Al Tantawi said : No Niqab

imamCAIRO – The head of Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni world, has ordered a school girl to remove her niqab during a visit to an Al-Azhar school, saying he would seek an official ban for the face veil in schools, Al-Masri Al-Youm newspaper reported on Monday, October 5.“Why are you wearing the niqab while sitting in the class with your female colleagues?” Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Mohamed Sayyed Tantawi asked the 8th grader.

The young girl was shocked with the question coming from the country’s top scholar.

A teacher intervened to explain.

“She takes off her niqab inside the class, but she only put it on when you and your entourage came in.”

But Sheikh Tantawi was not satisfied and insisted that the young girl takes off the face cover.

“The niqab is a tradition and has nothing to do with Islam.”

After the girl complied he insisted she should not wear it any more.

“I tell you again that the niqab has nothing to do with Islam and it is only a mere custom. I understand the religion better than you and your parents.”

Most Muslim women in Egypt wear the hijab, which is an obligatory code of dress in Islam, but an increase in women putting on the niqab has apparently alarmed the government.

The ministry of religious endowments has recently distributed booklets in mosques against the practice.

The majority of Muslim scholars believe that a woman is not obliged to cover her face or hands.

They believe that it is up to every woman to decide whether to take on the face-cover or not.


The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar imam vowed to issue a ban against the face-veil in all schools linked to Al-Azhar.

“I intend to issue a regulation to ban the niqab in Al-Azhar schools,” he said.

“No student or teacher will be allowed into the school wearing the niqab.”

Established in 359 AH (971 CE), Al-Azhar mosque drew scholars from across the Muslim world and grew into a university, predating similar developments at Oxford University in London by more than a century.

Al-Azhar, which means the “most flourishing and resplendent,” was named after Fatima Al-Zahraa, daughter of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The first courses at Al-Azhar were given in 975 CE and the first college was built 13 years later.

Al-Azhar first admitted women students in 1961, albeit in separate classes.

Also in 1961, subjects in engineering and medicine were added to classes on Shari`ah, the Noble Qur’an and the intricacies of Arabic language.

Sheikh Tantawi’s remarks coincided with those of Higher Education Minister Hani Hilal who has banned the face-veil in student hostels.

“Face-veiled students are free to do what they want outside the hostels but there is no room for the niqab inside the women-only hostels,” he said earlier this week.

Many students demonstrated against the minister’s statements and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights plans to take him to court.

“The minister’s decision violates the principles of privacy, personal freedom and freedom of faith, which are guaranteed by the constitution.”

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