Question

Assalamu alaikum Sheikh Shams, hope you’re well. Can I please ask your advice on something? I have a proposal and they have said whether I’d wear niqab, I’m not sure as I haven’t thought about it much before. It’s something I have to do because I want to, is that right, and for Allah? I feel like coming to that decision could take time, I don’t know whether to just wear it if I want the proposal to progress but that seems wrong just wearing it because they want me to. But I fear if I don’t come at it myself I might change my mind after. Is that common for alims to ask that of their wives? I just feel uncomfortable that they’ve asked that, like I feel the decision needs to come from the woman and not sure if they understand that. Maybe I’m wrong in the way I’m looking at this. I don’t think the proposal will go further if I don’t wear niqab. And we have just exchanged CVs, we haven’t met

Answer

Alims ask potential spouses to wear the niqab or expect it because of one of two reasons: firstly, they believe it is obligatory (it is a matter of difference of opinion) so they won’t compromise on it; secondly, their social and religious circle expects a Alim’s wife to wear the niqab and it would be embarrassing for them not to conform. Often both things are true which is why what you have experienced is quite common.

What you do now is entirely up to you. It is a personal decision. All I will say about the niqab is that it is a matter of difference of opinion as to whether it is obligatory or not. I am of the view that it is not. Others hold the opposite view and both views are valid in our tradition.

The opinion you personally follows depends on either your own learning and leaning and on the which scholar/s you trust and follow.

Therefore both you and the alim you are considering are not to blame for the opinion that is being held and whether or not one is willing to accept a spouse holding and practising the opposite view. These things cannot be dictated by others. Whether you accept the proposal or not, or whether he accepts you or not is a matter of compatibility and choice. Sometimes, compatibility can boil down to these things and there is nothing wrong with that.

You can read more about the niqab in this article in our main blog section.

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