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Hijab

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

    Hijab

    Traditional Muslim women's head, face, or body covering, of numerous varieties across time and space, often referred to as the “veil.” Hijab is a symbol of modesty, privacy, and morality. The practice was borrowed from elite women of the Byzantine, Greek, and Persian empires, where it was a sign of respectability and high status, during the Arab conquests of these empires. It gradually spread among urban populations, becoming more pervasive under Turkish rule as a mark of rank and exclusive lifestyle. Hijab became a central topic of feminist/nationalist discourse during the nineteenth-century British colonial occupation of Egypt. Western feminists view hijab as a symbol of the subordination and inferiority of women in Islam. Since the 1970s it has emerged as a symbol of Islamic consciousness and the voluntary and active participation of young women in the Islamist movement, a symbol of public modesty that reaffirms Islamic identity and morality and rejects Western materialism, commercialism, and values. In the 1980s hijab became an assertion of Islamic nationalism and resistance to Western culture.

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