Is it necessary for a woman to cover her face during Ihram (during Umrah/Hajj)? Will she be excused for not covering her face due to the difficulties associated with niqabs hanging from baseball caps? Inshallah as soon as my state of Ihram is complete, I would wear the Niqab but what about during the days of ihram?
The ruling in the Hanafi Madhhab (and even in other madhhabs) is that, although the face is not considered to be part of one’s nakedness (awra), it is necessary to cover it, due to the fitna involved in not doing so. This is the transmitted position in the Hanafi School, as mentioned in virtually all the major fiqh books.
Some contemporary scholars have a more lenient approach to this issue, especially for the West. However, my understanding is (according to what I have learnt from my teachers) that a woman is required to cover her face even in the west except in dire situations.
As such, if you are travelling for Hajj, and you normally cover your face at home, you must cover it whilst in the state of Ihram also. This covering must be done in a way that the Niqab does not touch the face, such as wearing a cap, etc…
Indeed a woman must not have a cloth whilst in Ihram that touches her face. However, at the same time, she should avoid exposing her face in front of non-Mahram men, especially when she is young and when the risk of Fitna is greater.
As such, in the presence of non-Mahram men, she should cover her face in a way that no clothing touches her face, by wearing a cap or something else. Even in the days of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), the female Companions (Allah be pleased with them) abstained from exposing their faces in front of non-Mahram men.
Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that, the (caravan of) riders would pass by us whilst we were in the state of Ihram in the company of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). When they got close to us, we would draw our outer cloak from our heads over our faces (m, without letting it touch the face) and when they passed by, we would uncover our faces.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, no. 1826)
However, if it becomes very difficult, in that it becomes virtually impossible to wear the niqab (even with a cap, etc), and you fear harm onto yourself, then in such a case you will be excused in leaving the face exposed, but try to keep the face away from non-Mahram men whenever reasonably possible.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK