Q. I have a friend who wears the veil normally, covering her face when she goes out. However, she refuses to do so when she does the Umrah. I tried to persuade her to wear the veil in Umrah, but she would not. Could you help me to convince her to do so?
A. I am afraid I cannot help you, because your friend is right and you are wrong. When a woman enters into the state of consecration, or ihraam, for the pilgrimage or the Umrah, she must keep her face and hands uncovered. This is the sign that she is in ihraam, in the same way as a man cannot wear ordinary clothes.
If she covers her face, she is wrong. This is a question of worship, and in worship we implement what is taught to us by the Prophet (peace be upon him) without deviation or modification. I realize that some people try to find justification for covering a woman’s face, even during ihraam. Good as their intention is, they are mistaken because women must not cover their faces in prayer or during ihraam.
As for other times, a woman may choose to cover her face if she wants, but this is not an Islamic requirement. Islam requires a woman to cover all her body except her face and hands when she goes out.
Touching Parents’ Feet
Q. In India, it is a social tradition for sons to touch parents’ feet when greeting them. Is this acceptable or forbidden in Islam? Please comment.
A. Any gesture that may be construed as something akin to worship is strictly forbidden, because no worship may be offered to anyone other than God. When you look carefully at this gesture, you are bound to conclude that it is one of extreme reverence that people do not do in every day situations. I understand that this gesture is particularly done on important occasions, such as when congratulating one’s elders on the occasion of the Eid. As such, one could only conclude that it is at least reprehensible, if not forbidden, even when no thought of worship is intended. Young people should explain to their elders that such a gesture is unacceptable from the Islamic point of view. Hence, they will express their respect in a different way. When such elders realize this, they will accept it without difficulty.