Doesn’t the Niqab Remove Women from Society?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I was going through an article where it says niqab is mandatory in Shafi fiqh. I was quite confused because when we use them, it feels like we aren’t recognized as our faces need to be seen so that people can identify when there are issues. In our community, a Mulla frowned when a young girl who was covered went to the stage to take her prize. I don’t understand why Islam is so strict?

It feels like we don’t have an identity. I don’t blame a girl who has reached a high position and wants to publicize herself in photo banners, because when we see when men win something, he is mostly like to know more than us. I feel discriminated against. This is not about clothing, this is about appreciation.

Answer

Thank you for your question. I am sorry that you feel that Islam doesn’t appreciate women, but Allah does appreciate women just as much as men.

Niqab

Although niqab is mandatory in the Shafi‘i school, according to the traditional books of the school, there is more than one scholar that recommends taking a dispensation to not cover the face, especially in the West. You are free to choose. Believe it or not, some might prefer the niqab, and they make valid arguments for it.

You will find the ruling of niqab here, detailed by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani:
Is It Necessary for Women to Wear the Niqab in the Hanafi School?

See these links as well:
Is Niqab Obligatory in Our Religion?
What Is The Ruling On The Burqa? [Video]

Frown

Don’t jump to conclusions about why the scholar frowned at the girl. He may have been thinking of something else. If he was disapproving of her taking her prize, he should be ignored. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a covered girl taking her prize from the stage. Don’t base your understanding of religion on one person who might have had the wrong facial expression. Please do your research, by taking courses on this beautiful religion and reviewing your personally obligatory knowledge. Please try our Step One courses to get your basics.

Appreciation

If you are looking for appreciation, look no further than this verse from the Quran. Allah Most High has said, “Surely ˹for˺ Muslim men and women, believing men and women, devout men and women, truthful men and women, patient men and women, humble men and women, charitable men and women, fasting men and women, men and women who guard their chastity, and men and women who remember Allah often—for ˹all of˺ them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” [Quran, 33:35]
Can You Help Me Understand My Role and Value as a Woman?

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.