Why? Why? Why?

In the five or so years since I adopted Niqaab, I have been asked all sorts of questions about it. So, as FAQs (frequently asked questions) seem synonymous with The Net and computing, here are a few FAQs concerning Niqaab and Niqaabis. They are all extracted from actual e-mail and snail mail correspondence.

*** What is a Niqab? Where does it originate? ***

The Niqab is simply a veil that covers the wearer's face, normally leaving the eyes exposed. The ones we are talking about here are opaque and are not fashion statements! Its origins are lost in the mists of time, but it's usage grew more widespread with the expansion of Islam in the 15th and 16th Centuries.

*** Is veiling only to do with Islam? ***

We know that some Greek women and especially virtuous Roman women veiled their faces in public. And the same is true of the Persian Empire. So veiling as such pre-dates Islam as a form of modest concealment. But, in the three examples I have mentioned, the use of the veil was social and cultural, and had little or no religious significance.

*** What do you mean by the term 'Niqaabi'? ***

Niqaabi is just a slang term, like Hijaabi - one who wears Hijab. Or in this case, one who wears Niqab. More generally, it includes all sisters who cover their faces in public: some fully, some leaving the eyes exposed.

*** Are women that cover their faces different than the women that only cover their hair and not their faces? ***

I hope not! It is merely that our interpretation of Holy Writ differs from Sisters who do not veil themselves as we do.

*** Aren't we simply talking about clothing here? ***

Yes and No. Of course we dress differently to our sisters who do not veil their faces. But the main difference comes from the way we interpret the relevant passages from the Holy Qur'an and from Hadith. We view it as our duty to hide out faces; not for social or cultural reasons, but because it is what we believe we are told to do in the Holy Qur'an. Other sisters interpret the relevant passages from Holy Writ differently to us, so their 'clothing' will be different to that of a Niqaabi.

*** Is 'Hijab of the Eyes' something just done by Niqaabi and why?

Keeping one's gaze lowered is an instruction to be found in the Holy Qur'an. (Surah al Nur. 24:31) The previous verse also calls on men to do the same................... It is something that many (hopefully all) Niqaabis do but, from personal experience, it is a hard discipline to master.

*** I'm interested in the psyche of the one that wears the niqaab as opposed to the one that chooses not to. Do they become more religious? ***

I would not say that I was any more 'religious' than many of my Sisters who do not wear niqab. I do take my obligations as a muslimah seriously, but I do not think that makes me a 'better' sister than the many who chose not to veil themselves. I have non-niqaabi friends, many of whom out-strip me in piety and knowledge, and to whom I have turned for help in the past. Just wearing a niqaab and covering-up does not in any way guarantee a sister's religosity. It is what lies under the coverings that counts - what the wearer believes, how she acts, and how pure is her soul.

*** Do they assume a role different than the one that does not? ***

I would hope the role that every muslimah would aspire to would be a true servant of Almighty Allah and to eventually become a good wife and mother. So, in that, we are no different to any other well-intentioned muslimah.

Where differences do occur is in what was can NOT do. For example, I cannot go roller-blading, mountaineering or ski-ing, nor swim in public. I do not go to the theatre any more, nor to the cinema. But, for all that, I lead a full and interesting life which meets ALL my needs, both spiritual and intellectual.

*** Why do some muslimahs also veil their eyes? ***

The eyes have been described as 'the windows to the Soul' and they are very expressive. Regretfully some men see every glance by a woman as inviting, and therefore many Niqaabi conceal their eyes so as not to tempt or distract men who may see them in public.

*** Why do you wear gloves? ***

For two reasons. Firstly, if I cover up all the rest of my body, it seems a bit silly (and contrary to me beliefs) to have my hands exposed when they can be expressive in themselves. The second reason is the prevent me from touching haram items. For instance, my studies take me into libraries where there may be (there are, in one case) books bound in pig skin.

Finally, and this does not come from me, but is a statement made by another Niqaabi.

*** Isn't it very hot wearing those veils and all that clothing? ***

The sister replied, "Ah yes, but the fires of Hell are hotter still!"

If you have any further questions you would like answered about Niqaab or Niqaabi, please post them on the Bulletin Board. If your query is of a very personal nature (I am afraid that this applies ONLY to Muslimah), why not e-mail me at Niqab1@aol.com

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Last Updated May 5, 1999 by Amina