This shows that even the women of Jannah have veils and the word veil is what covers the face (niqaab). However, some scholars hold the view that the niqab is not obligatory in Islam (rather it is part of the Sunnah), since both women and men must lower their gaze but women can have their face uncovered. Therefore, the niqab has a place in Islam, since the Prophet's (saw’s) wives were required to wear them. In today's context, many women attempt to emulate the best of women to bring themselves closer to Allah (swt).
The legal debate surrounding banning the burqa and niqab:
There have been steps taken by various countries in Europe to ban the burqa and niqab, most notably in France.
In France it is argued that women who wear the burqa have been ‘oppressed’ into wearing it and thus it goes
against France’s secular values and ideals of Liberté, égalité and fraternité (Liberty, equality and brotherhood).
Another reason for the ban is that the burqa poses a security risk in banks and public places, if the full face
cannot be viewed. However these claims are false and unfounded. Security issues cannot be a justification in
this regard as the government can easily instruct women police officers to check the wearer’s identity. Secondly,
the ban actually serves to undermine French values of equality since women who wear the burqa are treated
differently to anybody else.
Thirdly, the majority of women who wear the burqa or niqab in Europe do so through their own free will, without coercion or oppression. Thus the ban is hypocritical since it violates the freedom of choice which is central to a democratic society. It is not the government’s place to step in and regulate dress code when people’s choices are not causing any harm to others. It was the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, passed by the French National Assembly in 1789 and still held in high esteem by the French Fifth Republic of today, which taught us that
“Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else".
Furthermore, as discussed above, even though there is difference of opinion as to whether the niqab is obligatory in Islam, it is still an important part of the Islamic faith. Therefore, it can also be argued that the ban discriminates against freedom of religious practice and therefore violates Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). Article 9 states: