What does the burqa symbolize?

klassisch image by Westa Zikas from Fotolia.com

A Burqa is an outer garment worn by women in Islamic societies specifically to hide the face or body. It is usually worn when women leave their homes, or are around men unrelated to them. The burka is seen as an expression of devoted faith in Islam.


The burka mostly refers to a piece of cloth several yards long that Muslim women wear to cover their entire bodies including the hair and face. The term can also refer to a piece of cloth that only covers a woman's head and hair. Stricter traditions of Islam require that women wear the burka whenever they are not in their home among family members. Other less strict traditions only require that women cover their hair and neck but allow the face to show.


It is thought that the burka predates Islam, and was introduced by Assyrian kings instead. There is also evidence of veiling in classical Greece, the Byzantine Christian tradition, and in ancient India. In fact, the burka did not appear as a rule of Islam until the 10th century. The burka has, since then, undergone enormous political discussion particularly pertaining to women's rights and equality. As of 2010, more conservative Muslim women wear burkas consistently, though some women prefer not to or prefer only head scarves instead.


For Muslim women who choose to wear it, a burka symbolises two main points. The first is deep devoted faith to Islam; a woman wearing the burka shows others that she believes it is her religious duty to do so, and she will gladly abide by the rules of her faith. In addition, the burka also symbolises modesty and purity. By wearing it, a Muslim woman sends a message that only a select group of people may look upon her and that she does not wish to adorn or show off her body or beauty. Some argue that wearing a burka is actually more freeing than going without it. This way, men cannot sexualise a woman in a burka, and women will not be bothered by unwanted attention.