Niqaab & Modesty

Modesty, JamiatKZN & Mufti Ebrahim Desai

QUESTION – Some people argue that a woman does not have to conceal her face from the gazes of Ghair Mahram men. They cite the following view of the JamiatKZN:
It is compulsory for her to cover her entire body from head to toe with the exception of her hands, feet and face in front of strange (nonMahram) men. This is irrespective if strange men are present on one’s property/house/yard or strange men have a ‘view’ into one’s property/house/yard. (Maraaqil Falaah 1/91)

Is there a valid difference of opinion on the issue of women covering the face? If this
is true then why do Muslims go through so much effort and difficulty to cover their
faces if it is not a Sharia requirement?
(Ghair Mahaareem: All males except those with whom nikaah is not permissible.)
Allah Ta’ala commands: “O Nabi! Say to your wives, your daughters and the
women of the Believers that they draw over them their Jilbaabs (outer-cloaks).
That (i.e. covering themselves with Jilbaabs) is the least (minimum requirement
which they should adopt) so that they be recognized (as respectable and
honourable ladies) and not be molested (by evil men)”. – (Surah 33, Aayat 59)
Commenting on this Aayat, Allamah Abu Bakr Jassaas says: “In this verse is the
indication that young women have been commanded to conceal their faces from
strange males when they emerge (from their homes).” [Ahkaamul Qur’aan]
Innumerable Fuqaha, Mufassireen, etc. have stated that this Aayat refers to women
covering the face. According to all four Math-habs, women must conceal their faces
from Ghair-Mahram men. Here are a few quotes from the four Mathaahib:

 Hanafi Math-hab: “It is mentioned in Al-Muntaqaa that women will be
prohibited from exposing their faces so that it does not lead to Fitnah. And in
our era, it is Waajib to prohibit them (from exposing their faces) – in fact it is
Fardh due to the preponderance of Fasaad.” [Majma’ul Anhur] The
Honourable Faqeeh was speaking about 400 years ago. Today, it is much
worse! The Wujoob of females covering their faces appears in innumerable
 Maaliki Math-hab: “And verily the two (i.e. face and palms) are not Aurah,
even though it is Waajib to conceal them (i.e. the face and palms) due to the
fear of Fitnah.” [Jawaaahirul Ikleel – Haashiyaa Saawi & other Maaliki Kutub]
 Shaafi Math-hab: “Yes, that woman who is certain of the gaze of a strange
man falling on her, it is incumbent upon her to cover her face from him (i.e.
the Ghair-Mahram man). Otherwise (if she does not conceal her face), then
she will be assisting him towards Haraam. Thus, she will be committing a sin.”
[Tuhfatul Muhtaaj] The Wujoob of females covering their faces is mentioned
in Nihaayatul Muhtaaj and many other Shaafi Kutub as well.
 Hambali Math-hab: “And the face is Aurah outside Salaah as far as gazes
(of ghair-Mahram men) are concerned just like the rest of the body.” [AlIqnaa’ and other Hambali Kutub] In fact, Imaam Ahmed Bin Hambal has
mentioned that even the finger-nail of a woman is Aurah (i.e. it is Waajib to
conceal). What then should be deduced regarding the face???
The scope of this article precludes us from presenting all the Qur’aanic Aayaat,
Ahaadeeth, names and quotes of the authorities of the Shariah which prove that
women should cover their faces. The Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen, Fuqaha of the four
Math-habs, Muhadditheen, Mufassireen, etc. have mentioned that it is Waajib upon
women to conceal their faces from ghair-Mahram men. Their consensus is sufficient
for the sincere seeker of the truth.
A Mu’min strives for the highest degree of Hijaab. When speaking about modesty,
then the highest degree of Hijaab should be expounded on. Allah Ta’ala commands:
‘And (O Women!) Remain firmly in your homes.’ (Surah 33 – Aayat 33)
Women must remain at home. They may not emerge from their homes
unnecessarily. It is known as Hijaabul Ash-Khaas Bil Buyoot which means that a strange man (Ghair Mahram man) will not see the woman at all to the extent that he
does not see her even with her clothes on. Since he does not see her at all, her face,
palms and her entire body is automatically concealed from him.
This is the highest level of Qur’anic Hijaab (Purdah) commanded in at least two
Aayaat and proven by several Ahaadeeth. There are at least 24 Ahaadeeth which
substantiate the Shar’i Law that women must remain glued to their homes and they
may only emerge from their homes for necessities deemed imperative by the
Shariah – not so-called necessities which human minds fabricate.
The command is for women to be glued to their homes – not an exposed yard or the
outside of one’s home which exposes a woman to passing traffic. It is not permissible
for the man’s wife and/or daughter to emerge from their homes into their exposed
yards even for the sake of relaxation. This is because they are exposing themselves
to Ghair Mahareem for no valid reason which is shameless.
A woman may not emerge from her home without valid Shar’i reason even if she is
covered from head to toe. The Burqah, Niqaab, Jilbaab, etc. are not a license to
emerge from the home without valid Shar’i reason.
2. When a woman emerges from her home for a reason deemed imperative by the
Shariah, the Jilbaab is a requirement. This vital Qur’aanic injunction may not be
omitted. The masses should be given Ta’leem pertaining to the Jilbaab.
Women wearing pyjamas, exposing their hair, the bodily shape and/or also exposing
their faces to Ghair Mahrams, are indeed shameless. Part of modesty is for a woman
to cover her face as well. Read carefully the following articles:
1. The Indisputable Wujoob of The Niqaab
2. Menk & The Female Pilot.
3. More Hijaab Articles
In regards to a woman, it is compulsory for her to cover her entire body from head
to toe including the face with the exception of her hands and feet in front of strange
(non-Mahram) men. JamiatKZN quoted “(Maraaqil Falaah 1/91)” as a reference
that it is not compulsory for her to cover her face in front of strange (nonMahram) men.

Since the text is misleading, it is necessary to elaborate. The text of Maraaqil Falaah is as
“ومجيع بدن احلرة عورة إال وجهها وكفيها” ابطنهما وظاهرمها يف األصح وهو املختار
Translation: “And the entire body of a free woman is AURAH except her face and palms
– the front and back (of the face and hands) according to the most authentic view and this
is the chosen opinion.” [Emphasis ours]
The Mas’alah mentioned in Maraaqil Falaah pertains to Aurah – not Hijaab. Even the
Qur’aan explains the Mas’alah pertaining to Aurah (Satr). This is not disputed. We agree
that the face is not included in the Aurah (Satr) of a woman. However, as far as Hijaab is
concerned, a woman must cover her face. The references to prove that women MUST cover their faces in front of Ghair Mahrams are innumerable.
Why did they omit the Sharah (commentary) on this Mas’alah mentioned by Allamah
Tahtaawi Rahimahullah on the issue of a woman exposing her face?
قوله: “إال وجهها” ومنع الشابة من كشفه خلوف الفتنة ال ألنه عورة
Translation: “And the young woman is prohibited from exposing her face due to the
fear of Fitnah – not because it is Aurah.”
There is a need to ask the JamiatKZN and Mufti Ebrahim Desai: Is there Fitnah
when women expose their faces to Ghair Mahrams?
Since there is Fitnah, why does the JamiatKZN claim that there is a difference of
opinion when it is acknowledged that unveiling is a cause of temptation for men
and women?
In the article they sent to the brother, the following is what Mufti Ebrahim Desai
“Unveiling has a number of disadvantages. Some of them are as follows:
1. It is a violation of the Quran and Hadith;
2. It shows woman’s weakness in belief;
3. It is a cause of temptation for men and women;
4. It strips off her modesty that is an integral part of Faith;
5. It subjects her to adultery and sexual harassment (especially now in Egypt with
the vaginal kit, adultery has become so easy. Had all the women been veiled, the
government would not have so much difficulty in trying to outlaw this kit);
6. It hurts her dignity and feelings and it stains her chastity;

7. It prompts woman to take part in commercial advertisements and films as a
showpiece and a source of enjoyment for the viewers.”
Firstly, there is a difference between Hijaab and Aurah. We are discussing Hijaab
here – not Aurah. Secondly, there is a difference of opinion amongst the Fuqaha
whether the face of a woman is included in her Aurah or not. Thirdly, whilst we agree
that a woman’s face is not Aurah; her face has to be concealed from Ghair Mahrams
due to Hijaab. Fourthly, there is no valid difference of opinion as far as Hijaab is
concerned. Those who claim that there is a difference of opinion amongst the Fuqaha,
should send their dalaa-il for scrutiny. When a person requires a Shar’i Masalah,
then the Masalah is obtained from the Kutub of the Fuqaha. Referring directly to
Qur’aan and Hadeeth for deriving Masaail, is the function solely of the Mujtahideen.
It seems as if the JamiatKZN realized that they committed a huge blunder in their
newsletter. The following statement of Imaam Shaafi’ (Rahmatullahi Alaih) should
be salutary: “Whenever I put forward Shari’ Hujjat (Evidence from the Shariah) in
regard to any mas-alah to someone and he accepted it, honour for him in my heart

Jamiatul Ulama Northern Cape

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