‘Hijab’ is often used as a synonym for veiling, a practice that is not exclusively a Muslim or even uniquely a female tradition. Veiling, even face covering, has historically also been observed by men in pre-Islamic and contemporary Arabia, Middle East, and North Africa, as a sign of the wearer’s noble social status, mark of virility, and protection against evil eyes. It has also been practised by devout female adherents of world religions, expressing their devotion to that which is divine.

In modern history, however, hijab has been perceived as a core attribute of Muslim women and has much wider religious, sociological, and political implications. This entry discusses the concept of hijab in the religious context, the politicisation of hijab, and its symbolic meanings in ...

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