Should a woman leave burqa/Niqab/Hidjab/not cover her face, if her husband forces her to,and threatens her to divorce?
I think the problem here is that traditionally also a lot of Arab cultures (and some non-Arab as well), have had women dress modestly.
Combine that with these two verses from the Quran:
O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. 33:59
And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed. 24:31
Now we have the baseline to discuss this problem. However, first I must stress that you cannot combine these words together, as they mean entirely different things:
Burqa - this is the name of a traditional covering worn by women in some countries. Most prominent in Afghanistan and surrounding countries. It is a complete head to toe covering. It covers the entire body, and leaves only room for the eyes (in some traditions, even the eyes are covered but with a mesh).
Niqab - This refers to a garment that specifically covers the face, but not the eyes. Its designed to cover the nose, mouth, cheeks. It does not cover anything above the cheekbones.
Hijab - This is a large garment that covers both the head, and the upper part of the chest. It does not cover the face.
The key requirement from Islam is:
- Women to be modestly dressed.
- Act with modesty ("reduce [some] of their vision" / "And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment.")
- Not "exhibit" themselves ("not expose their adornment except that which appears thereof").
- Protect their chastity ("guard their private parts")
The idea being you do not encourage lust from your side (as a female, by looking at males), and also prevent males from looking at you in lust.
Nowhere does it specifically state that you must "cover your face". In fact, in many muslim countries, women only wear the hijab (cover their hair, ears, neck, chest) and then dress in loose fitting, full length clothing.
Sometimes, as a convenience they will wear the abaya which is a loose full length coat. (Abaya literally means cloak) which allows them an easy way to keep their "normal" clothes on while going out in public and yet remain modest.
Anything beyond this is more of a cultural/traditional norm, and not an Islamic norm. Even though it may be born from Islamic teachings.
Coming back to the husband issue, first and foremost - a husband (or any guardian) cannot compel you to do anything against your religion.
Covering of your face is not a requirement. However, if you believe that this will prevent unwanted attention, then feel free to do this. My sister sometimes covers her face when she feels that she is being gawked at (even though she wears the abaya and hijab); but my mother for example, never covers her face.
There can be no doubt however that threatening with divorce is just plain carelessness from the part of the husband. Divorce in Islam is not to be taken lightly.
And Allah Knows Best.
Such a husband is sinning as that would be an example of blackmail, and blackmail is an evil sin. You can read about the sin of blackmail here: http://islamqa.org/hanafi/askimam/29632
Here are some examples of blackmail:
A husband telling her that he will divorce her if she continues reading the quran.
A husband telling her that he will divorce her if she continues praying 5 times a day.
A husband telling her that he will divorce her if she doesn't stop appropriate hijab (burqa for example).
Anyway, going back to the burqa blackmail issue, here is a quote from a fatwa by reputable scholars which includes authentic islamic texts if you read the full fatwa:
The woman’s dress as prescribed in sharee’ah (“Islamic dress”) is that which covers her head, face and all of her body.**
Full fatwa here: http://islamqa.info/en/21134
That fatwa which has authentic references clearly explains the importance of hijab. The most important thing in a chaste muslim womans life is her modesty/awra.
A husband does not have a right to over-rule Gods rules.
So if the wife falls victim to such blackmail, such a husband will blackmail her for the rest of her life most likely. This would most like be the beginning of what the rest of her life would be like, i.e. blackmail after blackmail. Is such a man really worth it? Is a marriage based on blackmail really worth saving?
First we have to determine whether Nikab/Hijab a religious obligation or not? I have shared my opinion that it is not a religious obligation, in answer to this question.. Please read the referred link in the answer for more details.
If the woman is satisfied by the argument, then there is no problem leaving it on request of her husband.
If the woman thinks that Nika/Hijab is a religious obligation, then she has to consider the fact the a husband is given a level above the wife.If she feels that she is forced to do something unwillingly in a situation in which she does not have the power, even then it is expected that God will forgive her.
One should also consider the fact that Allah lays great stress on the institution of family and matters of breaking this institution are to be taken as a last resort. If the wife, seeing the importance of family, decides to bear this injustice, it may weigh heavily in her good deeds on the day of resurrection.
Also if she decided to continue the marriage, it is expected that she can convince her husband to let her wear hijab. If the marriage is broken then there is no chance of that.
Another option is bring this up with the elders so that the husband can be forced to let wear hijab. They would (should) be intervening any way if things come to divorce.
To reiterate, I would say, please leave Nikab/Hijab and save your marriage.
According to Quran one husband shouldn't force his wife to take Burqa off, now if he does and threatens her to divorce, best thing is to settle down things and take them with ease, what most important for a woman, a marriage (as a holy relationship) or a piece of tissue that even God didn't oblige you to wear ? I think that the husband and the marriage + the good stability of the children is more important than breaking and divorcing over a tissue that is not even obligatory to wear. reason, reason !!