There is no doubt that the greatest act of modesty that a woman can perform is wearing a hijab that covers her face, and is the best thing with which she can adorn herself. This is because it protects her and keeps her far removed from temptation.
Evidence from the Noble Qur’an
The Proofs from the Qur’an include the following:
The First Proof: The Words of Allah, Most High
“And tell 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, headcover, apron), and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allaah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful” [al-Noor 24:31]
The evidence from this verse indicating that hijab is obligatory for women to screen herself from unrelated men, is from the number of standpoints as follows:
1. That Allaah, the Most High, commanded the believing women to guard their private parts, and the command to guard their parts also a command to employ all the means of achieving that. No rational person would doubt that one of the means of doing so is covering the face, because uncovering it will lead to men looking at it, contemplating over its beauty, and developing lustful feelings with her. The consequences of this may be that contact is made and relationship begun. It was reported in a hadeeth that The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam) said:
“The eyes commit adultery and their adultery is by looking (with lust)”
until he said, “… and the private part testifies or deny it.” [Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6612; Muslim, 2657]. So if covering the face is one of the means of guarding the private parts, then it is commanded to do so, because the means of achirving something have the same ruling as the desired object.
2. The Words of Allaah the Most High:
“…and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) …”. (Soorah An-Noor 24:31)
The khimar is anything used by a woman to cover her head, such as the headscarf. So fi sh is commanded to draw her khimar over her jaib (singular of juyoob), then she is commanded to cover her face, either due to necessity or due to analogy, because if it is obligatory to cover her chest and neck, then it is obviously more necessary to cover the face, for it is the place of beauty and temptation. This is because, when people seek beauty, they do not ask about anything except the face- and if it is beautiful; they do not attach much importance to anything else. So, when they say that such-and-such woman is beautiful, nothing is understood from this, except that her face is beautiful. This proves that the face is the place of beauty. Therefore, if this is the case, then how can it be understood that this wise law commands covering the chest and neck, but permits the face to be revealed?
3. That Allaah, the Most High prohibited the women as generalization from showing their adornment, except that which is apparent from showing their adornment, except that which is apparent- and that means what must be shown, such as the clothing, which is why He says,
“Except 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)”. (Soorah An-Noor 24:31)
And He did not say, “…that which they reveal.” Then, a second time, He prohibited revealing adornment, except for those who are permitted to see it. This proves that the second adornment is different from the first adornment. The first adornment is the one which is apparent, which every person reveals and cannot be hidden, while the second adornment is the hidden adornment by which one beautifies oneself. Consequently, if this (latter) adornment was permissible for every person, there would be no understandable point in the generality of the first and the exception in the second.
4. That Allaah, the Most High permits the revealing of the hidden adornment to male members of the household who feel no physical desire, i.e servants who have no sexual urges, to small children who have not yet reached puberty and feel no sexual urges and who are unaware of women’s awrat. This proves two things:
The First: That revealing the hidden adornments this not permissible for any unrelated person except the aformentioned two categories.
The Second: The reason for the, and the point of it, is fear of fitnah for the woman and of someone being attracted to her. There is no doubt that he face is the centre of beauty and the place of fitnah, so covering it is an obligation, in order that it is not a cause of temptation for men who feel sexual urges.
5. The words of Allaah, the Most High:
“And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment.” (Soorah An-Noor 24:31)
This means that a woman should not stamp her feet, causing her ankle bracelets and other such things, which women wear as adornments, to be revealed. So if, a woman is forbidden to stamp her feet out of fear that it will cause fitnah for men, due to him hearing the sound of her ankle bracelets or the like jingling, then what about revealing her face? Which of them is greater fitnah, to hear the jingling of ankle bracelets on a woman, while not knowing who she is, whether or not she is beautiful, whether she is young or old, whether she is ugly or attractive? Which of them is a greater fitnah, this, or that a man might look at an unveiled, beautiful face, in the full flush of youth, adorned with such makeup as will attract fitnah and entice men to look at her? Every person who feels any attraction towards women knows which of these two fitnahs is greater and which has the greater right to be covered up or displayed.
The Second Proof: The Words of Allaah, the Most High:
“And as for women past childbearing who do not expect wedlock, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment. But to refrain (i.e. not to discard their outer clothing) is better for them. And Allaah is All‑Hearing, All‑Knowing” [al-Noor 24:60]
The evidence of this noble verse (proving the obligation for a woman to cover her face) is that Allaah, the Most High said that there is no sin on old women who have do not expect to wed, if they remove their (outer) garments, so long as their intention in doing so is not to reveal their adornments. It is obvious that what is meant by removing their garments doesn’t mean they become naked. What is meant is that they remove those outer garments, which do not cover that which normally appears, such as the face and the hands. So, the garment which is permissible for an old man to remove, it the outer garment which covers her whole body. The particularization of the ruling on these older women is proof that young women, who hope and expect to wed, are not included in this ruling. If the ruling encompassed all women, permitting them to discard their outer garment and to wear a chemise or something similar, then there would no point in the special mention of old women.
And in the words of Allaah, the Most High:
“In such a way as not to show their adornment” (Soorah An-Noor 24:60)
Is another proof for the obligation of hijab for young women who hope and expect to marry. In most cases, when a woman reveals her face, it is because she wishes to reveal her adornment and show her beauty, so men look at her and praise her beauty. Those who do not reveal their faces for this reason are the exception – and there is no ruling in the exception.
The Third Proof: The Words Allaah the Most High:
“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 Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” [al-Ahzaab 33:59]
Abdullaah Ibn ‘Abbaas (rasiallaahu anhu) said: “Allaah commanded the believing women, if they go out of their houses for some need, to cover their faces from the top of their heads with their jilbaabs, and to leave one eye showing.” and the tafseer of a Companion is a proof. Indeed some of the scholars have said that it bears the ruling of a statement attributed to the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa salaam) under the same ruling. As for Ibn Abbaa’s statement “and leave one eye showing” this was only permitted for the necessity in order to see the way. But if there is no need, then it is not necessary to reveal an eye. As for the jilbaab , it is a loose cloak worn over the khimar in the place of ‘aba’`ah.
Umm Salamah (radiallaahu `anha) said that when this verse was revealed, “The women of the Ansar went out as if they had crows on their heads, due to their piety and they were wearing black cloaks.”
‘Ubaidah As-Salami and others stated that the wives of the Believers used to draw their cloaks around them from above their heads, so nothing could be seen except their eyes, and this was in order for them to see the way.
The Fourth Proof: The Words of Allaah, the Most High:
“It is no sin on them (the Prophet’s wives, if they appear unveiled) before their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their brother’s sons, or the sons of their sisters, or their own (believing) women, or their (female) slaves. And (O ladies), fear (keep your duty to) Allaah. Verily, Allaah is Ever All‑Witness over everything” [al-Ahzaab 33:55]
Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: ” When Allaah commanded the women to observe hijab in front of non-mahram men, he explained that they did not have to observe hijab in front of these relatives, as He explained that they are exempted in Soorat al-Noor wh`ere Allaah says:
“And not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands…”
These four proofs from the Noble Qur’an state the obligation for a woman to screen herself from men she is not related to the first verse contains evidence from five stand points.
Evidence from the Sunnah
As for the proofs from the Sunnah, they include the saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam):
“If any of you proposes marriage to a woman, there is no sin on him if he looks at her, so long as he is only looking at her because he is proposing to her- even is she is unaware of it” [Narrated by Imaam Ahmad]
The author of Majma’ Az-Zawaa’id said: “Its narrators are all the narrators of authentic ahadeeth.
The evidence here is the fact that the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam) said there is no sin on the man who is proposing marriage, subject to the condition that his looking be for the purpose of proposing marriage. This indicates that the one who is not proposing marriage is sinning if he looks at a non-mahram woman in ordinary circumstances, as is the one who is proposing marriage if he looks for any purpose other than proposing marriage, such as for the purpose of enjoyment etc.
If it is said that the hadeeth does not clearly state what is being looked at, and it may mean looking at the chest etc, the response is that the man who is proposing marriage looks at the face because it is the focus for the one who is seeking beauty, without a doubt.
The Second Proof: When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ordered women to go to the ‘Eed prayer place, they said, “O Messenger of Allaah, some of us do not have jilbaabs.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) replied, “Let her sister give her one of her jilbaabs to wear.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim and others
This hadeeth proves that according to the custom of the wives of the companions (radiallaahu anhum), a woman wishing to go out cannot do so without the jilbab and that if she did not own one, then it would not be possible for her to go out. It was just this reason that they mentioned this obstacle to the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam) he ordered them to go to ‘Eed prayer place. The prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam) made it clear to them the solution to to this problem was for her sister (in Islam) to cover her with her jilbab. He did not permit them to go out without a jilbab, in spite of the fact that going to the ‘Eed prayer place is ordained and commanded for men and women, So, if the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam) did not permit them to go out without a jilbab in order to fulfill what they were commanded to do, how could it be permissible for them no to wear a jilbab to go out to do something that is not commanded and for which there is no necessity? Especially, when the intention is to wander around the market and to mix with men and look around without purpose?
The Third Proof: What has been established in the two Sahihs on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah (radiallaahu anha) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam) used to offer the Fajr prayer and some of the believing women covered with their veiling sheets and attended the prayer with him, after which they would return to their homes unrecognized due to darkness” She said: “If the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam) had seen the actions women that we had, he would have have forbidden them to go the masjid, just as the Children of Israel forbade their women.” ‘Abdullah bun Masood (radiallahu anhu) narrated something similar to this.
The Evidence in this Hadeeth is From Two Aspects:
The First: It was the custom for the women among the Companions (radiallaahu anhum) who were the best, nobles, the highest in morals and manners, the most complete in faith, and the most righteous in deeds- to wear the hijab and to cover themselves. So they are the shinning example, with whom Allaah is Well-pleased; and He is Well-Pleased with those who follow them with ihsan, as He the Most High says,
“And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” [Soorah At-Tawbah 9:100]
If that was the way of the women among the Companions then how can it be fitting for us to deviate from the path, which, if followed with ihsan, will result in the attainment of Allaah’s Pleasure? Allaah, the Most High, says,
“And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination.” [Soorah An-Nisa 4:115]
The Second: ‘Aa’ishah (radiallaahu anha) the Mother of the Believers and ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (radiallaahu `anhu)), who excelled in knowledge, understanding and perception in matters pertaining to Allaah’s Religion and in advising Allaah’s slaves – informed us that had the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam) seem the behavior of the women which they themselves had seen, he would have forbidden them from going to the masjid. This was during the era of the best generations, when the situation had just changed from what it was during the time of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam), to one that they necessitated that they be prohibited from going to the masjids. So what of our time, after approximately thirteen centuries, when the situation worsened, modesty has decreased, and the religion has weakened in the hearts of people?
Both ‘A`ishah (radiallaahu anha) and Ibn Mas’ood (radiallaahu anhu) understood that everything that results in something which is cautioned against is itself prohibited.
The Fourth Proof: The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam) said,
“If anyone lets his garment trail on the ground out of arrogance and pride, Allaah will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection.”
Umm Salamah (radiallaahu anha) said, “Then what should women do with the hems of their dresses?: He said, “They should let them trail a hand span.” She asked, “What if their feet are exposed?” He said, “Then they should have them trail the length of a cubit, but not more than that.” [narrated by At-Tirmidhi (1731) and An-Nasa`i (5338).
In this hadeeth there is evidence for the fact that it is incumbent on a woman to cover her feet, and was something well known to the women among the companions (radiallaahu anhumma) certainly and without a doubt, the foot is less of a fitnah than the face and hands. So, drawing attention to the lesser thing is (the same as) drawing attention to a greater thing and one more deserving of the ruling. The wisdom of the Islamic Law rejects the idea that it is obligatory to cover which is of lesser fitnah, while permitting the uncovering of that which is of a greater fitnah. Such a thing is totally incompatible with Allaah’s Wisdom and His Law.
It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever lets his garment drag out of pride, Allaah will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection.” Umm Salamah said, “What should women do with their hems?” He said, “Let it hang down a handspan.” She said, “What if that shows her feet?” He said, “Let it hang down a cubit, but no more than that.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
This hadeeth indicates that it is obligatory for women to cover their feet, and that this was something that was well known among the women of the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them). The feet are undoubtedly a lesser source of temptation than the face and hands, so a warning concerning something that is less serious is a warning about something that is more serious and to which the ruling applies more. The wisdom of sharee’ah means that it would not enjoin covering something that is a lesser source of temptation and allow uncovering something that is a greater source of temptation. This is an impossible contradiction that cannot be attributed to the wisdom and laws of Allaah.
The Fifth Proof: The saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam)
“If any of you (women) has a slave seeking manumission and he has the payment, then you should screen yourself from him.” [This was narrated by five (Imam Ahmad 27006, Abu Dawood (3928), At Tirmidhi (1261) and Ibn Majah (2520),except An-Nasa`i and was declared authentic by At-Tirmidhi]
The evidence in this hadeeth lies in the fact that it shows that it it permissible for a lady to uncover her face before her slave, so long as he remains her property. But if he is no longer her property, she is obligated to cover her face before him, because he has become an ajnabiyy man.
The Sixth Proof: It is Reported on the authority of ‘Aishah (radiallaahu anha) that she said: “The riders used to pass by us while we were in a state of ihram with the Messenger (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallaam). Whenever they came close to us, each of us would let her jilbab fall from her head so that it covered her face, then once they passed us, we would uncover our faces” [narrated by Imam Ahmad (24522), and Abu Dawood (1833)].
Her words: “…and whenever they came close to us, each of us would let our jilbab fall from her head so that it covered her face,” is proof that it is obligatory for a woman to cover her face, because it is legislated during ihram for a woman to uncover it. If there was no strong prohibition for covering it at that time, they would left their faces uncovered. This is because uncovering the face during ihram is obligatory for women, according to the majority of the scholars – and an obligation cannot be contradicted , except by another obligation. Therefore, if it was obligatory to veil and cover the face from unrelated men, it would be permissble to abandon the obligation to uncover the face while in a state of ihram. In addition, it has been confirmed in the two Sahihs, and other sources, that a woman in the state of ihram is prohibited from wearing niqab and gloves.
Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said:“This proves that niqab and gloves were wll known for the women who were not in the state of ihram and this affirms that they used to cover their faces and hands.” [Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (15/276)]
These are six evidences from the Sunnah which prove the obligation for a woman to wear hijab and to screen her face from unrelated men. Add to them the four evidence from the Qur’an, and they become ten evidences from the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah.
Proofs From Qiyas (Analogy)
* The Eleventh Proof: The correct opinion and abiding by qiyas brought by the complete Islamic Law that entails the affirmation and approval of that which is beneficial and the means to achieve it and encouraging implementation of it and rejection of that which is evil and its causes, and the prevention of it. So, everything that is clearly beneficial or a means of preventing evil is either commanded or at least commended. Everything that is clearly evil or a means of preventing what is good and beneficial is either prohibited or strongly disapproved of.
If we consider the consequences of a woman removing her veil and displaying her face to unrelated men, we find that it entails many evils. If there is any benefit in it, it is very small and dwarfed by the evils. Among evils are the following.
1. Fitnah: A woman causes fitnah to herself when she beautifies her face adorns it and displays it. This is one of the greatest causes of evil and corruption.
2. The disappearance of modesty in women; is a part of faith and a necessary element of innate character. Woman used to be cited as an example of modesty, it was said “…more modest and shy than a virgin in her chamber.” The disappearance of modesty, and the decrease of faith has led women to come out of nature were created on.
3. The enchantment of men by women , especially if she is beautiful, flirtatious, laughs and is playful, is the case with many unveiled women. Indeed, it is said, “A look, then greeting, then talk, then assignation, then meeting.” Satan runs in the body of the son of Adam (i.e. humans) as their blood circulates in it. How often talk, laughter and jollity leads to fondness of the heart between a man and a woman! The result of this is an evil that cannot be repelled. We ask Allaah to save us from this.
4. The mixing of men and women; If a woman believes that, like man, she is free to reveal her face and to walk around unveiled, this will not result in modesty and shyness in her when she is in a crowded place. Rather, this will lead to a great fitnah and widespread corruption. The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa salaam) came out of the masjid one day and saw that men and women were mixing on the road, so he said,
“Return, for you must not walk in the middle of the road; keep to the sides of the road.”
Afterwards women kept so close to the walls that their garments were rubbing against it. Ibn Katheer mentioned this in his explanation of the words of Allaah, Most High:
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze.” (Soorah An-Noor 24:31)
Shaikh Al-Islam ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) determined that it is obligatory for a woman to screen herself from unrelated men, as states in hi Fatawa, “The fact of the matter is that Allaah, the Most High, has made zeenah (adornment) of two types: (i) that which is apparent and (ii) that which is not apparent. It is permissible for her to display the former to men other then her husband and those who are eligible to be maharim to her. Before the verse concerning the hijab was revealed, women would go out without any jilbab and men could see their faces and their hands as it was permissible for them to reveal their faces and hands to men that time. It was permissible for men to look at them, because it was permissible for women (to have their faces) revealed to them. But, when Allaah, the Most High, revealed the verse of hijab, saying,
“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.” [Soorah Al-Ahzab 33:59]
The women were veiled from the men.” Then he said, “The jilbab is wrapping which Ibn Mas’ood (radiallaahu `anhu) and others called the rida` and which the common folk refer to as the izar; and it is the large izar which covers her head and the rest of her body.” He added, “So if they were commanded to wear the jilbab in order not to be recognized, by covering their faces (with their jalabeeb) or by wearing a niqab, it means that the face and the hands are of the type of adornment that they were commanded to not reveal to unrelated men. In turn, this means that all that remained permissible for unrelated men to look at was the garments that were visible. Ibn Mas’ood (radiallaahu `anhu) mentioned the latter situation, while Ibn ‘Abbas (radiallaahu `anhu) mentioned the former. He further added. “…and the opposite of that is the face, the hands and the feet. It is not permitted for her to reveal them to unrelated men, according to the stronger of the two opinions, as opposed to the case before the abrogation; indeed, she should not reveal anything, except her (outer) garments.”
Further on, in the same volume, (p. 117 and p.118) he says, “As for her face, her hands and her feet, she was only prohibited from showing them to women or to men who are eligible to be her maharim* for her.” (*those men whom a woman is not allowed to marry (due to kinship) [singular=mahram]
On p. 152 of the same volume he says, “The important point of this is that you should know that the Lawgiver has two objectives:
The First: To distinguished men from women
The Second: For women to be veiled. As for what other Hanbali scholars Islamic Jurisprudence said, I may mention the sayings of some of the late scholars; The author of, Al Muntaha said, “It is unlawful for a complete eunuch to look at a woman who is unrelated.” In another place, he says, “It is not permissible to intentionally look at a free, unrelated woman, and it is unlawful to look at her hair.” The author of Ad-Daleel said, “Looking may be classified into eight categories:
The First: The looking of an adult male, even if he has been castrated, at a free adult female, without need. It is not permissible for him to look at any part of her, even her hair extension.” (End of quote)
As for Shafi’i scholars, they said that if the look is with desire, or it is feared that fitnah will ensue from it, then it is definitely unlawful without any disagreement. But, if the look is without desire and there is no fear of fitnah, there are two opinions regarding it; these were reported in Sharh Al-Iqna” He added, “The correct view is that it is unlawful, as mentioned in, Al-Minhaj. The Imam opined that Muslims (i.e. the scholars) are agreed that women should not be permitted to go out with their faces unveiled, and that looking at then is likely to cause fitnah and excite desires.
Allaah the most High, says,
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things)”. (Soorah An-Noor 24:30)
According to what befits the Islamic law, one should close the door (to sin).
In, Nailul-Awtar and Sharhul-Muntaqa, there is mention of the agreement amongst the Muslim (scholars) that women are forbidden to go out with their faces unveiled, especially in the presence of much sin and corruption.
[Transcribed from: (by: Talibatul ‘ilm) From: A Treatise on HIJAB & A compilation of Questions Pertaining to Family Matter|By: Shaykh Muhammad Salih ibn Uthaymeen|Pages: 11-30|Translated By: Sameeh Strauch|Darussalaam 2011]
I will post about evidences cited that displaying the face is permissible and the reply to those evidences by Shaykh Saleh Al-Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) bi’idnillaah