If wearing niqāb (face veil) makes the wearer an extremist, like some sick Muslims say today, then, all the prophet’s queens – Allāh’s peace be upon them – would be the pioneer-extremists, and their husband – a Godsent messenger – the pathfinder. Hmm!
I’ve not heard any of the sick Muslims who speak against the use of niqāb say that the prophet’s wives never used it. If they all agreed none of them was without veil, why then kick against the use? Oh! It was noble for them but ignoble for us? Or it was moderate for the women of that time but extreme for those of this time? Kindly adjust your thinking cap, I beg of you.
Some have argued, though amateurishly, that the prophet’s wives wore face-veils because that was the culture of the Arabs at that material time. What this invariably means, according to them, is that the prophet’s women would have no single reward for the practice since it was a mere culture, and wives of the sahābah who followed suit would have veiled in vain.
Covering the face, truly, used to be an ancient practice of, not only the Arabs, but also the Romans, the Asians etc. That was one of the ways queens and wives of eminent personalities were revered and venerated. The belief was that the faces of women of such valour shouldn’t be seen as other women. This is to say that like turban, the use of niqāb, was already on ground before the messengership of the prophet. It was truly a culture that became religious like many other practices. While some cultural practices were modified, some were replaced with better ones and some left as they were. Niqāb, therefore, wasn’t worn by the wives of the prophet in adherence to culture but religion. If it was cultural, the sahābah would have said it or the matter generate controversy among them. Can those who say it isn’t religious help with one – just one sahābiyy – who regarded niqāb as a cultural practice?
Some too hold that the use of niqāb was an exclusive right of the prophet’s wives. This they arrived at as a result of the prophet’s name being specifically called out in the verse the command was given by Allāh. But they seem to have forgotten that the call was inclusive of the wives of the believing men.
(یَـٰۤأَیُّهَا ٱلنَّبِیُّ قُل لِّأَزۡوَ ٰجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاۤءِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِینَ یُدۡنِینَ عَلَیۡهِنَّ مِن جَلَـٰبِیبِهِنَّۚ ذَ ٰلِكَ أَدۡنَىٰۤ أَن یُعۡرَفۡنَ فَلَا یُؤۡذَیۡنَۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورࣰا رَّحِیمࣰا)
“Prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and the women of the believers to make their outer garments hang low over them so as to be recognized and not insulted: God is most forgiving, most merciful.”
[Surah Al-Ahzab 59]
That the injunction on the use of niqāb wasn’t inclusive of other women aside the prophet’s wives is a glaring distortion of fact. The above verse says it all.
The only argument, as best understood to me, that is with logical substance is that which presents niqāb as best but optional. Reputable, reliable and dependable scholars, from time immemorial to date, have controversially held to these two stands. Both, for me, have sincerely had their opinions adduced with facts from Kitāb and Sunnah. It’s even on record that the wives and daughters of some of those who held that niqāb was optional covered their faces. In this present time – in Yorùbá land, for instance – I know scholars and high-profile students of knowledge whose wives wear niqāb even though it is optional to them.
If it is the consensus of all scholars that wearing niqāb is the best for a Muslim woman, I think emphasis should be made on that than the optionality. Best, they say, is the better than good. However, and this, Allāh knows best, is my stance, whoever has her face unveiled is no sinner, but she’s apparently not doing the best.
From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that wearing niqāb is a virtuous act in Islām. Whoever says otherwise may be suffering from unnoticed hallucination, deliberate amnesia or may probably be pushed by shaytān and his ilk.