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Although I have seen many questions on the topic of covering the face, the answers all seem to be in the direction of giving evidence that it is not necessary.

However, I wish to know what are the evidences used by the scholars that claim that covering the face along with the rest of the body except the eyes is mandatory, and which scholars and schools supported this view.

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The following is some of the evidence used to argue that covering the face is obligatory for women in respect to non-mahram men:

  • The alternate interpretation of the Quranic verse:

    ولا يبدين زينتهن إلا ما ظهر منها

    And to not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof

    Quran 24:31

    As tafsir traditions are recorded from Ibn Masu'd that the exception here means clothing only. See Tafsir al-Tabary. This implies that covering everything is required and hence even the face must be covered as it is possible to cover it.

    أي لا يظهرن شيئا من الزينة للأجانب إلا ما لا يمكن إخفاؤه، قال ابن مسعود: كالرداء والثياب،... وقال بقول ابن مسعود: الحسن، وابن سيرين، وأبو الجوزاء، وإبراهيم النخعي، وغيرهم

    Means, they should not show anything of their adornment to non-Mahram men except for whatever it is impossible to hide. Ibn Mas'ud said: "Such as clothes and outer garments" ... Al-Hasan, Ibn Sirin, Abu Al-Jawza', Ibrahim An-Nakha'i and others also had the same view as Ibn Mas'ud

    Tafsir Ibn Kathir

  • The following verse:

    يا أيها النبي قل لأزواجك وبناتك ونساء المؤمنين يدنين عليهن من جلابيبهن ذلك أدنى أن يعرفن

    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

    Quran 33:59

    As the apparent meaning of this verse is to cover everything, and no exception is mentioned. 'Bring down over themselves' means on their entire selves, including the face. It is even explicitly narrated from some of the salaf that this means that a woman should cover everything, see Tafsir al-Tabary.

    وقال ابن عباس وأبو عبيدة : أمر نساء المؤمنين أن يغطين رؤسهن ووجوههن بالجلابيب إلا عينا واحدة ليعلم أنهن حرائر

    Ibn Abbas and Abu Ubaidah said: This is a command to believing women to cover their heads and faces with their Jilbab except for one eye (which is necessary to see) so that it is known that they are free women and not slaves

    Tafsir al-Baghawy

    It is also argued that this verse implies that the covering of the wives of the Prophet ﷺ and other Muslim women is the same. It is agreed upon that the wives of the Prophet ﷺ must cover their faces and so the same applies to other Muslim women.

  • The following verse:

    فاسألوهن من وراء حجاب ذلكم أطهر لقلوبكم وقلوبهن

    When you ask for something, ask them from behind a partition. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts.

    Quran 33:53

    As it commands keeping a veil between two individuals and does not make any exception for the face or hands.

  • The following verse:

    والقواعد من النساء اللاتي لا يرجون نكاحا فليس عليهن جناح أن يضعن ثيابهن غير متبرجات بزينة وأن يستعففن خير لهن

    And women of post-menstrual age who have no desire for marriage - there is no blame upon them for putting aside their outer garments [but] not displaying adornment. But to modestly refrain [from that] is better for them.

    Quran 24:60

    As what it means is the Jilbab: the outermost article of clothing that covers the whole body including the face, as the face is no longer considered attractive or an adornment. It is established that no other part of the body can be uncovered.

    لا خلاف في أن شعر العجوز عورة لا يجوز للأجنبي النظر إليه كشعر الشابة ... وفي ذلك دليل على أنه إنما أباح للعجوز وضع ردائها بين يدي الرجال بعد أن تكون مغطاة الرأس، وأباح لها بذلك كشف وجهها ويدها; لأنها لا تشتهى

    There is agreement that the hair of an old woman, just like a young woman, are 'awrah which can not be seen by stranger men ... and this is evidence that an old woman is only permitted to remove her outer clothing in front of men provided that her head remains covered, and by it Allah permitted for her to uncover her face and hands because they do not evoke desire

    Tafsir al-Jassas

    The verse says that there is no blame\sin on old women who do this, which implies that there is blame\sin for a young woman who does it.

  • The hadith:

    المرأة عورة، وإنها إذا خرجت استشرفها الشيطان، وإنها لا تكون إلى وجه الله أقرب منها في قعر بيتها

    Woman is ‘awrah (that which must be concealed), and when she goes out the Shaytaan’s hopes are raised. She is never closer to Allaah than in the inner part of her house.

    Sahih Ibn Khuzaimah and Saheeh Ibn Hibban

    As its apparent meaning is that the whole of a woman is 'awrah. The face is included by default.

  • The hadith:

    قالت عائشة ... خرجت مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بعد ما نزل الحجاب ... فأتاني فعرفني حين رآني، وكان يراني قبل الحجاب، فاستيقظت باسترجاعه حين عرفني فخمرت وجهي بجلبابي

    Aisha said: ... So I proceeded with Allah's Apostle after Allah's order of veiling (the women) had been revealed ... Safwan came to me and recognized me on seeing me for he used to see me before veiling. I got up because of his saying: "Inna Li l-lahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun," which he uttered on recognizing me. I covered my face with my garment.

    Bukhari

    This hadith shows that the sahabiyat understood the verse of hijab to mandate covering the face. As it is only covering the face which prevents recognition and otherwise there is no point in saying that Safwan only recognized Aisha because he had seen her before the revelation of the verse.


As for the ahadith which say or imply that the face can be uncovered they are explained by the scholars who who hold this view as follows:

They were from a time before the verse of hijab was revealed. After the revelation of the verse that concession has been abrogated and now it is required to cover the face as well.

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  • Jazakumullahu khairan, Most of these are good, but the last one is not evidence because everyone agrees the Mothers of the Believers covered their faces.
    – The Z
    Nov 27, 2023 at 19:49
  • ذلكم أطهر لقلوبكم وقلوبهن there seems to be a typo in the Quranic ayah, please correct. JazakAllah for this informative answer. Dec 2, 2023 at 4:40

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