Niqaab

This was written from one niqaabi sister to a non-niqaabi sister to try and help her understand her reasons for wearing Niqaab.

As salaam alaykum,
I know that when ever you have asked me the question why I wear niqaab I fail to explain it. I can only say in most ways I cannot and inshaAllah I will flow with my fingers and give my account of wearing hijab.

In the beginning I didnt understand hijab properly, before converting I understood by covering yourself you could say to someone ” These are the limits you have with me. Dont push it further”. You could keep unwanted attention away. So as a westerner I dressed modestly in western clothing.

Two weeks after converting I realised that by wearing hijab people could then know that I was muslim. I was no longer this white girl walking down a platform at Liverpool Street, with ideas and values anyone could guess. By wearing hijab people knew I was muslim and the values I stood for.

The abaya came two weeks after. It felt like an extension to my hijab. Something that not only helped identify me as a muslim but gave me a greater protection. Where the western clothing lacked in trying to disguise my figure or how skinny I was, the abaya fulfilled the very purpose. I lost myself in the abaya. In loosing myself I found a new freedom. As the fabric flowed with my stride I felt more feminine.

Hijab and abaya, some feel is sufficient. I felt protected, however being white, and wearing hijab and abaya brought me attention. Both from non-muslims and muslims alike. Although I attracted more attention it was a different kind of attention. It wasnt “o my days, shes buff”, it was the astonishment of a white person being muslim. It made people think what on earth did she leave her past for? And for muslims some of them found it hard to understand why, just as equally as the non-muslims, just why I could convert. What good is there in Islam? It doesnt matter who you are. You can still lack knowledge. We are learning from the moment we are born to the time we die.

On converting, I started watching different sisters and how they went about life. A number of these sisters wore the niqaab. Dressed all in black, faces covered. Somehow it all seemed really serene. They all had this peaceful quality about them. It deeply intrigued me. I didnt look to the fiqh opinions or the fatwa of different groups. What attracted me to niqaab was the meaning it gave to those sisters and eventually myself.

Upon talking to a sister that wore it and my interest about it, she gave me my first niqaab, a day I can remember well. This small piece of fabric held so many meanings, so many mixed feelings to those that wore it, and those who would have to ” confront” it. Quite aptly I decided to try it one day upon traveling to uni. There was such a stark contrast from the previous day. I felt anonymous, people actually stared at me less, and I reveled in the freedom. I no longer had to worry about how my face looked, I was able to ditch the makeup, what little I still wore. I could loose those inhibitions, those insecurities I had developed in High School about how I looked and what people thought of me.

It wasnt until a couple of months later from that morning that I decided to start wearing niqaab more while out. I started wearing it to university and whilst out by myself without my parents knowing. They were still getting used to me being muslim, let alone niqaab.

Spiritually I now feel niqaab is my safety blanket. If I loose it I loose it all. Such deep feelings stem from the meaning niqaab now has to me. I mentioned how wearing niqaab I feel anonymous, and this gives me freedom. In a society where so much emphasis is placed on identity and in particular the face, many sisters deem wearing niqaab totally inappropriate. How can those who place so much value on the face cope with the niqaab, a small piece of fabric. A classic hadith that is used in tazkiyah or tassawuf  goes along the lines of the Prophet SWS saying ” Travel in the world as if you are a stranger”. The main interpretation being that we should be so far from the dunya that we are a stranger to it. For me by wearing niqaab I become that stranger. I travel through the world detached from it.

There is a barrier between me and the world.

When I walk down the street people give me looks but nothing else. There may be the odd shouted insult and so forth. But these stem from people of little understanding and who feel intimidated by a small piece of inanimate fabric. People who are after passersby attention to sell items dont try to sell me their items. The dunya no longer sells itself to me. I am in my own world and by far it is not the dunya. My world revolves around trying to please my Lord. To try and embody those who surrounded the Prophet SWS. Like the wives of the Prophet SWS who are the best examples for muslimahs. Muslims forget the contribution they gave to Islam yet for them niqaab was fardh, and they got past this.

So here I am saying that I love the niqaab because it isolates me from others. But surely as social human beings it can be lonely?? Another general principle in tazkiyah or tassawuf as well as expressed in many ahadith is that being alone is better than having bad company. And having good company is better than being alone. By wearing niqaab yes I am lonely but I dont have the bad company. Because the bad company is repelled by the niqaab. Those who are able to get past the niqaab, and communicate to me, both muslims and the odd non-muslim have some morals or good qualities to them that make them good company. For the non-muslims they have a perception, an open-mindedness and questioning mind which will inshaAllah lead them down to accepting Islam. I need not explain muslims being good company for them being muslim in the first place gives them these good qualities.

InshaAllah I hope this helps you with trying to understand why I wear it.

Like  I said niqaab is what you make of it. If you make it a barrier you will have a barrier. We are our own worst enemies. But if you look past it to what makes a person a person, their experiences, their morals and values, their personality, you will find the true essence of a person. People who are in the dunya are so far removed from their fitrah they have forgotten who they are. They have forgotten what they need and as such they find something missing. They are never able to connect with a person because they focus on everything except that essence. Everything external and not the internal. And of course they miss the most important thing of all. That link with Allah. The relationship between the master and the servant.

I pray that none of what I say here offends or insults. Please forgive me if it does as this was never my intention.

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12 Responses to “Niqaab”

  1. Adilah Says:

    Assalama Alaikum

    Sister,
    This was a wonderful piece. Thank you very much for explaining this to non-niqaabis.

  2. I understand you have learned these benefits of niquaab sister, and welcome to Islam, I am happy that you have found this path and I welcome you as a sister.

    Asides from these benefits, can I ask: Do you feel closer to Allah? Jasmine x

    • As salaam alaykum Jasmine,

      alhamdulillah since taking on the niqaab I do feel closer to Allah. When I took on niqaab I took it on with making the intention of it being solely for Allah.

      When the dunya is not as responsive as it would usually be, and may even frown upon me for what Im wearing, it doesnt show as much love as it once did. When something stops loving you, you begin to also decrease your love for that thing. Especially if it starts to react negatively towards you. By the dunya not loving me and my not loving it my love can now be channelled solely towards Allah. InshaAllah the love of the world will leave my heart and it will incline more towards Allah. Not sure if that made sense lol

      • SurrrendertoGod Says:

        Salaamun alaikum,

        Regarding what identifies a woman as a Muslim, should we go by what we, or others may think or feel, or should we go by what God, the Most Mercful has said? God has clearly told believing women how to dress in order to be recognized as believers, and it is not hijab or abaya, or niqab. God says in the Quran:

        Yā ‘Ayyuhā An-Nabīyu Qul Li’zwājika Wa Banātika Wa Nisā’i Al-Mu’uminīna Yudnīna `Alayhinna Min Jalābībihinna Dhālika ‘Adná ‘An Yu`rafna Falā Yu’udhayna Wa Kāna Allāhu Ghafūrāan Raĥīmāan(33:59)

        meaning:

        [Oh Prophet! Tell your girls and the believing women to lengthen their garments. That is most appropriate, so that they will be recognized and not harmed.. God has been Forgining Merciful]

        Yudnīna is from the root d-n-y, from which we get dunya, for the lower, earthly world. It means to make something lower or closer to the ground. The verb is used with the preposition `Alayhinna , meaning on themselves. This is followed by the partitive Min, which designations part of something. In this case part of Jalābībihinna, literally, their garments. The way one mkes part of one’s garment nearr to the ground on oneself is by lengthening.

        God does not tell us we are to be identified by hijab, or abaya, or nigab. That is all human convention. If we want to be recognized as believing women, we must ask ourselves, do we chose what human beings say identifies us, or what God says identifies us?

        Wa salaam.

  3. Assalamu Aleikum Dear Sister,
    Beautifully put. Please read my story here:
    http://www.marchforjustice.com/showdetails.php?id=174
    Jazak Allah Khair

  4. BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

    Oh how I can relate, masha’Allah! I’ve been Muslim for 21 years, and worn niqaab for the past 6 years and masha’Allah, not only has it been a barrier between me and all that I don’t want to EVER associate with, but it has been a beautiful form of da’awah. I have always warmly welcomed questions regarding it. I started wearing it after realizing that men simply do not lower their gaze, no matter how well we wear hijab.

    I gave a speech in college about wearing niqaab. I was the only niqaabi there, so it seemed appropriate. Here’s what I said.

    “It’s a controvertial issue; all you can see are my eyes. Wearing the face veil is my personal choice. I’m not oppressed; I’m just doing my thing.

    Islam mandates that Muslim women cover everything but their hands and faces from non-relative, marriageable men. Here is why some of us choose to cover our faces as well.

    I became Muslim over 20 years ago and only decided to cover my face 5 years ago while living here in the United States. In fact, in the 6 years I’ve been living here and my previous time in England I learned that the majority of women who cover their faces are native to the country they live in so most of them here are American and most in England are British.

    The three main reasons I, and women like me cover our faces are:

    1) To protect ourselves.
    a. Wearing the veil not only identifies us as Muslim women, it serves as a barrier between the outside world and us. Without a face to focus on, men don’t usually approach us for friendly social interaction.
    b. 1 in 6 women are raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime here in the USA. We don’t present anything that might attract or incite those men who cannot control themselves.
    c. Serial killers are notorious for targeting certain types of women with specific physical attributes; we don’t allow them that knowledge.

    2) To safeguard our family life.
    a. We save our beauty, make-up, henna, perfume and little black dresses for our husbands. They are his exclusively, not for the eyes or enjoyment of any other man. We never hear the question, “Who are you getting all dressed up for?” or “Where are you going dressed like that?” because we only dress up for our husbands and ourselves. There is no fear that we are trying to attract other men, which builds a very trusting relationship.

    3) To protect and respect the rest of society.
    a. We don’t want to attract a man away from his wife, family.
    b. We don’t want to present to any other woman’s partner something he might prefer over her.
    c. We don’t want to cause any insecurities to other women.
    d. We don’t want to entice men who are unmarried and don’t have an outlet for their desires.

    Each one of us acts according to what he or she believes is good and right. Hopefully now when you see someone covered as I am, you can understand that we are happily behind the veil. “

  5. Assalam-alaikam,
    mash’Allah what a beautiful article. I don’t wear niqab, but it is definitely something I aspire to. I have quoted you and linked to the article on my blog to encourage others to understand from the viewpoint of a niqab-wearing sister (https://tearsofrealisation.wordpress.com/2008/09/28/niqaab/) I hope that this is okay.

  6. As salaam alaykum Surrender to God,

    A person needs to understand that alongside a great book needs to come a great teacher.

    The Prophet sallaAllahu alayhi was sallam brought the Quran and he taught it to the people. As such we have been left with the Quran and the Sunnah which helps explain the Quran.

    Please do not overlook the Sunnah of the Prophet sallaAllahu alayhi wa sallam as it tells us how to implement the commandments within theQuran.

    For example within the Quran it will never tell you there are 4 fardh rakaats for Dhur, Asr and Esha. That is found in the Sunnah, in the Ahadith of the Prophet sallaAllahu alayhi wa sallam.Therefore we must be incredibly careful. The ahadith explain the verse that you have stated in more depth.

    It is also dangerous to divert from the teachings of the ulema. Not one of the ulema will say that wearing hijab is not an obligation.

    masalaama

    • SurrendertoGod Says:

      There is nothing in the Sunna that says anything about covering the head or face.

      As for following religious scholars, read what Allah (SWT) says in Quran 9:31 about those who received the scripture before. They took their religious scholars as lords besides Allah (SWT). There widely reported Hadith of the Prophet that explain that this means the people followed the laws of the scholars that were not from Allah (SWT). So, we must ask ourselves, do we follow our scholars instead of Allah (SWT) by taking what they say about how believing women should dress to be recognized instead of the clear instructions of Allah (SWT)?

      We must remember that Allah (SWT) has declared that shirk is the only unforgivable sin, and that the Prophet said shirk will enter the Muslim Ummah like a black ant crawling on a black rock in a dark night.

      Allah (SWT) tells believing women exactly how to dress to be recognized, and nowhere does Allah (SWT) instruct women to wear hijab or niqab. These are inventions of human beings.

      • please find some information of niqaab/hijab from both the Quran and the Sunnah…

        …..
        Revelation of Al-Hijab

        Hadith – Bukhari 1:148
        The wives of the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) used to go to Al-Manasi, a vast open place (near Baqia at Madinah) to answer the call of nature at night. ‘Umar used to say to the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) “Let your wives be veiled,” but Allah’s Apostle(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) did not do so. One night Sauda bint Zam’a the wife of the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) went out at ‘Isha’ time and she was a tall lady. ‘Umar addressed her and said, “I have recognized you, O Sauda.” He said so, as he desired eagerly that the verses of Al-Hijab (the observing of veils by the Muslim women) may be revealed. So Allah revealed the verses of “Al-Hijab” (A complete body cover excluding the eyes).

        The Noble Qur’an – Al-Ahzab 33:5
        O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils)* all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

        *the arabic word here is Jalabeeb (plural of Jalbaab), which is the loose outer garment that covers all a woman’s body. It says here to use the Jalabeeb to cover all, and scholars say this means to use it to cover her head (agree upon by all scholars) and her face (agreed by many scholars, not all) and one or both eyes, in order for it to be known that she is a free woman and so not to be exposed to any harm.

        Hadith – Bukhari 6:282
        ‘Aisha(R.A.) used to say: “When (the Verse): ‘They should draw their veils over their necks and bosoms,’ was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces.”

        Hadith – Abu Dawud, Narrated Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu’minin
        When the verse “That they should cast their outer garments over their persons” was revealed, the women of Ansar came out as if they had crows over their heads by wearing outer garments.

        The lower half of the hijab is a garment that does not show the woman’s figure. Jeans and certain obvious garments do not meet this requirement.

        Hadith – Abu Dawud, Narrated Dihyah ibn Khalifah al-Kalbi
        The Apostle(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah was brought some pieces of fine Egyptian linen and he gave me one and said: Divide it into two; cut one of the pieces into a shirt and give the other to your wife for veil. Then when he turned away, he said: And order your wife to wear a garment below it and not show her figure.

        Prescribed Methods of Covering

        Tafseer – Ibn Katheer

        “Allah commanded the muslim women to cover this sheet on top of them to cover their bodies except one eye, when it is necessary for them to come out of their homes.”

        Tafseer – Commentary by Ibn Jarir and Ahkam-ul-Quran, Vol.III, p.457

        Imam Muhammad bin Sirin said: “When I asked Ubaida bin Sufyan bin al-Harith (ra) the meaning of this verse and how the jalbaab was to worn, he demonstrated it to me by pulling a sheet of cloth over his head to cover his entire body, leaving the left eye uncovered. This was also the explanation of the word ‘Alaihinna in this verse”
        Tafseer – Alu’si, Rul-ul-Ma’ani, Vol. 22, p. 89

        “Ibn Jarir Tabari and Ibn Al-Mundhir described the method of wearing the jalbaab according to Ibn Abbas (ra) and Qatadah (ra). The sheet should be wrapped around from the top, covering the forehead, then bringing one side of the sheet to cover the face below the eyes so that most of the face and the upper body is covered. This will leave both eyes uncovered (which is allowed in necessity).

        Color of Garment

        The female companions were known to wear black and dark colors (such as the hadith above, “crows on their heads”), but other colors are also permissible for a woman to wear. She must not wear any color, however, in vanity.

        Hadith – Sahih Al-Bukhari 7.715
        …’Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil …

        Hadith – Sahih Al-Bukhari 7.733
        that he had seen Um Kulthum, the daughter of Allah’s Apostle(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), wearing a red silk garment.

        Hadith – Sahih Al-Bukhari 7.713
        The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) was given some clothes including a black Khamisa. The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said, “To whom shall we give this to wear?” The people kept silent whereupon the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said, “Fetch Um Khalid for me.” I (Um Khalid) was brought carried (as I was small girl at that time). The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) took the Khamisa in his hands and made me wear it and said, “May you live so long that your dress will wear out and you will mend it many times.” On the Khamisa there were some green or pale designs (The Prophet saw these designs) and said, “O Um Khalid! This is Sanah.” (Sanah in a Ethiopian word meaning beautiful).

        Hadith – Sunan of Abu Dawood #4055, Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As

        We came down with the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) from a turning of a valley. He turned his attention to me and I was wearing a garment dyed with a reddish yellow dye. He asked: What is this garment over you? I recognised what he disliked. I then came to my family who were burning their oven. I threw it (the garment) in it and came to him the next day. He asked: Abdullah, what have you done with the garment? I informed him about it. He said: Why did you not give it to one of your family to wear, for there is no harm in it for women.

        Must a Woman Wear Niqab (Veil)?

        The general understanding in Islam regarding Sunnah, is that if the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) or any of his wives (RA) or companions (RA) are recorded in authentic hadith to have engaged in an act that is not haram (prohibited) as defined by Qur’an or Sunnah, then the act is declared halal (permissible). If the companions engaged in an act that the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) was aware of and did not speak out against, it is halal.
        It is well-known that the wives of the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) covered their faces any time non-mahram men were near. A woman named Asma, who was not a wife of the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) , was also recorded as covering her face. Easily, one can conclude that wearing veil is halal (permissible).
        However, Muslims and Muslimahs across the world have been in “hot debate” for centuries, over the issue of whether or not covering the face is obligatory upon a Muslimah. Those who argue that it is not required, point to the use of the word khimar in the Qur’an, and explain that today’s modern khimar does not cover the face, and argue that khimar has never referred to the covering of the face, but only to that of the hair, neck, and bosoms. While one cannot deny the support of Hadith that indicate that the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)’s wives wore khimar, one must realize that they also covered their faces at all times in the presence of non-mahram men.

        BASING ON CULTURE VS. QURAN AND SUNNAH. …

        Most Muslim men, even in America, would be pleased if their wives veil, but some state that a veil draws too much attention, causing men to look upon her more than normal. However, one must realize that when men ‘look’, they have nothing of her to see! Regardless, this issue must stick to understanding and implementing Qur’an and Sunnah, and not making excuses based on the current culture. Muslims are ordered not to imitate the dress of any non-Muslim culture, so, surely, we cannot make the choice to wear Niqab based on the pressures of modern day society; instead, we choose, insha’Allah, to fear Allah, swt, and not mankind!

        When in a state of ihram, the muslimah cannot wear niqab. However, according to several scholars, such as Sheikh ibn Baz, even when in a state of ihram, “she should lower her headcovering or outer cloak over her face when she is in the presence of non-mahram men.” So, it is to say that she should not cover her face around the other women during ihram, but that she should cover it if a non-mahram man approaches. He bases this on the hadith below, narrated by ‘Aisha .

        In Fathul Bari, chapter Hajj, a tradition reported on the authority of Aisha (RA) says:
        “A woman in a state of Ihram (during Hajj and Umrah) should stretch her head – cloth over to her face to hide it.”

        Hadith – Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and ibn Majah, Narrated ‘Aisha. [In his work Jilbab al-Marah al-Muslimah, al-Albani states (p. 108) that it is hasan due to corroborating evidence. Also, in a narration from Asma, Asma also covered her face at all times in front of men.]

        Narrated ‘Aisha (RA) who said, “The riders would pass us while we were with the Messenger of Allah ). When they got close to us, we would draw our outer cloak from our heads over our faces. When they passed by, we would uncover our faces.”

        According to Shaikh ibn Uthaimin, “she is not required to cover her face during the prayer unless there are non-related men around her. She must then cover her face from them, as it is not allowed for a woman to uncover her face except to her husband and her male relatives i.e., mahram.”

        If a woman is not around any non-mahram men and does not fear that any will enter her area of salah, she may reveal her face and hands. This is agreed upon by the group of scholars.

        So, whether agreeing that niqab is required or not, one must surely acknowledge that it is a desirous sign of piety. What better example of sunnah to follow for a muslimah than that of the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) and his wives RA. Every Muslimah is encouraged to cover to the fullest, showing only one or both eyes.

        A woman does not have to wear a niqab (affixed veil), but she should emulate the female companions by using her hijab or other items, to lift and cover her face when a non-mahram man approaches, even during ihram (hajj), as this is in accordance with sunnah.

        Hadith – Muwatta 20.16

        Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that Fatima bint al-Mundhir said, “We used to veil our faces when we were in ihram in the company of Asma bint Abi Bakr as-Siddiq.”

        The following Fatawa is from Sheikh Ibn Uthaimin:
        “The Islamic hijab is for the women to cover everything that is forbidden for her to expose. That is, she covers everything that she must cover.
        “The first of those bodily parts that she must cover is her face. It is the source of temptation and the source of people desiring her. Therefore, the woman must cover her face in front of those men that are not Mahram (i.e. father, huband, etc.).

        “As for those who claim that Islamic hijab is to cover the head, shoulders, back, feet, shin and forearms while allowing her to uncover her face and hands, this is a very amazing claim. This is because it is well-known that the source of temptation and looking is the face. How can one say that the Shariah does no allow the exposure of the foot of the woman while it allows her to uncover her face?

        “It is not possible that there could be in the Esteemed, Wise and Noble Shariah a contradiction. Yet everyone knows that the temptation from uncovering the face is much greater than the temptation that results from the uncovering of the feet. Everyone also knows that the most sought after aspect of the woman for men is the face. If you told a prospective groom that a woman’s face is ugly but her feet are beautiful, he would not propose to such a woman.
        “However, if you told him that her face was beautiful but her hands, palms, or shins were less than beautiful, he would still propose to her. From this one can conclude that the face is the first thing that must be covered.

        “There are also evidences from the Book of Allah (SWT) and the Sunnah of our Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam). There are also statements from the Companions, the leading Imams and the great scholars of Islam that indicate that it is obligatory for the woman to cover all of her body in the presence of non-Mahram men. This obviously indicates that it is obligatory upon the woman to cover her face in front of such men.”
        The following information can be found on this website…
        http://www.central-mosque.com/fiqh/niqab1.htm
        This can be found at the following website

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