Rules about dress code for Muslim women are often open to interpretations. Some Muslim women believe in covering every part of the body, others do not adhere to any specific dress rules. However, non-Muslims often don’t know the difference between a Niqab and a Burqa, for example. These terms are often incorrectly used interchangeably, especially by the press when referring to ‘burqa bans’.
So here is a short guide to headwear and cloaks.

This is the most common type of headscarf worn by Muslim women in the West. It is a headscarf that covers the head and neck, but not the face. The scarves come in many different colours, shades and shapes.
In the West, the term hijab is often incorrectly used as a catchall for all Islamic headwear for women.

The niqab is a combination of a head covering and scarf that covers all of a woman’s face except for her eyes. It is most often worn in Arab countries, but more and more of Muslim women in the West are choosing to wear it.

A burqa covers and conceals the whole body from the top of the head to the ground. It covers the face, the eyes and the body. A mesh cloth allows a woman to see through. A burqa is mostly associated with Afghanistan.

The chador is mainly worn in Iran and is a body-length garment, usually black. The chador has no fasteners and is therefore held in place under the neck by hand.

And lastly the abaya. This is a long, loose garment worn by Muslim women to cover the shape of their bodies. Abayas are usually black and are often worn in combination with the hijab or niqab.

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