What does the Islamic veil mean and how many types are there for the Muslim religion?

The use of veil on the part of women actually it is not a specific and original practice of Islam. Especially in ancient times, in fact, it served as protection from atmospheric agents (sand, wind, dust). From a religious point of view, however, the custom of keeping the head covered recalls the concept of humility and of submission to Godprinciples also observed byJudaism and from Christianityas well as the Muslim religion.

On the other hand, it is true that, in our daily experience today, if we think of the veil, the Islamic one comes to mind. Yet, even in this case, we risk falling into excessive simplification. The veil that Muslim women wear, in fact, can be of various models, colors and fantasies. In most cases it is a fabric that covers the head and neck, leaving the face uncovered, but this is not always the case. As we will see, the different typologies are strongly linked to the geographical area they belong to.

In the Koran the most used term to indicate the veil is hijab (which is also a specific type of veil). The word, however, more generally expresses a feeling of modesty and chastity which refers to both women and men and can also embody many other meanings.

types of veil image, amy1313, vecteezy.com

The Islamic veil
  • 1The different types of veil
    • 1.1Shayla
    • 1.2Hijab
    • 1.3Al-Amira
    • 1.4Khimar
    • 1.5Chador
    • 1.6Niqab
    • 1.7Burqa
  • 2Is wearing the veil compulsory for women in Islam?
  • 3Does Italian law prohibit wearing a burqa?

The different types of veil

Here is a list of the main types of veil. There are also others, but they are less widespread:


A shayla it is a long rectangular scarf, wrapped around the head and tucked or pinned in place on the shoulders. It is popular in the Persian Gulf.


L’hijab it is the only “veil” spoken of in the Quran and is famously recognized as the scarf covering the head of the Muslim woman, leaving your face free.


L’Al-Amira (sometimes written Ameera) is a two-piece veil, consisting of a close-fitting headdress, usually made of cotton or other lightweight material, and a tubular scarf.


The khimar it is a long cloak-like veil that can reach just above the waist. It covers your hair, neck and shoulders, but leaves your face uncovered. It is popular among women Egyptian.


A chador it is a semicircle of fabric, usually black and draped over the head like a shawl. Unlike the canon hijab, covers the entire body. It is held under the chin with one hand or, in some cases, pins are used to keep it closed. At home or in the mosque it is also worn in more colorful versions. THE chador they are especially popular in Iran or in countries with a large share of Shia populations.


A niqab it is a veil that is worn in combination with another black garment underneath. It completely covers the face and head and leaves a cutout for the eyes. This garment is popular in many of the Gulf States.


The burqa covers the entire face, with a mesh grid over the eye area. He is mainly worn in Afghanistanas it is imposed by the Taliban.

Is wearing the veil compulsory for women in Islam?

Today there are many discussions regarding the Islamic veil: there are those who argue that it is an imposition and that it represents the submission of the woman and who claims its use to underline a strong cultural and religious identity; other women instead consider it a real means of emancipation.

With respect to obligatory nature, some communities interpret the use of the veil in a way rigid (like Afghanistan), while others are more flexible (Morocco). It must be taken into consideration that the Islamic community (Ummah) brings together a set of populations united by a common faith, but always each linked to its own local culture.

types of Muslim Islamic veil

An interesting thesis supported by the authors Reza Aslan and Leila Ahmed is that the term darabat al-hijâb (“to take the veil”) was used as a synonym for “become the wife of the Prophet Mohammed” and that Muslim women began to wear thehijab to emulate the Prophet’s wives. This interpretation brings some of the most important scholars belonging to the 7 schools of Islamic law (madhahib) to consider the veil compulsory.

According to other authors, however, the Koran it mentions absolutely no imposition of the veil on the hair. The term hijab it would have more to do with an “attitude of mind”. This variety of interpretations means that in Muslim majority countries (Arab, Asian, African) where the veil is not compulsory we find Muslim women who wear it and others who do not.

Age too in which girls begin to wear the veil varies from culture to culture and from country to country. In some cases the veil begins to be worn after marriage, in others after the arrival of puberty, as part of a rite of passage. In still others, you stop wearing after menopause.

Italian law prohibits carrying the burqa?

Wearing a veil in Italy is not a crime, not even a full one. Those who oppose this practice generally appeal to the art. 85 of the Consolidated Law on Public Security (RD no. 773/1931) and law no. 152/1975, whose art. 5 reads:

“The use of protective helmets, or any other means capable of making it difficult to recognize a person, in a public place or place open to the public, without justified reason is prohibited. In any case, the aforementioned use is prohibited on the occasion of events which take place in a public place or open to the public, except those of a sporting nature which such use entails. The offender is punished with imprisonment for one to two years and with a fine of between 1,000 and 2,000 euros. For the infringement referred to in In this article, arrest in flagrante delicto is optional.”

The Council of State established that religious motivation was one of the valid reasons for being able to circulate with the Islamic veil. The central point is that the objective of the wearer is not to not be recognised, but to profess a certain religious belief (and it is this point that distinguishes a woman with the burqa by a thief in a balaclava, for example).

Even in document photos The use of headgear is authorized, as long as the face can be seen. Here too, the veil is not comparable to a hat or any clothing, since it is an integral part of the usual clothing and helps, as a whole, to identify the wearer.