Hijab, Niqab vs Burka: Difference and Comparison

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 modestly to protect themselves from evil eyes.

Wearing scarves and face veiling existed even before the Islamic religion was introduced in the seventh century.

Even today, head coverings are significant in other religions, including Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism.

Key Takeaways

  1. A hijab is a headscarf covering the hair and neck, a niqab is a veil covering the face except for the eyes, and a burka is a full-body covering with a mesh or narrow opening for the eyes.
  2. These garments are worn by Muslim women as a form of modesty and religious observance, with cultural and regional variations in style and practice.
  3. Hijab, niqab, and burka represent different degrees of coverage and modesty within Islamic dress codes, reflecting personal beliefs and cultural influences.

Hijab vs Niqab vs Burka

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

Hijab vs Niqab vs Burka

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In a metaphysical dimension, hijab is “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 a woman, from head to toe, leaving a mesh screen through which they can see what is in front of them.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHijabNiqabBurka
CoversHead and ChestFace, neck, and headEntire body
Also CalledHijab is known by its original name all around the world.Burka is also called charge, paranja, and boshiya in different parts of the world.Burka is also called charge, Naranja, 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 the 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 applies to Muhammad’s 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, women must 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 a rub, a cloth worn by women to cover 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 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 covers the face and an upper band around the forehead.

Most full niqabs have layers of sheer cloth connected to the upper band. These thin layers can be left over the top of the head, or flipped down.

In the niqab, the woman 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. Women from Jewish and Islamic traditions wore it to cover their faces and body.

The burka is called charge in Afghanistan, and Naranja is in Central Asia. Boshiya is an Arab version of the burka which is black.

Women can hardly work while wearing a 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 of the Salafi movement believe women must cover themselves in the company of non-related males.

Mainly, the burka is a part of cultures that are very conservative and controls the power and movement of women in the family and society.

Young girls are not mandated to wear a burka but start to wear it once they reach puberty or get married.

burka 1

Main Difference Between Hijab, Niqab, and Burka

Origin of Tradition

  1. Hijab – The head-covering was 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 a niqab originated in the Middle East around the third century for Arabian women to cover their faces.
  3. Burka – It was first introduced in Afghanistan during the Taliban’s reign.


  1. Hijab has many different types, and they can be worn in different colours.
  2. Niqab is commonly worn in two styles; full niqab and gulf style.
  3. Burka is worn in black, blue, white or dull colour.

Most Worn Places

  1. Hijab is a compulsion in Iran, Afghanistan, and 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, the 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. Some of them are France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Sri Lanka and China.
  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.


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

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

Last Updated : 25 July, 2023

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