Hijab is a religious requirement of Muslim women. It comes from instruction in the Quran and in the hadith, the sayings and traditions of the Prophet Mohammed. Hijab is not only the headscarf, but an all-over form of modest dress, the minimum requirements of which ask that clothing for women cover the entire body, except for the face and hands, and that clothing be loose so as to not expose the contours of the body. (see References 1) Within these rules, there are different ways to wear hijab, from full dresses to pants, in a variety of styles and colors.
One of the most obvious elements of hijab is the headscarf. In fact, when many people say “hijab,” they mean only the scarf. It must cover the whole head, save for the face, and the neck. There are differing ways of accomplishing this, and headscarves come in many sizes and colors. One way is to simply wrap a large, thin, square scarf over your head and around your face, and then tie it or pin it under your chin. Some women prefer to use underscarves for more color and more coverage. For a color contrast, you can also use two scarves of complementary colors, one slightly smaller than the other so as to have a layered effect.
You can also use two scarves to tie your hijab at the back of the neck. Wrap one scarf around your head and neck first. Then tie another scarf over it, gathering and tying or pinning it in the back. Some women do this the opposite way, tying a scarf around their head first and gathering it at the back of the neck, and then wrapping a larger scarf over it and the neck so that the first colored scarf peeks out from underneath. (see References 2) The most important thing when wearing headscarves is that all the hair is covered, with nothing hanging out either in front or in back.
Any kind of women’s clothing which is long-sleeved and covers down to the ankles without being form-fitting can be hijab. Baggy slacks can be used as hijab, and some say even loose jeans can be worn as modest dress. (see References 3) Abaya are a kind of full-length cloak, dress or other outer garment which covers most of the body. Abaya come in both light and heavy materials and can be dresses or are open in the front and can be worn over dresses or slacks, especially in cold weather.
Also popular are two-piece suits, sometimes called salwar kameez or punjabi suits. Salwar kameez come from Pakistan and are a two-piece outfit consisting of a light, long-sleeved top and loose pants gathered at the ankles. Most salwar kameez also come with a matching scarf. Salwar kameez are very comfortable to wear and come in an array of patterns, designs and colors.
References and ResourcesHijab 101 FAQs
We Love Hijab
ResourcesHow to Wear Hijab Video
Islamic Clothing for Women