Islam provides its followers with thorough guidance and codes of conduct for all walks of life. Women being the most important pillar of the society hold great respect and importance in the Islamic society. Islam has selected a dressing code for women too. Women must dress up modestly both indoors and outdoors and cover their entire body with loosely fitting clothes exposing only their face, hands and feet. In the Holy Quran Allah has stressed upon the need for modesty repeatedly demanding women to not to look sexually appealing for male strangers. It says in detail:
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful. (Quran, 24:31)
An open display of beauty and ornaments to male members of the society who are not blood relations is forbidden in Islam. Women in an Islamic society wear Jilbab and Hijab. Jilbab is a loose robe that covers the body from shoulders to toes and looks somewhat like a large foot-length gown. Hijab is the head covering that usually has veil too and is also known as Khimar in some parts of the world. Niqab is the veil worn by women and is considered a prominent Islamic symbol all over the world. In the Arab world, women wear Thobes for indoor dresses. For outdoors Abaya is a favourite among the Middle Eastern women. Abayas and Thobes are available in innumerable designs and cuts all over the world to suit the style and taste of the Muslim women.
In the eastern Muslim countries, especially the Indian Subcontinent, women wear Shalwar Kameez as their indoor dress, they wear a large Chador to cover their body and head for an outdoor dress. Abayas or Afghan model Burqas are a popular outdoor dress for women in this region. Again a variety of fabrics, cuts and patterns are used for the Burqa. Chiffon, Cotton, Georgette and silk are some favourite fabric. Eastern women prefer wearing beautiful and attractive patterns on their Abaya and Burqa. Usually the edges of robes and head scarves are embroidered or sequined.
Islamic dresses for women have been a center of controversies globally. Especially the Hijab has been banned in several European countries. In French educational institutions several students have been expelled for wearing Hijabs in last few years and laws have been passed against the use of explicit religious or political symbols in educational institutions. Tunisia and Turkey are two Muslim countries where headscarves or Hijabs are banned in public schools and universities.