What is "Hijab" - Definition & Explanation

Hijab is the modern word for the practice of dressing modestly, which all practicing Muslims past the age of puberty are instructed to do in their holy book, the Quran. No precise dress code for men or women is set out in the Qur'an (the most specific part being 33:59 mentioning that believers "draw their cloaks close round them (when they go out)"), and various Islamic scholars have interpreted the meaning of hijab in different ways. The basic requirements are that when in the presence of someone of the opposite sex other than a "close family member" (Mahram), a woman should cover her body, and walk and dress in a way which does not draw sexual attention to her, and that a man should be covered from at least the navel to the knees, and similarly not wear figure-hugging clothes that draw sexual attention to him.

Generally drawing sexual attention is only allowed between married couples—where it is highly encouraged—and they do not need to cover any part of their body in each other's presence (other Mahrams should hide at least their sexual organs from each other). It is claimed that hijab strengthens the family and therefore improves the children's mental health.

As a rule of Islam, "in the case of necessity, for example for saving lives or avoiding severe hardship, hijab rules are waived".

The way in which Muslims who practice hijab interpret the stated rules varies from country to country and even individual to individual.

The word "hijab" is also frequently used specifically to mean a headscarf worn by a Muslim woman. In this case, it most often refers to a square scarf which is folded diagonally and worn over the head to cover the hair, ears and throat, but not the face. The word used in the Qu'ran for a headscarf is "khimar", which might be better to use when referring to headscarves in general, as many people argue that this use of "hijab" is incorrect, and it can certainly lead to confusion. See also: veil for a general description of headscarves and veils worn by both Muslim and non-Muslim women; and list of hats and headgear for a list of all kinds of veils

How do people wear hijab?

Opinions on what exactly constitutes hijab vary among Muslims. Perhaps the most accepted and common practice for women however is the covering of the body except for the face and hands (wrist to fingers), in a simple manner that does not attract sexual attention from men (by avoiding sheer fabrics or figure-hugging clothes for example). Some have said that both sexes should cover their heads, wrists, and ankles; others believe that women should cover their faces as well.

Some liberal Muslims in the West choose to follow hijab by dressing in a way that would be considered modest for the culture in which they find themselves—e.g. western business clothes.

Why do people wear hijab?

Hijab is sometimes controversial: its proponents suggest that it provides higher levels of sexual security, especially for women. They offer as evidence the situation of Islamic countries regarding sex crimes, compared to other countries with same economic situation and GDP per capita. This, of course, is a specious comparison as there are numerous other variables at play which may account for the different rates. Some believe that hijab is unfair and oppressive. On the other hand, many Muslim women, including many in western cultures, state that they prefer to follow hijab as a sign of their faith and submission to Allah (not to men), so that all Muslim women are respected equally rather than for their appearance, and as a matter of social responsibility.

The Taliban practice of forcing Afghan women to wear full burqas (a garment which covers the entire body, except for netting or a grille over the eyes for the women to see out of) was described as cruel and misogynistic, however very few Afghan women chose to take off their burqas after the Taliban fell . Similarly the majority of Pakhtun women in the North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan continue to wear the burqa, even though there are no laws enforcing burqa-wearing in Pakistan.

General term for the headcovering worn by Muslim women. The term is often used to refer to the square or triangular type scarf that is pinned beneath the chin, but the word can also refer more generally to any type of headcover. Called a "jilbab" in much of Southeast Asia (despite the more common usage of the word "jilbab" as defined below).
The term used to describe the full dress code for women to keep them from unwelcome attentions and to preserve their modesty. It includes rules for covering the feet, what jewellery can be worn and even the limits of modern make-up that are permitted. In the UK, it is commonly used to describe only the headscarf that is worn by Muslim women to cover their hair at all times.

Some other terms

Some more terms:

Warp stripes that occur at regular intervals across part or all of the fabric width as the result of tension variation in the sections during section warping or because of differential dyeability of...
The design is created by coloured warp threads brought up on the face of the fabric, leaving loose yarns on the back woven vertically, which gives it a vertical stripe effect. Lis'er'es are Victorian...
A weft double knit fabric in which a Jacquard type of mechanism is used. This device individually controls needles or small groups of needles, and allows very complex and highly patterned knits to be...
The number of warp ends and picks per inch in a woven fabric. If a cloth is 68 X 72, it means there are 68 ends and 72 picks per inch in a woven fabric. A cloth that has the same number of ends and...
Oil from the linen (flax) plant's seeds. Used as a finish, often "Boiled" (containing metallic driers) or "Raw" (natural). Also used as a component in most oil-based varnishes, including polyurethane...

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