“Whoever trails his garment out of pride, Allaah will not look at him on the day of judgement.“ So Umm Salamah (ra) asked: “Then what should the women do with the hems of their dresses?“ The Prophet (saw) said: “Let them extend their hems the length of a hand span.“ She said: “But their feet would still be exposed.“ So he replied: “Then let them extend it a forearm’s length and no more.” [Aboo Daawood]
Ibn ‘Uthaymeen comments:
“There is evidence in this hadeeth that a woman is obligated to cover her feet. This was a well known matter amongst the female companions. Without a doubt, the foot is less a place of fitnah than the face and hands.
Thus, warning against something that is a lesser danger also consists of a warning against what is greater and superior than it, based on the wisdom of the Last Revelation.
Would it obligate the covering of an area that is less a place of fitnah, and allow the exposure of that which is a greater area of fitnah? Indeed this is a clear contradiction that is not possible for the wisdom of Allaah and His Legislation.”
[Taken From “The Four Essays On The Obligation Of Veiling”, Ch. 2: “An Essay On Hijaab” By Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, p.39]
Some scholars claim that the niqaab (face veil) is not an obligation, using as evidence the following narration:
“Asmaa Bint Abee Bakr entered in the presence of Allaah’s Messenger whilst wearing a thin, transparent garment. So the Messenger of Allaah turned away from her saying: “O Asmaa Indeed when a woman reaches the age of puberty, it is not allowed that any of her be seen except for this and this.” And he pointed to his face and hands.” [Aboo Daawood]
Ibn ‘Uthaymeen refutes this claim and says about this hadeeth:
“As for the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah, then it is da’eef (weak) based on two aspects:
1) The break in the chain between ‘Aa’ishah and Khaalid Bin Duraik, which was reported by Aboo Daawood, who noted the deficiency himself when he stated that Khaalid Bin Duraik never heard from ‘Aa’ishah. Aboo Haatim Ar-Raazee, may Allaah have mercy upon him, also mentioned this weakness.
2) One of the narrators in its chain is Sa’eed Bin Basheer An-Nasree, a settler in damascus, who was renounced by Ibn Mahdee and declared weak by Imaam Ahmad, Ibn Ma’een, Ibn Madeenee, and An-Nisaa’ee. Due to this, the hadeeth is da’eef and cannot be used as an argument against the authentic hadeeths mentioned previously, which prove the obligation of veiling (of the face and hands).
Any person with common sense will not doubt that… the face is the chief area of temptation, thus it is an obligation to cover it… Men and women should keep their hearts pure, and this cannot be accomplished except by preventing the means that lead to fornication and shutting down its avenues, the greatest of which is encountering a woman and enjoying a look at her uncovered face, (perhaps) with decorated eyes, arched eyebrows, and dyed fingernails. So fear Allaah O you who call to the unveiling of women, and fear a day that Allaah has prepared for Recompense…
Whoever claims that a woman has the right to uncover her face and hands in front of male-strangers, he has steered away from the truth and correctness. If he is form those who are qualified to make investigations and ijtihaad (come up with rulings), and he is free from deviations, then he receives the reward for his ijtihaad, and his error is pardoned.
However, it is not permissible to follow him in that opinion. But if he is not from this kind of people, then none of his opinions and arguments should be given any regard since the truth has more right to be followed (than individuals).
[Taken from “Four Essays On The Obligation Of Veiling” Ch.4: The Obligation Of Veiling The Hands And Face, by Sh. Zayd Ibn Muhammad Ibn Haadee Al-Madkhalee, Pp. 81-82]
“So every affair taht is purely good or of which the good is superior to its evil, then it is prescribed in the religion as something either obligatory or recommended. And every affait that is purely evil or of which the evil is superior to its good, then it is prescribed in the religion as something either forbidden or disliked.”
[Taken from “Four Essays On The Obligation Of Veiling” Ch. 2: An Essay On Hijaab, p. 41]
Ibn Mas’ood reported that the Messenger of Allaah said: “The woman is ‘awrah.”
This is a clear-cut proof that every part of a woman is ‘awrah (i.e. must be covered) in front of male strangers, whether that includes her face, or any otter part of her body. In fact, her face and hands have the most right to be covered since they are the areas that are sought after by men and the places of enticement from women.
Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal understood well the aforementioned hadeeth of Ibn Mas’ood, as he said:
“A woman’s fingernail is ‘awrah (i.e. it must be covered). So when she goes out from her home, she must not reveal any part of herself, not even her khuff (sock), for the chuff describes the foot. What is preferred, in my opinion, is that she put a button on her sleeve where her hand is so that nothing could be exposed from her.”
Many scholars and Imaams throughout the history of time have come up with the same understanding of the hadeeth of Ibn Mas’ood and other similar texts as that of Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal – that the entire body of a woman is ‘awrah without the exception of the face and hands…
As for the logical proof, then from the things which there is no doubt according to sane and unbiased people is that the fitnah involved in a woman unveiling her face and hands is greater than that of her exposing her feet, foe which the Prophet (saw) ordered the women to lengthen the hems of their dresses by a forearm’s length so that their feet would not be exposed.”
[Taken from “Four Essays On The Obligation Of Veiling” Ch.4: The Obligation Of Veiling The Hands And Face, by Sh. Zayd Ibn Muhammad Ibn Haadee Al-Madkhalee, Pp. 82-83]
“Male riders would pass by us while we (wives) were in the state of ihraam with the messenger of Allaah. When they would approach us, (each) one of us would let her jilbaab fall down from (the top of) her head over her face. And when they had passed on, we would uncover our faces.” [Ahmad, Aboo Daawood and Ibn Maajah]
Ibn ‘Uthaymeen comments:
“In her statement: “When they (male riders) would approach us, (each) one of us would let her jilbaab fall down from (the top of) her head over her face” is a proof for the obligation of covering the face. this is because when one is in the state of ihraam, it is obligatory to uncover the face. So if it were not for the strong restriction against exposing teh face, it would have been obligatory for them (i.e. the Prophet’s wives) to remain uncovered, even in the presence of the male riders.(1)
To clarify this point further: Uncovering the face in the state of ihraam is obligatory on all women, according to the majority of scholars. And the obligatory act does not get overridden, except by something else that is obligatory (to a strionger degree). Therefore, if veiling the face in front of make strangers were not obligatory, it would not have been permitted to abandon the obligatory act of exposing the face in the state of ihraam.
Shaykh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said: ‘This hadeeth is from that which shows us that the face veil (niqaab) and the gloves were widely known to women who were not in ihraam. This is evidence for teh covering of their faces and hands.’ “
(1) What the shaykh means here is taht those in ihraam are obligated to uncover their faces, however ‘Aa’ishah would cover her face in the presence of male riders, so it is only obvious to assume that there is a stroniger obligation overiding this obligation (of those in ihraam uncvering their faces). So even though someone in ihraam must uncover their face, the obligation of a woman covering her face is an even stronger obligation.
[Taken from “Four Essays On The Obligation Of Veiling” Ch. 2: An Essay On Hijaab, Pp. 40-41]