Difference Between Hijab, Niqab and Burka

Islamic religion strongly advocates for modesty in how people should dress. Muslim women are treated with respect and have been given huge status. Quran says that all Muslim women and men should dress in a modest manner to protect themselves from evil eyes.

The act of wearing scarves and face veiling has existed even before the Islamic religion was introduced in the seventh century. Even today, the practice of head coverings has a significant role in other religions, including Catholicism, and Orthodox Judaism.

Hijab vs Niqab vs Burka

The main difference between a hijab, niqab, and burka is that hijab covers only the neck and head of women, on the other hand, niqab covers parts of a woman’s face and neck, but not their eyes, whereas, burka covers the whole body of the women, leaving nothing exposed.

Hijab vs Niqab vs Burka

In a metaphysical dimension, hijab is referred to as “the veil which separates man, or the world, from God”. Another explanation of the hijab can be women’s seclusion from men in any public sphere.

Niqab is a more common type of veil worn by women. It consists of a two-piece full-length cloth that covers the face and exempts the covering of the eyes.

Burka is a long flowing cloth that covers the whole body of women, from head to toe, leaving a mesh screen through which they can see what is in front of them.

Comparison Table Between Hijab, Niqab, and Burka

Parameters of ComparisonHijabNiqabBurka
CoversHead and ChestFace, neck, and headEntire body
TypeHeadscarfVeilVeil
Also CalledHijab is known by its original name all around the world.Ruband is another name for niqabBurka is also called chadaree, paranja, and boshiya in different parts of the world.
Most Worn InIslamic countriesArab countries of the Arabian PeninsulaAfghanistan
Face visibilityVisibleNot visibleNot visible

What is Hijab?

Hijab is a headscarf worn by women in the Muslim community. It is clothing that covers the chest and head of the body. Women wear this when there is a presence of any male who does not belong to their immediate family.

Quran describes the hijab as a curtain that divides the visitors from Muhammad’s main house from the residential lodgings of his wives. Some claim that the interpretation of this saying in the Quran is applied to Muhammad wives and it only mandates them to wear hijab. And this saying does not apply to the entirety of women.

Hijab was used for the Islamic rules of modesty and dress for Muslim females. It is worn to maintain privacy and modesty from unknown men. Modern Muslim scholars say that according to Islamic law it is mandatory for women to follow the rules of the hijab. This rule is mainly for adults and is not required to be followed by young girls.

What is Niqab?

Niqab is a covering used by Muslim women to cover their face, neck, and head. A niqab is also known as ruband, which essentially is a cloth worn by women for covering their faces as a part of modest dressing in their culture.

The majority of Islamic schools and Muslim scholars say that Islam does not require women to face veiling. Women wear the niqab in places where they may come across non-mahram (unrelated) males.

Niqab can be worn in different styles. In the front, the veil generally comes down to the mid-chest and flows down to the middle in the back.

The half-niqab style is worn around the face with a simple length of cloth tied with elastic. Here, a part of the forehead and eyes are visible through the garment.

In the full niqab or gulf style, the women’s face is entirely covered. A long wide piece of garment is used to cover the face, together with an upper band that goes around the forehead. Most full niqabs have layers of sheer cloth connected to the upper band. These sheer layers can be left over the top of the head or they can be flipped down.

In the niqab, the women can see everything through the thin layer of the eye veil, however, the person looking at the woman would not be able to see anything.

What is Burka?

Burka is a traditional garment worn as a veil. It was usually worn by women from Jewish and Islamic traditions to cover their faces and body.

In Afghanistan, burka is also called chadaree, and paranja in Central Asia. Boshiya is an Arab version of burka which is generally black in color. Women can hardly work while wearing burka, hence it is viewed as a symbol of leisure and wealth in many places.

The tradition of burka and other different face veiling is known to be around since the pre-Islamic era. Most Islamic scholars do not view face veiling as a mandatory religious requirement for women. However, few scholars that belong to the Salafi movement believe it is imperative for women to cover themselves in the company of non-related males.

Mainly, burka is a part of cultures that are very conservative and often controls the power and movement of women in the family and society. Young girls are not mandated to wear burka but once they reach puberty or get married, they start to wear them.

Main Difference Between Hijab, Niqab, and Burka

Origin of Tradition

  1. Hijab – The head-covering were primarily introduced through Arab’s contact with Iran and Syria, where hijab was viewed as a symbol of social status.
  2. Niqab – The practice of wearing niqab originated in the areas of Middle East around third century for the Arabian women to cover their faces.
  3. Burka – It was first introduced in Afghanistan during the Taliban reign.

Types

  1. Hijab has many different types and can be worn in different colors.
  2. Niqab is commonly worn in two styles; full niqab and gulf-style.
  3. Burka is usually worn in black, blue, white or any dull color.

Most Worn Places

  1. Hijab is a compulsion in Iran, Afghanistan, and in the province of Aceh of Indonesia. It is also worn by many in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  2. Niqab is mostly worn in Arab countries of the Arabian Peninsula like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United States of Emirates and Oman.
  3. Burka is mostly worn in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Banned in Countries

  1. Hijab is banned in many countries around the world. France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Sri Lanka and China are some of them.
  2. Niqab is banned in Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Morocco, Chad, Gabon, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, Latvia, Netherlands, and the Republic of Congo.
  3. Burka is banned fully or partially in countries like France, Austria, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Egypt, Algeria, Denmark, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, Chad, Gabon, Italy, Germany, Spain, Russia, Norway, Canada, Niger, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bosnia, Morocco, and China.

Grills

Hijab and niqab has no grills but, burka has grills.

Conclusion

Whether it is a headscarf or a veil, the purpose of wearing hijab, niqab, or burka is to dress modestly. These veils are an important part of Muslim culture. They come in different styles and colors. In some countries, it is an obligation while in others it is a personal choice.

Many critics have expressed their opinion by saying that the tradition of veiling is forced on women. They add that women are forced to cover their bodies and head in the name of religion.

Contrasting this statement, many Muslim women argue that wearing a veil symbolizes their piety and devotion towards their religion and they put a veil because they want to. To them, this is a method of self-expression and religious identity.

Reference

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26426539
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1057/fr.2011.11

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