih) [to one opinion] depends on the strength of reason, and the verdict (fatwa) is given according to what is in al-Minhaj‘… That which the Imam transmitted regarding agreement on banning women, i.e. the rulers banning them, [from emerging while their faces are unveiled], conflicts with what al-Qadi ‘Iyad related from the ‘ulama that it is not obligatory on the woman to conceal her face along her path and that it is only a good practice (sunnah), and it is [obligatory] on men to lower their gaze from them because of the verse [i.e. 24:30]. The author (al-Nawawi) related this in Sharh Muslim and approved of it. One of the latter-day scholars said there is no conflict in that, rather their being banned from that is not because concealing [the face] is obligatory on them in its essence, rather because there is general benefit in it, and in leaving [the ban] is an infringement of honour (muru’ah). [Here] ends [the statement of al-Isnawi]. The outward purport of the statement of the two shaykhs is that concealing [the face] is obligatory in itself, so [the need for] this reconciliation does not arise, and the statement of al-Qadi is weak.” See Mughni al-Muhtaj (3:128, 129). An equivalent [passage] is [found] in Nihayat al-Muhtaj (6:184, 5).

The Hanbali Position

The position of the Hanbalis is what was mentioned by Ibn Qudamah in al-Mughni (6:558,9) in Kitab al-Nikah in his statement, “As for men looking at a foreign woman without a reason, it is prohibited entirely according to the apparent statement of Ahmad … and al-Qadi [Abu Ya’la] said, ‘it is prohibited for one to look at anything besides the face and hands because this is ‘awrah, and it is permitted for him to look at her with reprehensibility (karahah) when safe from temptation and the look is without desire. This is the position of al-Shafi’i … [In support] of our view is Allah’s statement Most High, “And when ye ask of them anything, ask it of them from behind a veil” (33:53) … As for the hadith of Asma, if it is authentic, it is possible that it was before the revelation of [the verses of] hijab, so we understand it as such.'”

By considering these four positions it is clear that they all agree on the prohibition of looking at the face of a woman with the intention of gratification or when there is fear of temptation. The preponderant view in the madhhab of the Shafi’is and the Hanbalis is its prohibition when safe from temptation also. The Hanafis and Malikis only allow it with the condition of safety from temptation and the intention of gratification. Meeting this condition is very difficult, particularly in our age in which corruption has become prevalent, to the degree that it has become a condition that almost cannot be met in most situations, and for this [reason] the latter-day scholars from the Hanafis prohibited it absolutely.

Its reprehensibility was transmitted in Al-Durr al-Mukhtar: “If one fears desire or has doubts, looking at her face is prohibited. Thus, the permissibility of looking is conditional on the absence of desire and otherwise it is prohibited. This was in their time. As for our time, Quhustani and others prohibited looking at [the face of] young girls except when looking is due to a need, like when a judge and a witness judge and witness over her…”

Al-Haskafi said in Shurut al-Salah, “and it is prohibited for a young woman to uncover the face among men, not because it is ‘awrah, but for fear of temptation.” And he said in Bab al-Ta’zir, “the master may reprimand his slave, and the husband his wife if she doesn’t beautify [herself]” to his statement “or she uncovers her face before a non-close-relative.”

Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas said in Ahkam al-Qur’an (4:458) under His statement Most High, “they should cast their jilbabs over their [persons]”, “in this verse is an indication that the young woman is commanded to conceal her face from foreign men and to display the concealment and modesty when going out so that suspicious people do not desire them.”

My father, ‘Allamah Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (Allah have mercy on him), said in his Ahkam al-Qur’an (3:469), “and by this explanation we offered, the texts and narrations that are apparently contradictory are in agreement. As you know from what we cited to you of the verses and narrations that some of them allow uncovering the face and hands, either with certainty and conviction like the hadith of al-Fadl ibn ‘Abbas according to al-Bukhari and the hadith of Asma bint Abi Bakr in [Abu Dawud’s] al-Sunan and the hadith of the one who offered herself [for marriage] according to al-Bukhari and [other narrations] like them; and some [of the verses and narrations] allow it as a possible interpretation due to the disagreement that occurred between the Companions (Allah be pleased with them) in the explanation of His statement Most High ‘except what appear thereof’, the details of which have passed.

“And some [of the verses and narrations] prohibit uncovering the face and hands, and foreign men looking at them, like His statement Most High ‘and stay in your houses’ (33:33) … and His statement Most High ‘ask it of them from behind a veil’ (33:53) and His statement ‘they should cast their jilbabs over their [persons]’ (33:59) according to the explanation of the majority of the Companions and His statement Most High ‘except what appear thereof’ (24:31) according to the explanation of ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud …

“Thus, these texts of the Book and narrations of the Sunnah apparently conflict and contradict and in what we have mentioned to you, with the help of Allah Most High, this problem is resolved, for when you realise what we said, you will understand that all of these texts are in agreement in meaning, well-coordinated in the rulings, and all of them are in effect (muhkam) and are not abrogated, but a [particular] ruling is preconditioned by conditions, so wherever the conditions are met, it is made permissible, and wherever they are not, then it is not [permissible] …

“All of this is when the reality of the difference between the explanations of Ibn ‘Abbas and ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud is conceded. Our teacher, the noblest of teachers, Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi (Allah illuminate his resting place), said in a volume devoted to this subject called Ilqa’ al-Sakinah fi Tahqiq Ibda’ al-Zinah that there is no difference between their explanations upon an in-depth and close examination, since the phrase ‘what appears’, although it was explained [by Ibn ‘Abbas] as the face and hands, but what is cited as the exception [in the verse] is on the [morphological] pattern of zuhur (passive appearance) not izhar (active showing). This clearly indicates that the objective [of the verse] is making an exception of what cannot be concealed. Rather, [it is an exception] when adornment appears upon exertion and work, without an intention to show it, because harm may be inflicted upon them by concealing [the face and hands] upon exertion and work. In this case, the exception would also be in accordance with the explanation of Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) which is the face and hands may appear due to a need, and this does not contradict the statement of ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him). I say: and this meaning is supported by what Ibn Kathir said in his explanation of His statement Most High, ‘they should not display their ornaments except what appear thereof’, ‘i.e. they should not reveal any part of their adornment to foreign men except what they are unable to conceal.'”

The upshot is that a woman is commanded in the Noble Qur’an to stay in her house and not emerge except when there is a need. Moreover, if she were to emerge due to a need, then she is commanded to conceal the face by donning the jilbab or burqa’ and in [a manner] that she does not unveil her face. Yes, there are two situations that are exceptions to this: first, the situation of needing to show the face because concealing it will inflict harm upon her as in a [large] crowd or for another need like providing testimony. Second, her face becomes exposed unintentionally during exertion and work. Men are commanded in these two situations to lower their gaze. And Allah Most High knows best.

Takmilah Fath al-Mulhim, vol. 4, pp. 225-234

35 Comments

  • Salamu Alaikum,

    I do not understand this hadith:

    2] It was narrated from Jabir (Allah be pleased with him), he said: “Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The woman advances in the shape of Satan and retires in the shape of Satan.” Muslim transmitted it (1:129).

    Could you please email me an explanation of the hadith? Jazak Allah Khair.

  • You’re posting of the Maliki view is incorrect. There are 3 relied upon views, all of equal weight. As the Great Maliki Scholar Muhammad Mawlud mentions

    1. Only hijaab is required, whether the woman is extremely beautiful (a fattaana) or not attractive
    2. Hijab is required for most women, but for really beautiful women, niqaab is required
    3. Niqaab is required for all women

    Thus, one cannot say the relied upon position is what you mentioned. This is irresponsible research. The Mauritanians and Moroccans are the upholders of the Maliki Madhab.

    Furthermore, according to both the Hanafis and Malikis, niqaab is never in it of itself required, as we all know these madhabs do not count the face from aura. If we follow the EARLY Shaafis (not the modern, and no modern does not mean ‘bad’), then with their understanding of the hadeeth the woman’s face is aura in it of itself. Otherwise, lets not allow some jurists to decide it’s “a time of fitna” therefore we must throw blankets over the women. Allah only commanded hijab (unless you take the Shaafi daleel which is established through hadith, not someone deciding times got bad), so lets focus on men averting their eyes while maintaining philogyny.

  • My humble opinion:
    Are you more knowledge in the matters of deen than Mufti Taqi Usmani?
    If, yes
    {
    then: proceed to the following link:
    1. Letter Concerning The Niqab in The Maliki Madhab ( http://www.abdusshakurbrooks.com/letter-concerning-the-niqab-in-the-maliki-madhab/ )
    2. Sources For The Article: Letter Concerning The Niqab in The Maliki Madhab ( http://www.abdusshakurbrooks.com/sources-for-the-article-letter-concerning-the-niqab-in-the-maliki-madhab/ )
    3. Further clarification, see Shaykh Abdus Shakur Brooks’s comments (in the comment thread): http://deoband.org/2009/04/fiqh/miscellaneous/the-niqab-and-its-obligation-in-the-hanafi-madhhab/
    }

    If, no
    {
    Avoid making puerile comments!
    }

      • Assalam u alaikum,

        Yes, it is true that Ustadh Abdus Shakoor Brooks has moved to a new website. However, maybe you missed it, but he produced an even better article on this whole issue on this new website a few months ago; and this was last revised and finalized on June 13, 2011. Please check it out here:

        http://www.al-faqih.com/?p=164

        Wassalaam

        • Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

          Having read it, he says: “Those who insist on rejecting that these are established positions, ignore what is written repeatedly in the major works of the school, such as the commentaries of al-Risālah and Mukhtasar Khalil in which the scholars mention this ruling explicitly”.

          The main point I will pick up is that a woman must cover her face in front a non-Muslim, since that is really a more important point than a sister who is just so beautiful that men are losing control of themselves over it and it is causing fitnah.

          There are numerous sources in the madhhab that show that within the earlier texts of the madhhab, there was no distinction between a Muslim ajnabi and a non-Muslim ajnabi, but his article insists that not only is that so, but that it is the dominant, “established” position. For example, Al-`Akhdari: `Ajnabi in general, `Abu’l-Hasan ash-Shaadhili al-Manoofi’s Al-‘Izziyyah, as well, and, al-Kishnaawi (who cites all the various sources written by his predecessors) does the same. And we have the Sudanese Imam al-Ju`ali’s “Siraaj as-Saalik, all of whom do not make this much later distinction that it is specifically fard with a non-Muslim man in all cases. And it’s not that since the start of the madhhab till their times non-Muslims did not live in their midst in their societies.

          Add to that that both Shaykh bin Bayyah and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf were asked about niqab in the West and neither required it. Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah’s comments can be found in his “secular law in a sacred land” series. we only find such views in later commentaries on these works, and mostly from Egyptian Maliki origins.

          Moreover, if we peruse the earlier sources of this madhhab, such as an-Nawadir az-Ziyadat, al-Bayan watTahsil, and so forth, we find nothing to indicate that covering her face is an obligation in front of a non-Muslim man, or even at all. Only have some opined that it is so IF she is extremely beautiful.

          Therefore, this short little article does not give a thorough examination of the issue, though may Allah reward any sincere attempt to explain the deen.

          Now, I don’t care if a sister believes in that view, as it IS in some works of the Maliki Egyptian school, but to present such an article as if there is a consensus, and to speak with such disdain for others who do not agree, that is not the adab of any real teacher I know of. And Allah knows best.

        • Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

          Having read it, he says: “Those who insist on rejecting that these are established positions, ignore what is written repeatedly in the major works of the school, such as the commentaries of al-Risālah and Mukhtasar Khalil in which the scholars mention this ruling explicitly”.

          The main point I will pick up is that a woman must cover her face in front a non-Muslim, since that is really a more important point than a sister who is just so beautiful that men are losing control of themselves over it and it is causing fitnah.

          There are numerous sources in the madhhab that show that within the earlier texts of the madhhab, there was no distinction between a Muslim ajnabi and a non-Muslim ajnabi, but his article insists that not only is that so, but that it is the dominant, “established” position. For example, Al-`Akhdari: `Ajnabi in general, `Abu’l-Hasan ash-Shaadhili al-Manoofi’s Al-’Izziyyah, as well, and, al-Kishnaawi (who cites all the various sources written by his predecessors) does the same. And we have the Sudanese Imam al-Ju`ali’s “Siraaj as-Saalik, all of whom do not make this much later distinction that it is specifically fard with a non-Muslim man in all cases. And it’s not that since the start of the madhhab till their times non-Muslims did not live in their midst in their societies.

          Add to that that both Shaykh bin Bayyah and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf were asked about niqab in the West and neither required it. Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah’s comments can be found in his “secular law in a sacred land” series. we only find such views in later commentaries on these works, and mostly from Egyptian Maliki origins.

          Moreover, if we peruse the earlier sources of this madhhab, such as an-Nawadir az-Ziyadat, al-Bayan watTahsil, and so forth, we find nothing to indicate that covering her face is an obligation in front of a non-Muslim man, or even at all. Only have some opined that it is so IF she is extremely beautiful.

          Therefore, this short little article does not give a thorough examination of the issue, though may Allah reward any sincere attempt to explain the deen.

          Now, I don’t care if a sister believes in that view, as it IS in some works of the Maliki Egyptian school, but to present such an article as if there is a consensus, and to speak with such disdain for others who do not agree, that is not the adab of any real teacher I know of. And Allah knows best.

          • Assalam u alaikum sr. Hidaya,

            I wanted to reply to your last (detailed) comment on this issue that you left recently but I can’t seem to find the “REPLY” button after that post. Hence, I’m replying after this old post of yours but the comment is with reference to what you said last on September 11, 2011 in reply to Ustadh Abdus Shakur (see below).

            This is my last reply on this topic too since the discussion has already prolonged and I don’t see much point in continuing it – especially because I’m not a scholar myself. However, I do want to mention a few points:

            1) Your previous reply to Ustadh Abdus Shakur was clearly very disrespectful and written in a somewhat harsh tone. It definitely did seem that you had issues with him on a personal level and you just couldn’t “digest” what he was saying. Anybody reading it would have most probably come to the same conclusion.

            And Ustadh Abdus Shakur felt it too when he said something to the effect of “you speak to me as if I’ve done something wrong to you”.

            Thus, I find it extremely contradictory when you say in your last reply “I have no issue with you”. That definitely doesn’t seem to be the case from your earlier comments.

            2) Your allegiances are with the likes of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah and you’ve continuously promoted what you have heard from them on this topic. Fair enough, you have the right to do so.

            Similarly, myself or Deoband.org or anybody else also has the right to promote Ustadh Abdus Shakur’s opinion on the matter – which goes in line with what Shaykh al Islam Mufti Taqi Usmani is mentioning here.

            3) You put a cut and paste article from another website and said “a lot of this website is like that too”? Deoband.org produces original articles which are nowhere to be found on the Internet – definitely not in the form they are presented here. The articles here are either direct translations from Arabic or Urdu or – in a very few cases – edited from their originals to improve their English etc.

            Your assertion, therefore, is clearly erroneous and wrong.

            4) I find it somewhat disturbing that you finished this discussion by doing exactly what you yourself seemed to find wrong at the beginning i.e. your question in one of your initial posts was “Are you guys Maliki?” somehow implying that we shouldn’t be posting opinions of other Madhhabs since we don’t know what the really correct opinions are.

            However, you yourself did the exact same thing. The article you posted references the other Madhahib too in trying to prove the viewpoint being promoted.

            5) I’m not a scholar but the article takes the issue of the face and hands not being Awrah and extends that to imply that Niqab is not required. Any well-learned scholar would tell you that the face and hands not being Awrah does not automatically mean Niqab is not required. The two issues are different.

            I would request any scholars reading this to please correct me if I got this wrong.

            6) Lastly, the correct Hanafi opinion on the matter of the Niqab is as follows – an original article produced on this website a few years ago by a leading scholar of Hanafi fiqh and usul whose mastery has been attested to by many other leading scholars worldwide. It is full of references from leading Hanafi authorities of the past:

            http://www.deoband.org/2009/04/fiqh/miscellaneous/the-niqab-and-its-obligation-in-the-hanafi-madhhab/

            Thus the Hanafi quotations mentioned in the article clearly don’t mean Niqab is not required.

            JazakiAllahu Khairan.

            Wassalaam

  • Knowing more about one matter, such as the view of niqaab in the Maliki and Shaafi school is not a claim to being more knowledgeable than another. It is just having a knowledge one does not have. I’m glad your opinion was one of humility, it’s easier to see your error that way.
    When making claims of the Maliki madhab, please contact a Mauritanian scholar, not just a book or two your scholars may get their hands on.

    There was nothing puerile about my comment, please don’t be so quick to dismiss other (correct) views. The same attitude is present in your article about having pants above ankles as well, when anyone who says its permissible without arrogance is deemed arrogant. Let’s be honest, there is difference of opinion in our ummah. I wouldn’t criticize you of getting Hanafi opinions wrong, although Syrian and Jordanian Hanafi scholars may hold conflicting views in many issues.

    • The strange thing is, these scholars say the door to ijtihad is closed and yet they twist the other 3 schools’ fatawa in order to “prove” their modern positions on niqaab.

  • Assalam u alaikum br. Hameed,

    Hope you are doing well bi idhnillah.

    Did you by any chance read the links provided by the brother above? If not, then please let me point out a few things:

    1) The links are from Ustadh Abdus Shakur Brooks’ website and his comments left on this website in another article on the Niqab. Ustadh Abdus Shakur is a strong Maliki scholar who has studied in various parts of the world which includes West Africa – I believe Mauritania and Morocco are both located there – Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Turkey, and India. He’s NOT a Deobandi scholar – he’s not even a South Asian ethically – so you can’t regard him as “one of ours” in that sense.

    2) He discusses the issue of the Niqab and provides references for whatever he says. He quotes from more than a “book or two” as you are claiming about Mufti Taqi Usmani Sahib.

    3) The issue of pants above the ankles has nothing to do with this current discussion. It is a totally different issue altogether which should be discussed elsewhere if you so wish.

    4) Finally, if after reading Ustadh Abdus Shakur’s articles, you still don’t agree with what he says and feel that his position is wrong then please keep your own principle in mind. In your own words, “Let’s be honest, there is difference of opinion in our ummah”, hence you should not be criticizing Ustadh Abdus Shakur and Mufti Taqi Usmani if they believe the view presented by them is the correct/strongest one in the Maliki madhhab.

    JazakAllahu Khairan.

    Wassalaam

    • Bism Illahir Rahmanir Raheem,

      Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

      Are you guys Maliki? I would like to know by what standard you have judged him as a “great Maliki scholar”? It’s not to insult him. I think you do him a disservice by cavalierly giving him that maqam. That would put him in the ranks of such agreed upon scholars as Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf.

      Or go to classical scholars, such as Ibn Rushd or Qadi Iyadh? I don’t tell Hanafis what scholars in their madhhab or great, nor Shafi’is either.

      But Salafis do that. Whenever, e.g. they want to prove to me where I should put my hands in prayer, they cite for example, the great scholar, and he truly is among the great, Shaykh Ibn Abdul-Barr.

      The reason I’m not commenting on the article is 1. I have a great respect for Mufti Taqi Usmani. 2. As has been pointed out, there are multiple opinions in the madhhab. We have in fact 4 sub-schools: the Iraqi subschool, the Maghribi/West African subschool, the Medinan one and the Egyptian one.

      But I will say this much, br. Hameed has touched on something important: we must be careful in trying to do comparative fiqh, or at least recognize that these are just overviews, not the sum total of the matter.

      • Walaikum Assalam,

        No, I’m not Maliki (I’m a Hanafi) but please read what one of the – as you mentioned – “agreed upon scholars” (just quoting you, not meant as a sarcastic remark) says about Ustadh Abdus Shakur:

        http://www.al-faqih.com/?page_id=281

        “Hamzah Yusuf

        Sidi Abdus Shakur Brooks is one of the many up and coming Western students of Islam who have committed themselves to the true and time-tested approach that demands many years with teachers in a link back to the great sources of this religion. He has been for many years now a serious student of both Islamic jurisprudence and the requisite tools needed to understand the often abstruse language and scholastic tradition it has been transmitted through. His website has been an excellent source of sound Maliki tradition that adheres to the dominant positions within the school. We recognize the need for using the electronic media for those who do not have such access. We look forward to seeing more and more from our brother and fellow student on this path Sidi Abdus Shakur. (www.zaytuna.org)”

        I take it that Ustadh Abdus Shakur knows what he’s talking about. As Shaykh Hamza Yusuf says above, he definitely has been an excellent source of sound Maliki tradition that adheres to the dominant positions of the school.

        • Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

          That statement is posted a bit misleadingly. It is NOT on Zaytuna’s website, as I sent on it myself and even searched for it and couldn’t find it. It is on Brooks’ is website. Shaykh Hamza is no doubt a great scholar, so I will ask a student of his for verification of this statement, as I’m sure we all here value the isnad.

          • Assalamu alaikum, in sha Allah all is well

            Some requested me to respond to some recent posts. As for the statement of Sh. Hamzah, he wrote it to me directly himself and so there is nothing “misleading about it. Furthermore, the truth about positions in any school are not determined by contemporaries but rather these issues have been settled centuries about by those who opinions were agreed as sound and relied upon in the canons of the madhab.

            My simple advice to those who seek the truth is

            “Pay more attention to the written words of a scholar or “the reasons” behind the arguments of his speech. Today many overly attend to his “prestige amongst men” and thus throw their reasoning out the door for superficial marvel, which is far from intelligent and prone to misguidance.”

            The written word has always been held in high regard amongst the scholars since the beginning of the typographic age because what a person writes is usually reflected on and well thought over before putting it to ink, and drastically scrutinized by others. So when a scholar writes he clarifies his points coherently and thus his claims and arguments are easier to assess for the truth. As for speech, we look for “the reasons” behind his argument otherwise it is easy for a person to fall into fallacies since his claims may suite ones “appetite” and steer his towards bias. When one focuses on the reasons behind the argument, then like the written word, one focuses on assessing the truth of the matter.

            The problem today is people make the mistake of assuming a scholar to be correct on a single matter because of his “prestige amongst men” and so when he slips in to a grievous error all who marvel his prestige slip along with him. And that is why the Messenger of Allah said ” Take heed from the slip of ‘a single scholar’. For this reason (and more) when it comes to the issues of fiqh we are requested to follow the mashoor and relied upon opinions registered in the canons of the madhab, because they are the opinions that have been assessed and confirmed and stamped as sound by many of the competent authorities long before us. Our religion is safer in the hands of a community of indisputable scholars than in the hands of a single or few contemporaries whose views are contrary to what is established through chain of transmission.

            Wa salam

          • Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

            That’s good news, since he wrote it to you, by all means, why not post his handwritten note on your website? I will certainly apologize on this website once I see his handwritten note.

            That said, what I meant by misleading is that the way it is posted is that it looks like it is ON the Zaytuna website, when in fact it is not. The only reference point I have for it is on your website, where you use it to promote yourself.

            Also, I find it interesting that I had a lengthy response to your article that has been hovering in the “awaiting moderation” stage for weeks. I wonder if this comment will also stand in such a holding pattern.

            Wa ‘alaykum assalaam wa rahmatullah.

          • In fact, what is also interesting is that you feel the need to self-promote in such a fashion at all. Ustadh Abdullah bin Hamid, who is senior to you in his training and has a far closer relationship with Shaykh Hamza than you, being a resident scholar at Zaytuna, has never felt a similar need.

            That said, all of this detracts away from one important fact: I have collected a number of classical references to demonstrate that a woman need not wear niqab in front of non-Muslims simply because they are non-Muslims, and that point is getting lost in everyone’s desire to promote your one-sided presentation of the madhhab.

            If the brothers running this website are truly sincere, let them post what I listed, and then we can all turn to Allah Ta’ala, the only real Hakim in all of this. And Allah knows best.

          • Assalamu alaikum

            Sister Hidayah calm down a bit with the assumed accusations of a Muslim. W The point of posting it was so people could know that the site is confirmed by known people.

            What do you know about me? You make a lot of assumptions about me for someone who knows nothing about me, which is unfortunate. I don’t live in the west and thus it is only proper to have references on the site, not to encourage people to take knowledge from sites whose authors are unknown which is common. You talk here like I have done you something wrong. Knowledge requires manners and proper conduct. It is Ramadan, a time to reflect.

            The texts I mention are EXPLICIT. If you’d like why don’t you try and write an article that EXPLICITLY states “that women can uncover their faces in front of non-muslims” and that “fitnah does not require women to cover their face” and quote the books that are relied upon for fatwa. Let me know when you find them.

            This is my last reply. I don’t even know who sister Hidayah is. That is the problem with this online world, so much to say from unconfirmed identities online. A waste of time. Anyway with real concerns can add me on skype: themedinaway (Egypt account)

          • Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

            due to Ramadan, I have not been on the web. As to br. Abdus Shakur, actually to be frank, this isn’t about you, truly, but you got drawn into this when whoever organized this website made it as if now that you have this article, that’s the end of the story.

            I have no issue with you, or even the article per se. It’s a valid position. Here was my point, all along, is that Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, and other Maliki scholars do not require niqab. They’ve been asked on multiple occasions, I know many who’ve gone to rihlahs, so there’s no way they made a casual mistake in their speech, that would mean that their spoken words might need to be questioned. Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah is a senior scholar, of a tremendous legacy and background. And our deen is in fact based first and foremost on the oral tradition. A true hafidh with isnad is considered superior to having the written collection, be it Qur’an, hadith, or anything else.

            I have posted a fair amount of evidence above that at the very minimum, it is not the only strong position in the madhhab, and that there is every reason to believe that the newer position is to make this distinction between Muslim and non-Muslim men, but that is not rooted in the older, classical sources of the madhhab.

            I hope, in sha’Allah to have more time, to put that article you request together. The evidence that niqab is not required is in fact quite vast. What I can cut and paste for you is an article I read a while back on the subject, which is not even specific to only the Maliki school, but gives some general evidences from scholars from all madhhabs, so I confess this is a cut and paste of someone else’s work, but then again, so is a lot of this website:

            “What is striking is that during the time of our beloved prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, it was in fact quite normative for women to uncover their faces, and there is no hadīth, not even fabricated, to indicate otherwise.

            Quite the opposite: when a man stared at a woman because of her beauty, what we find is that Islam’s teachings were invariably directed at the men who misbehaved, from the Qur’an’s clear instructions:

            {Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts.}

            To our beloved prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, telling the men to look away and even pulling their faces away from those women. his teachings at those men. For example, ‘Abdullah bin Abbas, radiya Allahu ‘anhu, narrated: Al-Fadl bin Abbās [i.e. his brother] rode behind the Prophet as his companion rider on the back portion of his she-camel on the Day of Nahr (on the Farewell Hajj), and Al-Fadl was a handsome man. The Prophet stopped to give people verdicts.

            In the meantime, a beautiful woman from the tribe of Khath’am came, asking the verdict of Allah’s Apostle. Al-Fadl started looking at her as her beauty attracted him. The Prophet looked back while Al-Fadl was looking at her; so the Prophet held out his hand backwards and caught the chin of Al-Fadl and turned his face to the other side in order that he should not gaze at her.

            She said, “O Allah’s Messenger! The obligation of performing hajj enjoined by Allah on His worshipers has become due (compulsory) on my father, who is an old man and who cannot sit firmly on the riding animal. Will it be sufficient that I perform hajj on his behalf?”. He said, “Yes.”

            Some might argue that it’s simply because she was making hajj, but if we look, there are other proofs like that as well: Ibn Abbas, radiya Allahu ‘anhu, said: A beautiful woman, from among the most beautiful of women, used to pray behind the Prophet.

            Some of the people used to go to pray in the first row to ensure they would not be able to see her. Others would pray in the last row of the men, and they would look from underneath their armpits to see her. Because of this act, in regard to her, Allah revealed:

            {To Us are known those of you who hasten forward, and those who lag behind.}

            Obviously, her face was uncovered, but what is also striking is the fact that the focus of the verse was on them, and not her. No one, not the Prophet nor anyone else, tried to discourage her from coming, or tell her that, since she was creating this fitnah, she should just stay home, and her prayer in her home is better. She was neither directed to cover her face, nor was she directed to stay away from the masjid.

            Imam Abu Jafar Tabari: “The strongest and most accurate view is that which says that the exemption refers to the face and the hands. Also included are kohl, rings, bracelets, and makeup. We say that this is the strongest and most accurate opinion because all scholars are unanimous that everyone who needs to pray must cover the awrah in his or her salah. A woman may reveal the face and the hands in her salah, while she must cover the rest of her body. What is not awrah is not haram to be revealed.”

            Moreover, there is no textual evidence from the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to indicate one ‘awrah for a woman inside prayer, and another for her outside of prayer. Whatever scholars of later days have said is based entirely on their own interpretations, using such esoteric principles as blocking of the means, or sadd adh-dhara’i’.

            Imam Abu’l-Qasim Zamakhshari: “Why is the woman permitted to display ‘what is apparent of it’? Because to conceal that would cause her inconvenience. A woman is forced to deal in commodities with her hands. She is compelled by genuine need to expose her face especially at the times of giving evidence, litigating in court, and marriage. She is compelled to walk the streets and expose her feet, especially poor women. This is the meaning of ‘illa maa zahara min ha’, that is, what the situations of ordinary life compel her to expose.”

            Imam Fakhr ad-Din Razi: “Since the showing of the face and hands is necessary, the jurists had no choice but to agree that they are not awra.”

            Imam Abu Abdullah al-Qurtubi: “Since the normal case is that a woman’s face and hands are revealed by the force of habit and for worship, as this is required in salat and hajj, then it is appropriate to say that the exemption applies to these.”

            Moreover, this is mirrored in the earlier source texts of all 4 madhhabs:

            In Hanafi sources: In al-Mabsūt, written by the great Hanafī as-Sarkhasi , he writes:
            “A woman’s head is ‘awrah. The Prophet said, “Allah does not accept the prayer of any woman not wearing a khimār.” Imam as-Sarkhasi also said later in his work: “A woman making hajj is not to cover her face by ijmā.”

            Also, Imam Burhan al-Din al-Farghani al-Marghinani writes in his Hidayahī:

            “A woman making hajj is not to cover her face, even if there is fitnah in it being uncovered.”

            Also, from Shafi’i sources we find: Al-Shayrazi, who writes:

            “As for a freewoman, all of her body is ‘awrah except for her face and hands, based on the statement of Allah: {and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof.} Ibn ‘Abbas, radiya Allahu ‘anhu, said: It means her face and hands, and because the prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,, forbade a woman in hajj to wear a niqāb or gloves, and if the face or hands were ‘awrah, why would he have prohibited [women] from covering them? And because such needs as buying and selling lead to her face being displayed, and her hands being uncovered to give and take [things], so that was not made ‘awrah.”

            Ibn Qudamah, the Hanbali scholar, whose major work al-Mughni is the premier Hanbali work, mentions the hadīth:

            “If a woman reached the age of menstruation, it is not lawful for anything to show except this and this, and the Prophet motioned to his hands and face, and Imam Ahmad used this hadīth as proof.”

            In other words, Imam Ahmad considered this hadīth as acceptable as proof and thus that a woman’s ‘awrah is everything but the face and hands.

            Last, but not least, the Mālikīs also concur:
            In the whole Andalusian literature, Ibn Rushd the grandfather or the grandson, Ibn Juzayy, and beyond Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Barr: They all mention that a woman is to cover everything but the face and hands as a woman’s ‘awrah.

            Hence, with all of this, while I do not support a woman being badgered into removing the niqāb, if it is something she wants to do, as her right to choose is as important and valid as anyone else’s, there seems to be a mountain of evidence to suggest that the niqāb was merely a practice of pre-Islamic Arabia that Islam chose to allow to continue to exist, while barring it from being ingested into fundamental practices of Islam. And Allah knows best.”

            May Allah give us all the tawfeeq.

        • Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, the senior scholar over Shaykh Abdus Shakur Brooks, is not of the same opinion re: niqab. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf sees niqab as not being fard at all.

  • Sorry. I noticed you also made reference to the issue of the Niqab in the Shafi’ee school. Once again, the link posted on this website in the comments section of another article detailing the Shafi’ee view was written by Sidi Abul Layth of http://www.seekingilm.com and http://www.shafiifiqh.com. He’s also neither a Deobandi nor a South Asian ethnically. Please contact him directly if you don’t agree with him and have reservations as to what he said in his articles.

    JazakAllahu Khairan once again.

    Wassalaam

  • Yes I did read articles. Look, its as simple as this. Anyone can quote from anything to push an agenda (Yes, there is an agenda to be pushed to get other schools’ views to match yours). In Khaleel, the top Maliki fiqh book studied in many places. Khaleel clearly states a woman only needs to wear hijab, and the commentaries differ and include the 3, all of equal weight, views as I articulated earlier.

    Btw, are you aware of the many Deobandi, as well as Syrian, Yemeni,etc scholars who also state niqaab is not wajib in the Hanafi madhab? The point is this, I can cite Hanafis from other places, who may not be as legit because they are not as strict, to counter your points and this can go on forever. All we’re asking for is equal representation with respect, not belligerent responses such as yours of quickly asking “are you more knowledgeable than Taqi Usmani.”

    the pants above the ankles is warranted, because it echoes the same mentality echoed throughout this website, including fatwas on the mawlid, which I don’t necessarily disagree with in the Indo-Pak context, but when this are shipped off as universal fatwas it becomes a problem. I guess I’d just rather put it all on one post. Maybe this would be a bad time to mention the DOMINANT position of the Shaafi madhab is that it is makruuh to clean-shave, and a fist length beard is NOT wajib.

  • Asssalamu alaikum

    Once again someone has asked me post on this link. As for brother Hameed, debating with you in this matter is pointless since it is clear that (1) you show no understanding of the issue mentioned in the books of fqih (2) you are not debating me, but rather you are debating what the scholars of the madhab have mentioned ( and I have quoted them and there are numerous more) (3) All this fuss you are making and you have no sources for what you claim (4) You claim the position of Muhammad Muwlud but where is the source? Furthermore he (one) late scholar whose saying don’t represent the school until such claims are establish.

    There is no point for anyone to pay attention to “Hameed” since no one really knows who he is in the first place, for all we know its just another orientalist. And who really knows what “his agenda” is. So if Hameed wants to bark then let him bark. No one is really concerned whether you agree with my article or not. If your so certain about your position then write an article about it.

    As for the rest of you, I would not worry to much about Hameed.

  • Are you serious bro? Typical Deobandi response, no adhab- calling my references to books of fiqh such as KHALIL barking. Dogs bark, humans don’t. But then again, this is Deoband.org, and we know how Thaanwi used a dog reference, so shouldn’t expect better here. I named the book of Muhamad Mawlud as well. You guys have no adab, but are just concerned about making sure you still control the minds of others by urging them to pay no attention. I made the references in my previous post, once again you refuse to address the issues.

    • @Hameed

      Why don’t you start from addressing the proofs that have been quoted in the article above as well as the one by Ustadh Abdur Shakoor? Going around making empty claims and emotional statements will get you no where.

      And unfortunately, like your predecessors and perhaps your teachers, you have shown your true colors by throwing mud at Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (may Allah sanctify his secret). Why bring in this respected authority into this? Your fitna-mongering ways are as clear as day light. Find something beneficial to do, Ramadan is about to begin. Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to complain about being disrespected and in turn disrespect a major scholar of Islam such as Mawlana Thanawi?

      I’m curious to know what your qualifications are? Who have you studied with?

      • Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

        That would be impossible for anyone to do since the links are broken and that article is not available.

  • I cannot disagree with the proofs from the articles for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. There is no coherent body of the madhab, just as Syrian Hanafi scholars will differ greatly from Deobandi scholars. I referenced the book Khaleel already. You’re the ones who started with the emotional responses, responding to my well intended AND Islamicly accurate contention by just calling it puerile. I have studied well indeed my friend, but what good would my qualifications do? Let’s say I studied Hanafi fiqh in Syria, you would just say the true upholders of the madhab are the Deobandis. If I told you I studied Shaafi Fiqh in Yemen, you would still hold a Deo friendly Shaafi to be on truth, if I told you I studied Maliki fiqh in Mauritania, you’d refer me to that article. All I asked for was representation of all 3 views, I’ve already given you references. You started the mudslinging.

    I didn’t disrespect Ashraf Ali Thaanwi, I have respect for him and I know he’s done a lot for the advancement of women. His book Pehshti Zahavar was remarkable for the time. I was just pointing out I understand why you’re so quick to come out with dog references 😉

  • The false allegations are answered here: http://www.central-mosque.com/fiqh/accus1.htm (you’re ref. to dog and so forth). To be honest some of these allegations you bring forth are concocted and taken out of context.

    Furthermore, when you disrespect scholars (Mufti Taqi, Shaykh Brooks, Shaykh Thanawi), make up artifacts about Deo scholars difference over niqab etc. with such impunity, then it behooves me as to how you can accuse others of the lack of adab.

  • “False Allegation
    Ashraf Ali Thanvi, a founder member of Deoband says: ‘The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) has an education like that of children, lunatics and animals of every category.’ (Hifzul Imaan pg. 7)

    The Truth
    The view of Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi is that: Hadhrat Moulana was asked, ‘Did you in Hifzul Imaan or any other book write anything directly or indirectly comparing the education of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) to that of children, lunatics and animals? If not then what is your ruling regarding a person who holds such a belief?’ In reply to that Moulana states, ‘Let alone writing such falsehood and filth, my heart had never even perceived such falsehood and verily if anyone holds such a belief he is out of the fold of Islam.’ (Faisal-e-Khusoomat pg. 21)

    Clarification
    Hadhrat Hakimul Ummah, Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (author of the famous ‘Bahishti Zewar’) did not write the abovementioned statement in Hifzul Imaan. Nor is it his belief. It is a slander on the said Moulana. In fact Hadhrat Moulana has stated clearly in ‘Hifzul Imaan’ that, ‘Knowledge with regard to the Excellence of Prophethood has been bestowed totally upon Rasul (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) (Hifzul Imaan pg. 12) ”

    source: http://www.central-mosque.com/fiqh/accus1.htm

  • I love wearing niqab. And this love developed because of increase in love for Allah Ta’ala. And once love increases, arguments are no longer important. What is important is that it was commonplace in the old times, and we should always try to walk in the path of the Sahaba.

  • Bismillah,
    Well, i start with my own experience; when I was doin my A Levels, I had this question in my after researching on Hijab. So I went to my Ustadji and asked Mufti Sahab ‘Why it is neccesary (mandatory) to cover the face of a woman?’ Mufti Sahab replied the answer in one line, ‘Face is the mirror of the body’ which clearly means. the fitnah in between man and woman starts from the face. Now brothers, think frankly, when u go out and see any Female Lady, 100% gurantee u got attraction even for a second or millisecond, so here its proved the face is the first thing. Youth fall in love not seeing body, its the face the main thing. Hijab is not just to maintain an order, Allah Subhanu wa ta’la Has set the rules to protect us from: the fitnah of Dunya, the tricks of shaitan, the tricks of our internal evil desires. Allah Knows Best.

  • It’s a nice article but I’m still not clear if as a follower of hanafi madhab I am supposed to wear a Niqaab or not?

    Jazakallahu khayran

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