Praise be to Allah.
The hadeeth “The difference of opinion among the fuqaha’ of my ummah is a mercy” is a fabricated hadeeth, as it says in Asraar al-Marfoo’ah, 506 and Tanzeeh al-Sharee’ah, 2/402.
Shaykh al-Albaani said of this hadeeth in al-Silsilah al-Da’eefah wa’l-Mawdoo’ah (hadeeth no. 57): It has no basis, and the muhaddithoon (scholars of hadeeth) tried hard to find an isnaad for it but without success.
Al-Manaawi narrated that al-Subki said: It is not known to the muhaddithoon, and I could not find any isnaad for it, whether saheeh, da’eef or mawdoo’. This was confirmed by Zakariya al-Ansaari in his commentary on Tafseer al-Baydaawi.
It is not permissible for a woman to uncover her face in front of non-mahram men, except in cases of necessity, such as a medical doctor when no female doctor is available, so long as she is not alone with him (khulwah), or when proposing marriage, or when bearing witness in front of a qaadi (judge). In the cases mentioned above, it should be limited only to that which is necessary, and no more than that.
A woman’s hijab and niqab do not pose an obstacle to her seeking knowledge. It is not correct to believe that there is a contradiction between covering and seeking knowledge. May Allaah never bless knowledge that is only acquired by means of sin and women neglecting modesty. Women who wear hijab and are covered have reached the highest levels of knowledge and have earned degrees and certificates without mixing with men or uncovering their faces, whilst we see many of those who fail to acquire knowledge wearing the minimum of clothing on their bodies. Since when does neglecting modesty bring knowledge and hijab prevent it?
Covering the face is obligatory for Muslim women who have reached the age of adolescence. In the answer to question no. 12525 you will find an explanation that the face is ‘awrah.
The view that it is permissible for women to uncover their faces in order to seek knowledge is not correct.
We ask Allaah to help you to do that which pleases Him, and to reward you greatly for your question and your efforts to learn. Our advice to you is to keep away from dubious places where mixing takes place. We give you the glad tidings from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) who said: “Whoever gives up a thing for the sake of Allaah, Allaah will compensate him with something better than it.” So seek the help of Allaah and be patient. The first Muslim women gave up their (former) religion, their husbands and their homelands in order to enter Islam, and this move from being uncovered to wearing hijab is insignificant in comparison to what those women did. Be sure that you will find encouragement from your veiled sisters who will make that transition easier for you. Do not pay any attention to the obstacles put in your way by evil and corrupt people, women and men alike, for they do not wish you well and they do not want you to be happy or be rewarded, nor do they know the true path to happiness and reward.
And Allaah knows best.