What Are Hijab Clothes?

Lainie Petersen

Hijab clothes are garments that a woman or girl can wear to meet Islamic modesty codes. As the topic of hijab and various understandings of modest dress vary considerably within the Muslim community as well as within individual cultures, a wide variety of garment styles may be considered hijab clothes by those who choose and wear them. Many Muslim women choose to dress in a way that conceals most of the skin on their body. These garments are typically loose so as to not cling to and show the shape of the body. Many women also choose to wear a headscarf that conceals most or all of their hair and may also choose to wear a full or half face veil that likewise conceals their facial features.

A woman wearing an abaya and niqab.
A woman wearing an abaya and niqab.

Many cultures have their own understanding and version of hijab clothes. Women in Saudi Arabia typically wear an enveloping black robe known as the abaya along with a headscarf and sometimes a face veil when out in public or in the presence of men to whom they are not closely related. In other countries, women may wear a garment known as a jilbab, a long, loose button-down dress or coat, as well as some type of head covering. In Iran, women typically wear a long raincoat and a headscarf when in public. It should be noted that women may often wear Western fashion, or at least clothing that does not meet Islamic modesty standards, underneath their hijab clothes.

Two women wearing burqas.
Two women wearing burqas.

Some women have special considerations when wearing hijab. Athletes, for example, may need specially designed garments that allow them freedom of movement while also preserving their modesty. Women who work in certain occupations may also need to wear hijab clothes that are less likely to obscure vision or to get caught in machinery.

The Qur'an instructs women to be modest in dress.
The Qur'an instructs women to be modest in dress.

In Europe, the United States, or other countries that are not predominately Muslim or in which hijab is not enforced by law, Muslim women typically have a great deal of freedom when choosing hijab clothes. Some may simply choose to wear contemporary fashion garments that offer significant coverage to the body. For example, a Muslim woman may choose to wear a maxi dress or maxi skirt so as to provide full coverage of the leg and then wear a loose high-necked, long-sleeved blouse or jacket on top. A woman may also wear loose trousers and a loose blouse along with a headscarf.

The hadith is used alongside the Quran to interpret appropriate dress.
The hadith is used alongside the Quran to interpret appropriate dress.

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Discussion Comments


@manykitties2 - I don't think it is really as simple as simply choosing to wear hijab clothes or not for a lot of women. I have a close friend who is of the Islamic faith and she chooses to cover up because she believes it is the right thing to do for her faith.

I really believe that wearing a headscarf or abaya is no different that wearing a cross around your neck. We all show our religious faith differently.

As for identification. I believe that people should have to show their faces on government ID. If they are worried about anything, they can always have a female attendant take their photo.


There is still a lot of controversy about women who are forced to wear certain kinds of hijab clothes. From the headscarf to the abaya it is not uncommon to spot a story in the news about whether it is OK or not for women to be forced to wear these items.

Another hotly contested issue that usually comes up when hijab clothes are brought up is whether or not women should be allowed to cover their faces for driving license photos. I personally think that no one should be exempt from identification photos, and people really need to get with the times.

What do you think? Is it OK to cover up in hijab clothing even for official documents?

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