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Abaya vs. Hijab: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on January 11, 2024
An abaya is a full-length, loose-fitting cloak typically worn by women in some Muslim cultures for modesty, while a hijab is a headscarf covering the head and neck, also worn for modesty.

Key Differences

The abaya, a traditional full-length garment, symbolizes modesty and is widely worn in the Middle East. The hijab, primarily a head covering, also represents modesty and is a significant part of Islamic culture globally.
Abayas are designed as loose, flowing outer garments that cover the body, and they come in various styles and colors. Hijabs, on the other hand, are headscarves that cover the hair and neck, available in numerous fabrics, colors, and styles.
Historically, the abaya served as a simple, practical garment for daily wear in desert climates. The hijab has evolved over time, adapting to cultural influences and fashion trends while maintaining its purpose of covering the head.
Wearing an abaya is often seen as a cultural norm in many Muslim-majority countries. The hijab, while also a symbol of modesty in Islam, has become an icon of religious and personal identity in diverse societies.
Modern abayas blend traditional design with contemporary fashion elements. Similarly, the hijab has been embraced globally, with its representation in fashion, sports, and public life reflecting a blend of tradition and modernity.

Comparison Chart


A full-length, loose-fitting outer garment.
A headscarf covering the head and neck.


To cover the body for modesty.
To cover the hair and neck for modesty.

Cultural Association

Predominantly worn in the Middle East.
Worn globally, with strong ties to Islam.

Material and Design

Typically made of light, flowing materials.
Made from various fabrics, often lighter.

Fashion and Variability

Comes in various styles, often elegant.
Available in many styles, colors, and patterns.

Abaya and Hijab Definitions


An abaya is a long, flowing cloak worn by some Muslim women.
She wore a beautifully embroidered abaya to the evening event.


The hijab can also be a cultural identifier and a fashion statement.
At the event, her beautifully designed hijab drew admiration.


It's a traditional outer garment covering the whole body except the head, feet, and hands.
Walking through the marketplace, she was draped in a classic black abaya.


A hijab is a headscarf worn by some Muslim women covering their hair and neck.
She styled her hijab elegantly to match her outfit.


The garment is known for its loose-fitting, ensuring comfort and modesty.
On a hot day, her lightweight abaya was both modest and comfortable.


Wearing a hijab is both a personal and religious choice.
Her decision to start wearing a hijab was deeply personal and respected by her family.


Abayas are often worn for modesty and religious reasons in various cultures.
For the mosque visit, she chose a simple, elegant abaya.


Hijabs come in different materials, styles, and colors.
She picked a light, pastel-colored hijab for the summer season.


Modern abayas are fashionable and come in various designs.
Her abaya, adorned with intricate patterns, showcased modern fashion influences.


It's used for modesty and as a religious symbol within Islam.
Her choice to wear a hijab was a reflection of her religious beliefs.


A loose robe worn by Muslim women, especially in Arabic-speaking regions, covering the body from head to toe or the neck down and often worn with a headscarf and veil. Also called aba.


Any of several cloth head coverings worn by Muslim women.


Synonym of aba


The veiling of women in some Islamic societies, customarily practiced in order to maintain standards of modesty.


(Arabic) a loose black robe from head to toe; traditionally worn by Muslim women


The practice, among Muslim women, of covering the body after the age of puberty in front of non-related adult males.


(countable) A traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women, covering the hair and neck.


A headscarf worn by Muslim women; conceals the hair and neck and usually has a face veil that covers the face


The custom in some Islamic societies of women dressing modestly outside the home;
She observes the hijab and does not wear tight clothing


What is an abaya?

It's a full-length, loose-fitting cloak worn by some Muslim women for modesty.

Can abayas be stylish and modern?

Yes, modern abayas come in various styles and designs, blending tradition with fashion.

Are there different styles of hijabs?

Yes, hijabs come in various styles, colors, and fabrics, reflecting diverse fashion tastes.

Are abayas and hijabs only worn for religious reasons?

While often worn for religious reasons, they can also be cultural or personal choices.

What materials are abayas made from?

They are usually made from light, flowing materials like crepe, chiffon, or silk.

Is the abaya worn in specific countries?

It's more common in Middle Eastern countries, but is worn by Muslims worldwide.

Can hijabs be worn with Western clothing?

Yes, many women style hijabs with a variety of clothing, including Western styles.

Is wearing a hijab mandatory in Islam?

The practice varies; in some interpretations of Islam, it's mandatory, while in others, it's a personal choice.

What is a hijab?

A hijab is a headscarf that covers the head and neck, worn by some Muslim women.

Do abayas have to be black?

No, abayas come in various colors, although black is traditional and common.

Does wearing a hijab affect professional life?

This can vary; some find it has no impact, while others may face challenges in certain environments.

What occasions are abayas worn for?

They can be worn for daily wear, special occasions, or religious events.

Can a hijab be worn for sports?

Yes, there are sports hijabs designed for physical activity.

Can non-Muslims wear abayas or hijabs?

While they can, it's important to wear them respectfully and understand their cultural significance.

How do abayas differ from other Islamic clothing?

Abayas are specific in their full-length, cloak-like design, differing from garments like the burqa or niqab.

How is the hijab tied or styled?

There are many ways to tie or style a hijab, depending on personal preference and style.

Are there any rules for wearing abayas?

Traditionally, they are meant to be modest and loose-fitting, but practices can vary.

Is the hijab a symbol of empowerment or oppression?

Perspectives vary; for some, it's a symbol of empowerment and identity, while others view it differently.

Is it necessary to wear a hijab with an abaya?

The choice varies by individual beliefs and cultural norms.

How has the abaya evolved over time?

It has evolved from a traditional garment to include contemporary fashion elements.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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