Niqab is Mustahabb

Niqab is Mustahabb

The word "mustahabb" means "seeking the love (of Allah SWT)". A hadith qudsi beautifully describes the way to seek the love of Allah SWT:
Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet said, "Allah said: My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him"
found in Sahih Bukhari
Our service of Allah SWT through our obedience of whatever He has commanded us draws us near to Him, and by doing more than has been commanded of us, we may draw nearer to Him still, inshallah.
Clearly, hijab is a command from Allah SWT and sisters draw near to Him through wearing hijab. And clearly, doing more than has been commanded is a way to draw still nearer to Allah SWT.

When a sister is already covering everything but her face and her hands, and she would like to do something extra to seek the love of Allah SWT, the only things left for her to cover are - her face and her hands!

Even if there were no other reason to wear niqab, surely this would be enough! How can it be "extreme" to wear niqab or gloves when her face and her hands are the only things the Muslim sister has uncovered in public to begin with??

Niqab as haya
The word "haya" is often translated into English as "shyness", but this does not really give a very good idea of its meaning in Arabic. A better, if longer, translation of its meaning might be "keeping private what should be private".

Islam places a very great importance on privacy, and on keeping private what should be private. Hijab is in fact part of a larger code of conduct, and constitutes only one aspect of haya.

Allah SWT has through the Shari’a clearly distinguished between public and private space and placed a screen (i.e., hijab) between them. Private space is physically divided from public space and strongly protected against any incursion (Surah an-Nur ayat 27-29).
 What people do in private space has also been protected and screened. 
This is accomplished by the bans on speculation, gossip and spying (Surah an-Nur ayat 12-13 and Surah al-Hujurat ayat 11-12). 
What is private must be kept private, by the physical protection of walls and by the conduct of Muslims in not talking about it, speculating over it, or looking into it. The same rule applies to the physical person, as what is not necessary to be displayed for some task should be covered (or, as the Quran says in Surah an-Nur ayah 31, women are "not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it"). Furthermore, in the private space of the home and family, rules are relaxed. People within the special group of family may visit freely (Surah an-Nur ayah 61) and be at ease in dress (Surah an-Nur ayah 31). By contrast, in public space, rules are strict. This includes not only dress but also conduct: physical contact should be avoided, talk should be business-like, and khulwa (i.e., an unrelated man and woman being alone together) should be avoided. In the dress, speech, and behaviour of the Muslim, there should be a screen which separates the public (that which is necessary to be made known) and the private (that which is not necessary to be made known).

From this, we can see that hijab is a screen of privacy, an act of haya. Clearly, it is mustahabb to screen our privacy even more than has been commanded. We can respect other peoples' privacy more carefully through avoiding speculation, gossip, and spying; and we can protect our own privacy more carefully through taking extra steps in modest dress, in avoiding physical contact and khulwa with non-mahrams, and in keeping conversation with non-mahrams to the minimum necessary to conduct our business. For sisters, as stated above, that extra degree in modest dress must and can only be niqab and gloves.

Niqab as taqwa
We can also look at another aspect. Sometimes people criticize Islam or Muslims for being too concerned with outward things and not concerned enough with inner things. It is true that this can lead to hypocrisy. Yet we should not be discouraged by hypocrites or let them push us to the opposite extreme of saying that outward things are not important at all.

Sometimes the outward things help us develop the inner, by making us more aware of Allah SWT. This awareness that Allah SWT is watching us is called in Arabic "taqwa".

Hijab can increase taqwa. When a sister sees her own reflection and her hijab, or when she becomes aware of it as she wears it, she may be reminded that she dresses like this because Allah SWT has ordered it, and because she knows that He is aware of what she does. These thoughts may inspire her to behave in the best possible manner.

So just think how much more of a reminder niqab is!

As well, for many sisters, hijab is a spiritual jihad because it often seems so difficult to wear. At times we may be forced to look deep into ourselves and find our faith and our courage. This provides many spiritual benefits in itself, and an increase of taqwa.

Again, just think how much more of a challenge niqab is, and how much greater the benefits when the nafs (inner self) has been conquered!

These are just some of the ways that niqab is mustahabb, some of the qualities and benefits of hijab that niqab is an extra degree of. Even if there were no record in the Shari'a of niqab, yet all of these reasons would still be true, and it would still be mustahabb to wear niqab.

Hijab is a screen of privacyNiqab is a better screen
Hijab helps develop taqwaNiqab helps develop more taqwa
Hijab is a jihad that purifies the soulNiqab is a greater jihad
Hijab is a protection for sistersNiqab is a better protection
Hijab is an assertion of Islamic identityNiqab is a stronger assertion
Hijab is fardNiqab is mustahabb



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