Is the practice of mandating that a Muslim women wear some form of a Hijab or Burka a recent occurrence? In that, has the practice always been alive and well, or have countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran merely revived an otherwise dead practice as part of their uber-theistic method of controlling their people; with the practice then leaking into the more secular or liberal Muslim communities?

I was born in '99, so I've only known the middle east for the mess it's become, and thus I'm curious if the Muslims of the 1700-1990 (or whatever), were just as into the veil as the Muslims today are.

I mean, the Bible apparently says some stuff about covering your hair if you're a girl as a part of 'modest dress'; so seeing how most versions of Christianity today, even the really conservative strains, have grown to ignore these more 'annoying' parts, I'm curious if Islam did the same.

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    Enforcement where? The requirement varies by sect, country, etc. The Hijab is much more common in Iran than in Indonesia (IIRC), even though there are more Muslim women in Indonesia.
    – MCW
    May 22, 2017 at 18:28
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    I read once from Iyad el-Baghdadi a great long discourse on the history of the Hijab. I'll try to dig it up, but my memory is that its use dates back to the Koran (at least), but making it mandatory does not. Mandatory use (and its enforcement) has waxed and waned over the years.
    – T.E.D.
    May 22, 2017 at 18:29
  • I know that there are many Muslim groups that aren't so strict with the veil; but the modern view of a Muslim women in a Hijab didn't emerge from nowhere, so I'm just curious as to where it came from: Has it always been like this? or is this new?
    – Tirous
    May 22, 2017 at 18:59
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    "Christianity today", whatever that means, does not particularly ignore clauses about "modest dress" any more than Muslims do. It is mostly just cultural variation around what "modest" means. A woman walking down the street with no shirt on in New York is apt to get a roughly equivalent response to a woman walking without a headscarf in Teheran. May 22, 2017 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


Here is an article that mentions a "universal decree requiring the face veil for Muslim women" which was supposedly imposed "around the time of the Mameluke dynasty of Egypt in the 13th century."

These rulers issued several decrees imposing the full veil on women when they appeared in public. What was once a mark of aristocracy and nobility now came to be imposed on the commoner as religious dogma. It then came to be regarded as an Islamic symbol in most Muslim lands. Hence [most] Muslim societies adopted the veil in one form or another.

  • I strongly doubt about "most". In the past or in present time.
    – Alex
    May 23, 2017 at 16:05
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    @Alex You doubt that veiling is practiced in most Muslim societies? Check the data.
    – Brian Z
    May 24, 2017 at 0:16

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