Question #13-58: Is it okay to command my wife do not wear niqab?

Question:

Is it okay to command my wife do not wear niqab?

Assalamualaikum brother, I got married couple of months ago. Allah blessed me with good practicing muslimah. She wears niqab (covering her face also), she doesn"t go to any non mahram person.  Before I got married I told her family that when she comes to USA  she cannot wear niqab. That she could go outside without the niqab, but that she could wear burqa. It is my understanding that covering the face is not obligatory, but now I am scared about this issue. Is it okay to tell her not to cover her face?  Can you give me solution according to Quran and sunnah?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, The Ever Merciful

Walaykum salam brother,

In response to your question, no, it is not okay to tell your wife not to cover her face. It is the general ruling that once a Muslim woman starts to wear niqab willingly and with the intention to satisfy Allah, that she cannot take it off unless she is in danger of being hurt or due to an illness that does not allow her to cover her face.

Now, regarding the issue whether the covering of the face is obligatory or not, let’s review what Allah says in surah Al-Noor (24: 31) - you can also review later Surah Al-Ahzab (33:28) and Surah Al-Hujrat (49:1-3) :

*{And say to the believing women to lower their gazes and guard their chastity, and let them not display of their charm - except what is apparent.}* (An-Nur 24:31)

In its commentary or explanation on the phrase: *{what is apparent}* Ibn `Abbas (r.a), the famous Companion of the Prophet (swa), said: “It means face and hands.” In other words, according to Ibn `Abbas, a woman must cover all her body except her face and hands while in the presence of men who are not related to her directly.

The majority of the Ulamah - including those of the four schools, share the above interpretation of Ibn `Abbas, by saying that a woman is not obliged to cover her face and hands. They also use this concept in their general consensus that a woman is not required to cover her face and hands while performing salah; as well as, agreeing that a woman must show her face while she is in a state of ihram during Hajj and `Umrah.

On the other hand, there are few scholars that believe that a woman must cover her face and hands as well. They base their opinion in the famous hadith of the Prophet (swa): “Woman is all `awrah (private)” narrated in Bukari and Muslim. Therefore, they take from this that a woman needs to completely covered up. They also reason by saying that the most attractive parts of a woman’s body capable of enticing men are her face and hands.

In conclusion, I am with the opinion that a Muslim woman is required to cover all her body except her face and hands, as agreed by the majority of scholars belonging to all schools UNLESS her face (her beauty) may cause fitnah. Then it would be mandatory for her to wear niqab. In regards to your wife, if your she has reached such a great level of iman to decide to wear niqab, I advise you that you should be proud of her and to do not discourage her as she is following the great example of “the mothers of the believers” - the wives of the Prophet (swa). Allah knows best.

Jazakum Allahu kyer

Shk. Mostafa

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