Dagestan’s muftiate issues temporary fatwa banning Muslims from wearing niqab

Dagestan’s muftiate, its highest spiritual authority for Muslims, issued a temporary ban on the wearing of the niqab, a religious garment covering the wearer’s face and leaving only the area around the eyes exposed, on Wednesday.

The move followed an appeal by Dagestan’s Ministry of National Policy and Religious Affairs, which warned of an existing threat to the security of the population following last month’s terror attacks in the North Caucasus republic, which left 22 people dead.

The muftiate’s fatwa department said late on Tuesday that after studying Sharia texts, it had found insufficient evidence to ban Muslims from wearing the niqab outright, but that it had agreed to issue a temporary ban “until the elimination of the identified threats”.

“Some scholars say wearing a niqab is mandatory, others that it is desirable, while others still say it is completely undesirable in cases where there is no risk of temptation. Scholars are unanimous that in all other cases, it is mandatory to cover the face,” the head of the fatwa department, Akhmed-Hadzhi Isaev, said.

On Saturday the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin called for a blanket ban on the wearing of the niqab in Russia following last month’s attacks in the North Caucasus republic, which he said had been carried out by “Islamist terrorists”.

Speaking at a Q&A session during the International Legal Forum in St. Petersburg, Bastrykin agreed with an audience member who suggested that Russia should follow the example of most majority-Muslim Central Asian countries, which have laws regulating the wearing of religious garments.

Russia has no such restrictions, and niqabs and hijabs are commonly worn by women in the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus.

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