The Pre-Islamic Culture & Practice of "Face Veiling"
Recently the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt issued a Fatwa or Islamic ruling against wearing of the Niqab on the University Premises as well as calling it un-Islamic. (The traditional "Hijab" is what Islamic Law teaches that the face and hands should be uncovered, such as the picture on the left.) Meaning that if somebody follows the traditional Sunni school of thought in Islam, they should not practice the Pre-Islamic tradition of face veiling or "Niqab". This practice was common amongst Pagan Arabians and even Zoroastrian Persians before the advent of Islam. There is even a story of the Persian Zoroastrian Shah who forced his Queen to dance for other men by removing her face veil (which the Queen refused and was punished for it). For Muslims to claim that veiling the face is Islamic, would be like saying that eating Pork is Islamic. If somebody chooses to eat Pork, that is their choice, but that is not allowed in Islamic Law. The same thing is true of the Niqab, people may choose to wear it and have the freedom to do so, but not in the name of Islam. When a Muslim woman wants to pray, her face has to be uncovered so that her bare forehead touches the earth. So, not only it is not an Islamic practice to wear a face veil, but it also obstructs the practice of Islam!
People are free to wear the face veil (without using Islam as a justification) if they like to protect their face from the Sun, as has been done in the Persian Gulf area for thousands of years (picture on the left is a traditional face mask variation worn by Persian Gulf women to keep their faces white and moist)