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Difference Between Niqab and Burqa

Niqab vs Burqa

Islamic women wear different kinds of clothing as a form of protection and as a sign of modesty per the standards of their culture and religion. The basis of wearing these types of clothing can be found in the Holy Quran, the holy text of the Muslims, that dictates how Muslim men and women should conduct their lives. The specific chapters that address this issue are the Surah An-Noor (chapter 24) and the Surah Al-Ahzaab (chapter 33).

Reasons for wearing these clothes are usually divided into two reasons, personal preference and dictation of local and religious customs. Both the niqab and the burqa fall under the category of Islamic women’s garments.

The niqab is a headpiece, specifically a traditional type of covering in the form of a veil that covers the face including the ears and the hair. Sometimes, even the neck and chest area are also covered by this piece. The design of this veil involves an opening for the eyes for vision. The niqab can also feature a scarf or extra flap of cloth.

The niqab can be classified into two types; the half niqab and the full niqab. As its name implies, the half niqab only covers half of the woman’s face. The lower half of the face is uncovered while the upper part remains wrapped in fabric. The full niqab covers all the dimensions of the face and the hair with only slits for the eyes.

The niqab can be attached or tied to the woman’s head by laces or by clips. Most women in the Persian Gulf or Muslim immigrants wear this piece.

On the other hand, a burqa is also a traditional Muslim garment, but it provides more extensive coverage. In wearing a burqa, the woman’s face and body are covered. The whole body and its shape are concealed and no visible skin is seen except for the hands. It is basically a head-to-toe garment.

The burqa can be a one-piece or a two-piece garment. Both versions of the garment are worn beneath a long skirt or pants to hide the woman’s legs. The garment is usually draped over the head and not adjusted or fastened to the woman’s body. There is a small opening for the eyes which is designed with a mesh panel. It is usually seen as a garment worn by women in Afghanistan.


1.Both the niqab and the burqa are traditional, Muslim garments for women. Wearing the burqa and the niqab is dependent on personal preference or local custom or tradition.
2.Justification for wearing either garment (or any Islamic garments for women) is rooted in the Holy Quran. Chapter 24 (the Surah An-Noor) and chapter 33 (the Surah Al-Ahzaab of the Holy text are the main texts aimed at this issue.
3.The niqab is a headpiece in the form of a veil. It can either be classified as a half niqab or a full niqab. Both variations cover the face (including the ears) and the hair. On the other hand, a burqa covers the woman’s whole body enclosing the body and hiding the woman’s shape. There are only slits for the eyes designed with a mesh panel. The burqa can be worn as a one-piece or two-piece garment.
4.The niqab can allow for some skin exposure, but it is almost impossible to show off skin while wearing the burqa.
5.The niqab is worn by tying it by laces or clipping it to the woman’s head. In contrast, the burqa is draped over the head and worn without any fastenings like belts.
6.Both garments are seen worn by women in different parts of the Islamic world. The burqa is prevalent in Afghanistan while women of the Persian Gulf and Muslim women immigrants are seen wearing the niqab.

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