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From hijab to burqa; a guide to Muslim headwear

From hijab to burqa – a guide to Muslim headwear

Darshna Soni Home Affairs Correspondent

For some, wearing Muslim headdress is an assertion of religious and cultural identity. For others, it is a symbol of female oppression. Darshna Soni explains the differences between headwear styles.

Within Islam, dress codes are known as hijab, a term which refers to the principle of modesty and which includes behaviour as well as dress, writes Channel 4 News Home Affairs Correspondent Darshna Soni.

Although recent controversies have focused on what Muslim women wear, there are also rules for men.

These rules are open to a wide range of interpretations. Some Muslim women believe in covering every part of the body, others do not observe any special dress rules. Here is our quick guide.


‘Hijab’ is often a generic term for the attire that Muslim women wear to cover their heads as a religious practice. Today, the term also refers to an item of clothing that covers a woman’s head (and often neck), leaving the face uncovered.

There are many different styles, and these vary depending on everything from cultural practices to personal preference. For instance, some women may choose to cover their necks entirely, while others wrap the hijab loosely around their heads.

The scarves used for the hijab also vary in fabric colour and material, and this is also based entirely on personal preference.


Naili said the decision to wear a niqab is hers and her husband would prefer that she remove it because of the abuse she has suffered.

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She said more dialogue needs to take place between Quebecers and Muslims so they can better understand each other.

Muslim community leaders estimate that the number of women who wear burkas and niqabs are between 60 to 100 in all of Quebec.

Fo Neimi, executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), predicted the law will ultimately be ruled unconstitutional following likely court challenges.

In the meantime, hospital officials and the Société de transport de Montréal are busy figuring out the implications of the law for both employees and members of the public.


How could a piece of cloth used as a facemask — declared not to be Islamic and unnecessary by no less a figure than the head of the Al-Azhar University in Egypt — become the rallying cry of white feminists, gay activists, left-wing academics and even Premier Kathleen Wynne of Ontario?

I raised this question with two Muslim women from Quebec, one a Saudi refugee in Sherbrooke, and the other a Bangladesh-born academic in Montreal.

Ensaf Haider arrived in Quebec in 2013 escaping the Arab world and its tyranny hoping to find freedom in Canada. Her Saudi husband, Raif Badawi, is still serving a 10-year jail sentence and awaiting 1,000 lashes on charges of Islamophobia.

Reacting to Premier Wynne’s denunciation of the anti-Burka law of Quebec, Haider said:

Политолог рассказал, ждать ли войны между ИГИЛ* и талибами** в Афганистане

— Не верится, что их считают террористами?

— Не то чтобы не верится. Есть мнение, что талибы* не террористы, а члены национально-освободительного движения, и боролись они только за то, чтобы изгнать из страны иностранцев. И ничего предосудительного в этом нет. Но это спорное утверждение.

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«Будущее Афганистана решится за его пределами»

— Могут ли они рассчитывать на международное признание?

— Они считают, что могут. Они считают, что являются полноправными представителями афганского народа, выразителями воли народа, полностью соответствуют желаниям и стремлениям афганцев. Пару недель назад представитель «Талибана»* говорил, что талибы* могли бы представлять Афганистан в ООН и даже рассчитывают на поддержку России в этом вопросе. Но, понятное дело, при признании талибского* правительства мнение самих талибов* вряд ли кто-то будет учитывать. Это большая политическая игра, в которой участвуют региональные игроки, Запад. И будущее Афганистана решится за его пределами.

— Вы лично считаете, каким должно быть будущее у этой страны?

— При самом идеальном варианте это могло бы быть что-то в иранском духе, когда во главе государства стоит духовенство. Оно ведет очень активную региональную политику, взаимодействует с соседями, и вроде как в стране существуют запреты в соответствии с исламом, но никто их слишком всерьез не воспринимает.

«Иранский сценарий для Афганистана»

— Когда я смотрел, сколько в Афганистане народов и культур, мне показалось, что, кроме религии, здесь нет объединяющих факторов. Это правильное утверждение?

— По большому счету — да. Это основное. Правда, есть нюанс: около 15–20 процентов населения страны являются хазарейцами-шиитами. А талибы* в подавляющем большинстве — пуштуны-сунниты. Потому, если смотреть на будущее Афганистана с религиозной точки зрения, это должны быть люди, которые будут представлять интересы шиитов в новом правительстве. И этот вопрос пока туговат.


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The CfMM tracked the output of 34 British media websites between October 2018 and September 2019 and analysed almost 48,000 articles relating to Muslims, employing a methodology designed and validated by external academic experts.

The publication found to have the highest proportion of articles identified as antagonistic to Muslims – across all 34 outlets, ranging from the Times through the Tablet and Reuters to the Economist and the BBC – was the Spectator. No fewer than 37 per cent of Spectator articles mentioning Muslims were found to do so in an antagonistic manner.

The Spectator was also the publication with the highest proportion of articles that misrepresented Muslim behaviour or beliefs, while in the category for the highest percentage of articles rated ‘very biased’ it was only narrowly beaten into second place (by Christian Today).

Of course, with research like this no matter how rigorous the methodology we must allow leeway for subjectivity, but when one small publication forces its way so consistently to the top of the listings the message is hard to miss. And the message is this: the Spectator doesn’t like Muslims and Liddle’s expressions of loathing and contempt are only the tip of the iceberg.

What is the difference between a burqa and an abaya?

Now, let’s discuss about burqa and abaya. Many Muslim women think burqa and abaya are same thing, are they? To be honest, there aredifference between them. They are not same but related to each other. Then what is the difference? Well, the definition of abaya is a kind of dress that is look like a long robe and women wear it over other cloths to cover their whole body.

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In this scenario, abaya and burqa have same purpose.The real difference is abaya can be short or long, covering the head and toe is not necessary for an abaya but a burqa must cover head to toe and must be very loose. True aspiration of burqa is to hide the shape of their body from unknown male or outside family members.

Burqa has two essential parts that an abaya don’t have. First one is a kind of veil that cover the head and both eyes. Some veil is made with an opening in the eyes area. The other one is a pant or skirt like apparel that covers the leg. This part of the apparels are made with one or two pieces, based on the design of burqa.

The word burqa came from Persian language purda that refers curtain and it is also known as many other name. Many people call it borkha, some pronounce it burqu. Burqa can be a littledifficult to wear in summer season but inwinter season, it’s totally opposite. Abaya are more popular than burqa in many countries.

The percentage of wearing burqa is much lesser than abaya. According to many statistics, most of the young women prefer abaya instead of burqa because abayas are more fashionable than burqa. To illustrate their love and belief in their culture &religion, Muslim women are devoted to wear abaya and burqa.

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