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Muslim Veils — from Hijab to Burqa



Pages In This Entry:

  1. Hijab: why Muslim women wear the veil
  2. Muslim Veils -- from Hijab to Burqa
  3. Hijab -- Research Resources

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The word hijab comes from the Arabic for 'veil' and is used to describe the headscarves worn by Muslim women.

These scarves, regarded by many Muslims as a symbol of both religion and womanhood, come in a myriad of styles and colours.

The veil covers at the very least the hair and the neck. It is usually worn outside the house, as well as in any place where non-related male adults are present.

Muslims scholars say hijab also has a wider meaning, that of modesty, privacy, and morality.

There is debate among Muslims as to whether or not the Quran actually requires that women wear a hijab.

In some Muslim countries the hijab may not be worn in public buildings.

Some Western countries forbid certain veils, usually the Burqa and/or the Niqab, from being worn in public buildings and/or other public places. See, for instance,

Hijab
Potent symbol

The type most commonly worn in the West is a square scarf that covers the head and neck but leaves the face clear.

Al-Amira and Shayla
Popular Styles

The al-amira is a two-piece veil. It consists of a close fitting cap, usually made from cotton or polyester, and an accompanying tube-like scarf.

The shayla is a long, rectangular scarf popular in the Gulf region. It is wrapped around the head and tucked or pinned in place at the shoulders.

Khimar and Chador
Covering up

The khimar is a long, cape-like veil that hangs down to just above the waist. It covers the hair, neck and shoulders completely, but leaves the face clear.

The chador, worn by Iranian women when outside the house, is a full-body cloak. It is often accompanied by a smaller headscarf underneath.

Niqab and Burqa
Conservative choice

The niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear. However, this may be obscured by a separate eye veil. It is worn with an accompanying headscarf, such as a khimar.

The burqa is the most concealing of all Islamic veils. It covers the entire face and body, leaving just a mesh screen to see through.

- Source: BBC


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This post was last updated: Nov. 19, 2012