Can My Father Force Me to Wear Niqab?

21 November, 2020
Q Does a father have the right to force his daughter to wear niqab? Also what is the Hanafi ruling on niqab? Is niqab obligatory or recommended?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

You are not incurring any sin by refusing to wear niqab (face veil) against the wishes of your father. However, you should not lose respect for your father. Rather you ought to honor your parents by serving them in all other ways as best you can in order to gain the pleasure of Allah.


In responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states,

Is Niqab Obligatory?

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Since the face veil (niqab) is not a prescribed religious requirement in Islam. You have the right to refuse to wear it- if you so choose as an adult- even if your father insists otherwise.

You will not be incurring any sin in disobeying your father on this issue if you find it hard to live in a society where you fear being unfairly treated or discriminated against because of the face veil.

By doing this you are only exercising your right to protect yourself. Therefore, by uncovering your face you are not in any way remiss in your observance of your Islamic duties as a Muslimah.

The Hanafi View on NIqab

Niqab or face veil is not a prescribed religious duty in the Hanafi school. This is documented in the authentic sources of the school.  We read in Al-Mabsut:

“In regard to men and women who are not married to each other or are not close blood relations (and therefore forbidden to marry)  ….there is no harm for such men to look the faces or hands of those women, although they are not allowed to look at any other parts of their bodies… This is the view of (Imam) Abu Hanifah…It is based on the verse, “except what is apparent..”, for what is apparent includes face and hands…”

We also read in the Aharah Ma`ani al-Athar of Imam At-Tahawi, 

“It is permissible for men to look the face and hands of women (they are not related to in marriage or blood). This is the view of Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad.”

In the text of Quduri, we read:

“it is not allowed for a stranger to look at any part of a woman except her face and hands…”

In Al-jawhra al-nayyirah, we read:

“Uncovering face and hands is a necessity by nature of interactions of give and take between men and women, where she needs to identify herself…uncovering her face is also a necessity for testimony as well as in a court of law…Therefore, she is allowed to uncover her face and hands…”

In Al-Lubab fi sharh al-kitab, we read:

“It is not allowed for a man to look at a woman except to her face and hands, which is allowed because of necessity in normal actions of give and take between men and women…”

In Badai` Al-Sanai`, we read:

“It is allowed to for men to look at face and hands of a woman as can be inferred from the verses of the Quran, ‘except what is apparent’ which means the apparent beauty which is face and hands… for she needs to uncover them while buying and selling and giving and taking, …all of these cannot be done except by uncovering the face and hands and therefore it is permissible to expose them. This is the view of (Imam Abu Hanifah); Muhammad ibn al-Hasan also reports that Abu Hanifah allowed for a woman to expose her feet also because of necessity.”

All of the above quotes are taken from the authentic sources of the Hanafi school of fiqh.

I think it would be appropriate to conclude the above by quoting the eminent scholar Imam Ibn Abd al-Abd Barr, who has been considered as an undisputed authority on fiqh al-hadith (jurisprudence of hadith). He counters those scholars of the Maliki school who say that women are to cover their faces:

“This view is deemed farthest from the views of scholars; for there is a virtual consensus among the scholars that women are to pray obligatory prayers while uncovering their faces and hands. And that they should place their hands on the place of prayer. All of them unanimously assert that women are not to wear face veils or gloves while performing prayer….This is a clear evidence that women’s faces are not considered as awrah (that she is obligated to cover)…and that men are allowed to see their faces and hands as long as they do not do so with evil intentions or lustful thoughts…”

To conclude: you are not incurring any sin by refusing to wear niqab (face veil) against the wishes of your father. However, having said this, I must also advise you never to lose respect for your father; rather you ought to honor your parents by serving them in all other ways as best you can in order to gain the pleasure of Allah.

Almighty Allah knows best.

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