There have been great debates on covering face in Islam. As per my knowledge, two great Sahaba, Abdullah Ibne Maso'od and Abdullah Ibne Abbas, have difference of opinion on the subject. Some people have raised objections that the scholars supporting face-covering is a mistake/deliberate attempt and then debates start about

  • What does this word mean in dictionary, Arabic culture and Sharia
  • Which scholar is right/great and which is wrong
  • Scholars are playing with words, devil, advocate of Satan
  • This is applicable to Ummahat ul Mominin only but not general women
  • etc

and even

  • The hadith/narrator is not authentic
  • Different behaviors/sayings of Mohammad Rasool Allah (SAWW) at different times

My Personal opinion is that we can not agree on one ruling because two Sahaba had differences even though they knew Arabic culture, language, Prophet's life, women veiling at that time, etc. Therefor, to avoid such debates and confusions, i have developed my own understanding, excluding all scholars, meanings and even Hadith (though one of the pillar of Islam but just because of their authenticity issues).

People say that 24:31 is ruling for veil inside house (A place where only those people live whom you trust on, they protect rather than harm you) based on its context.

People say that 33:59 is about veil outside the house (where untrusted people can harm you) based on its context.

Since i am considering in-house veil so let us consider 24:31, keeping meanings and explanations of Illa Ma Zahar Minha, Khumurihinn, Juyubihinn and Zeenatahunn aside as it will cause the debate again. This is clear that Allah has forbidden every believing women to SHOW their Zeenatahunn to people other than their husband, father, brother, son, etc. Lets consider

List of relations stated in the ayah = CLOSE_PEOPLE

Now translating Zeenatahunn with respect to every culture and language as Quran is for every single person. Again, in my personal opinion, i consider everything as Zeenatahunn which a woman wear/do/acquire/naturally-given/whatever to make herself look good/appealing/decent to men and/or women. Having said that, at the extreme level, Zeenatahunn would include whole body plus all ornaments including clothes, jewelry and cosmetics.

If Zeenatahunn means whole body or just private parts then why would Allah ask not to show it to others!!!. Won't it means women are allowed to or were showing whole body to CLOSE_PEOPLE? Reference of the culture of Arabs at that time is required here. I can't even imagine that a daughter/mother/sister is allowed to or willing to show whole body to her father/son/brother, not even religions other than Islam, i consider a woman will at least hide private parts from these people. So rejecting this meaning at all in my opinion.

Now Zeenatahunn could be some parts of body (including Face, Head, Ears, Hairs, Hands, Feet and Neck) other than private parts plus ornaments. Moreover as per my observation, all over the world, even the most conservative/strict/stubborn/stupid/illiterate/whatever woman would at least show her Face to CLOSE_PEOPLE and for other women, to the extreme, the list may extend to all people and more body areas including the Face at least. Having said that, Face is included in Zeenatahunn at least. And, since Face, Hands, Head, Hair and Feet are mainly the point of contention so considering only Face as a sample here.

Now we can say Face is part of Zeenatahunn for every single women on earth which they can show to their Fathers/Husbands/Sons/Brothers.

And this is the Zeenatahunn(Face) which Allah has allowed to show to CLOSE_PEOPLE and forbidden to show to others in the ayah.

Now a woman can include whatever area of her body and ornaments in Zeenatahunn, with respect to her culture (please note that I have excluded linguistic meanings and translations of Zeenatahunn at all just to avoid any confusion or debate), which she can or willing to show to her CLOSE_PEOPLE and, ultimately, can not show to people other than CLOSE_PEOPLE even if they are in-house.

Is this opinion/understanding correct? If not then please provide proofs. I am sure there will be contradicting opinions as well. Please no tafsir or comments but just authentic ahadith which are acceptable to all and Quranic verses.

Edit 1 Here is the debate again which i tried to avoid.

There are 3 events quoted by @Sayyid in his comments. I do not know their timestamp whether before or after the hijaab ruling, whether to accept these as basis because at that time there were slaves and men were having children with slave women, the Prohpet struggled to establish Caliphate and there was Jihaad. Now Scholars have different opinions about all these. And, we end up with, debates again.

EITHER we agree that there are different opinions so one can accept/follow whatever suites him/her sincerely and change the practice if finds the other one more sensible/appealing OR we PROVE it which is almost impossible because there is no 1+1=2 i.e. "COVER YOUR FACE..." and "DO NOT COVER YOUR FACE...", literally.

One more thing, which i am unable to understand is that if Zeenah is artificial beauty and not natural beauty (husn). Zeenah is clothing, perfume, jewelry etc.@Sayyid then why does clothing, perfume, jewelry etc are not as appealing to me as a woman's Face. I find women appealing not because of their beautiful cloths covering their body but their beautiful Faces. I don't think an ugly-face woman wearing the finest cloths covering her whole body except the face and wearing expensive jewelry and perfume would attract me at all, i would rather inclined towards a woman covering her body with a simple Khimar/Jilbab but her beautiful and attractive face without any makeup is open. Am i against the nature or what? Why Allah has ordered women to cover their cloths, which are not appealing to me, and keep their Faces, which are appealing to me, uncovered? Did Al-Fadl looking at the Face or the Cloths of that woman?

  • 1
    @DavidWallace My intentions are just to get strong references from Quran and Sahi Ahadis which i might have missed while building my own point of view.
    – bjan
    Dec 26, 2013 at 6:26

2 Answers 2


The best explanation and practice of those Quranic ayaat was done by Rasulullah himself.

There's no authentic hadith, not a single one, from the Prophet Mohammed commanding women to cover their faces. And there are several Sahih narrations telling us the women had their faces uncovered outside of their homes in front of non-mahram men while the Prophet Mohammed was present. And he didn't rebuke them nor tell them to cover their faces.

This is indisputable and sufficient proof that the face veil is not part of Hijab. I've brought this up to at least 27 scholars and not one of them could disprove this historical fact.

When we refer things back to the teachings of Rasulullah, they're very easy to understand.

Also keep in mind, that a woman isn't allowed to show her zeenah to her uncles. The Quranic ayah 24:31 doesn't include paternal nor maternal uncles.

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    "there are several Sahih narrations telling us the women had their faces uncovered outside of their homes in front of non-mahram men" <- @Sayyid, can you please provide some references?
    – Najeeb
    Mar 10, 2014 at 5:20
  • Is there any undisputed strong explanation of Zeenatahunn by Muhammad Rasoolullah? What do you say about the differences of Ibne Masood and Ibne Abbas? What is the authenticity of their differences?
    – bjan
    Mar 10, 2014 at 5:23
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  • @bjan The reports related to ibn Masud and ibn Abbas first need to be proven if they're authentic. If you can do that it would be good. Second, if they're true, their words aren't evidence because they weren't prophets of Allah. The words of Prophet Mohammed are the only one's that can be used as Islam. As for the word "zeenah," the word wasn't specifically defined by the Prophet, therefore, we accept it as it means in Arabic = adornment, embellishment, decoration. This ayah also shows Hijab is not a fashion. It's something simple.
    – Sayyid
    Mar 13, 2014 at 0:42
  • @bjan Zeenah is artificial beauty and not natural beauty (husn). Zeenah is clothing, perfume, jewelry etc. like in Quran 7:31 is talking about wearing clothing and Prophet forbade women from wearing perfume and incense to masjid. So for women, they first have to wear clothing because they're not supposed to be naked except with their husbands. Then, when there are strangers, they cover their beauty (clothes) with khimar (alnoor) and jilbab (alahzaab)...
    – Sayyid
    Mar 13, 2014 at 0:56

حدثنا حفص عن حجاج عن محمد بن سليمان عن عمه سهل بن أبي حثمة عن محمد بن مسلمة قال : خطبت امرأة فجعلت أتخبأ لها حتى نظرت إليها في نخل لها فقيل: أتفعل هذا وأنت صاحب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ؟ قال : فقلت : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : إذا ألقى الله في قلب امرئ منكم خطبة امرأة فلا بأس أن ينظر إليها .

Translation: Hafs told us hearing from Haggag the son of Soliman from his uncle Sahl the son of Abi-Hathma that Mohammad the son of Maslama said: "I engaged a woman so I kept hiding from her until I saw her among some of her palm trees. Somebody said: "Do you do so when you are a friend (Sahib) of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)?! I said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying: 'If Allah made somebody of you want to engage a woman, then it is okay that they look at her' "

So if he allowed the man who wants to engage a woman to look at her so it is not allowed in normal state, or else he wouldn't say that, right?

And Allah knows best.

  • -1 The hadith refers to seeing the woman without Hijab when you want to propose to them.
    – user12537
    Dec 2, 2015 at 15:46

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