Differences between Jilbab, Hijab, Khimar and Abaya

Differences between Jilbab, Hijab, Khimar and Abaya

Differences between Jilbab, Hijab, Khimar and Abaya

To start with, the obligation of covering one’s ‘awrah ( parts of the body that must remain concealed from men that are considered as strangers ), is a command from Allah The Most High, we will first show the evidences and then proceed with a few terms that are used commonly in today’s society.

Allah mentions in the Quran ( English Interpretation ) :

« O children of Adam! We have provided for you clothing to cover your nakedness and as an adornment. However, the best clothing is righteousness. This is one of Allah’s bounties, so perhaps you will be mindful.»
Surah Al A’raf Ayat 26

« And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their chastity, and not to reveal their adornments except what normally appears. Let them draw their veils over their chests, and not reveal their ˹hidden˺ adornments except to their husbands, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, their sons, their stepsons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, their fellow women, those ˹bondwomen˺ in their possession, male attendants with no desire, or children who are still unaware of women’s nakedness. Let them not stomp their feet, drawing attention to their hidden adornments. Turn to Allah in repentance all together, O  believers, so that you may be successful.»
Surah An-Nur Ayat 31

« O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allāh Forgiving and Merciful.»
Surah Al-Ahzab Ayat 59

We can see the reminder in numerous places in the Quran about covering oneself and not show what is meant to be concealed.
Both men and women have parts of the body that shouldn’t be showed in front of certain people, today our discussion will be centred around women.

You will often hear disagreements around what should be concealed or not, the main disagreement being if the face and hands are included. Except from that there is no disagreement concerning other parts of the body and as an evidence there is a clear hadith :

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “When a woman reaches the age of adolescence, it is not correct that she displays any part of her body except this and this — and he pointed to his face and hands.” (Abu Dawood 4104)

What is a Jilbab ?

Jilbab is a mentioned term in The Quran and The Sunnah, in surah al ahzab verse 59, the word Jalaabib جَلاَبِيْبٌ which is the plural of Jilbab جِلْبَابٌ is used.

« O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allāh Forgiving and Merciful.»
Surah Al-Ahzab Ayat 59.

Also stated in the hadith :

Narrated by Um ‘Atiya:

We were ordered to bring out our menstruating women and veiled women in the religious gatherings and invocation of Muslims on the two ‘Id festivals. These menstruating women were to keep away from their Musalla. A woman asked, “O Allah’s Apostle ‘ What about one who does not have a veil?” He said, “Let her share the veil of her companion.”
Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book of Prayer (Salat), Hadith 347

Let’s look at the definitions now :

The definitive dictionary of classical Arabic, Lisan al-Arab says : The Jilbab is the outergarment, mantle, or cloak. It is derived from the word tajalbaba, which means to clothe. Jilbab is the outer sheet or covering which a woman wraps around her on top of her garments to cover herself from head to toe. It hides her body completely. (Lisan al-Arab, volume 7, page 273)

One Hadith and Reports from Scholars tell us a bit more :

Narrated by Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu’minin:

When the verse “That they should cast their outer garments over their persons” was revealed, the women of Ansar came out as if they had crows over their heads by wearing outer garments.
Sunan Abi Dawood, Vol. 4, Book of Clothing (Kitab Al-Libas), Hadith 4090

Al-Qurtubi defines the Jilbab as a cloak that conceals all of the body including the head.

Ibn `Abaas (May Allah Be Pleased with him) said concerning the description of the jilbab that “it is to be fully wrapped around the women’s body, so that nothing appears but one eye with which she can see.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

It should be clearer now that the term Jilbab isn’t new and has been used for a very long time.
Today the word is still used and is referred to a particular style of clothing which is aimed to fulfill the obligation of covering oneself.
To know more about the conditions of the Jilbab, please read this article : Conditions of the Jilbab

Contemporarily the Jilbab is known as a One Piece or Two Piece style dress ( with a skirt or abaya underneath) , starting from the head with a headband, with or without sleeves. It can have a closed or open neck.

What is a Hijab ?

Hijab is a word which has been heavily used to describe a type of clothing muslim women wear.

Contemporarily the Hijab is seen as a scarf used to cover the head and upper chest area. It is usually flexible and light, also when worn with a abaya it allows the head to not carry too much weight.

It has a much deeper meaning to what people refer it to, we will try to see what Hijab truly means and how to understand it.

In The Quran ( English Interpretation ) :

“O you who believe! Enter not the Prophet’s houses, unless permission is given to you for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation. But when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken your meal, disperse without sitting for a talk. Verily, such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet, and he is shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allaah is not shy of (telling you) the truth. And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not (right) for you that you should annoy Allaah’s Messenger, nor that you should ever marry his wives after him (his death). Verily, with Allaah that shall be an enormity”
Surah Al Ahzab ayat 53

Regarding this verse in the Tafseer of Ibn Katheer it is said :

(And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen,) meaning, `just as it is forbidden for you to enter upon them, it is forbidden for you to look at them at all. If anyone of you has any need to take anything from them, he should not look at them, but he should ask for whatever he needs from behind a screen.’

And in Sahih Al Bukhari :

Narrated by Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:

The wives of the Prophet ( peace and blessing of Allah be upon him ) used to go to Al-Manasi, a vast open place (near Baqi` at Medina) to answer the call of nature at night. `Umar used to say to the Prophet ( peace and blessing of Allah be upon him ) “Let your wives be veiled,” but Allah’s Apostle did not do so. One night Sauda bint Zam`a the wife of the Prophet ( peace and blessing of Allah be upon him ) went out at `Isha’ time and she was a tall lady. `Umar addressed her and said, “I have recognized you, O Sauda.” He said so, as he desired eagerly that the verses of Al-Hijab (the observing of veils by the Muslim women) may be revealed. So Allah revealed the verses of “Al-Hijab” .
Sahih al-Bukhari 146.

Hijab is the Arabic term for “cover” (noun), based on the root meaning “to veil, to cover (verb), to screen, to shelter”.

In today’s world Hijab is mainly used to describe a piece of cloth used as a headscarf but as we can see in the text it had a much deeper meaning. Hijab didn’t only mean a headscarf, it was a way to hide what needed to be hidden or concealed specially regarding the women, Hijab had and should have the meaning of putting a screen between two things.
Unfortunately it has kind of completely lost its meaning and now points out to a headscarf worn by muslim women, the true meaning of the Hijab should be as an outfit which protects the ‘awrah of a women ( parts of the body that must remain concealed from men that are considered as strangers ).

What is a Khimar ?

The term Khimar is used in Surah An-Nur ayat 31, the word used is “khumur” which is the plural of “khimar”.

« And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their chastity, and not to reveal their adornments except what normally appears. Let them draw their veils over their chests, and not reveal their ˹hidden˺ adornments except to their husbands, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, their sons, their stepsons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, their fellow women, those ˹bondwomen˺ in their possession, male attendants with no desire, or children who are still unaware of women’s nakedness. Let them not stomp their feet, drawing attention to their hidden adornments. Turn to Allah in repentance all together, O  believers, so that you may be successful.»
Surah An-Nur Ayat 31

It also appears in a hadith :

Narrated by Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said: Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a veil ( khimar ).
Sunan Abi Dawud 641.

Narrated by Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:

Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said:
“The Salat of a women who has reached the age of menstruation is not accepted without a Khimar“.
Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Vol. 1, Book of Salat, Hadith 377.

Let’s look at the definitions :

First linguistically, the root word ‘Kha-Miim-Ra’ which primarily means to ‘conceal or to cover’, if you look in any arabic dictionary it will be defined as something or a piece of cloth that conceals or covers the head of a woman.

From a religious background, a few insights have been given :

Imam ibn Kathir said regarding the verse, “Draw their khumur to cover their juyub means that they should wear the khimar in such a way that they also cover their chests so that they will be different from the women of the jahiliyyah who did not do that but would pass in front of men with their chests uncovered and with their necks, forelocks, hair and earrings uncovered.”

Shaykh Muhammad Nasiruddin Albani: “The word khimar linguistically means only a head covering. Whenever it is mentioned in general terms, this is what is intended.”

From everything read above we understand the main purpose of a khimar is to cover the upper part of the body, often it is associated with the abaya to form an outfit which allows the entire body to be covered as a muslim women should.

Contemporarily, it can be considered as a top, and can have many different styles : with sleeves, no sleeves, open neck, closed neck, with or without a head band etc.

What is a Abaya ?

Very popular outer garment worn in the Middle East region, often worn with a Khimar or a Scarf. Loved by Muslim Women, the full-length robe, starting from the shoulders covering the whole body down to the toes is a classic.
Traditionally black, colours have slowly been welcomed by the modest dressers, the Abaya is a style amongst the others which allows muslim women to be correctly covered while being comfy.

To be noted the scarf or khimar should be large enough to cover the shoulders, a lot of times sisters don’t really pay attention to this detail.
One of the advantage of wearing an Abaya is the weight not starting from the head therefore releasing a lot of pressure on the head, not having to bear any additional weight.

You need to know more about how these different styles look, please visit the categories on our website.

Copyright © 2021 House Of Jilbab

 

 

 

 

Comments (19)

  1. DjazakAllah khair sister

    Laila SIMUBI
    February 5, 2021 Reply
    • Ameen wa iyyaki sis

      House of Jilbab
      February 5, 2021 Reply
  2. Subhanallah, very well explained.
    May Allah bless you!

    Maryam
    February 6, 2021 Reply
    • Jazakillahu khayran, ameen wa iyyaki, may Allah give us understanding of His religion. ameen

      House of Jilbab
      February 6, 2021 Reply
  3. Jazakallahu khairan sister.. This was really informative , beneficial ,and beautiful reminder..

    Aqsa
    February 6, 2021 Reply
    • ameen wa iyyak, may Allah make us benefit from the reminders, ameen

      House of Jilbab
      February 6, 2021 Reply
  4. Jazakillahu khayr dear sis for the explanations.

    Khairah Adedotun
    February 6, 2021 Reply
    • ameen, may Allah give us understanding of His religion, ameen.

      House of Jilbab
      February 6, 2021 Reply
  5. Very insightful. BarakAllahu feeki.

    Tanzila
    February 6, 2021 Reply
    • wafiki barakallah, may Allah make us benefit from the reminders, ameen.

      House of Jilbab
      February 6, 2021 Reply
  6. Jazakallah Khairan for the detailed information. I loved all the references! May Allah make us the muslimah that adheres to correct hijab as per the Quran and the Sunnah ! Aameen

    Khadija
    February 6, 2021 Reply
    • ameen wa iyyaki, ameen thumma ameen.

      House of Jilbab
      February 8, 2021 Reply
  7. Very informative sisters, keep up the great work you are doing may Allah make you a reason for thousands of women around the world to get Hidaya.

    Besma
    February 7, 2021 Reply
    • ameen, may Allah guide us to the right path.

      House of Jilbab
      February 8, 2021 Reply
  8. […] You can read our article about : Differences between Jilbab, Hijab, Khimar and Abaya […]

  9. Jazakallahu khairan sister… Very beneficial… Can I share this ?

    Sazia Ehesana
    February 16, 2021 Reply
    • Ameen wa iyyaki, yes you can with our credits please

      House of Jilbab
      February 17, 2021 Reply
  10. Is itA must to wear jilbab? It is so very uncomfortable to me. Is it Okay to wear khimar that covers the same as jilbab ?

    نعيمة
    August 18, 2021 Reply
    • You can wear any clothing as long as it fulfills the conditions of the Jilbab. It can be a khimar with a abaya.

      House of Jilbab
      September 2, 2021 Reply

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