This page will review and discuss the various types of Islamic headwear for women. This page will review the more common choices for headwear but will also delve into headwears unrecognized by western society.

Before reading this page, we will recommend you have the following mind-set:

What Headwear is...

  • An act of Obedience to The Creator.
  • An Act of Honour & Dignity.
  • An act of Belief & Faith.
  • An act of Modesty.
  • An act of Purity.
  • An act of Bashfulness.
  • An act of Righteousness.
  • A Shield.

What Headwear is NOT...

  • It is NOT something new. Muslim women follow the example of righteous women in the past such as Mary, the mother of Jesus.
  • It is NOT a symbol of oppression.
  • It is NOT required in non-public places where there are only females and close male relatives.
  • It is NOT a means to restrict a woman’s freedom to express her views and opinion, or to have an education and a career.
  • It is NOT an act of defiance, confrontation or protest to non-Muslims.

(Joan Sumayyah, 2013)

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A Persian woman sporting a dark blue hijab


The hijab is a head covering only. According to the Qur'an, the hijab refers to The Rules of covering up, rather than the piece of clothing itself. The hijab can be worn many different ways including as a simple wrap around, shown here, or Al Amirah style. Regular clothes that cover the arms, shoulders and legs may also be worn with the hijab. Women who wear the hijab are Muhajaba, which means they are wearing it for religious purposes.The hijab or indeed any islamic headwear is a sign of that woman's faithfulness to Allah and the Qu'ran. The hijab covers the head, not the mind and intellect.

Sheila and Abaya

An abaya is a long black, loose fitting cloak that often zips or buttons up the front. The sheila is a rectangular scarf that covers the head. Usually made of light silk material and most often found in black, but can be as simple or elaborate as the wearer so chooses. Generally these garments are part of a region's traditional dress, and are therefore worn for cultural reasons rather than religious purposes. 


The niqab is often mistaken for a burqa. The niqab is worn in the Arab countries of the Arabian peninsula, but can be seen worn in other areas with sizeable muslim populations. The niqab is a veil that covers the face but leaves a small area to see through and is usually worn with full body covering.


A woman in burqa.


The burqa comes in many different colours and covers the body from head to toe. Often there is a small net window for the wearer to see out of, but no one else can see in. A fatwa (A legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar) written by Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid states the following:

"The correct view as indicated by the evidence is that the woman's face is 'awrah (intimate part) which must be covered. It is the most tempting part of her body, because what people look at most is the face, so the face is the greatest 'awrah of a woman."

The burqa and niqab exist to create the most modest piece of clothing for Islamic women, covering every 'awrah.



The Batula is a face covering generally worn by older women in the gulf region. It is a style that is slowly depleting, as it is not being carried forwards by younger generations.

Don Guan

The don guan is wear for prayer. The dress slips over a woman's clothing in two pieces. The gown and the headscarf. The don guan is often carried with a woman incase they need to stop at a Masjid or Suaru, (Places for prayer.) slip the gown and headscarf over their bodies and worship. They are then able to take the dress off and continue their day. 

6 chador

Three women wearing chador.


The chador is seen worn more commonly in Iran. A chador is usually a black, a full-body-length piece of fabric that is left open down the front. This cloak type covering is worn over the head of the woman and then held close to the front, as is shown in the image.

Before the Islamic Revolution the black chador was meant for funerals only. Lighter coloured fabrics were worn on an every day-to-day basis. Now lighter coloured chadors are worn only in one's house or during prayer.

The chador is worn as a sign of religious piety and cultural tradition.

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