Hijab is an Arabic word meaning ( حجاب )barrier or partition.
In Islam, however, it has a broader meaning. It is the principle of modesty and includes behaviour as well as dress for both males and females.
The most visible form of hijab is the head covering that many Muslim women wear. Hijab however goes beyond the head scarf. In one popular school of Islamic thought, hijab refers to the complete covering of everything except the hands, face and feet in long, loose and non see-through garments. A woman who wears hijab is calledMuhaajaba.
Hijab does not need to be worn in front of other Muslim women, but there is debate about what can be revealed to non-Muslim women.
Modesty rules are open to a wide range of interpretations. Some Muslim women wear full-body garments that only expose their eyes. Some cover every part of the body except their face and hands. Some believe only their hair or their cleavage is compulsory to hide, and others do not observe any special dress rules.
In the English speaking world, use of the word hijab has become limited to mean the covering on the head of Muslim woman. However, this is more accurately called a khimaar. The khimaaris a convenient solution comprising usually one, but sometimes two pieces of cloth, enabling Muslim women to cover their hair, ears and neck while outside the home.
Hijab, in the sense of veiling, can also be achieved by hanging a curtain or placing a screen between women and men to allow them to speak to each other without changing dress. This was more common in the early days of Islam, for the wives of the Prophet Muhammad.