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Question: assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh Shaikh.I feel as if I bother you with too many questions so I am sorry if this is the case. May Allah swt bless you for this service and your desire to help the ummah. I searched your site before asking and I did not see this answer so I felt it best to ask. I wear Niqab and I love it it makes me feel so much closer to Allah swt and special for my family since only they can see me but I have had a few sisters tell me that it is Extremism and this worries me from what the Hadiths say about extremists. I do not wish to be guilty of this and if Niqab is this then I must stop. Would you mind letting me know if my sister is right in claiming this as extremism and if you have the time would you be kind enough to show texts from the Quran or Hadith that support this either way? Thank you so much Shaikh again for this wonderful service.
Answer:

First of all,  let me commend you for your desire to practice Islam. I pray to Allah to help you remain steadfast in it and reward you the best in both worlds--aameen.

Before coming directly to your question, let me first state the folllowing facts:         

1) Niqab is not an essential requirement of the modest attire (or hijab, if you wish to call it that way) for women in Islam. If it had  been prescribed as such, then it would be stated clearly in the sources. It would also have been a must for them to wear it during salah and hajj. As Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari said: Since it is there is a consensus among scholars that women are not supposed to cover their faces during salah and hajj, they are not required to cover their faces.

Furthermore, Allah orders men and women to lower their gazes when they meet face to face in social interactions. This order of Allah definitely assumes that women normally uncover their faces.  Also, there are numerous traditions which indicate that women during the Prophet's time did not cover their faces, and yet the Prophet never told them to do so. If covering the face was a requirement, he would certainly have said so.

2) Based on such evidence, the vast majority of mufassirin from the earliest times starting with Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari say that women are not required to cover their faces-- the reason being there is a need for them to identify themselves during social interactions. It is therefore also considered essential for those who cover their faces to identify themselves when testifying or transacting business; otherwise, there is no way to know the identity of the person or persons involved.

Once we keep the above points in mind, let us now state another set of facts we face in contemporary societies:  

1. In Toronto itself, we have had numerous incidents where men  disguised themselves as women and committed robberies and other crimes. As it has been reported and is known to people, there is also no dearth of incidents of corruption in the so called Muslim countries where niqab is prevailing, as it is next to impossible to recognize the identity of those who wear it.   

Add to this another crucial point, which should be an important consideration for all Muslims, who care about projecting a good image of Islam in this time and age--as there is extreme negativity prevailing in the minds of people in regard to Islam and Muslims.

They say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  It does not take much imagination to know that women in niqab will only be helping to reinforce the negativity associated with Islam and Muslims in the minds of those non-Muslims whose knowledge of Islam is solely acquired through the media and other non-Islamic sources.

In light of these and other considerations, a number of eminent Muslim scholars are of the view that Muslim women should not insist on wearing niqab. First of all, it is not an essential requirement; secondly, it is important for them to identify themselves so that criminals do not hide under the cover of niqab; thirdly, niqab, instead of helping the image of Islam, will only reinforce the negativity associated with Islam in the minds of people.

In conclusion: I endorse the view of those scholars who recommend that Muslim women should not insist on wearing niqab.

 

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