Top Ten Questions about the Niqab/Face Veil

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”

People are scared to ask what they think might be silly questions. Without these questions, however, you will always be in doubt. Recently asked about how her mum eats with her face veil, Amina Ahmed brings you the top ten questions people have about the niqab.

A Muslim woman covering her face will always be a hot topic and even though it has caused many controversies and been in the news more than it deserved, there are people who are still confused about what it’s all about.

The purpose of this article is not to convince you that it is the right thing, or even to tell you why the veil should or should not be worn. A quick Google search will bring up more arguments on that than you can read. I’m here to clear some of the misconceptions that people have about the life of a woman who covers her face.

1. How do you eat?

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The face covering can be lifted up, so to answer that question, lifting the niqab up and over your head is how it’s done. If there are people around, or more specifically, if there are men around, then you just have to lift it a little and stuff your face quickly.

It’s awkward and you might think it looks stupid, but who cares? You do what you have to do.

2. How do you manage wearing it at home? / Do you shower with that on?

No, we don’t. The niqab or face veil is to be worn, basically, in front of anyone who you can marry. So you don’t cover yourself in front of your dad, brothers, uncles, grandfather, etc. You get my point.

At home, we can wear what we like, as less or more as we like. We can dress just like you in front of our girlfriends or go to parties and be skimpily dressed as long as it’s only women!

3. Do your parents tell you to wear it?

Yes. But they can’t force me. I started covering my face when I was about twelve. I stopped wearing the veil when I was eighteen. Both were my own choices. Yes, there are people out there who are forced to wear it and any good Muslim would tell you that that is wrong. Niqab is a personal decision that a woman must make. There is no force in religion.

4. How do you interact with society while your face is covered?

People who are open-minded and who are worth my time will talk to me and get to know me before making a judgement regardless of what I wear. I interacted with loads of people in the years that I covered my face and I know that I changed a lot of people’s views about how we Muslim women are. When people spoke to me, they understood that I still have character, personality and most importantly, my own views and opinions under that covering.

People are quick to judge and that’s where the problem lies. If a woman is wearing too less she is automatically labelled a slut and if she is wearing too much, then she obviously has no existence. That’s not the case.

5. Covering your face isn’t necessary, so why do it?

Maybe so. In the Quran, God tells us to cover our beauty and be modest. This can be interpreted in many ways and that’s why this issue will be debated till the end of time.

Personally, I think God wanted us to be able to choose what we think is better in our situation and what is easy for us. He could have told us straight out to cover or not cover our face but He didn’t. I think covering your face is a good thing and props to those who go along with it, but I do not condemn anyone who doesn’t. Live and let live.

If some women can walk around practically naked, other women can cover themselves from head to toe. Freedom of expression.

6. What about on your passport and your oyster? You have to show your face then.

I promise she's human.
I promise she’s human.

Yes and yes we do. If it’s for security, medical or any official business, it’s fine. Women who cover their faces do go to the dentist, they have oysters and passports and they will show their faces when and where necessary.

Niqabi women may look frightening but they’re really just normal people going around doing their business.

 

7. How do you breathe?

My very own best friend asked that, and to answer your question: I really don’t know. But I have worn it for several years and know a handful of people who still do and we haven’t fainted as yet and seem to be breathing fine, thank you.

8. How do people recognize you when you’re walking down the street?

It’s funny, because they just do. Maybe your accessories give it away, or the way you walk or your eyes even but people seem to recognize you even though you are fully covered and literally nothing is showing.

9. Aren’t children embarrassed of their mothers/sisters who wear it?

If brought up the right way and if children love you for who you are, they won’t care what you wear. My brother is proud of my mum and would not be friends with anyone who made fun of her for covering her face.

Children should be taught not to judge anyone for what they wear. Everyone deserves to be given the chance to prove themselves before being labelled or made fun of.

10. So you’re saying that anyone who doesn’t cover themselves is wrong?

As I said, covering your face is a choice. Covering your hair with a scarf is a choice. Eating halal is a choice. Being a Muslim is a choice.

We, as imperfect humans, have no right to say who is right or wrong. A woman who covers her face may end up in hell because she’s a murderer. A woman who wears barely any clothes may go to heaven because she has the kindest heart.

Who am I to go around telling people they are right or wrong? How easy would it be to live in a world where people didn’t automatically jump to conclusions, judge and backchat about others?

Thank you for prompting me to write this article with your question. You know who you are. x

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15 thoughts on “Top Ten Questions about the Niqab/Face Veil”

  1. Amina:

    If I may, I have a question: As a male, is it disrespectful or offensive to smile or otherwise engage with a lady in niqab. I am a naturally friendly person and tend to smile at strangers and make eye contact because some people just need a smile.

    I am concerned this may be misinterpreted as an advance by her or her family and certainly do not want to engage in any inappropriate interaction. I am American and as such have not been regularly exposed to more fundamentalist Muslim culture whereas I travel frequently to Sri Lanka which is a melting pot of local cultures and is a popular destination for all religions from Saudi Arabia, Europe, and beyond but realize my natural outgoing smile may be very uncomfortable. I want to be culturally sensitive and I know many people will avert their eyes from a lady in niqab but I do not know if this is out of respect for the lady’s modesty or out of their own fear or discomfort.

    If you could share your guidance on the matter it would save me awkward embarrassment.

    Thank you for the well articulated article.

    1. Hi Wesley,

      Thankyou for taking the time out to leave a comment – I am glad that it helped you understand a few things.

      Though I am not qualified or knowledgable enough to answer your question in facts, I will give my opinion.

      I think it’s fine to be friendly and I’m sure most Niqabi’s do not mind saying hello or fulfilling the niceties. However, this is different for each individual and I think you just have to suss out what kind of person you are dealing with.

      When I used to cover myself (I don’t anymore), I was more than happy to talk to and have a chitchat with any and everyone. People averting their gaze because I’m covering myself is something that would really annoy me. But then, that’s just me.

      I do not for one moment believe that you are doing any wrong by being friendly and making the world a better place by filling it with smiles.

      I hope this helps and I’m sorry I could not give you a better and more definite answer.

      Regards.

      1. Thank you for the quick response. It seems there are no significant differences in expectations in interaction with a lady in a simple hijab vs full niqab. One should simply be respectful and be sensitive to responses and cues as in any other social situation.

        I’m sorry if I seem ignorant or uneducated here. I just would never want to offend someone by being overt nor by simply avoiding altogether. Nobody wants to be stared upon nor do most people want to be completely ignored as if they do not exist.

        Again, thanks for your reply.

        1. I don’t think you are ignorant at all. You’ve said it all mate – just have to judge the situation. And as long as you keep it professional, you shouldn’t have any problems.

          Glad to help. :)

  2. Asalamu alaykum sisiter. its wonderful how describe the life of Niqab sisters. I want to tell you that I have an interview summative about The Niqab at my school, so I copied your information. please forgive me. I didn’t take the picture thou I just copied the question and the answers than you Ukhti. if like to email me Azizwarsame@gmail.com

    1. Please refrain from copying my work without giving due credit. As nice as it is that you liked what I wrote, it took time and effort to write.

  3. I’m not going to try to ban your niqab. I’m not going to mistreat you. But a covered mouth is a sign that you don’t want to talk to me, and I will oblige. If you are “protecting” yourself from me, I won’t interfere.

  4. Beautifully written piece sister Mashallah,
    I would love to wear the Niqaab one day, unfortunately, for several reasons at present its just not practical, my dream would be to migrate one day God willing, I have always thought though that the women that do currently wear Niqaab in the west, are super brave Mashallah, I wear a Hijaab & Abaya and I think for most women that is hard enough, I don’t think enough credit is given to the struggles that Muslim women face wearing just the Hijaab alone, never mind the Abaya or Niqaab, so the women who wear Niqaab etc and in particular the unmarried ones, really are my superheros ;-)
    I do find it interesting though, that Muslim men tend to have an insatiable appetite for discussion on the Niqaab, and in my opinion, i do believe though thats really because of the culture among Muslim men to be extremely possessive of their women and want ownership of them, of course that is not true for all men, but i have found to be true for the most part sadly,

    1. Anna, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s always nice to hear my readers views.

      After wearing the Niqab for about seven years, I have left it myself due to various reasons. I wear only the Hijab now. However, I am still pro-choice and would fight for the rights of women who want to wear it.

      Like you said, it is an extremely difficult choice, especially when living in a Western society so we must look up to such women.

      However, we shouldn’t ever feel that we are doing less if we only wear the hijab. What is more important is what’s in the heart and what kind of person you are. I think a lot of Muslims today talk a lot about covering, praying, fasting, etc – which are important parts of our religion but an individual choice. What we should be focusing on as a society is being good humans, being just and kind to others and leading by example.

      So don’t ever feel like niqab is your only way forward. We in the West have the opportunity to show non-Muslims how amazing Islam is :)

  5. Hi. I hope you can answer a question for me;
    An elderly relative once made comment about women driving in niqab and how it must be like ‘looking through a letterbox’. My understanding of it is that it’s no worse than long hair, probably better because the niqab is tight against the forehead and temples, so it turns with your head. Does the niqab restrict vision at all?

    1. Hi,

      From my experience (I did not drive whilst wearing niqab) your vision isnt affected much at all. The way you’ve put it, is perfect actually – it’s no different to having long hair. I wear a scarf quite loose now so it’s more in the way than a tight niqab and I drive a transit van with no issues.

      1. I can vouch for this. My sister wears the niqab with the eye slit, and is a fantastic driver of 3 or four years, without a single accident. Many of my teachers , may Allah have mercy on them, wear the niqab with the net over the eyes even, and have never had a driving accident! i wrote my final exams at school in niqab, with no difficulty seeing the papers’ fine print, nor do I need glasses! truly, its something i mysf wirried about when i chose niqab, But its a non issue, and I love it :)

  6. Thank you for this lovely article, and all the questions and answers. I want to start wearing Niqab. What should I wear under the Niqab?

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