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Islam Portal

A burqa (Arabic pronunciation: [ˈbʊrqa]; also transliterated burkha, burka or burqua from Arabic: برقعburqu‘ ) is an enveloping outer garment worn only by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of hiding a female's body when out in public. It is worn over the usual daily clothing (often a long dress or a shalwar kameez) and removed when the woman returns to the sanctuary of the household (see purdah), out of the view of men that are not their husbands.

The burqa is usually understood to be the woman's loose body-covering (Arabic: jilbāb), plus the head-covering (Arabic: ḥijāb, taking the most usual meaning), plus the face-veil (Arabic: niqāb). The word comes from the Arabic root /r/+/q/+/ʕ/ which means "to patch up" or "to sew up".[1] The face-veil portion is usually a rectangular piece of semi-transparent cloth whose top side is sewn to corresponding portion of the head-scarf, so that the veil hangs down loose from the scarf, and it can be turned up if the woman wishes to reveal her face (otherwise the whole face would be covered). In other cases, the niqāb part can be a side-attached cloth which covers the face below the eyes' region.

The face-veil portion is also called purdah ([pərd̪aː]), a Persian word meaning "curtain".


Origin of word

Taken from the Arabic word 'برقع' which exactly means face cover with eye openings. It does not mean the whole black dress. The black dress is called Abaya

This type of dress has its origins with desert times long before Islam arrived. It had two functions. Firstly as a sand mask in windy conditions. This would be worn by men and women and is still common today. For women only the masking of the face and body was used when one group was being raided by another. These raids often involved the taking of women of child bearing age. With all women hidden behind a veil the chances of being taken were substantially reduced as the women of child bearing age could not be quickly distinguished from the very young and the old in the turmoil of fighting.[citation needed]

Many Muslims believe that the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an, and the collected traditions of the life of Muhammed, or hadith, require both men and women to dress and behave modestly in public. However, this requirement, called hijab, has been interpreted in many different ways by Islamic scholars (ulema) and Muslim communities (see Women and Islam).

The Quran has clearly stated "O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outergarments (jilbabs) close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle." [2].

Another very poignant verse mentioned in the Quran is: "And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their headcoverings (khimars) to cover their bosoms (jaybs), and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful" [3]


In the Muslim world, preventing women from being seen by men is closely linked to the concept of Namus.[4][5]

Namus is an ethical category, a virtue, in Middle Eastern Muslim patriarchal character. It is a strongly gender-specific category of relations within a family described in terms of honor, attention, respect/respectability, and modesty. The term is often translated as "honor".[4][5]

Afghanistan and North West Pakistan

Two women wearing burqas.

The full Afghan chadri covers the wearer's entire face except for a small region about the eyes, which is covered by a concealing net or grille. This type of covering is also common in North Western Pakistan close to the Afghan border. It is frequently referred to as "Shuttlecock Burqa" in Pakistan to differentiate it from other Burqa styles and due to its resemblance with a badminton shuttlecock.[6]

Before the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, the chadri was infrequently worn in cities. While they were in power, the Taliban treatment of women required the wearing of a chadri in public. Officially, it is not required under the present Afghan regime, but local warlords still enforce it in southern Afghanistan. Burqa use in the remainder of Afghanistan is variable and is observed to be gradually declining in Kabul. Due to political instability in these areas, women who might not otherwise be inclined to wear the chadri must do so as a matter of personal safety.

In Pakistan use of the burqa has declined over the time. Cities of Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Multan, Hyderabad, Peshawar and Quetta were overwhelmingly seen as cities of Burqa-clad women at the time of Independence. However burqa use still persists in rural areas of North-West Frontier Province, some adjoining areas of Punjab and Balochistan. Smaller cities like Mianwali in Punjab have exclusive burqa-observance as part of orthodox traditions.

Cultural dress controversy in Western Europe

Although cultural and not of Islamic teachings, face covering veils have become linked to Islam and its followers. Face-covering clothing has become a controversial political issue in Western Europe, and some intellectuals and political groups advocate prohibition, for various reasons.

This type of dress that covers the face of women is causing controversy in the United Kingdom (see main article at United Kingdom debate over veils). A senior member of the government, Jack Straw, asked Muslim women from his constituency to remove any veils covering their faces during face-to-face meetings with him. He explained to the media that this was a request, not a demand, and that he made sure that a woman staffer remained in the room during the meeting. A media furor followed. Some Muslim groups said that they understood his concerns, but others rejected them as prejudicial.[7]

Wearing the burqa has been banned in French public schools since 2004, as the result of a law that prohibits students to wear any clearly visible religious symbols. This was followed on 22 June 2009, when the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy said that burqas are "not welcome" in France, commenting that "In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity".[8] The French National Assembly appointed 32 lawmakers from right- and left-wing parties to a six-month fact-finding mission to look at ways of restricting its use.[9] On 26 January 2010, the commission reported that access to public services and public transport should be barred to those wearing the burqa.

See also


  1. ^ Arabic English Online Dictionary
  2. ^ The Holy Quran. Surah/Chapter Al-Ahzab Ayah/Verse 59
  3. ^ The Holy Quran. Sura Nur (Chapter: The Light". Verse 31
  4. ^ a b Werner Schiffauer, "Die Gewalt der Ehre. Erklärungen zu einem deutsch-türkischen Sexualkonflikt." ("The Force of the Honour"), Suhrkamp: Frankfurt am Main, 1983. ISBN 3-518-37394-3.
  5. ^ a b Dilek Cindoglu, "Virginity tests and artificial virginity in modern Turkish medicine," pp. 215–228, in Women and sexuality in Muslim societies, P. Ýlkkaracan (Ed.), Women for Women’s Human Rights, Istanbul, 2000.
  6. ^ "Jyoti Malhotra: An election in Afghanistan". Retrieved 17 August 2009. 
  7. ^ 'Remove full veils' urges Straw, BBC News, 6 October 2006
  8. ^ "Sarkozy says burqas are 'not welcome' in France", Breitbart, 22 June 2008
  9. ^ BBC NEWS | Europe | France sets up burka commission


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Hijab article)

From Wikiquote

Hijab or ħijāb (حجاب) is the Arabic term for "cover" (noun), based on the root حجب meaning "to veil, to cover (verb), to screen, to shelter." It is chiefly a reference for Islamic covering for women.



  • In ancient Iran, aristocratic women used to wear hijab. Women from lower classes did not bother. But when Islam came, it rejected such instances of discrimination. It said that all women must wear the hijab. In other words, it wanted to honor all women....they blame us by saying: You have made hijab compulsory. They themselves have made lack of hijab compulsory. They do not allow girl students to enter university, if they wear a headscarf.
  • By problemitizing and forbidding hijab, a favorite fetish of Muslim fundamentalists and the Western press alike, the French government has forced a reaction from those forces that includes sworn proclamations that the head scarf is a mandatory religious duty for women, and that banning the scarf is tantamount to interfering with the fundamental practice of Islam itself.
  • The veil can be erotic but in a political context it is not; it is a kind of seal on property, a mark of submission.
  • On the issue of the hijab, all religious scholars are in agreement that if revealing a woman's face might lead to temptation and other things, it is forbidden. In addition, even when they permitted the revealing of the woman's face, they placed restrictions on this. Even Sheik Al-Albani did so. They stated that only the face and the palms may be exposed. The woman is not allowed to expose her neck or her hair. She is not allowed to appear with make-up or jewelry. The religious scholars have all agreed upon this.
  • I want the whole world to know that they oppress us and all we can do is put up with it.
  • Despite this surge of the hijab and of religious clothing, the state of moral values in Egypt is at its worst...What kind of man is sexually aroused by a little bit of hair and needs to be protected? The Mufti of Australia said that a woman who does not wear the hijab is like a piece of abandoned meat, and that cats should not be blamed if they sink their teeth into it. I say to him: No, this is a disgrace. I'm not an abandoned piece of meat, and men are not hungry cats.

See also

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
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Look up hijab in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Video clips

Further readings

  • The Veil Unveiled: The Hijab in Modern Culture by Faegheh Shirazi discusses, inter alia, the "erotic" and "sexual" side of the Islamic hijab; ISBN 0813026989 or ISBN 978-0813026985

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|Women with a burqa and a child, in Afghanistan]] [[File:|thumb|right|A woman with a burqa, with man and child, in Northern Afghanistan]] A Burqa is a piece of clothing. It is for women. They can wear it as an outer garment. It only leaves a semi-transparent mesh in front of the woman's eyes, so she can see. The rest of the body is covered by it.

Other garments for women, that cover less of their body are the hijab and the niqab


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