Opinions of scholars in favor of displaying the face and hands
Sahaba and Tabi'un (rAa)
Of the Sahaba, those who supported the display of the face and hands are: Aisha Umm al-Muminin (rAa), ibn Abbas (rAa), Anas ibn Malik (rAa), and Miswar ibn Makhrama (rAa).
Of the Tabi'un, those who supported the display of the face and hands are: Sa'id ibn Jubayr (rAa), Ata (rAa), Qatada (rAa), al-Dahhak (rAa), Mujahid (rAa), and al-Hasan (rAa).
Scholars from the major legal schools (madhahib)
Imam Abu Bakr Jassas, Hanafi scholar: "Our scholars say that this [exemption] denotes the woman's face and hands"
Imam Abu Abdullah Qurtubi, Maliki scholar: "Since the normal case is that a woman�s face and hands are revealed by the force of habit and for worship, as this is required in salat and hajj, then it is appropriate to say that the exemption [in 24:31] applies to these"
Imam Fakhr ad-Din Razi, Shafi'i scholar: "Since the showing of the face and hands is necessary, the jurists had no choice but to agree that they are not awra"
Imam Ahmad ibn Qudama, Hanbali scholar: "[I prefer this opinion] because necessity demands that the face should be uncovered for buying and selling, and the hands should be uncovered for giving and taking"
Imam Abu Muhammad ibn Hazm, Zahiri scholar: "The part of the woman's body which has to be concealed is the whole of it except her face and her hands"
Other great scholars
Imam Abu Jafar Tabari, author of a tafsir of the Quran: "The strongest and most accurate view is that which says that the exemption [in 24:31] refers to the face and the hands up to the wrist. Also included are kohl, rings, bracelets, and makeup. We say that this is the strongest and most accurate opinion because all scholars are unanimous that everyone who needs to pray must cover the awra in his or her salat. A woman may reveal the face and the hands in her salat, while she must cover the rest of her body. What is not awra is not haram to be revealed"
Imam Abu'l-Qasim Zamakhshari, author of another tafsir: "Why is the woman permitted to display 'what is apparent of it'? Because to conceal that would cause her inconvenience. A woman is forced to deal in commodities with her hands. She is compelled by genuine need to expose her face especially at the times of giving evidence, litigating in court, and marriage. She is compelled to walk the streets and expose her feet, especially poor women. This is the meaning of 'illa maa zahara min ha', that is, what the situations of ordinary life compel her to expose"
Imam Nawawi, author of a fiqh guide: "Women's clothing must cover at least the entire body excepting the hands and face"
Consensus of the scholars
Imam Abu'l-Walid ibn Rushd (d. 595AH/1198CE): "As for the third issue - that is, the extent to which a woman should cover herself - is concerned, most of the scholars are of the opinion that her whole body, except her face and hands, should be covered"
Imam Abu Abdullah Qurtubi (d. 671AH/1273CE): "The consensus of the Muslims is that all of a woman [is awra] except her face and hands, but some disagree about these two"
Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi, perhaps one of the most widely famous scholars of today, is a strong supporter of the face-and-hands opinion. He discusses why in great detail in his book The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam.
Shaykh Muhammad Nasiruddin Albani, probably one of the greatest muhaddithun of this century and a highly-respected salafi scholar, is also a strong supporter of the face-and-hands opinion. This is based on his thorough examination of the hadiths and the opinions of the scholars. He discusses his opinion at The Face Veil Is Not Obligatory.
More opinions of scholars in favor of displaying the face and hands may be found at About Displaying the Face and Hands and More About Displaying the Face and Hands
To see a more detailed discussion of the interpretation of Surah an-Nur ayah 31 and the entire range of opinions, visit What is the zena?