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  • What's the difference between a hijab, chador, niqab, burka and burkini?

    What's the difference between a hijab, chador, niqab, burka and burkini?

    There are lots of different kinds of coverings worn by modest women all over the world. However, in recent times, head coverings are mostly associated with Muslim women. Some Christian and Jewish women also wear headscarves.

    The hijab was originally worn as a gesture of modesty, though some women also use it to publicly identify themselves as Muslim.

    “There are Arab or Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab as an expression of their cultural identity,” according to the website Arabs in America.

    Still others choose not to wear the hijab because in the Western world it draws attention, which could be considered counter to the rules of modesty. Whatever their decisions, most Muslim women say wearing the hijab or another form of covering is a matter of personal choice.

    There are several different types of head covering. Here is how they differ:


    In Arabic, the word “hijab” means “cover.” The word hijab describes the act of covering up generally but is often used to describe the headscarves worn by Muslim women. These scarves come in many styles and colors. This common type of veil takes one of two shapes: the “shayla” keeps a woman’s face and neck exposed, while the “khimar” covers the neck and shoulders. The type most commonly worn in the West covers the head and neck but leaves the face clear.


    The al-amira is a two-piece veil. It consists of a close-fitting cap, usually made from cotton or polyester, and a tube-like scarf.


    The khimar is a long, cape-like veil that hangs down to just above the waist. It covers the hair, neck and shoulders completely, but leaves the face clear.

    Chador or Chadar

    Also called a tchador, worn by many Iranian women when outside the house, is a full-body cloak. It is often accompanied by a smaller headscarf underneath. it is a cloak that falls to a woman’s feet and includes the head covering. Beneath the chador is usually a dress, blouse and skirt, or blouse and pants.

    Shayla or Shawal

    The shayla is a long, rectangular scarf popular in the Gulf region. It is wrapped around the head and tucked or pinned in place at the shoulders.


    The niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear. The niqab leaves a woman’s eyes visible, but covers her mouth and nose. There is usually a head covering like a khimar worn with it. However, it may be worn with a separate eye veil. It is worn with an accompanying headscarf.


    Sometimes spelled burqa, the burka is the most concealing of all Islamic veils. It is a one-piece veil that covers the face and body, often leaving just a mesh screen to see through. There typically is a mesh panel through which the woman can see.


    The burkini is a modest swimwear covers the entire body and is worn by Muslim women around the world, the suit covers the whole body except the face, the hands and the feet, while being light enough for swimming.

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