"Best of woman is who does not look at man, nor does she allow men to look at her" Fatima(RA)-Daughter of the Prophet(SAW)"
We’ve all seen them. Those women who are clad in all black. Those women who wear gloves and socks in 80 degree weather. Those women who the only thing you can see of them is their eyes. Those women are all wearing the niqab(face covering that leaves a slit open for the eyes). In Islam, there are various opinions in regards to whether or not it is obligatory to wear it. All reputable scholars, based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, are in agreement that all Muslimahs should observe hijab, which at minimum consists of the khimar and the jilbab. All scholars are also in agreement that all of the Umm ul-Mumineen(Mothers of the Believers/ wives of the Prophet(SAW) wore the niqab. Many scholars are of the opinion that niqab is not fard BUT it is better to wear it, especially in the west where it is the norm to gaze upon members of the opposite sex. Also, the niqab does not have to be black. At the end of day, whether or not you think niqab is fard, there is nothing wrong with wearing it and the chances of you causing fitnah is lowered.
The niqab is often seen as something extreme by Muslims and non-Muslim. Something that is extra and not really necessary. Despite our opinion on the matter, we should not look down upon those who observe niqab nor should we consider them extreme simply because they choose to cover their faces. We don’t know what their intentions are but we do know that Allah(SWT) has guided them towards it and should therefore be happy for them. Many people think that munaqabat(those who wear niqab) are these raging haram police-like women who don’t smile or socialize and are always waiting to criticize. Yes, there are some who are like this but you can find that among those who don’t wear niqab as well. Some also think that these women are stupid, brainwashed and oppressed. In actuality, that is no where close to being true. Most of the munaqabat that I know are the most kindest individuals and are really fun to be around and many of them are university graduates. Some munaqabat believe that it is mandatory to wear the niqab and some just feel like when they were only observing hijab, they still received unwanted glances so they decided that by covering their faces, even if people looked, they wouldn’t be seeing much.
Based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, I do not think that it is obligatory to wear the niqab but I do think it is highly favoured and something that, if done for the sake of Allah(SWT), will result in major ajr(reward) for you. Have I thought about wearing the niqab? Yes, definitely. That is not something that I share with most people, which I’m sure you’ll know why if you’ve read the posts about my hijab journey. I don’t see anything wrong with niqab. Wearing it actually kind of makes sense. When someone is checking someone out, usually the first thing that they will look at is their face because that is wear outer beauty mostly lies. So if I’m trying to reduce fitnah and be as modest as possible, the logical decision is to cover my face. Besides, the Umm ul-Mumineen were munaqabt and they are considered to be the best examples of Muslim women so shouldn’t we all aspire to be like them in every way that we can?
I did try niqab for a short time( only when I was sure that I wouldn’t be around those who knew me of course). I wore it on my way to work, I wore it when I went to the store and I even wore it to one of my classes :). Wearing it to the one class actually wasn't weird or hard. The campus that the specific class was located on was different from the main campus so there wasn't a high chance of me running into people thatI knew and all of the students in this class weren't in any of my other classes. One of the main reasons why I chose to kind of hide it is because becoming a munaqaba was not something that I had fully decided on and I wanted to be sure about it before “revealing” it to the world. So, how did I feel while wearing it?
It was interesting, I liked it, it felt good. Even in full hijab, some men still lack proper modesty and have no problem whistling at you, staring at your face or even openly flirting with you. In Niqab, the chances of that happening are greatly diminished. Niqab also restricts the wearer as well. No, not in the sense of them not being “free” but it’s like an active reminder for when the wearer gets the urge to not lower their gaze or to go and flirt with a member of the opposite sex. So yes, I did like wearing the niqab. However, I got caught one day. I was getting on the bus and someone called my name and I instantly turned around, completely forgetting that I had my niqab on. This just proves to show that even with niqab, people can still tell its you. Of course this person decided to go ahead and tell my mother who then chose to call me and warned me to not be “so extreme and ruin my future” because apparently "no one will want to marry you. You won't get a job. You'll just waste your education and everything you've prepared for yourself"-her words :(. So yeah, that was the end of my short time as a munaqabah. I actually didn’t stop wearing it because of the phone call but instead because it was just too hard having to hide it. Trust me, if it was something that I was fully committed to doing for the sake of Allah(SWT), I would've simply made dua for guidance and continued to wear it, regardless of any negativity that I received. I haven’t worn it since then. It is not something that I’m now turned off from and I often still consider wearing it, especially during periods where my iman(faith) seems to be extremely high. If I ever do choose to wear it again, it probably won’t be something that I’d do full time. Who knows? Allahu 3lam(Only God knows)
Whether or not you think the niqab is obligatory is one thing but there is no argument about it being Sunnah and therefore highly recommended and highly favoured by Allah(SWT). That means that to look down upon someone who observes it or to make negative remarks is to look down upon the Prophet(SAW) as well as Allah(SWT). Don't judge those who you see wearing it and don't make assumptions about them either. For those who observe it as a form of submission to their Lord, good! May Almighty Allah continue to guide you and may he grant all of those who who have treated you wrongly or made negative remarks the proper hidayah(guidance). May Almighty Allah make us all stronger in our iman so that we are ALWAYS seeking to worship him.
Do you wear niqab? Why or why not? What are your thoughts on it?
The "Muslimah Worries" section of Striving Clarity is dedicated to discussing the things that Muslimahs often worry about from hijab to marriage to how to remain spiritual when you're unable to pray. Join us!