A Glossary of Islamic Clothing

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Muslims generally observe modest dress, but the variety of styles and colors have various names depending on the country. Here is a glossary of the most common names of Islamic clothing for both men and women, along with photos and descriptions.

Hijab

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This word is sometimes used to generally describe a Muslim women's modest dress. More specifically, it refers to a square or rectangular piece of fabric which is folded, placed over the head and fastened under the chin as a headscarf. Depending on the style and location, this may also be called a shaylah or tarhah.

Khimar

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A general term for a woman's head and/or face veil. This word is sometimes used to describe a particular style of scarf that drapes over the entire top half of a woman's body, down to the waist.

Abaya

Many women in Saudi Arabia still wear the traditional abaya with full head and face covering, although some women choose now to leave off the face cover. Non-Muslim women wear the abaya (black robe) but are not expected to cover their heads and faces. Svetlana Zibnitskaya / Getty Images

Common in the Arab Gulf countries, this a cloak for women that is worn over other clothing when in public. The abaya is usually made of black synthetic fiber, sometimes decorated with colored embroidery or sequins. The abaya may be worn from the top of the head to the ground (like the chador described below), or over the shoulders. It is usually fastened so that it is closed. It may be combined with a headscarf or face veil.

Chador

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An enveloping cloak was worn by women, from the top of the head to the ground. Usually worn in Iran without a face veil. Unlike the abaya described above, the chador is sometimes not fastened in the front.

Jilbab

Muslim women often wear an outer garment, called a jilbab. Think stock Images / Getty Images

Sometimes used as a general term, quoted from the Qur'an 33:59, for an over-garment or cloak worn by Muslim women when in public. Sometimes refers to a specific style of cloak, similar to the abaya but more fitted, and in a wider variety of fabrics and colors. It looks more similar to a long tailored coat.

Niqab

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A face veil worn by some Muslim women which may or may not leave the eyes uncovered.

Burqa

In Afghanistan, many women wear a burqa which covers their entire body. The eyes are covered with a mesh screen. Juanmonino / Getty Images

This type of veil and body covering conceals all of a woman's body, including the eyes, which are covered with a mesh screen. Common in Afghanistan; sometimes refers to the "niqab" face veil described above.

Shalwar Kameez

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Worn by both men and women primarily in the Indian subcontinent, this is a pair of loose trousers that are worn with a long tunic.

Thobe

Many Muslim men wear a thobe, an ankle-length shirt or robe that covers their body. Celia Peterson / Getty Images

A long robe worn by Muslim men. The top is usually tailored like a shirt, but it is ankle-length and loose. The thobe is usually white but may be found in other colors, especially in winter. The term may also be used to describe any type of loose dress worn by men or women.

Ghutra and Egal

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A square or rectangular headscarf is worn by men, along with a rope band (usually black) to fasten it in place. The ghutra (headscarf) is usually white, or checkered red/white or black/white. In some countries, this is called a shemagh or kuffiyeh.

Bisht

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A dressier men's cloak that is sometimes worn over the thobe, often by high-level government or religious leaders.