Such a great question that I get from my nonMuslim friends. I also am quite surprised that I get this question - in a different form - from Muslim men and women. I guess it's a valid question. I care about modesty, but I don't cover my face. Why don't I wear niqqab? What am I thinking?
Well, please know that: No, men won't beat me.
And, also please know that I have so much RESPECT for niqqabi girls that do choose to cover their faces.
And, to be honest, I hope someday to wear niqqab - but under the right circumstances!
Obviously, don't take what I have to say as what God would think - Allah (swt) knows best of course! - but, I don't think that in my life it is a good decision for me right now.
So, why don't I wear niqqab?
1. It is not required.
(Pardon my paraphrasing...) There is a hadith saying that Asmaa - the daughter of Abu Bakr - came to the Prophet Muhammad (saws) wearing clothing that was not appropriate. When the Prophet saw her, he said that it is not acceptable for a woman who has passed puberty to walk around in clothing that exposes anything except this and this and he pointed to his face and his hands.
To me, this tells me that it is not required - or "fard" - to wear niqqab.
If Allah (swt) wanted it to be so, He would have mentioned it in Qur'an when He spoke about hijab.
2. I have a job.
Now, this is one of the much lesser arguments for me, but it's still valid. My job requires me to have human interactions. It's hard to have these interactions when I don't look human. I drive little old, rich ladies around to see houses. Do they want to get into the car with a niqqabi? Hell no. As if the hijab wasn't enough adding the niqqab would be TOO much for their little hearts.
3. It's HOT!
Holy cannoli, have you ever put on a niqqab in Southern California? And walked outside? Saudi Arabia is SO HOT I can't imagine how women live there! But it gets hot in California, too! And I can barely breathe in hijab! What if you wear glasses? Half of the day you're cleaning steam from your glasses - that's not even a life! May Allah (swt) reward the women who wear niqqab in stifling heat - especially when their husbands are walking around in tank tops!
4. It would make me unapproachable.
Part of the reason I choose to wear hijab is because it allows people to ask me questions about my religion. Anywhere I am. Although it gets annoying sometimes, I like that I can set the record straight and help people to understand our religion. I can't imagine anyone coming anywhere within 400 feet of me if I have niqqab on.
5. I would probably never find a husband.
At least 14% of my appeal comes from the fact that my face is decent. This reason is just to make you laugh. Therefore, I won't even count it as a real number.
5. The most important reason: I live in America!
This is the truth. This is the REAL reason I don't wear niqqab.
I live in America.
I am not saying America is right, but people in America care a lot about looks and identities. Personal connections are critical.
No, I don't think niqqab is oppressive. No, I'm not scared of not being pretty.
But, what I am scared of is SCARING OTHER PEOPLE.
I don't want to walk into a room and have everyone in that room praying that nothing happens to them.
I don't want an entire plane ride to be spent with the woman next to me reciting "Hail Mary"s until we arrive at our destination.
When you wear niqqab in Saudi Arabia or in some of the other Arab countries, people aren't scared of you. It's a cultural norm.
Here, in America, when I walk down the street in niqqab EVERYONE is staring at me. And, that's exactly the OPPOSITE of the point of wearing niqqab.
Women wear niqqab to show their ultimate modesty. They wear niqqab to protect themselves from perverted stares. They wear niqqab to avoid being judged based on their beauty.
But, if you wear niqqab in America, you are going to be the most obvious person. You will be stared at like meat everywhere you go. You will be judged based on nothing except how you look.
It completely defeats the purpose.
Now, I do love niqqab. I've worn it to the mall before - just to see what my niqqabi sisters experience. And, I was stared at. No one spoke to me. People avoided me at all costs. People walked on the other side of the walkway only to stay away from me. It made me uncomfortable.
So, why do I want to wear it someday if I just gave a million reasons against it?
The Prophet (saws)'s wives wore niqqab. Who better to try to emulate than the Prophet's wives?
I think it will also teach me to care less about how I look - Hijab was a big step in this lesson in my life. Niqqab will really finalize it for me.
That being said, it's on my "bucket list." Someday, God willing, I will live in an Arab country, and at this time, I will find it appropriate to wear niqqab.
May we always remind each other of the purpose and meaning behind everything we do.
May Allah (swt) reward us all for our pursuits of doing anything to please Him - whether we're right or not - and may we be judged based on our intentions.