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Types of muslim veils and their origins


Muslim women veils

The veil is now, as well as a source of controversy for European legislators, confusion for Western society that is asked about the origin and variations between the different coating garments that it sees circulating.

The term ” hijab “, of Arabic origin and by the extension used throughout the Islamic world, does not refer to a specific garment. Hijab means “covering” or “clothing that covers” and for that reason Muslims speak of “observing or respecting the hijab ” to refer to the norm of covering the body of women. The basic thing is to cover the hair but also the female body. Muslims in the Indian subcontinent use the word purdah(literally, “curtain”) to refer to the same concept. That is, the hijab.

It is not a type of handkerchief or touch but a rule that then adopts different forms according to the geographical origin of the population that dresses them, the religious creed or the cultural environment.

Garments are known in the West under the names given in those places without being stipulated in writing (neither in the Koran nor elsewhere). In fact, the term burka has been popularized for the full-face veils that cover the face, although it is the word that, in the Arab countries riparian of the Persian Gulf, is used to denominate the masks with which their women have traditionally covered their faces. (Other than the veils that are now known by the Islamists, although over time has come to mean any veil that covers the face).

Within Islam, two clear slopes can be distinguished. One argues that women, upon entering puberty, should cover their body and head completely . Another, meanwhile, says that while it is not a mandate, it is recommended. But most Muslim leaders and theorists claim that hijab is a mandatory practice.

There are those who argue, however, that the Koran does not really mandate the use of the veil , but rather aims to respect decency and modesty when it comes to showing the body.

Types of muslim veils or headdress



The hijab is considered by many Muslims as the symbol of religion and femininity . This veil hides the women’s hair, ears, and neck, but lets the face show.

This word has its root in the Arabic term hajaba , whose meaning is to hide, to hide from the eyes, to put distance.

The hijab is accompanied by a tunic or a raincoat . Its size, color and placement depends on the customs of each community or country.

The origin of the term is in the Koran and it marks a barrier not between a man and a woman, but between two men. In the era of the rachidíes caliphs the word curtain was imposed to mark a separation between the caliph and the space occupied by the people.



It is the traditional dress of the Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Even, the extremist current of the Taliban decreed mandatory its use.

From this, from the vision of the West was associated with this veil with the terrorist regime of the Taliban . Therefore, certain regions have proposed to prevent its use, especially in schools and hospitals. An initiative that in each case has faced criticism from various human rights groups.

France, Spain, Holland and Belgium, among others, are some of the countries where the ban on the burka was proposed.

In many Middle Eastern countries, the burqa is seen as a demonstration of faith in Islam .



The niqab, on the other hand, is a long tunic that completely covers the body and the head. It barely reveals the woman’s eyes. This is the only difference it has with the burka.

The etymological root of this word is in the Arabic term Naqaba , which means “to pierce”, because it only has two holes for the eyes.

In the Muslim world, the use of this veil predominates in regions of Wahhabi influence, such as Saudi Arabia . Precisely that Islamic current of Wahhabism stands out for its rigorous application of sharia.



A semicircular cloth, which is wrapped from the head, covers the entire body and holds without hooks, only with the folds from the neck; let the oval of the face be seen. In general it is black if they are presented in public and more colorful if used inside the house or to go to the mosque; It can be combined with a headscarf. Popularized in the West by the Iranian Islamic revolution, it is also used by the pious Chíes of Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia (among others).

The pious Sunnis of Saudi Arabia or Fallujah (Iraq) wear a very similar outfit which in Arabic is called “abaya”; both in the Arabian peninsula and in the territories of North Africa. In rural areas of Tunisia and Algeria (two Sunni countries) women cover a similar fabric, but white instead of black. Often, women who wear chador or abaya wear the tunic and the handkerchief or touch below them.



The amira or the amira is made up of two pieces. One is fitted to the head in the form of a cap and the other is a tight veil in tubular form. It completely covers the head and neck, without showing the hair.

It is a practical and simple style to wear hijab. It is known as the “Princess Scarves” style because this type of veil can be adorned with diamonds, brooches or any other type of decoration.

It can also vary in its design and colors.



The shayla is a long, rectangular veil that is used to wrap the head and attach to the shoulders. It does not allow the woman to show her hair, but her face.

It is widely used in the countries of the Persian Gulf.

With respect to their design, they usually have different colors and can even wear gauze prints or transparencies.



Finally, the khimar has a layer shape and extends to the waist . It covers the hair, neck and shoulders, but it does show the face.

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