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April 16, 2011
Beyond Facial Veiling for US Muslims
In light of the heated debate over the so-called "burqa ban" in France, I consulted the website of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) -- the mainstream Islamic organization that trains US imams, and offers advice to individual US Muslims -- to read their views on the subject. Not only did AMJA post a fatwa strongly endorsing facial veiling, Salah al-Sawy, the head of AMJA's fatwa council ruled that a women's feet should be covered, resulting in head to toe coverage. The latter ruling, with slight editing, recalls one of my favorite Fats Waller tunes, which includes these words, "Don't want ya, 'cause ya feets too big.Can't use ya, 'cause ya feets too big. I really hate ya, 'cause ya feets too big."
First the vigorous support for facial veiling of US Muslim women:
Question: In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful Peace, blessings and mercy of Allah be upon you. Is wearing the full veil (Niqab) an obligatory duty on the Muslim woman, or not? For, I wear the full Islamic dress (Hijab) sixteen years ago, but I did not wear the full veil (Niqab), in belief that it is not an obligatory duty. However, my husband says it is an obligatory duty, and whoever does not wear it, she would be counted as sinful, though we live in Sweden, and such act would be a little bit difficult for us there. Please, kindly counsel us and support your answer with evidences, and Jazakumu Allahu Khairan.
In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful Peace, blessings and mercy of Allah be upon you. Praise be to Allah, prayers and peace be upon His kind Messenger, his family members, his companions and true followers until the Day of Judgment. The evidences from the Quraan and the Sunnah show that a Muslim woman should cover her face, as Allah the Almighty says: "O Prophet Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And God is Oft Forgiving, most Merciful", (Quraan, 33:59). The "outer garment" is the head cover that also covers parts of the face. Dear sister, you have to fear Allah in this matter, and combine between the two responses and obedience of the two orders: the order of Allah the Almighty; and the order of your husband. There is no doubt that in doing this act, you will have the goodness and the well-being as an obedient wife, and at the same time, this matter will make your husband happy and your house cheerful, and if you feel bored with this act, I assure you that with patience you will feel happy by being accustomed to wearing it. There are so many sisters who abide now by wearing the full veil (Niqab), though they regretted the bad old days when they used to uncover their heads and faces, and they feel proud now of wearing it. Moreover, there are many sisters who abandoned their husbands because they wanted to press them to take off their full veils (Niqab)! Therefore, think of the great difference between your condition now and theirs. Where do find now those who care for the well-being and chastity and virtues of their women?! They are very few! Should we give up this "few", or should we thank them and encourage them for doing such good deeds that would promote goodness in the Muslim societies?! We would remind you, dear sister, to fear Allah, and be along with those who do good deeds of the Muslim women who responded to the order of Allah Who says: "And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband`s fathers, their sons, their husband`s sons, their brothers or their brother`s sons, or their sister`s sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards God, that ye may attain Bliss", (Quraan, 24: 31). `Aiyeshah, may Allah have mercy on her, narrated that: "When this verse was revealed upon the prophet, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him the immigrant Muslim women took their garments and ripped them from the laces so as to make head and face covers from them", (reported by Al-Bukhari). You must wear the full veil (Niqab) that covers the whole body. Unless there would be a risk for you in the non-Muslim lands that would expose you to jeopardy if you wear the full veil (Niqab) there! Allah knows best.
Second, AMJA Fatwa council Salah al-Sawy's ruling on full bodily coverage literally down to the feet:
Question: Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullaahi Ta'aala Wa Barakaatuh. I would like to know: is the sock obligated for the veiled woman as part of the Islamic Hijab? Wassalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullaahi Ta'aala Wa Barakaatuh.
Fatwa In the Name of Allaah, the Benevolent, the Merciful. All praise belongs to Allaah, and may peace and blessings be upon the messenger of Allaah, and upon his family, companions, and those allied with him. The obligatory when it comes to the Islamic Hijab is to cover the two feet whether by socks or otherwise because the foot is 'awrah (nakedness that must be covered in Islamic law) according to the correct scholarly opinion. Of the evidences for this are: what has been authenticated on behalf of Ibn 'Umar, may Allaah be pleased with them both, on behalf of the prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, that he said: "Whoever drags his garment out of arrogance, Allaah will not look at him on the day of Resurrection." Um Salamah said: Then what should the women do with their lengthy capes? He said: "Let it fall one handspan." She said: Their feet would be uncovered! He said: "Then let it fall an arm's length, and not any more than that." [Narrated by An-Nasaa'i, At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Maalik, Abu Dawud, Ibn Maajah, & Ad-Daarimi in their 'Sunan', and authenticated by Al-Albani in 'As-Silsilah As-Saheehah' - #460]. This is clear evidence, and was used as proof by An-Nawawi and others that the two feet are 'awrah and they are not allowed to be uncovered in front of men. In our present time, it is possible to wear socks to cover instead of dragging the garments an arm's length on the ground. It was narrated that Um Salamah asked the prophet: Can a woman pray in a Dir' (i.e. thobe/robe) and Khimar (i.e. head covering) without an Izar (i.e. lower garment)? So he said: "There is no harm if the Dir' is lengthy, covering the tops of her two feet." [Narrated by Abu Dawud, Al-Haakim, and verified by Adh-Dhahabi]. It was narrated by Maalik with a 'Mawqoof' chain in 'Al-Muwatta' on behalf of Muhammad ibn Zayd ibn Qunfadh on behalf of his mother that she asked Um Salamah, the wife of the prophet: What kind of clothes does a woman pray in? She replied: She prays in a Khimar and long Dir' if it hides the tops of her two feet. This narration was preferred by Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar and said: It is the correct one. May Allaah increase you in cautiousness and success. And Allaah, the Most High, knows best.