Monday, March 17, 2008

Women's Dress In Islam (3/10/08)

The Koran instructs Muslim women to dress modestly and cover their hair and bodies. The following verse (Koran 24:31) expresses this requirement:

“And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their
ornaments except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no
sense of shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.”

The Koran refers to the veil as being a separation between men and women (Verse 33:53):
“And when ye ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts.”

Muslim female dress has been the subject of much scholarly debate. For the most part, the agreed upon requirements for women are that they should cover their bodies and not call attention to themselves when in the presence of a member of the opposite sex who is not a close relative. In some Muslim countries and communities, women are required to cover everything except their eyes. In most Muslim cultures, all body parts except the hands and face must be covered.

Here are some examples of Muslim clothing for women:

  • Niqab - A veil that covers the face and head but has a slit for the eyes.

  • Burka – A garment that covers the entire body with a grill-covered eye slit.

  • Hijab - A large scarf that covers the hair.

  • Chador – A traditional full length outer garment that covers the head and body and allows for the display of the face.

  • Abaya – A full length outer garment, usually black, which covers from the head to the feet with an opening for the eyes.