The Islamic ruling on the Niqab

Q 1: What is the ruling on the Niqab (face veil) in Islam?

A: As for the Niqab, in quotation of the description the Arabs gave for it, Abu ‘Ubayd said, “It is that from which the socket of the eye only appears, and they used to call it Al-Waswasah or Al-Burqu‘.” The ruling on women wearing the Niqab is that it is permissible for them to wear it and the basis for the ruling is the Hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them), who said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A woman in Ihram (ritual state for Hajj and ‘Umrah) should not cover her face with a veil or wear gloves.” (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Al-Nasa'y, and Al-Tirmidhy, who also ranked it as a Hadith Sahih [a Hadith that has been transmitted by people known for their uprightness and exactitude; free from eccentricity and blemish]) In another narration he said, “I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbid women in Ihram from wearing gloves and Niqab...” (Related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud) The fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade women from wearing Niqab while in Ihram indicates that it is permissible for them to wear it at other times. However, it should not be understood from this Hadith that it is permissible for a woman in Ihram to let her face be uncovered if there are Ajanib (men other than a husband or permanently unmarriageable male relatives) who can see her. (Part No. 17; Page No. 172) In fact it is obligatory on her to let her Khimar (veil covering to the waist) or Niqab down until they have passed her. The basis for this ruling is the report of Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah, from `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), who said, “Riders would pass us when we were with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in Ihram. When they came alongside us, each of us would lower her Jilbab (loose outer garment) from her head over her face, and when they had passed us, we would uncover it (our faces).” May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.