Mufti sahab, As’salaam-o-Alekum,
I am little shy asking this silly question because of the nature of the question, and also because obviously I have very limited knowledge . The thing that I have always wondered about is whether in Quran and Hadees, there is more focus on hiding head, hair, and face for women than hiding bodily features. We see many of our women who cover their hair/shoulders first but they are wearing tight dresses and not covering their chest. In soorat-un-Noor, there is hukum for women to cover chests. Is/Are there hukum to cover head and hair, and that too before covering bodies? I understand its a gigantic topic, but any light you can shed will be very helpful. Thank you so much.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
The observance of Hijab (Purda) is absolutely necessary for women. This is clear from Quran and Hadith.
A female is required to cover her entire body with the exception of her hands, feet, and eyes. The face must also be concealed. This is applicable when leaving the house and in the presence of Non-Mahram men.
With regards to the covering, it must be of such a loose nature that does not reveal the shape of the body. To wear tight clothing that reveal the shape of the body is impermissible. The references below are clear in this regards.
For a detailed write-up on the necessity of covering one’s face, kindly see hereunder the research of my respected teacher Mufti Husain Kadodia (Hafidhahullah).
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
(Mufti) Abdul Azeem bin Abdur Rahman
By Mufti Husain Kadodia
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Our discussion will entail the following:
- The juristic definition of shahwah(desire)
- The Hanafi stance
3.1 Types of gazes and their respective rulings
3.1.1 A gaze accompanied with conviction of no possibility of attraction
3.1.2 A gaze accompanied with doubt of attraction
3.1.3 A gaze accompanied with strong possibility or certainty of attraction
3.2 The obligation of covering the face
It is with great sadness that we note confusion in the minds of many students and even some scholars concerning the obligation of the niqab (veil) in the Hanafi madhhab, which expressly classifies covering the face as binding on women and forbids the exposure of the face in the presence of ghayr mahrams (strangers). While there have been dozens of works penned on this issue, we wish to focus on the Hanafi stance due to the abuse it is being subjected to. We ask Allah Most High to grant us the tawfiq (ability) to explain the issue in a manner pleasing to Him.Amin.
- The juristic definition of shahwah(desire)
Before commencing the discussion, it would be imperative to understand the definition ofshahwah in the context of looking at a female.
Hanafi jurists differ concerning its definition in the context of hurmat al-musaharah. Some define it as “an inclination and attraction of the heart”, while others stipulate that it must be accompanied by the stirring of the male organ.
It must, however, be noted that this difference is only applicable in the context of hurmat al-musaharah and is not applicable in the context under discussion.
The jurists have clearly stated that the shahwah in the context of gazing at a member of the opposite sex is “an attraction and inclination”; this is regardless of whether the gazing is accompanied with the stirring of the male organ or not.
Al-Quhustani, Al-Tahtawi, Al-Nablusi, ‘Abid al-Sindhi and Ibn ‘Abidin are among those who have expressly clarified this.
- The Hanafi stance
Before discussing the stance of the madhhab, it should be borne in mind that the madhhab has tackled this issue from both the man’s perspective as well as that of the woman.
The male perspective is discussed under the rulings of the gaze, while the female perspective is discussed under the issue of covering the face.
We will now discuss each of them separately:
3.1. Types of gazes and their respective rulings
A male’s gaze towards a strange female’s face or hands would fall under one of the following three categories:
3.1.1. A gaze accompanied with conviction of no possibility of attraction
This is the case mentioned in most texts and which has been misunderstood by many. The ruling of the imam’s of the madhhab is clear in that this gaze would be permissible.
However, this has been clearly conditioned with absolute conviction of no possibility of shahwahappearing in the heart towards her.
The early jurists of the madhhab, who lived just after the imams, knew that this scenario was only possible in bygone times when purity and chastity were dominant, and, so, expecting a young man’s gaze at a young woman to be completely free of desire is unfathomable in these times. They thus classified such a gaze to be makruh tahrimi (highly disliked and close to forbidden).
From amongst the luminaries who mentioned this ruling are: Abu ‘l-Layth al-Samarqandi (d.373 AH), Al-Quduri (d. 428 AH), Al-Walwaliji (d. 540 AH), Siraj al-Din al-Awshi (d. 575 AH), Al-Sunnami (d. after 700 AH), ‘Alim ibn al-‘Ala (d. 786 AH), Al-Quhustani (d. 950 AH),Al-Birgivi (d. 981 AH), the authors of Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah (completed in 1085 AH), Al-Haskafi (d. 1088 AH), Al-Khadimi (d. 1176 AH), Al-Tahtawi (d. 1231 AH), Ibn ‘Abidin (d. 1252 AH), ‘Abid al-Sindhi (d. 1257 AH) and Al-Maydani (d. 1298 AH).
Also worthy of note is that this ruling has been recorded from none other than the great imamand mujtahid of the madhhab, Imam Abu Yusuf al-Qadi. This ruling is not applicable to old women who have passed the age of being desired, as they have been clearly exempted from these rulings.
Thus, the authoritative position of the madhhab is that while looking at the face of a strange female is not completely forbidden when there exists conviction of no desire at all towards her, it would still be makruh tahrimi.
3.1.2. A gaze accompanied with doubt of attraction
This type of gaze has been classified as haram (forbidden).
3.1.3. A gaze accompanied with strong possibility or certainty of attraction
This gaze is also been forbidden, just as the one before it.
3.2. The obligation of covering the face
While the madhhab has not completely forbidden a male’s gaze towards a female’s face when there exists absolutely no fear of attraction, the woman has no way of knowing whether the gazes directed towards her are free of desire or not, especially when out in public. The Hanafimadhhab has, in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah, thus obliged a woman to cover her face in front of strangers.
This ruling is indicated to by Imam Muhammad in his Al-Asl, which forms the basis of the Zahir al-Riwayah of the madhhab. This is the authoritative position of the Hanafi School, as adopted by major Hanafi legal masters over the centuries, such as: Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (d. 333 AH), Hakim al-Shahid (d. 334 AH), Jassas al-Razi (d. 370 AH), Al-Natifi (d. 446 AH), Qadi Khan (d. 592 AH), Al-Marghinani — author of Al-Hidayah (d. 593 AH), Al-Kirmani (d. 600 AH approx.), Mahmud Al-Bukhari — author of al-Muhit (d. 616 AH), Al-Sunnami (d. after 700 AH), Al-Sighnaqi (d. 714 AH), Al-Qurashi (d. 854 AH), Ibn al-Humam (d. 861 AH), Al-Quhustani (d. 950 AH), Ibn Nujaym (d. 970 AH), Sinan al-Khalwati (d. 989 AH), Umar ibn Nujaym (d. 1005 AH), Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari (d. 1014 AH), Al-Shurunbulali (d. 1069 AH), Shaykh Zada (d. 1078 AH), ‘Abd al-Halim (d. 1088 AH), Al-Haskafi (d. 1088 AH),Al-Tahtawi (d. 1231 AH), Ibn ‘Abidin (d. 1252 AH), ‘Abid al-Sindhi (d. 1257 AH), ‘Abd al-Hay al-Laknawi (d. 1304 AH), Al-Sawati (d. 1346 AH), Al-Nahlawi (d. 1350 AH).
We can thus conclude that it is obligatory on a man to lower his gaze from the face of strange women under all circumstances, just as it is binding on a woman to cover her face in the presence of strange men.
Allah Most High knows best.
14 Ramadan 1429 / 14 September 2008
Durban, South Africa
قال إمام الحرمين الجويني (ت 478 هـ): اتفق المسلمون على منع النساء من الخروج سافرات الوجوه
Imam al-Haramayn (d. 478 AH) said:
“There exists consensus of the Muslims on preventing women from emerging with their faces uncovered.”
(Mughni l-Muhtaj 4/203, Tuhfat al-Muhtaj 7/193)
The Shar’a ruling herein given is based specifically on the question posed and should be read in conjunction with the question.
Darul Iftaa Texas bears no responsibility to any party who may or may not act on this answer and is being hereby exempted from loss or damage howsoever caused.
This answer may not be used as evidence in any Court of Law without prior written consent of Darul Iftaa Texas.
 Aap Kay Masaail Aur Un Kaa Hall, Vol. 8, p..79, 88, 96 , Maktabah Ludhyanwi
 يَاأَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لأزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلابِيبِهِنَّ (سورة الأحزاب، رقم الآية 59)
قَالَ عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَلْحَةَ عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ أَمَرَ اللَّهُ نِسَاءَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذَا خَرَجْنَ مِنْ بُيُوتِهِنَّ فِي حَاجَةٍ أَنْ يُغَطِّينَ وُجُوهَهُنَّ مِنْ فَوْقِ رُؤُوسِهِنَّ بِالْجَلَابِيبِ وَيُبْدِينَ عَيْنًا وَاحِدَةً (تفسير ابن كثير، سورة الأحزاب)
وَعَلَى هَذَا لَا يَحِلُّ النَّظَرُ إلَى عَوْرَةِ غَيْرِهِ فَوْقَ ثَوْبٍ مُلْتَزِقٍ بِهَا يَصِفُ حَجْمَهَا (رد المحتار، ج 6، ص 366، سعيد)