Islamic Clothing for Women
Understanding Women Hijab, Abaya
for woman and other Islamic and Muslim Clothing
Muslims follow the
religion of Islam. As
part of their religion they believe Allah to be their Creator, God
and sustainer. Allah revealed the
religion’s holy and noble book) and in it Allah has provided the
commandments to all human beings to believe in only one creator
(Allah), provided the guidance to live ones life, the concept of
life and death, punishment and rewards after death in the next life,
and many other such commandments.
Since the creation of the heavens and the
earth, Allah has
revealed his message to prophets and messengers. Some of the
prophets included Jesus (son of Mary), Jacob, Joseph and Muhammad.
Allah revealed his message on his prophets and messengers in the
form of scriptures and holy books. These books include Bible, Torah
and the Quran. Overtime, Allah’s message was changed by the people
for various reasons. Allah sent Muhammad (saws) as the last prophet
and revealed his last book, the Quran (also referred to as Koran) on
Muhammad. The Quran has remained unchanged since its revelation more
than 1500 years ago as Allah has promised that it would be free from
any human changes until the day of judgment.
are mentioned in the Quran and through Prophet Muhammad’s (saws)
teachings and practices. The primary purpose of Islamic Clothing is
to cover a man and a woman’s body as prescribed by Islamic law. This
article briefly delineates the various forms of Islamic Clothing
worn by Muslims across the world.
The common Islamic
teachings require women to cover all their bodies with the exception
of the front part of the face and hands (from the wrist area to the
fingers). All other areas are required to be covered.
Understanding the concept of “Islamic
clothing” also requires an understanding of the term mahram and
non-mahram. Although Muslim men and women are required to dress
modestly at all times, a Muslim women is usually not subject to the
same Islamic teachings in front of mahram men. Mahram men include
husbands, brothers, fathers, fathers-in-law, sons and certain other
close relationships. Everyone else not permitted in Islamic religion
fall under the category of non-mahram.
are robes like dresses that Muslim women wear on top of regular
clothing. The primary purpose of wearing an abaya
is to completely cover oneself so as not to expose any bodily
attributes or beauty as Islam instructs women to guard their beauty
from all men except those who are specifically allowed.
Certain religious interpretations require a women to dress in
clothing that should not expose any body formations whatsoever. In
such cases, Muslim women wear abaya dresses that rest on top of
their heads and extend below the ankles. This ensures that a women’s
body formations stay hidden from men who are not lawful to a woman.
Black abaya are more commonly worn in black in most middle eastern
countries, especially those in the Guf region. These countries
include Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and other neighboring countries.
These abayas are populary worn in Far Eastern
As abaya are popularly worn among Muslim women, abaya designers
have created new abaya fashions and have designed embroidered and
colored abaya. These abaya are popularly worn in Jordan, western
countries and are also now being worn in Middle Eastern countries.
Abaya dresses come in many types of fabrics.
However, Rayon/Polyester material is the most common fabric used in
their manufacture. Other fabrics used include cotton, chiffone and
Jilbab refers to “something that covers”. Jilbab are often used
synonymously with Abayas. However, new clothing trends set Jilbab
apart from Abaya dresses. Jilbabs are more fashionable and western
looking long coat like dresses that cover the body. Most women weart
Jilbab over regular clothing.
is a headcover that Muslim women usually wear to cover their hair
and head. The word Hijab is a derivative of the Arabic word “hajaba”
that means “to conceal”. Certain Islamic interpretations refer to
Hijab as covering the face as well as the head. The most common
interpretation refers to covering the head and the hair.
The requirements for covering the hair is in
the most common and accepted Islamic teachings that requires Muslim
women not to show any bodily hair to men whom they are not related
to in certain relations. For example, Muslim women do not have to
cover their head and thus can show their hair to their fathers,
husbands, sons, fathers and other men who are specifically allowed
as “mahram” (legal). For all others that are not specified in the
Islamic teachings, the Muslim women are required to cover their head
and head hair.
to abide by the Islamic teachings, manufacturers have designed many
forms and designs of Hijab. Certain are basic scarves and shawls
like fabrics that Muslim women can use to cover their hair by
folding the scarves and shawls in a certain patterns. Others are
sewn to better fit the head area, and to cover the hair without the
hair slipping out of the Hijab. Others Hijab styles come in a pair
in which one piece serves as a hijab cap that covers the hair while a shawl
covers general coverage of the head area.
caps can be matched with shawls of various types as well.
Hijab garments are most commonly available in
cotton and polyester blend fabrics. Cotton is more commonly used in
the summer as cotton is a breathable fabric and allows Muslim women
to stay cool in the summer months. Polyester blend fabrics however
are most commonly and widely used.
Scarves / Shawls
Shawls are worn as Hijab to cover the head fully, the neck and
the upper chest areas of the body. Scarves and shawls worn for this
purpose usually have larger dimensions to provide coverage of the
mentioned areas. As scarves and shawls are worn by non-Muslim women
as well, Muslim women find larger selection of designs and colors
and therefore use them as
Arabic Clothing refers to thobes and other
long dresses. These are
kaftan dresses or similar and in some cases resemble
long maxi dresses as well. These are embroidered and mostly
fully sleeve dresses.
Niqab is a garment that enables Muslim women
to cover their faces from non-mahram men. Niqab is widely used by
Muslim women who believe in the Islamic teachings of covering ones
face also (besides the head and hair) from non-mahram men. Figure 5
As Muslim women are required to cover
themselves from top to toe, long skirts are popular among Muslim
women. These popular skirts extend all the way upto the ankles to
provide full coverage of the legs.
Long Muslim skirts are commonly found in western markets and,
therefore, are less challenging to find and wear for Muslim women.
As mentioned earlier, one of the primary
requirements of dressing up in front of non-mahram men is that
Muslim women dress modestly and not reveal their bodies in the nude
or by wearing tight clothing that reveals body shapes and contours.
As wearing trousers sometimes makes it challenging to meet that
requirement, Muslim women prefer wearing long tops,
kurta, and blouses to cover the hip and waist area.