More Perspectives on Why Niqab Is Not Fard
Following are discussions by two Arabic-speaking sisters of why the claims made that niqab is fard are not sound. These have been taken from Sister Tara bint Curtis's website and her page Points of View on Hijab.
Sister Aayah says:
...if my priority in life was pleasing others I wouldn't wear khimar or jilbaab either from the reaction I got from family, friends, and the public. Masha’Allah I have very strict, God fearing, knowledgeable friends (some of whom have degrees in Arabic and Islamic law) and they do not wear niqab either simply because they don't think it's fard.) Maybe one day they would, maybe even I would, only Allah knows the future, but if we did it we would do so as an option not an obligation.
There are few things that concern me about some of the "niqabi sites" I viewed. I think it's very dangerous the way some people translate from Arabic to English and take the liberty to put their own interpretations in brackets next to the Quranic text, IN quotes. If you (anyone) wants to interpret something, then write a tafseer UNDER the text with your evidence, but do not stick it into the quotes of the Holy Quran - just translate it as closely word for word as you can and then explain it somewhere else. The reason is that it is really misleading for those who don't know Arabic.
For example from Ibn Farouks site(*): "And say to the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, head cover, apron), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)" He added so much stuff! Almost all the sites on niqab do this.
If I didn't have a clue about Arabic I might think that “juyubihinna" actually means FACE. There is no way that this word means face or body in Arabic. It comes from the root word meaning neck, collarbone in arabic. Not only is the stuff in brackets wrong, but it is inside the quotes of the Quran. This is how the older scriptures got corrupted, people slowly started sneaking their own words into the text. Alhamdulillah Allah promises to protect the Quran until Judgement Day. I have also read ahadith translated so badly, where the word head is substituted with face just to try to make an evidence out of nothing. This is why it is so important for all of us to try to learn Arabic so that we can read things for ourselves instead of someone else’s translation. (there are also weak hadith on Ibn Farooq’s site by the way)
Sisters please be wary when reading the hadith used as evidence for covering the face. Many are translated FALSLEY. The Prophet said that whoever lies about what he said should expect their seat in hellfire so please FEAR ALLAH and be careful what you transmit to others. If you read this one example you will know what I mean:
Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Hadith # 282 Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba (Radhiallaahu �nha) "Aisha (Radhiallaahu �nha) 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."
The word FACE does not exist in the arabic version of this hadith. it reads "...cut their waist sheets at the edges and FAKHTAMARNABIHA" this word in arabic is derived from the word khimar, and it simply means "they put them as khimar". A khimar does not cover the face. we can prove this by using the following hadith: Abu Dawood Book 2, Hadith # 0641: Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin (Radhiallaahu �nha) "Rasulullah (Sallallaahu �layhi Wasallam) said "Allah does not accept prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a veil." the word they translate as "veil" is in arabic khimar. And we all know that we are not allowed to pray with our faces covered; thus the khimar can not possibly cover the face if we are instructed to wear it when we pray.
I also noticed that some sites do not stick only to niqab but also associate it with not driving, not leaving the home, not talking to any non-mahram man, not working, etc. etc. It seems almost like a whole movement, restricting women of many things which Allah has not restricted us from. Just an observation.
There are not that many sites that talk of Islamic dress in depth, I guess since many assume that it is just common knowledge that the face and hands can show. Inshallah I am working on a website which will cover the issue in depth. We may have to agree to disagree again.
My note: The dalils mentioned by sister Aayah can be found on my page Examining the Dalils for Niqab, which also includes my commentary
Sister Maria says:
I know I'm putting myself in the middle of a big controversy but I couldn't let it pass. A weak "hadith" can be used concerning good deeds and when there is strong basis to support it in the Qur'an and/or in a strong "hadith". The support to the weak "hadith" of Asma is in the Qur'an itself in the verse 31 of the sura 24, which I'm quoting partially here: "...draw their veils over their bosoms and not display..." The transliteration from the Arabic is something like "iad'ribna bikhumurihin aala jiubihin" It's hard to me, because I'm not a native English speaker, to explain it but I'll try, Insh'Allah. The meaning of this verse is to tell women to draw over their chests their khimar (veil) with a movement that pulls the khimar from one side to the opposite one, transpassing the chest and fixing it firmly in the opposite side. The word Khimar doesn't mean veil but it's said that it was the name of the veils used by women in the pre-Islamic era to cover their heads (and not their faces). And although they use to use this veil, their neckline were too generous. The order in this verse is to draw the veil in order to cover such part.
The style of veil (khimar) mentioned here didn't cover the face of the women and it would have been meaningless to mention the movement of drawing the veil transpassing the chest if the women were to cover themselves from the top of their heads until their foots, and nobody can imagine that Allah would have placed a word or expression in the Qur'an which is meaningless. The point is that scholars who have their own agenda, make "fard" to wear "niqab", seems to intentionally ignore the meaning of this verse, which was reveled after the verse 59 in sura 33 usually quoted to prove that it is "fard" to all Muslim women cover themselves from the head until the foot. It's really mentioned there but it's also mentioned in such verse, that we must do that only when we go out of our homes.
Now I ask you: if we were to stick in this verse alone, we could supose that when at home we don't have to cover ourselves in front of non-relative males, because the verse order us to cover only when going out of our homes. The information about in front of whom we can appear without "hijab" is taken exactly from the verse 31 of sura 24. So, why take part from one verse and part from another? The verse 31 of sura 24 is the complete information about "hijab" which had only being given a previous idea in the verse 59 sura 33.
This is similar to the forbidance of drinking alcohol. Once still in the Qur'an a verse saying that the believer must not pray while drunk, some may argue that it's allowed to Muslims to drink alcohol, as long they don't pray when they are drunk. However, another verse, revealed later, forbid completelythe consume of alcohol. The same applies to inheritance. The first verse in the Qur'an mentioning inheritance, only said to divide it "according to what is reasonable". Later a verse giving detailed information on what is considered reasonable was revealed and so on. Say that those who consider that it's not "fard" to cover hands and face rely solely in the weak "hadith" of Asma, is not true. It's indeed more one of many disputes where scholars now are dedicating their time and seems that they don't want loose such dispute, even if they have to omit those precious information I passed above.
Here are some additional articles showing that niqab is not fard: