Q: I would like to enquire about niqaab (pardah). If you could please enlighten me on all the information that I need to know. I would like to go into pardah.
According to all the mazhabs, it is waajib for a woman to cover her face if she fears fitnah, i.e. attracting lustful gazes of men. Today this fitnah is imminent and wide-spread like never before, so this ruling will apply to a greater extent. The wearing of a veil for a woman is mentioned in Mawaahibul-Khaleel (Maaliki Mazhab,) Haashiyatul-Jumal (Shaafi Mazhab), Al-Mausoo’ah (Hambali Mazhab) and Raddul-Muhtaar (Hanafi Mazhab). Furthermore, there is a verse in the Quran that indirectly instructs women to cover their faces when going out. This is verse 59 of Surah 33 (Al-Ahzaab). Allah Ta’ala states in this aayat: “A Prophet! Tell your wives, your daughters, and the women of the Believers that they should draw over themselves their cloaks (when leaving the home).” Drawing the cloak over the body entails covering the entire body from head to toe, including the face. The Chief Commentator of the Holy Quran, Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) and Scholars after him said that the woman is allowed to leave just the eye open in order to see the way in front when walking. (Tafseer-e-Qurtubi). This verse is clear proof that a woman should cover her face as well when emerging from the home. (Tafseer Saabooni)
The face has to be covered when in front of menfolk. So if a woman is outdoors but there are no menfolk around, she is allowed to leave the face open. Likewise, when travelling in a vehicle she is allowed to leave the face open, unless there are men folk nearby who can see into the vehicle.
Sister, Allah reward you for your intention to go into purdah. Allah keep you firm and steadfast on your intention – aameen. I trust this information will help you in this matter. Feel free to write back if you need more information on the niqaab.
Mufti Siraj Desai