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Muslim women wearing hijabs Female hijab in Islam.jpg
Muslim women wearing hijabs

A hijab ( /hɪˈɑːb, hɪˈæb, ˈhɪ.æb, hɛˈɑːb/ ; [1] [2] [3] [4] Arabic : حجابḥijāb, pronounced  [ħɪˈdʒaːb] or Egyptian Arabic:  [ħeˈɡæːb] ) in common English usage is a veil worn by some Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest. The term can refer to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conforms to Islamic standards of modesty. Hijab can also refer to the seclusion of women from men in the public sphere, or it may denote a metaphysical dimension, for example referring to "the veil which separates man or the world from God." [5] People usually talk about "the hijab" rather than "a hijab", as evidenced by this article.

Veil any lightweight covering for the head or face or both

A veil is an article of clothing or hanging cloth that is intended to cover some part of the head or face, or an object of some significance. Veiling has a long history in European, Asian, and African societies. The practice has been prominent in different forms in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The practice of veiling is especially associated with women and sacred objects, though in some cultures it is men rather than women who are expected to wear a veil. Besides its enduring religious significance, veiling continues to play a role in some modern secular contexts, such as wedding customs.

Haya is an Arabic word that means "natural or inherent, shyness and a sense of modesty". In Islamic terminology, it is mainly used in the context of modesty. The word itself is derived from the word Hayat, which means "life". The original meaning of Haya refers to "a bad or uneasy feeling accompanied by embarrassment". Haya encourages Muslims to avoid anything considered to be distasteful or abominable. Haya plays an important role in Islam, as it is one of the most important parts of Iman. The antonym of Haya in Arabic is badha'a or fahisha.

Seclusion is the act of secluding, the state of being secluded, or a place that facilitates it. A person, couple, or larger group may go to a secluded place for privacy or peace and quiet. Seclusion of a single person is also called solitude.


In the Qur'an, hadith, and other classical Arabic texts the term khimār (Arabic : خمار) was used to denote a headscarf, and ḥijāb was used to denote a partition, a curtain, or was used generally for the Islamic rules of modesty and dress for both males and females. [6] [7] [8] [9]

Quran The central religious text of Islam

The Quran is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God (Allah). It is widely regarded as the finest work in classical Arabic literature. The Quran is divided into chapters, which are subdivided into verses.

Hadith collections of sayings and teachings of Muhammad

Ḥadīth in Islam refers to the record of the words, actions, and the silent approval, of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Hadith have been called "the backbone" of Islamic civilization, and within that religion the authority of hadith as a source for religious law and moral guidance ranks second only to that of the Qur'an. Scriptural authority for hadith comes from the Quran which enjoins Muslims to emulate Muhammad and obey his judgments. While the number of verses pertaining to law in the Quran is relatively few, hadith give direction on everything from details of religious obligations, to the correct forms of salutations and the importance of benevolence to slaves. Thus the "great bulk" of the rules of Sharia are derived from hadith, rather than the Qur'an.

Classical Arabic form of the Arabic language used in Umayyad and Abbasid literary texts

Classical Arabic is the form of the Arabic language used in Umayyad and Abbasid literary texts from the 7th century AD to the 9th century AD.

In its traditional form, it is worn by women to maintain modesty and privacy from unrelated males. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam and Muslim World, modesty in the Quran concerns both men's and women's "gaze, gait, garments, and genitalia." [10] The Qur'an instructs Muslim women to dress modestly. [11] Some Islamic legal systems define this type of modest clothing as covering everything except the face, hands up to wrists, and feet. [5] [12] These guidelines are found in texts of hadith and fiqh developed after the revelation of the Qur'an but, according to some, are derived from the verses (ayahs) referencing hijab in the Qur'an. [10] Some believe that the Qur'an itself does not mandate that women wear hijab. [13] [14]

Privacy The ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves

Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share common themes. When something is private to a person, it usually means that something is inherently special or sensitive to them. The domain of privacy partially overlaps with security (confidentiality), which can include the concepts of appropriate use, as well as protection of information. Privacy may also take the form of bodily integrity.

Sharia, Islamic law or Sharia law is a religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith. In Arabic, the term sharīʿah refers to God's immutable divine law and is contrasted with fiqh, which refers to its human scholarly interpretations. The manner of its application in modern times has been a subject of dispute between Muslim fundamentalists and modernists.

Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is often described as the human understanding of the sharia, that is human understanding of the divine Islamic law as revealed in the Quran and the Sunnah. Fiqh expands and develops Shariah through interpretation (ijtihad) of the Quran and Sunnah by Islamic jurists (ulama) and is implemented by the rulings (fatwa) of jurists on questions presented to them. Thus, whereas sharia is considered immutable and infallible by Muslims, fiqh is considered fallible and changeable. Fiqh deals with the observance of rituals, morals and social legislation in Islam as well as political system. In the modern era, there are four prominent schools (madh'hab) of fiqh within Sunni practice, plus two within Shi'a practice. A person trained in fiqh is known as a faqīh.

In the Qur'an, the term hijab refers to a partition or curtain in the literal or metaphorical sense. The verse where it is used literally is commonly understood to refer to the curtain separating visitors to Muhammad's house from his wives' lodgings. This had led some to argue that the mandate of the Qur'an to wear hijab applied to the wives of Muhammad, and not women generally. [15] [16]

Muhammad Founder of Islam

Muhammad was the founder of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet, sent to present and confirm the monotheistic teachings preached previously by Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. He is viewed as the final prophet of God in all the main branches of Islam, though some modern denominations diverge from this belief. Muhammad united Arabia into a single Muslim polity, with the Quran as well as his teachings and practices forming the basis of Islamic religious belief.

In recent times, wearing hijab in public has been required by law in Saudi Arabia (for Muslims), Iran and the Indonesian province of Aceh. Other countries, both in Europe and in the Muslim world, have passed laws banning some or all types of hijab in public or in certain types of locales. Women in different parts of the world have also experienced unofficial pressure to wear or not wear hijab.

Aceh Province in Indonesia

Aceh is a province of Indonesia, located at the northern end of Sumatra. Its capital and largest city is Banda Aceh. It is close to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India and separated from them by the Andaman Sea. Granted a special autonomous status, Aceh is a religiously conservative territory and the only Indonesian province practicing Sharia law officially. There are ten indigenous ethnic groups in this region, the largest being the Acehnese people, accounting for approximately 80% to 90% of the region's population.

Muslim world Muslim-majority countries, states, districts, or towns

The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the Islamic community (Ummah), consisting of all those who adhere to the religion of Islam, or to societies where Islam is practiced. In a modern geopolitical sense, these terms refer to countries where Islam is widespread, although there are no agreed criteria for inclusion. The term Muslim-majority countries is an alternative often used for the latter sense.

In Islamic scripture


The Quran instructs both Muslim men and women to dress in a modest way, but there is disagreement on how these instructions should be interpreted. The verses relating to dress use the terms khimār (head cover) and jilbāb (a dress or cloak) rather than ḥijāb. [7] In the Quran, there are over 6,000 verses and only about half a dozen refer specifically to the way a woman should dress or walk in public. [17]

The clearest verse on the requirement of modest dress is surah 24:31, telling women to guard their private parts and draw their khimār over their bosoms. [18] [19]

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their private parts; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their khimār over their breasts and not display their beauty except to their husband, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.

Quran   24:31

In Surah 33:59 Muhammad is commanded to ask his family members and other Muslim women to wear outer garments when they go out, so that they are not harassed: [19]

O Prophet! Enjoin your wives, your daughters, and the wives of true believers that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): That is most convenient, that they may be distinguished and not be harassed.

Quran   33:59

The Islamic commentators generally agree this verse refers to sexual harassment of women of Medina. It is also seen to refer to a free woman, for which Tabari cites Ibn Abbas. Ibn Kathir states that the jilbab distinguishes free Muslim women from those of Jahiliyyah, so other men know they are free women and not slavegirls or whores, indicating covering oneself doesn't apply to non-Muslims. He cites Sufyan al-Thawri as commenting that while it may be seen as permitting to look upon non-Muslim women who adorn themselves, it is not allowed in order to avoid lust. Al-Qurtubi concurs with Tabari about this ayah being for those who are free. He reports that the correct view is that a jilbab covers the whole body. He also cites the Sahabah as saying it is no longer than a rida (a shawl or a wrapper that covers the upper body). He also reports a minority view which considers the niqab or head-covering as jilbab. Ibn Arabi considered that excessive covering would make it impossible for a woman to be recognised which the verse mentions, though both Qurtubi and Tabari agree that the word recognition is about distinguishing free women. [20]

Some scholars like Ibn Hayyan, Ibn Hazm and Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani questioned the ayah's common explanation. Hayyan believed that "believing women" referred to both free women and slaves as the latter are bound to more easily entice lust and their exclusion is not clearly indicated. Hazm too believed that it covered Muslim slaves as it would violate the law of not molesting a slave or fornication with her like that with a free woman. He stated that anything not attributed to Muhammad should be disregarded. [21]

The word ḥijāb in the Quran refers not to women's clothing, but rather a spatial partition or curtain. [7] Sometimes its use is literal, as in the verse which refers to the screen that separated Muhammad's wives from the visitors to his house (33:53), while in other cases the word denotes separation between deity and mortals (42:51), wrongdoers and righteous (7:46, 41:5), believers and unbelievers (17:45), and light from darkness (38:32). [7]

The interpretation of the ḥijāb as separation can be digested in three ways: as a visual barrier, physical barrier, and ethical barrier. The visual barrier has the opportunity to hide something from sight which places emphasis on a symbolic boundary (for example, between the Prophet's family and the surrounding community). The physical barrier is used to create a space that provides comfort and privacy for individuals such as the female elite. The ethical barrier, is known to make something forbidden such as the 'purity of hearts' in reference to the Prophet's wives and the Muslim men who visit them. [17]


Moroccan girls wearing the hijab Girls from MHamid (2357918553).jpg
Moroccan girls wearing the hijab

The hadith sources specify the details of hijab (Islamic rules of dress) for men and women, exegesis of the Qur'anic verses narrated by sahabah, and are a major source which scholars used to derive their rulings. [22] [23] [24]

Dress code required by hijab

Traditionalist views

Women wearing tudungs (the Malay term for hijab) in Brunei Two Muslim women in tudungs at an engagement party, Brunei - 20100531.jpg
Women wearing tudungs (the Malay term for hijab) in Brunei

The four major Sunni schools of thought (Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki and Hanbali) hold by consensus that it is obligatory for the entire body of the woman (see awrah ), except her hands and face (and feet according to Hanafis) to be covered during prayer and in the presence of people of the opposite sex other than close family members (whom one is forbidden to marry—see mahram ). [26] [27] [28] According to Hanafis and other scholars, these requirements extend to being around non-Muslim women as well, for fear that they may describe her physical features to unrelated men. [29]

Men must cover from their belly buttons to their knees, though the schools differ on whether this includes covering the navel and knees or only what is between them. [30] [31] [32] [33]

It is recommended that women wear clothing that is not form fitting to the body, such as modest forms of western clothing (long shirts and skirts), or the more traditional jilbāb , a high-necked, loose robe that covers the arms and legs. A khimār or shaylah, a scarf or cowl that covers all but the face, is also worn in many different styles.

Modern Muslim scholars believe that it is obligatory in Islamic law that men and women abide by the rules of hijab (as outlined in their respective school of thought). These include the Iraqi Shia Marja' (Grand Ayatollah) Ali al-Sistani; [34] the Sunni Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas in Saudi Arabia; [35] and others. [36] In nearly all Muslim cultures, young girls are not required to wear a ħijāb.

Bahraini women wearing the hijab Protests in Bahrain - Flickr - Al Jazeera English (13).jpg
Bahraini women wearing the hijab

In private, and in the presence of close relatives (mahrams), rules on dress relax. However, in the presence of the husband, most scholars stress the importance of mutual freedom and pleasure of the husband and wife. [37]

Covering the hands and face

Traditional scholars had differences of opinion on covering the hands and face. The majority adopted the opinion that the face and hands are not part of their nakedness. Some held the opinion that covering the face is recommended if the woman's beauty is so great that it is distracting and causes temptation or public discord. [38]

Some Salafi scholars such as Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen believe that covering the hands and face for all adult women is obligatory. [39]

Alternative views

Some Muslims take a relativist approach to hijab. They believe that the commandment to maintain modesty must be interpreted with regard to the surrounding society. What is considered modest or daring in one society might not be considered so in another. It is important, they say, for believers to wear clothing that communicates modesty and reserve. [40]

Along with scriptural arguments, Leila Ahmed argues that head covering should not be compulsory in Islam because the veil predates the revelation of the Qur'an. Head-covering was introduced into Arabia long before Muhammad, primarily through Arab contacts with Syria and Iran, where the hijab was a sign of social status. After all, only a woman who need not work in the fields could afford to remain secluded and veiled. [15] [41]

Ahmed argues for a more liberal approach to hijab. Among her arguments is that while some Qur'anic verses enjoin women in general to "draw their Jilbabs (overgarment or cloak) around them to be recognized as believers and so that no harm will come to them"[Quran   33:58–59] and "guard their private parts ... and drape down khimar over their breasts [when in the presence of unrelated men]",[Quran   24:31] they urge modesty. The word khimar refers to a piece of cloth that covers the head, or headscarf. [42] While the term "hijab" was originally anything that was used to conceal, [43] it became used to refer to concealing garments worn by women outside the house, specifically the headscarf or khimar. [44]

Indonesian girls at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta Muslim girls at Istiqlal Mosque jakarta.png
Indonesian girls at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta

Other verses include.

O wives of prophet! You are not like other women; if you want to be righteous do not be too soft to make those in whose heart a disease hopeful; and speak in recognised manner. And stay in your homes and make not a dazzling display like that of the former times of ignorance and offer prayer and pay zakah; and obey God and His messenger; o people of (Prophet’s) house! God wants to remove impurity from you and make you clean and pure.

Quran   33:32-33

O believers! Do not enter in houses of prophet except if you are permitted for a meal and its readiness is not awaited but when you are invited then enter and when you have eaten disperse and do not linger in conversation; it troubles the prophet and he is shy of you but God is not shy of telling truth; and when ye ask of them [the wives of the Prophet] anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain (hijab) it is purer for you hearts and their hearts; and it is not allowed for you to hurt messenger or marry his wives after him ever; indeed it is great enormity in God’s sight. [45]

Quran   33:53

According to at least three authors (Karen Armstrong, Reza Aslan and Leila Ahmed), the stipulations of the hijab were originally meant only for Muhammad's wives, and were intended to maintain their inviolability. This was because Muhammad conducted all religious and civic affairs in the mosque adjacent to his home:

Afghan army and police officials wearing hijabs in Kandahar Afghan National Army (ANA) Brig. Gen. Khatool Mohammadzai, center, the director for women's affairs and the deputy director for the education and physical training within the ANA, poses with a group of 120220-A-WI966-673.jpg
Afghan army and police officials wearing hijabs in Kandahar

People were constantly coming in and out of this compound at all hours of the day. When delegations from other tribes came to speak with Prophet Muhammad, they would set up their tents for days at a time inside the open courtyard, just a few feet away from the apartments in which Prophet Muhammad's wives slept. And new emigrants who arrived in Yatrib would often stay within the mosque's walls until they could find suitable homes. [15]

According to Ahmed:

By instituting seclusion Prophet Muhammad was creating a distance between his wives and this thronging community on their doorstep. [16]

They argue that the term darabat al-hijab ("taking the veil") was used synonymously and interchangeably with "becoming Prophet Muhammad's wife", and that during Muhammad's life, no other Muslim woman wore the hijab. Aslan suggests that Muslim women started to wear the hijab to emulate Muhammad's wives, who are revered as "Mothers of the Believers" in Islam, [15] and states "there was no tradition of veiling until around 627 C.E." in the Muslim community. [15] [16]

Another interpretation differing from the traditional states that a veil is not compulsory in front of blind men and men lacking physical desire. [46] [47] [48]

These contemporary views and arguments, however, contradict the hadith sources, the classical scholars, exegesis sources, historical consensus, and interpretations of the companions (such as Aisha and Abdullah ibn Masud), and are therefore rejected by traditionalist Muslims. [38] [26] [27] [30] [31] [32] [33] [35]

Contemporary practice

Muslim women in northern Nigeria wearing hijabs Star student (7138906747).jpg
Muslim women in northern Nigeria wearing hijabs

The styles and practices of hijab vary widely across the world.

An opinion poll conducted in 2014 by The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research asked residents of seven Muslim-majority countries (Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia) which style of women's dress they considered to be most appropriate in public. [49] The survey found that the headscarf (in its tightly- or loosely-fitting form) was chosen by the majority of respondents in Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia and Turkey. [49] In Saudi Arabia 63% gave preference to the niqab face veil; in Pakistan the niqab, the full-length chador robe and the headscarf, received about a third of the votes each; while in Lebanon half of the respondents in the sample (which included Christians and Druze) opted for no head covering at all. [49] [50] The survey found "no significant difference" in the preferences between surveyed men and women, except in Pakistan, where more men favored conservative women's dress. [50] However, women more strongly support women's right to choose how to dress. [50] People with university education are less conservative in their choice than those without one, and more supportive of women's right to decide their dress style, except in Saudi Arabia. [50]

Emine Erdogan wearing a turban Emine Erdogan.jpg
Emine Erdoğan wearing a türban

Some fashion-conscious women have been turning to non-traditional forms of hijab such as turbans. [51] [52] While some regard turbans as a proper head cover, others argue that it cannot be considered a proper Islamic veil if it leaves the neck exposed. [51]

Muna AbuSulayman wearing a turban Muna AbuSulayman - World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia 2012.jpg
Muna AbuSulayman wearing a turban

According to a Pew Research Center survey, among the roughly 1 million Muslim women living in the U.S., 43% regularly wear headscarves, while about a half do not cover their hair. [53] In another Pew Research Center poll (2011), 36% of Muslim American women reported wearing hijab whenever they were in public, with an additional 24% saying they wear it most or some of the time, while 40% said they never wore the headcover. [54]

Iranian woman in Isfahan wearing a hijab Young Iranian Woman at Manar Jomban (Shaking Minarets) - Isfahan - Central Iran - 01 (7433558348).jpg
Iranian woman in Isfahan wearing a hijab

In Iran, where wearing the hijab is legally required, many women push the boundaries of the state-mandated dress code, risking a fine or a spell in detention. [55] The Iranian president Hassan Rouhani had vowed to rein in the morality police and their presence on the streets has decreased since he took office, but the powerful conservative forces in the country have resisted his efforts, and the dress codes are still being enforced, especially during the summer months. [56]

In Turkey the hijab was formerly banned in private and state universities and schools. The ban applied not to the scarf wrapped around the neck, traditionally worn by Anatolian peasant women, but to the head covering pinned neatly at the sides, called türban in Turkey, which has been adopted by a growing number of educated urban women since the 1980s. As of the mid-2000s, over 60% of Turkish women covered their head outside home, though only 11% wore a türban. [57] [58] [59] [60] The ban was lifted from universities in 2008, [61] from government buildings in 2013, [62] and from schools in 2014. [63]

Burqa and niqab

A Muslim woman in Yemen wearing a niqab Muslim woman in Yemen.jpg
A Muslim woman in Yemen wearing a niqab

There are several types of veils which cover the face in part or in full.

The burqa (also spelled burka) is a garment that covers the entire body, including the face. [64] It is commonly associated with the Afghan chadri, whose face-veiling portion is typically a piece of netting that obscures the eyes but allows the wearer to see out.

The niqab is a term which is often incorrectly used interchangeably with burqa. [64] It properly refers to a garment that covers a woman's upper body and face, except for her eyes. [64] It is particularly associated with the style traditionally worn in the Arabian Peninsula, where the veil is attached by one side and covers the face only below the eyes, thereby allowing the eyes to be seen.

Only a minority of Islamic scholars believe that covering the face is mandatory, and the use of niqab beyond its traditional geographic strongholds has been a subject of political controversy. [65] [66]

In a 2014 survey of men and women in seven Muslim-majority countries, the Afghan burqa was the preferred form of woman's dress for 11% of respondents in Saudi Arabia, 4% in Iraq, 3% in Pakistan, 2% in Lebanon, and 1% or less in Egypt, Tunisia, and Turkey. [49] The niqab face veil was the preferred option for 63% of respondents in Saudi Arabia, 32% in Pakistan, 9% in Egypt, 8% in Iraq, and 2% or less in Lebanon, Tunisia, and Turkey. [49]


Pre-Islamic veiling practices

Greek bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer, 2nd-3rd century BC. Bronze Statuette of a Veiled and Masked Dancer 1.jpg
Greek bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer, 2nd–3rd century BC.

Veiling did not originate with the advent of Islam. Statuettes depicting veiled priestesses precede all major Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), dating back as far as 2500 BCE. [67] Elite women in ancient Mesopotamia and in the Byzantine, Greek, and Persian empires wore the veil as a sign of respectability and high status. [68] In ancient Mesopotamia, Assyria had explicit sumptuary laws detailing which women must veil and which women must not, depending upon the woman's class, rank, and occupation in society. [68] Female slaves and prostitutes were forbidden to veil and faced harsh penalties if they did so. [7] Veiling was thus not only a marker of aristocratic rank, but also served to "differentiate between 'respectable' women and those who were publicly available". [7] [68]

Strict seclusion and the veiling of matrons were also customary in ancient Greece. Between 550 and 323 B.C.E, prior to Christianity, respectable women in classical Greek society were expected to seclude themselves and wear clothing that concealed them from the eyes of strange men. [69]

Pre-Islamic relief showing veiled Arab women, Temple of Baal, Palmyra, Syria, 1st century CE. Temple of baal07(js).jpg
Pre-Islamic relief showing veiled Arab women, Temple of Baal, Palmyra, Syria, 1st century CE.

It is not clear whether the Hebrew Bible contains prescriptions with regard to veiling, but rabbinic literature presents it as a question of modesty ( tzniut ). [70] Modesty became an important rabbinic virtue in the early Roman period, and it may have been intended to distinguish Jewish women from their non-Jewish counterparts in the Greco-Roman and later in the Babylonian society. [70] According to rabbinical precepts, married Jewish women have to cover their hair, although the surviving representations of veiled Jewish women may reflect general Roman customs rather than particular Jewish practices. [70] According to Fadwa El Guindi, at the inception of Christianity, Jewish women were veiling their heads and faces. [7]

Roman statue of a Vestal Virgin Chief Vestal.jpg
Roman statue of a Vestal Virgin

There is archeological evidence suggesting that early Christian women in Rome covered their heads. [70] Writings of Tertullian indicate that a number of different customs of dress were associated with different cults to which early Christians belonged around 200 CE. [70] The best known early Christian view on veiling is the passage in 1 Corinithians (11:4-7), which states that "every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head". [70] This view may have been influenced by Roman pagan customs, such as the head covering worn by the priestesses of Vesta (Vestal Virgins), rather than Jewish practices. [70] In turn, the rigid norms pertaining to veiling and seclusion of women found in Christian Byzantine literature have been influenced by ancient Persian traditions, and there is evidence to suggest that they differed significantly from actual practice. [71]

Intermixing of populations resulted in a convergence of the cultural practices of Greek, Persian, and Mesopotamian empires and the Semitic peoples of the Middle East. [7] Veiling and seclusion of women appear to have established themselves among Jews and Christians before spreading to urban Arabs of the upper classes and eventually among the urban masses. [7] In the rural areas it was common to cover the hair, but not the face. [7]

Leila Ahmed argues that "Whatever the cultural source or sources, a fierce misogyny was a distinct ingredient of Mediterranean and eventually Christian thought in the centuries immediately preceding the rise of Islam." [72] Ahmed interprets veiling and segregation of sexes as an expression of a misogynistic view of shamefulness of sex which focused most intensely on shamefulness of the female body and danger of seeing it exposed. [72]

During Muhammad's lifetime

Available evidence suggests that veiling was not introduced into Arabia by Muhammad, but already existed there, particularly in the towns, although it was probably not as widespread as in the neighboring countries such as Syria and Palestine. [73] Similarly to the practice among Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Assyrians, its use was associated with high social status. [73] In the early Islamic texts, term hijab does not distinguish between veiling and seclusion, and can mean either "veil" or "curtain". [74] The only verses in the Qur'an that specifically reference women’s clothing are those promoting modesty, instructing women to guard their private parts and wear scarves that fall onto their breast area in the presence of men. [75] The contemporary understanding of the hijab dates back to Hadith when the "verse of the hijab" descended upon the community in 627 CE. [76] Now documented in Sura 33:53, the verse states, "And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a partition. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts". [77] This verse, however, was not addressed to women in general, but exclusively to Muhammad's wives. As Muhammad's influence increased, he entertained more and more visitors in the mosque, which was then his home. Often, these visitors stayed the night only feet away from his wives' apartments. It is commonly understood that this verse was intended to protect his wives from these strangers. [78] During Muhammad's lifetime the term for donning the veil, darabat al-hijab, was used interchangeably with "being Muhammad's wife". [73]

Later pre-modern history

Young woman from Nablus in a hijab (c. 1867-1885) Felix Bonfils Jeune femme de Naplouse.jpg
Young woman from Nablus in a hijab (c. 1867-1885)

The practice of veiling was borrowed from the elites of the Byzantine and Persian empires, where it was a symbol of respectability and high social status, during the Arab conquests of those empires. [79] Reza Aslan argues that "The veil was neither compulsory nor widely adopted until generations after Muhammad's death, when a large body of male scriptural and legal scholars began using their religious and political authority to regain the dominance they had lost in society as a result of the Prophet's egalitarian reforms". [78]

Because Islam identified with the monotheistic religions of the conquered empires, the practice was adopted as an appropriate expression of Qur'anic ideals regarding modesty and piety. [80] Veiling gradually spread to upper-class Arab women, and eventually it became widespread among Muslim women in cities throughout the Middle East. Veiling of Arab Muslim women became especially pervasive under Ottoman rule as a mark of rank and exclusive lifestyle, and Istanbul of the 17th century witnessed differentiated dress styles that reflected geographical and occupational identities. [7] Women in rural areas were much slower to adopt veiling because the garments interfered with their work in the fields. [81] Since wearing a veil was impractical for working women, "a veiled woman silently announced that her husband was rich enough to keep her idle." [82]

By the 19th century, upper-class urban Muslim and Christian women in Egypt wore a garment which included a head cover and a burqa (muslin cloth that covered the lower nose and the mouth). [7] The name of this garment, harabah, derives from early Christian and Judaic religious vocabulary, which may indicate the origins of the garment itself. [7] Up to the first half of the twentieth century, rural women in the Maghreb and Egypt put on a form of niqab when they visited urban areas, "as a sign of civilization". [83]

Modern history

A model displaying a fashionable hijab at "Moslema In Style Fashion Show" (show for Muslim women apparels) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Moslema in style (8093610616).jpg
A model displaying a fashionable hijab at "Moslema In Style Fashion Show" (show for Muslim women apparels) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Western clothing largely dominated in Muslim countries the 1960s and 1970s. [84] [85] For example, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, many liberal women wore short skirts, flower printed hippie dresses, flared trousers, [86] and went out in public without the hijab. [87] [88] This changed following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, military dictatorship in Pakistan, and Iranian revolution of 1979, when traditional conservative attire including the abaya, jilbab and niqab made a comeback. [89] [90] There were demonstrations in Iran in March 1979, after the hijab law was brought in, decreeing that women in Iran would have to wear scarves to leave the house. [91]

Gamal Abdel Nasser laughing at the Muslim Brotherhood for suggesting in 1953 that women should be required to wear the hijab.

In 1953 Egyptian leader President Gamal Abdel Nasser was told by the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood that they wanted to enforce the wearing of the hijab, to which Nasser responded, "Sir, I know you have a daughter in college - and she doesn't wear a headscarf or anything! Why don't you make her wear the headscarf? So you can't make one girl, your own daughter, wear it, and yet you want me to go and make ten million women wear it?"

The late-twentieth century saw a resurgence of the hijab in Egypt after a long period of decline as a result of westernization. Already in the mid-1970s some college aged Muslim men and women began a movement meant to reunite and rededicate themselves to the Islamic faith. [92] [93] This movement was named the Sahwah, [94] or awakening, and sparked a period of heightened religiosity that began to be reflected in the dress code. [92] The uniform adopted by the young female pioneers of this movement was named al-Islāmī (Islamic dress) and was made up of an "al-jilbāb—an unfitted, long-sleeved, ankle-length gown in austere solid colors and thick opaque fabric—and al-khimār, a head cover resembling a nun's wimple that covers the hair low to the forehead, comes under the chin to conceal the neck, and falls down over the chest and back". [92] In addition to the basic garments that were mostly universal within the movement, additional measures of modesty could be taken depending on how conservative the followers wished to be. Some women choose to also utilize a face covering (al-niqāb) that leaves only eye slits for sight, as well as both gloves and socks in order to reveal no visible skin.

Soon this movement expanded outside of the youth realm and became a more widespread Muslim practice. Women viewed this way of dress as a way to both publicly announce their religious beliefs as well as a way to simultaneously reject western influences of dress and culture that were prevalent at the time. Despite many criticisms of the practice of hijab being oppressive and detrimental to women’s equality, [93] many Muslim women view the way of dress to be a positive thing. It is seen as a way to avoid harassment and unwanted sexual advances in public and works to desexualize women in the public sphere in order to instead allow them to enjoy equal rights of complete legal, economic, and political status. This modesty was not only demonstrated by their chosen way of dress but also by their serious demeanor which worked to show their dedication to modesty and Islamic beliefs. [92]

Taekwondo medalists from Spain, Britain, Iran and Egypt at Rio Olympics, 2016 Medalists at the Women's 57 kg Taekwandoo.jpg
Taekwondo medalists from Spain, Britain, Iran and Egypt at Rio Olympics, 2016

Controversy erupted over the practice. Many people, both men and women from backgrounds of both Islamic and non-Islamic faith questioned the hijab and what it stood for in terms of women and their rights. There was questioning of whether in practice the hijab was truly a female choice or if women were being coerced or pressured into wearing it. [92] Many instances, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran's current policy of forced veiling for women, have brought these issues to the forefront and generated great debate from both scholars and everyday people.

As the awakening movement gained momentum, its goals matured and shifted from promoting modesty towards more of a political stance in terms of retaining support for Pan-Islamism and a symbolic rejection of Western culture and norms. Today the hijab means many different things for different people. For Islamic women who choose to wear the hijab it allows them to retain their modesty, morals and freedom of choice. [93] They choose to cover because they believe it is liberating and allows them to avoid harassment. Many people (both Muslim and non-Muslim) are against the wearing of the hijab and argue that the hijab causes issues with gender relations, works to silence and repress women both physically and metaphorically, and have many other problems with the practice. This difference in opinions has generated a plethora of discussion on the subject, both emotional and academic, which continues today.

Ever since September 11, 2001, the discussion and discourse on the hijab has intensified. Many nations have attempted to put restrictions on the hijab, which has led to a new wave of rebellion by women who instead turn to covering and wearing the hijab in even greater numbers. [93] [96]

In modern times, Iranian women act to transform the hijab by challenging the regime subsequently reinventing culture and women's identity within Iran. The female Iranian fashion designer, Naghmeh Kiumarsi, challenges the regime’s notion of culture through publicly designing, marketing, and selling clothing pieces that feature tight fitting jeans, and a “skimpy” headscarf. The biography on Kiumarsi’s (2015) website [97] offers, “She believes in the unique style of each person and is convinced that fashion has to help bring out those individual styles. She is optimistic about the creativity of the new generation in Iran and as an artist welcomes these changes.” Kiumarsi embodies her own notion of culture and identity and utilizes fashion to value the differences among Iranian women, as opposed to a single identity under the Islamic dress code. Kiumarsi welcomes the evolution of Iranian culture with the emergence of new style choices and fashion trends. Additionally, the designer’s bibliography offers, “She is also a master in fusion designs and fusion fabric connecting the past and the present thus blending cultures to create designs that are modern, colorful yet compatible with social and cultural norms” (Kiumarsi, 2015). Kiumarsi’s hijab styles reflect the premise that cultures are fluid and ever changing through combining elements of past, present, and modern cultures in her designs.

Women’s resistance in Iran is gaining traction as an increasing number of women challenge the mandatory wearing of the hijab. Smith (2017) addressed the progress that Iranian women have made in her article, “Iran surprises by realizing Islamic dress code for women,” [98] published by The Times, a reputable news organization based in the UK. The Iranian government has enforced their penal dress codes less strictly and instead of imprisonment as a punishment have implemented mandatory reform classes in the liberal capital, Tehran. General Hossein Rahimi, the Tehran’s police chief stated, “Those who do not observe the Islamic dress code will no longer be taken to detention centers, nor will judicial cases be filed against them” (Smith, 2017). The remarks of Tehran’s recent police chief in 2017 reflect political progress in contrast with the remarks of Tehran’s 2006 police chief. [98] [99] Iranian women activists have made a headway since 1979 relying on fashion to enact cultural and political change.


Despite the stereotypes that come with wearing the hijab such as: living a life dependent of men accompanied by a life of isolation, many women are now choosing to wear the hijab as a source of empowerment rather than oppression. The reason why women wear the hijab has shifted from embodying the Quran to creating a life of protection, identity, and freedom.  

Retaining modesty among strangers is essential to following the Islamic faith. [100] However, the hijab is a tangible object which much like it’s literal meaning, “curtain”, restricts anyone outside of their family from looking at the features that constitute them as a woman. [100] Woman whom find discomfort in men looking at their attributes don’t face such predicament when wearing the hijab. Additionally, power is given to the woman, as, she controls men’s reactions towards her, when minimizing the view of her features because men are believed to have an inability to control sexual urges. [101]

Muslim woman are usually recognized as a Muslim woman when wearing the hijab then when not. [102] Wearing the hijab provides the recognition a proud Muslim woman yearns for alongside the connotations that come with it. [100] The simple act of wearing it, demands a specific form of treatment, one where modest interactions between men and women are promoted, stopping boundaries from being crossed. Since there are boundaries enforced whilst wearing the hijab, men and people in general are forced to see beyond the physical appearance. A woman’s personality and knowledge is the only means available for another individual to judge her when wearing the hijab, molding her identity; whom she is to others. [103] The hijab also serves as a reminder of what kind of person she wants to be and helps her refrain from partaking in activities that may be deemed immodest such as partying, indulging in alcoholic beverages, flirting with strangers, and etc. [102]

With the hijab also comes a sense of freedom. Restrictions placed on women not wearing the hijab are not enforced or are not as enforced by their families because trust is instilled based on the modesty factor the hijab represents. Often women are forbidden to casually hangout with friends but when wearing the hijab, women are exhibiting their will to follow what the hijab stands for, therefore, they experience leeway and are allowed to socialize with friends and progress in school life and work places. [102]

Compulsion and pressure

Some governments encourage and even oblige women to wear the hijab, while others have banned it in at least some public settings. In many parts of the world women also experience informal pressure for or against wearing hijab, including physical attacks.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requires Muslim women to cover their hair and all women have to wear a full-body garment. [104] [105] Saudi women commonly wear the traditional abaya robe, while foreigners sometimes opt for a long coat. [105] These regulations are enforced by the religious police and vigilantes. [105] In 2002 the Saudi religious police were accused by Saudi and international press of hindering the rescue of schoolgirls from a fire because they were not wearing hijab, which resulted in 15 deaths. [106] In 2018, the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman told CBS News that Saudi law requires women to wear "decent, respectful clothing", and that women are free to decide what form it should take. [104]

Iran went from banning all types of veils in 1936 to making Islamic dress mandatory for women following the Islamic Revolution in 1979. [107] In April 1980, it was decided that women in government offices and educational institutions would be mandated to veil. [107] The 1983 penal code prescribed punishment of 74 lashes for women appearing in public without Islamic hijab (hijab shar'ee), leaving the definition of proper hijab ambiguous. [108] [109] The same period witnessed tensions around the definition of proper hijab, which sometimes resulted in vigilante harassment of women who were perceived to wear improper clothing. [107] [108] In 1984 Tehran’s public prosecutor announced that a stricter dress-code should observed in public establishments, while clothing in other places should correspond to standards observed by the majority of the people. [107] A new regulation issued in 1988 by the Ministry of the Interior based on the 1983 law further specified what constituted violations of hijab. [110] Iran's current penal code stipulates a fine or 10 days to two months in prison as punishment for failure to observe hijab in public, without specifying its form. [111] [112] The dress code has been subject of alternating periods of relatively strict and relaxed enforcement over the years, with many women pushing its boundaries, and its compulsory aspect has been a point of contention between conservatives and the current president Hassan Rouhani. [111] [113] [114] The United Nations Human Rights Council recently called on Iran to guarantee the rights of those human rights defenders and lawyers supporting anti-hijab protests. [115] In governmental and religious institutions, the dress code requires khimar-type headscarf and overcoat, while in other public places women commonly wear a loosely tied headscarf (rousari).[ citation needed ] Iranian government endorses and officially promotes stricter types of veiling, praising it by invoking both Islamic religious principles and pre-Islamic Iranian culture. [116]

The Indonesian province of Aceh requires Muslim women to wear hijab in public. [117] Indonesia's central government granted Aceh's religious leaders the right to impose Sharia in 2001, in a deal aiming to put an end to the separatist movement in the province. [117]

Muslim world

The tradition of veiling hair in Iranian culture has ancient pre-Islamic origins, [118] but the widespread custom was forcibly ended by Reza Shah's regime in 1936, as he claimed hijab to be incompatible with his modernizing ambitions and ordered "unveiling" act or Kashf-e hijab. The police arrested women who wore the veil and would forcibly remove it, and these policies outraged the Shi'a clerics, and ordinary men and women, to whom appearing in public without their cover was tantamount to nakedness. Many women refused to leave the house out of fear of being assaulted by Reza Shah's police. [119] In 1941 the compulsory element in the policy of unveiling was abandoned.

Turkey had a ban on headscarves at universities until recently. In 2008 the Turkish government attempted to lift a ban on Muslim headscarves at universities, but were overturned by the country's Constitutional Court. [120] In December 2010, however, the Turkish government ended the headscarf ban in universities, government buildings and schools. [121]

In Tunisia, women were banned from wearing hijab in state offices in 1981 and in the 1980s and 1990s more restrictions were put in place. [122] In 2017, Tajikistan banned hijabs. Minister of Culture, Shamsiddin Orumbekzoda, told Radio Free Europe Islamic dress was "really dangerous". Under existing laws, women wearing hijabs are already banned from entering the country's government offices. [123] [124]


A veil-burning ceremony in USSR as part of Soviet Hujum policies Hujum.png
A veil-burning ceremony in USSR as part of Soviet Hujum policies

On March 15, 2004, France passed a law banning "symbols or clothes through which students conspicuously display their religious affiliation" in public primary schools, middle schools, and secondary schools. In the Belgian city of Maaseik, the niqāb has been banned since 2006. [125] On July 13, 2010, France's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban wearing the Islamic full veil in public. It became the first European country to ban the full-face veil in public places, [126] followed by Belgium, Latvia, Bulgaria, Austria, Denmark and some cantons of Switzerland in the following years.

Belgium banned the full-face veil in 2011 in places like parks and on the streets. In September 2013, the electors of the Swiss canton of Ticino voted in favour of a ban on face veils in public areas. [127] In 2016, Latvia and Bulgaria banned the burqa in public places. [128] [129] In October 2017, wearing a face veil became also illegal in Austria. This ban also includes scarves, masks and clown paint that cover faces to avoid discriminating against Muslim dress. [126] In 2016, Bosnia-Herzegovina's supervising judicial authority upheld a ban on wearing Islamic headscarves in courts and legal institutions, despite protests from the Muslim community that constitutes 40% of the country. [130] [131] In 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled that companies were allowed to bar employees from wearing visible religious symbols, including the hijab. However, if the company has no policy regarding the wearing of clothes that demonstrate religious and political ideas, a customer cannot ask employees to remove the clothing item. [132] In 2018, Danish parliament passed a law banning the full-face veil in public places. [133]

In 2016, more than 20 French towns banned the use of the burqini, a style of swimwear intended to accord with rules of hijab. [134] [135] [136] Dozens of women were subsequently issued fines, with some tickets citing not wearing "an outfit respecting good morals and secularism", and some were verbally attacked by bystanders when they were confronted by the police. [134] [137] [138] [139] Enforcement of the ban also hit beachgoers wearing a wide range of modest attire besides the burqini. [134] [139] Media reported that in one case the police forced a woman to remove part of her clothing on a beach in Nice. [137] [138] [139] The Nice mayor's office denied that she was forced to do so and the mayor condemned what he called the "unacceptable provocation" of wearing such clothes in the aftermath of the Nice terrorist attack. [134] [139]

A team of psychologists in Belgium have investigated, in two studies of 166 and 147 participants, whether the Belgians' discomfort with the Islamic hijab, and the support of its ban from the country's public sphere, is motivated by the defense of the values of autonomy and universalism (which includes equality), or by xenophobia/ethnic prejudice and by anti-religious sentiments. The studies have revealed the effects of subtle prejudice/racism, values (self-enhancement values and security versus universalism), and religious attitudes (literal anti-religious thinking versus spirituality), in predicting greater levels of anti-veil attitudes beyond the effects of other related variables such as age and political conservatism. [140]

In 2019, Austria banned the hijab in schools for children up to ten years of age. The ban was motivated by the equality between men and women and improving social integration with respect to local customs. Parents who send their child to school with a headscarf will be fined 440 euro. [141]

In 2019, Staffanstorp Municipality in Sweden banned all veils for school pupils up to sixth grade. [142]

Unofficial pressure to wear hijab

Muslim girls and women have fallen victim to honor killings in both the Western world and elsewhere for refusing to wearing the hijab or for wearing it in way considered to be improper by the perpetrators. [143]

Successful informal coercion of women by sectors of society to wear hijab has been reported in Gaza where Mujama' al-Islami, the predecessor of Hamas, reportedly used "a mixture of consent and coercion" to "'restore' hijab" on urban educated women in Gaza in the late 1970s and 1980s. [144]

Similar behaviour was displayed by Hamas itself during the First Intifada in Palestine. Though a relatively small movement at this time, Hamas exploited the political vacuum left by perceived failures in strategy by the Palestinian factions to call for a "return" to Islam as a path to success, a campaign that focused on the role of women. [145] Hamas campaigned for the wearing of the hijab alongside other measures, including insisting women stay at home, segregation from men and the promotion of polygamy. In the course of this campaign women who chose not to wear the hijab were verbally and physically harassed, with the result that the hijab was being worn "just to avoid problems on the streets". [146]

Wearing of the hijab was enforced by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Taliban required women to cover not only their head but their face as well, because "the face of a woman is a source of corruption" for men not related to them. [147]

In Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, a previously unknown militant group calling itself Lashkar-e-Jabbar claimed responsibility for a series of acid attacks on women who did not wear the burqa in 2001, threatening to punish women who do not adhere to their vision of Islamic dress. Women of Kashmir, most of whom are not fully veiled, defied the warning, and the attacks were condemned by prominent militant and separatist groups of the region. [148] [149]

In 2006, radicals in Gaza have been accused of attacking or threatening to attack the faces of women in an effort to intimidate them from wearing allegedly immodest dress. [151]

In 2014 the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was reported to have executed several women for not wearing niqab with gloves. [152]

In April 2019 in Norway, telecom company Telia received bomb threats after featuring a Muslim woman taking off her hijab in a commercial. Although the police did not evaluate the threat likely to be carried out, delivering threats is still a crime in Norway. [153]

Unofficial pressure against wearing hijab

In recent years, women wearing hijab have been subject of verbal and physical attacks in Western countries, particularly following terrorist attacks. [154] [155] [156] [157] Louis A. Cainkar writes that the data suggest that women in hijab rather than men are the predominant target of anti-Muslim attacks not because they are more easily identifiable as Muslims, but because they are seen to represent a threat to the local moral order that the attackers are seeking to defend. [155] Some women stop wearing hijab out of fear or following perceived pressure from their acquaintances, but many refuse to stop wearing it out of religious conviction even when they are urged to do so for self-protection. [155]

Kazakhstan has no official ban on wearing hijab, but those who wear it have reported that authorities use a number of tactics to discriminate against them. [158]

In 2015 authorities in Uzbekistan organized a "deveiling" campaign in the capital city Tashkent, during which women wearing hijab were detained and taken to a police station. Those who agreed to remove their hijab were released "after a conversation", while those who refused were transferred to the counterterrorism department and given a lecture. Their husbands or fathers were then summoned to convince the women to obey the police. This followed an earlier campaign in the Fergana Valley. [159]

In 2016 in Kyrgyzstan the government has sponsored street banners aiming to dissuade women from wearing the hijab. [160]

Hijab discrimination in the workplace

The issue of discrimination of Muslims is more prevalent among Muslim women due to the hijab being an observable declaration of faith. Particularly after the events of 9/11 and the coining of the term Islamophobia, some of Islamophobia’s manifestations are seen within the workplace. [161] Women wearing the hijab are at risk of discrimination in their workplace because the hijab helps identify them for anyone who may hold Islamophobic attitudes. [162] [163] Their association with the Islamic faith automatically projects any negative stereotyping of the religion onto them. [164] As a result of the heightened discrimination, some Muslim women in the workplace resort to taking off their hijab in hopes to prevent any further prejudice acts. [165]

A number of Muslim women who were interviewed expressed that perceived discrimination also poses a problem for them. [166] To be specific, Muslim women shared that they chose not to wear the headscarf out of fear of future discrimination. [166]

The discrimination Muslim women face goes beyond affecting their work experience, it also interferes with their decision to uphold religious obligations. In result of discrimination Muslim women in the United States have worries regarding their ability to follow their religion because it might mean they are rejected employment. [167] Ali, Yamada, and Mahmoud (2015) [168] state that women of color who also follow the religion of Islam are considered to be in what is called “triple jeopardy”, due to being a part of two minority groups subject to discrimination.

Ali et al. (2015) [168] study found a relationship between the discrimination Muslims face at work and their job satisfaction. In other words, the discrimination Muslim women face at work is associated with their overall feeling of contentment of their jobs, especially compared to other religious groups. [169]

Muslim women not only experience discrimination whilst in their job environment, they also experience discrimination in their attempts to get a job. An experimental study conducted on potential hiring discrimination among Muslims found that in terms of overt discrimination there were no differences between Muslim women who wore traditional Islamic clothing and those who did not. However, covert discrimination was noted towards Muslim who wore the hijab, and as a result were dealt with in a hostile and rude manner. [170] While observing hiring practices among 4,000 employers in the U.S , experimenters found that employers who self-identified as Republican tended to avoid making interviews with candidates who appeared  Muslim on their social network pages. [171]

One instance that some view as hijab discrimination in the workplace that gained public attention and made it to the Supreme Court was EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch . The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took advantage of its power granted by Title VII and made a case for a young hijabi female who applied for a job, but was rejected due to her wearing a headscarf which violated Abercrombie & Fitch's pre-existing and longstanding policy against head coverings and all black garments. [172]

Discrimination levels differ depending on geographical location; for example, South Asian Muslims in the United Arab Emirates do not perceive as much discrimination as their South Asian counterparts in the U.S. [173] Although, South Asian Muslim women in both locations are similar in describing discrimination experiences as subtle and indirect interactions. [173]   The same study also reports differences among South Asian Muslim women who wear the hijab, and those who do not. For non-hijabis, they reported to have experienced more perceived discrimination when they were around other Muslims. [173]

Perceived discrimination is detrimental to well-being, both mentally and physically. [174] However, perceived discrimination may also be related to more positive well-being for the individual. [175] A study in New Zealand concluded that while Muslim women who wore the headscarf did in fact experience discrimination, these negative experiences were overcome by much higher feelings of religious pride, belonging, and centrality. [175]

See also

Covering variants


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Related Research Articles

Burqa Enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions

A burqa or burka, also known as a chadaree in Afghanistan or a paranja in Central Asia, is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover themselves in public, which covers the body and the face.

Chador traditional Iranian female garment

A chādor, also variously spelled in English as chadah, chad(d)ar, chader, chud(d)ah, chadur, and naturalized as, is an outer garment or open cloak worn by some women in Iran, Iraq, and some other countries under the Persianate cultural sphere, as well as predominantly Shia areas, i. e., Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Pakistan, India, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Tajikistan, and Turkey, in public spaces or outdoors. A chador is a full-body-length semicircle of fabric that is open down the front. This cloth is tossed over the woman's or girl's head and she holds it closed in the front. The chador has no hand openings, or any buttons, clasps, etc., but rather, it is held closed by her hands or tucked under the wearer's arms.

Islamic clothing refers to clothing worn by Muslims, which varies by region, culture, country, tribe, personal preference, and other demographics. Despite the wide range of styles, Islamic clothing generally follows the rules of hijab for women.

Ihram is, in Islam, a sacred state which a Muslim must enter in order to perform the major pilgrimage (Hajj) or the minor pilgrimage (Umrah). A pilgrim must enter into this state before crossing the pilgrimage boundary, known as Miqat, by performing the cleansing rituals and wearing the prescribed attire.

Niqāb cloth that covers the face as a part of sartorial hijab

A niqab or niqaab, also called a ruband, is a garment of clothing that covers the face, worn by some Muslim women as a part of a particular interpretation of hijab. According to the majority of Muslim scholars and Islamic schools of thought, face veiling is not a requirement of Islam; however a minority of Muslim scholars, particularly among the Salafi movement, assert that women are required to cover their face in public. Those Muslim women who wear the niqab, do so in places where they may encounter non-mahram (non-related) men.

Headscarf piece of cloth worn on ones head

Headscarves, or head scarves, are scarves covering most or all of the top of a person's, usually women, hair and her head, leaving the face uncovered. A headscarf is formed of a triangular or square cloth folded into a triangle piece of fabric, with which the head is covered.

The intimate parts of the human body must, according to Islam, be covered by clothing. Exposing the intimate parts of the body is unlawful in Islam as the Quran instructs the covering of genitals, and for adult females the breasts. Exposing them is regarded as sin. Precisely which body parts must be covered varies between different schools of Islamic thought. The Quran admonishes Muslim women to dress modestly and cover their breasts and genitals. The Quran explicitly states that "O wives of the Prophet, you are not like anyone among women" and as such has separate rules specifically for the wives of the Prophet.

Jilbāb Women dress

The term jilbāb or jilbaab refers to any long and loose-fit coat or outer garment worn by some Muslim women. Wearers believe that this definition of jilbab fulfills the Quranic choice for a hijab. Jilbab, jubbah or jilaabah is also known as chador by Persian speakers in Iran. The modern jilbāb covers the entire body. Some women will also cover the hands with gloves and the face along with a niqāb. In recent years, a short visor is often included to protect the face from the tropical sun.

Islamic scarf controversy in France

The Islamic scarf controversy in France, referred to there as l'affaire du voile, l'affaire du voile islamique, and l'affaire du foulard arose in 1989, pertaining to the wearing of the hijab in French public schools. It involved issues of the place of Muslim women, differences between Islamic doctrine and Islamic tradition, the conflict between communitarianism and the French policy of minority assimilation, discussions of the "Islamist threat" to French society and of Islamophobia and of strict secularity in state institutions.

British debate over veils

The British debate over veils began in October 2006 when the MP and government minister Jack Straw wrote in his local newspaper, the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, that, while he did not want to be "prescriptive", he preferred talking to women who did not wear a niqab as he could see their face, and asked women who were wearing such items to remove them when they spoke to him, making clear that they could decline his request and that a female member of staff was in the room.

Islamic dress in Europe

Islamic dress in Europe, especially the variety of headdresses worn by Muslim women, has become a prominent symbol of the presence of Islam in western Europe. In several countries, the adherence to hijab has led to political controversies and proposals for a legal ban. Some countries already have laws banning the wearing of masks in public, which can be applied to veils that conceal the face. Other countries are debating similar legislation, or have more limited prohibitions. Some of them apply only to face-covering clothing such as the burqa, boushiya, or niqab; some apply to any clothing with an Islamic religious symbolism such as the khimar, a type of headscarf. The issue has different names in different countries, and "the veil" or hijab may be used as general terms for the debate, representing more than just the veil itself, or the concept of modesty embodied in hijab.

Religious clothing is clothing which is worn in accordance with religious practice, tradition or significance to a faith group. It includes clerical clothing such as cassocks, and religious habit, robes, and other vestments. Accessories include hats, wedding rings, crucifixes, etc.

Hijab by country

The word hijab refers to both the head-covering traditionally worn by some Muslim women and Islamic styles of dress in general.

French ban on face covering

The French ban on face covering is an act of parliament passed by the Senate of France on 14 September 2010, resulting in the ban on the wearing of face-covering headgear, including masks, helmets, balaclavas, niqābs and other veils covering the face in public places, except under specified circumstances. The ban also applies to the burqa, a full-body covering, if it covers the face. Consequently, full body costumes and Zentais were banned. The bill had previously been passed by the National Assembly of France on 13 July 2010. In April 2011, France became the first European country to impose a ban on full-face veils in public areas.

Niqāb in Egypt

In a predominantly Muslim society, as many as 90% of women in Egypt have adopted a form of veiling. A majority of Egyptian women cover at least their hair with the hijab. A hijab refers to a head covering that is worn by Muslim women. Although the phenomenon of wearing the niqāb, a veil which covers the face is not as common, the niqab in Egypt has become more prevalent. While a few women in Egypt wear a black niqab along with a billowing black abaya as seen in countries such as Saudi Arabia, many choose to wear different colors of the niqab or manipulate the hijab to cover their face. Regardless, the growing trend of munaqqabat, or women who wear the niqab, has alarmed the authorities. They have begun to see this dress as a security threat, because it hides the face, and because it is perceived as a political statement, a rejection of the state in favor of a strict Islamic system.

Kendra Drider is a French Muslim woman of Moroccan descent. She made the headlines when she announced she would stand in the French presidential election, 2012 in protest at the burqa ban.

Kashf-e hijab

On 8 January 1936, pro-western ruler Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran (Persia) issued a decree known as Kashf-e hijab banning all Islamic veils, an edict that was swiftly and forcefully implemented. The government also banned many types of male traditional clothing. Since then, the Hijab issue has become a deep wound in the Iranian politics. One of the enduring legacies of Reza Shah has been turning dress into an integral problem of Iranian politics.

Burka ban in Australia

In Australia, there is an ongoing debate over the possibility of a ban on the wearing of burqa, a conservative form of dress for Islamic women. There are currently 14 nations that have banned the burqa, including Austria, France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Latvia, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Gabon, China and Morocco.

Hijabophobia form of discrimination

Hijabophobia is a type of religious and cultural discrimination against Muslim women. The discrimination has had manifestations in public, working and educational places.