This is a new article on the modern hijabi phenomenon in Egypt:
CAIRO: For those unfamiliar with the Islamic practice of veiling, the many variations of the hijab found on the streets of Cairo can be perplexing. Why are some hijabs bright, fashionable — sometimes downright flashy — while others seem conservative in the extreme — solid black, un-textured, and designed to cover as much of the wearer’s body as possible?
Then comes the full-face veil, or niqab. Why do some women cover every inch of skin, sometimes wearing black gloves and eye-screens, while others sport body-hugging undergarments and designer jeans? Is there any doctrinal difference between the Islam of a woman who wears a niqab and the religion of a young woman whose Italian silk hijab is as much a fashion accessory as a gesture of modesty?
With these questions in mind, I set out for downtown Cairo on Thursday evening, where I spoke with women of all ages, wearing all sorts of different veils. What I found was surprising — I expected to discover a lexicon of terms for all of the different styles of veils, but the lexicon is meager at best.
There is the niqab, of course, which is always accompanied by a full-length abbaya, the female version of the traditional galabiyah. And then there is the khemar, which — like the niqab but without covering the face— descends over the shoulders, down to the elbows, and is also accompanied by traditional clothing in subtle colors. Finally, there is the hijab.
Simple enough, right? Except that all veils — indeed, the entire practice of veiling — are part of the concept of hijab, which stipulates that Muslim women should cover their features and hair so as to discourage the lascivious gazes of men, allowing both women and the men to avoid sin.
In common parlance, hijab refers to the trendy veils worn by the younger generation — the ones that come in dozens of textures, dozens of fabrics, and hundreds of colors. Compared to the niqab and the khemar, these fashionable hijabs, and the tight clothes that sometimes accompany them, seem nothing short of revolutionary.
But the older generation doesn’t feel terribly threatened. “You can’t obligate the people to wear any particular thing,” said Mona, who wears a niqab, when I asked if she worried about the boisterous colors and tight clothing worn by most of Cairo’s younger women. Read the rest of the article on Daily news Egypt.
What do you guys think?