Islam is one of the largest religions in the world and is a source of intrigue to the Western world. One intriguing factor is the attire worn by Muslims. Various styles of Islamic clothing exist that depend largely on the culture and preference of the individual wearing them, yet the underlying belief structures are similar across all Islamic cultures.
Islamic dress codes are drawn from the Qur'an and refer back to the days of Adam and Eve who exposed themselves at the urging of Satan. This shame and sexual tension that existed when Adam and Eve became aware of their sexuality was the beginning of the Islamic dress code. The purpose of Islamic clothing today is to provide adequate covering of the body as well as to ensure that one's appearance does not pose an eyesore for another. The most important aspect of Islamic clothing is that it does not enable arrogance, self-indulgence and exhibitionism.
Men of Islam must cover their heads with a traditional kufiya or kufi in order to symbolise respect for their God, Allah, and show they are beneath Allah. Men are also required to cover the middle part of their body, which the Qur'an specifies as the region between the navel and the knees.
Thoub, Bisht and Izzar
The thoub is the traditional top worn by Muslim men that sits on the upper region of the body and is long enough to reach below the knees. Thoubs can come in different colours and styles according to personal preference and culture, yet must always remain modest. Oftentimes Muslim men add overcoats called a bisht, mostly during the winter for added warmth. For the lower part of their bodies, men often wear an Izzar which wraps around the waist and reaches the knees or ankles.
The laws of Islam prohibit women from exposing any part of their body other than the hands and the face. The fabric women wear must be modest and made of thick material that cannot be seen through. Women's clothing must adhere to seven conditions which include covering the entire body save the hands and face, hiding the form of the feminine body and not having bold designs or adornment. The reason for these laws are to protect women from men by reducing the temptation.
Hijab and Niqaab
The hijab literally means "separation" or "veil" and it is designed to separate women from men for their own protection by covering their heads--it is the head cover. The traditional form of the hijab is the abaya which is the full body over-garment. While abayas come in many different colours, the traditional colour is black. The niqaab refers to the face covering that Islamic women wear. Unlike the hijab, the niqaab covers the entire face with a thin layer of cloth functioning as the eye screen.