The Difference between Burka, Jilbab/’Abaya and Hijab – How to Cover Your Face in Hajj if you observe Niqaab
There seems to be some confusion about the different kinds of headgear that Muslim women wear. So we have decided to do a separate post on this topic.
Burka or burqa is a one piece enveloping outer garment that covers from head to toe. There is a small netted portion near the eyes allowing one to watch their step. [shown in the picture]
Jilbab/’Abaya: both are full-length outer garments usually in a coat style covering from the shoulders to the ankles.
Hijab is the headscarf worn separately that ‘must’ cover the neck, bosom, shoulders, arms (up to a certain length) and the back. Hijab must not end up at the neck leaving other body parts uncovered. Your body shape should not be evident at any point in the public (whether you are in Hajj or not).
Niqaab – generally the term is used for a ‘stitched’ layered niqaab that has openings for the eyes and is worn separately. Only ‘this’ is not allowed.
Muslim women who cover their faces in routine life are not comfortable with revealing their faces to non-Mahram hence they are allowed to cover their face with anything that is not stitched. We find the evidence for this from a hadeeth narrated by ‘Aishah radhiAllahu ‘anha. She said, “When men passed by us we used to cover our faces and once we had passed by them we would uncover our faces.”
Now since the mutawwaf is almost always crowded how can one go about it?
There are two ways:
Ever noticed Imam Ka’abah leading the prayer? His face is almost covered by his headgear. Similarly, once you have worn your hijab and pinned it up, take another piece of clothing larger in size. This could be a chador or a bigger scarf. Place this above your hijab and draw it up to your face. It shouldn’t be so thin that your face is clearly visible but you should be able to find your way. You can pin it from the top with a safety pin so that your hands are free and you don’t have to worry.
Option two is to draw the edges up to your face and hold them with your hands. But this way your hands will not be free to hold a du’a book, mus-haf or if you are supporting a person to walk.
This is how it was explained by our teacher in the class because she covers her face in public and there is no niqabless picture of her available anywhere. In case of difference of opinion you can of course always consult with your local Imam.