The following Fatawa is from Sheikh Ibn Uthaimin:
"The Islamic hijab is for the women to cover everything that is forbidden for her to expose. That is, she covers everything that she must cover.
"The first of those bodily parts that she must cover is her face. It is the source of temptation and the source of people desiring her. Therefore, the woman must cover her face in front of those men that are not Mahram (i.e. father, huband, etc.).
"As for those who claim that Islamic hijab is to cover the head, shoulders, back, feet, shin and forearms while allowing her to uncover her face and hands, this is a very amazing claim. This is because it is well-known that the source of temptation and looking is the face. How can one say that the Shariah does no allow the exposure of the foot of the woman while it allows her to uncover her face?
"It is not possible that there could be in the Esteemed, Wise and Noble Shariah a contradiction. Yet everyone knows that the temptation from uncovering the face is much greater than the temptation that results from the uncovering of the feet. Everyone also knows that the most sought after aspect of the woman for men is the face. If you told a prospective groom that a woman’s face is ugly but her feet are beautiful, he would not propose to such a woman.
"However, if you told him that her face was beautiful but her hands, palms, or shins were less than beautiful, he would still propose to her. From this one can conclude that the face is the first thing that must be covered.
"There are also evidences from the Book of Allah (SWT) and the Sunnah of our Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) . There are also statements from the Companions, the leading Imams and the great scholars of Islam that indicate that it is obligatory for the woman to cover all of her body in the presence of non-Mahram men. This obviously indicates that it is obligatory upon the woman to cover her face in front of such men."
What Age Must a Female Wear Niqab?
It is unquestionable that a female must begin covering by the age of puberty. What is not agreed upon is what exact age that is. Some say that covering commences the day of her first menstrual cycle, others say at the first sign of pubic hairs. Those weak in iman (faith) will look at the kafir system's designation of "teenager" as the age of puberty, i.e. they use the age 13.
In all situations, Muslims are to use the Prophet's example for guidance. The Prophet married 'Aisha before she had reached puberty and consummated the marriage when she was approximately 9 years old. We do not know precisely what he used to determine that she reached puberty, and we don't even know the exact age that he consummate the marriage, so the issue of puberty is not necessarily a clear cut age to be applied universally to all, but a recognition of the change to woman from child. The earliest pregnancy recorded was that of a seven year old girl, and we know that a menstral cycle does not have to start before some are capable of becoming pregnant. May Allah swt guide each parent to adequately prepare the daughter in time. Amin.
If a mother or father recently converts to Islam and has a daughter who has reached puberty, s/he should immediately begin covering the daughter. The parents should educate the daughter to understand and appreciate the reasons and advantages for covering as a Muslimah is instructed to. The new revert to Islam should not feel apologetic for covering a daughter who was not previously covering. It is as much of an advantage to her as to the new adult muslimah revert, and children do not always know what is best for them, so, like other decisions you make daily for your children, do not leave the issue of wearing hijab up to your children. Make the transition as a family, not you first, then just hoping the children follow suit on their own.
Some guidelines for preparing a child for hijab.
It is encouraged that as soon as the child is able to walk, she does not wear clothes that resemble the kafr, and that she should always have her knees and as much as possible of the arms and legs covered when leaving the house or having guests over.
She should be taught modesty in behavior and dress from the cradle.
It is ideal to sew small jilbabs (light overcoats) and khimaar (head/neck/chest covering) for the young muslimah, properly preparing her for full coverage at puberty. It is actually less fitnah on the parent to dress her in the simple attire of a muslim, as compared to looking for fashionable clothes in a shopping mall.
At the age of 7, the parent should order her to pray salah, and of course, she must be wearing hijab (the entire head and body covering) for the salah.
By the age of 10, her parents may and should punish her for missing fard (obligatory) salah, and once again, she must be wearing hijab to perform salah.
When she reaches puberty, insha'Allah, she will wear niqab (literally: draw the khimaar over her face).
By the age of puberty, she should already be used to wearing hijab (which is in her fitrah [natural state] to be covered).
She may have already chosen to veil prior to reaching puberty, and with the proper instruction, she will look forward to and embrace this step in becoming a young woman.
Hijab is not something a muslim parent gives as an option to a child. The muslim parent is responsible for seeing that the young muslimah is properly covered according to Qur'an and Sunnah.
Parents will have to determine when their daughter has reached puberty, not the child, unless of course, she is a muslim revert with non-Muslim parents, in which case she should seek the counsel of a muslim wali.
Depending on a woman's environment, she may simply keep her face uncovered and then draw the khimaar up over her face on the rare occasion of a non-mahram's presence; or, if this is too much fitnah to constantly draw it over her face, such as circumstances when men are frequently present, she may choose to affix a screen (i.e. the Niqab) that does this for her without her needing to use a hand to hold it over her face.
Hadith - Bukhari, Narrated Hishams father
Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married 'Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumated that marriage when she was nine years old.
Hadith - Abu Dawud, narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin
[Also recorded al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and ibn Majah. Al-Albani says it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 2, p. 1280.]
The Prophet said: Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a khimaar.
Hadith - Dawud, Narrated As-Saburah
[Also recorded by Ahmand and al-Hakim. Al-Syuti has give in a notation signifying that it is authentic. Al-Albani has graded it hasan. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 2, p. 1021.]
The Prophet said: Order your children to pray at the age of seven. And beat them [lightly] if they do not do so by the age of ten. And separate them in their bedding.
Who Can She Uncover in front of?
A Muslimah should not uncover her adornment in front of any non-Mahrahm male. Muslimahs should especially be careful and remain covered, modest, and quiet around in-laws.
If a gay male is aware of female body parts, he should not be allowed to view a woman uncovered. And, of course, a bi-sexual male should not be allowed to view a woman without proper covering.
In addition, a Muslimah should not uncover that which she normally uncovers, in front of any non-Muslim female whom she fears may describe her to others. She may also choose to remain covered around any Muslim female whom she fears may describe her physical attributes to their husband or others.
The Noble Qur'an - An-Nur 24:30-31
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them. Verily, Allâh is All-Aware of what they do.
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like palms of hands or one eye or both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils* all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husband's sons, their brothers or their brother's sons, or their sister's sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islâm), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allâh to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.
* the arabic word here is Khumaar, which is the plural form of Khimaar.
Hadith - Bukhari 7:167
The Prophet said, "A woman should not look at or touch another woman to describe her to her husband in such a way as if he was actually looking at her."
Hadith - Muslim, narrated Aisha
A eunuch used to come to the wives of Allah's Apostle and they did not find anything objectionable in his visit considering him to be a male without any sexual desire. Allah's Apostle one day came as he was sitting with some of his wives and he was busy in describing the bodily characteristics of a lady and saying: As she comes in front four folds appear on her front side and as she turns her back eight folds appear on the back side. Thereupon Allah's Apostle said: I see that he knows these things; do not, therefore, allow him to enter. She (Aisha) said: Then they began to observe veil from him.
Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #3109, narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud [Tirmidhi transmitted it.]
The Prophet said, "A woman should be concealed, for when she goes out the devil looks at her."
Muslimahs should not socialize with non-mahram men, and should only speak out of necessity to non-mahram men. Allah swt knew that mankind would be tempted to let their guard down and their hijab down, around in-laws. Surely Allah swt is all merciful to provide us the guidance we need in every aspect of our lives. In reference to socializing with in-laws, such close relations can easily lead to adultery which has the death penalty.
Hadith - Bukhari and Muslim
The Prophet said, "The in-laws are death."
Men and women should not shake hands outside the mahram ties.
Hadith - Recorded by Malik, Ahmad, al-Nasai, al-Tirmidhi and ibn Majah.
[Al-Albani has graded it sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 1, p. 494.]
The Prophet said, "I do not shake the hands of women."
Hadith - Bukhari 9:321 (& 7:211)
The Prophet used to take the Pledge of allegiance from the women by words only after reciting this Holy Verse: (60.12) "..that they will not associate anything in worship with Allah." (60.12) And the hand of Allah's Apostle did not touch any woman's hand except the hand of that woman his right hand possessed. (i.e. his captives or his lady slaves).
Hadith - Sahih Muslim, narrated 'A'isha
By Allah, the hand of the Messenger of Allah never touched the hand of a woman. By Allah, the Messenger of Allah never took any vow from women except that which Allah had ordered him to take, and his palm never touched the palm of a woman. When he had taken their vow, he would tell that he had taken the oath from them orally.
Wearing hijab must be accompanied by the proper mannerisms and speech befitting a modest, pious woman. She should not draw attention to her voice or use it in a soft, pleasing manner that may tempt a man.
Similarly, a muslim man should avoid being around women who speak soft (i.e. speak "sweet", flirt, are excessively thankful, etc), should definitely turn his eyes downward his eyes if viewing (even briefly) such a woman on t.v., and should not listen to female singers.
The Noble Qur'an - Al-Ahzab 33:32
O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allâh), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery, etc.) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner.
Muslim men and women should speak calmly and controlled, not raising the voice, except out of necessity, such as yelling 'stop!' to a child who is about to cross a busy intersection without looking, etc.
The Noble Qur'an - Luqman 31:18-19
And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allâh likes not each arrogant boaster.
And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the voice (braying) of the ass.
Ridiculing a Woman in Niqab
The Noble Qur'an - At-Taubah 9:64-67
The hypocrites fear lest a Sûrah (chapter of the Qur'ân) should be revealed about them, showing them what is in their hearts. Say: "(Go ahead and) mock! But certainly Allâh will bring to light all that you fear."
If you ask them (about this), they declare: "We were only talking idly and joking." Say: "Was it at Allâh (swt), and His Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger that you were mocking?"
Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others amongst you because they were Mujrimûn (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, criminals, etc.).
The hypocrites, men and women, are from one another, they enjoin (on the people) Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief and polytheism of all kinds and all that Islâm has forbidden), and forbid (people) from Al-Ma'rûf (i.e. Islâmic Monotheism and all that Islâm orders one to do), and they close their hands [from giving (spending in Allâh's Cause) alms, etc.]. They have forgotten Allâh, so He has forgotten them. Verily, the hypocrites are the Fâsiqûn (rebellious, disobedient to Allâh).
Women past child-bearing age who do not expect wedlock
The Noble Qur'an - An-Nur 24:60
And as for women past child-bearing who do not expect wedlock, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment. But to refrain (i.e. not to discard their outer clothing) is better for them. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.
Baarak-Allaahu Feekum - wa sal-Allaahu wa-sallam 'alaa Nabiyyinaa Muhammad,
was-Salaam 'alaykum wa-Rahmatullaahe wa-Barakaatuh.
-From As-Salafiyoon in Columbus- www.salafitalk.net