Middle East Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of the Middle East


MidEastWeb Middle East

Hijab  - (Arabic - meaning "modesty") - 1. Colloquially and popularly, especially in the West, the name of a specific type of garment worn by
Muslim women in fulfillment of the modesty prescription of a Hadith of Bukhari (as opposed to the Niqab and the Burqa (see illustration at right) 2. In classical Arabic, "modesty." 3. A general name for female garments used to fulfill the requirements of modesty, including the Burqa, Chador, Hijab and Niqab.

Muslim religious authorities differ on what sort of garments are required to fulfill the various requirements of the Quran and Hadith  traditions. 

Surah XXXIII, Verse 59 of the Qur'an is most often cited in support of these practices. It states "O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close around them. that will be better, so that they may be recognized and not annoyed. Allah is ever forgiving, merciful...."

Bukhari states, "My Lord agreed with me ('Umar) in three things... (2) And as regards the veiling of women, I said 'O Allah's Apostle!  I wish you ordered your wives to cover themselves from the men because good and bad ones talk to them.' So the verse of the veiling of the women was revealed" (Bukhari, v1, bk 8, sunnah 395).

In certain countries, Muslim women have taken to wearing the Hijab as a sign of protest against Western society, and in some cases, legislation has been introduced against the practice.

In Iran and Taliban controlled portions of Afghanistan, stricter garments are mandated, such as the Burqa (Afghanistan) and the Chador (Iran).

In Turkey, the wearing of such garments was forbidden by the reform of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, but the ruling Islamist-leaning party wants to permit the wearing of the Hijab, provoking a constitutional crisis.  

In ancient times, veiling and similar practices were part of the oppression of women and the purdah regime which kept them separated from society. Some Muslim authorities point out that veiling and similar practices were part of Jewish, Christian and other traditions. However, in modern western countries, they have been abandoned.

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: HijabHijab, See Also - BurqaChador, Niqab, Abaya, Jilbab, Jalabiya

USA Credit Card - Donate On-Line - Help us live and grow

Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

Copyright 2007- 8,  MidEastWeb for Coexistence RA.

All original materials at MidEastWeb are copyright by MidEastWeb and/or by their authors unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy materials from this Web site to your Web site or to forums without permission. Please tell your friends about MidEastWeb. Please forward these materials in e-mails to friends with links to this URL - http://www.mideastweb.org and to the URL of the material. You can print out materials for your own use or classroom use, giving the URL of  MidEastWeb. For pages marked Copyright, printed material should bear this notice:

"Copyright by MidEastWeb for Coexistence R.A - Middle East Resources. - http://www.mideastweb.org. All rights reserved. "

and should give the URL of the original. Reproduction in any other form - by permission only. Consult detailed terms of use and copyright information

Mideastweb: Middle East Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Issues in a Nutshell Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Brief History Zionism Zionism: Definition & brief history