Burka, niqab, chador, hijab: how to distinguish the different veils worn by Muslim women

(CNN Spanish) — Burka, niqab, chador, hijab: in the Islamic world there is a variety of veils that differ, among other characteristics, because they cover women’s bodies, heads and faces to a different extent. Here, a guide to know how to identify each one.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan and immediately increased burqa sales in Kabul. Wearing these full-face veils was mandatory during the Taliban regime that lasted from 1996 to 2001, but had become much less common in the past two decades. Now, however, many feel that wearing the burqa may be the only way for women to stay safe on the streets, a shopkeeper who sells the garments told CNN. So you can recognize it and distinguish it from other veils:

burqa: This is a full body garment that covers from head to toe, including the face. The eyes are covered by a mesh that limits lateral vision, according to an investigation by Eva Pascual Llanos published by the magazine ‘Ilu. of Sciences of Religions from the Complutense University of Madrid in 2015.

This garment was introduced in the country during the rule of Habibullah Khan at the beginning of the 20th century, with the aim of preventing men from looking at the women who were part of their harem. When the Taliban imposed their rule in 1996, the wearing of the burqa became compulsory for all women.

Niqab: This is a full face veil that only exposes the eyes. It is used in Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and can also be found in West Asian and African countries, as well as in India.

Chador: This black garment covers the entire body, but leaves the face uncovered. It is traditionally used in Iran.

Khimar: the khimar is a veil that covers the woman’s head and body at least up to the waist. Leave the face uncovered. It can be considered an intermediate between the different types of garments that are used.

Al-Amira: It has two pieces, on the one hand, a kind of cap that covers the head and hair, and on the other, a long rectangular piece that covers the shoulders. The neck is covered, but the face is visible.

hijab: It is the most widespread Islamic veil. It is a tight scarf that surrounds the head and neck, but does not cover the face.

Although the use of the veil by women precedes the Muslim culture in regions such as the Mediterranean countries and is still used in other cultures, the term hijab specifically identifies this type of veil and refers to the dress code for women in the Islam. “The term hijab means in Arabic ‘modesty’, ‘protection’, ‘hide’, ‘hide from view’, ‘curtain’, all expressions that go back to Sharia or original Islamic law”, explains the investigation.

In the Koran, on the other hand, the word “hijab” refers to the screen that separated the wives of the Prophet Muhammad from other people.

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shayla: It is a rectangular scarf, similar to the hijab, that covers the head and shoulders. There are different ways to use it.

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What does the Koran say about women’s clothing?

The Koran never mentions the word “veil,” explains Abed Awad in this CNN note.

“Tell the believing women to lower their eyes and protect their private parts, and not to show their assets except what is visible. And to wrap their shawls around the neckline, and to reveal their assets only to their husbands… “, says verse 24:31 of the holy book of Islam.

According to Awad, chal has been interpreted by many scholars to mean “veil”. However, it is clear that the text speaks of covering the chest and not the head.

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Aisha, wife of the Prophet Mohammed, passed down two traditions that seem to give some room for maneuver. One states that when a girl reaches puberty she must cover her entire body except for her hands, feet and face. The other tradition says that she should wear a veil, but she is not required to.

Most mainstream scholars of Islam claim that hijab is a compulsory religious practice. But many modern scholars say the issue is still up for debate, and millions of Muslim women do not accept any restrictions on their dress.

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