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Compare 3 Religious Head Coverings

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Since a woman was created from man and for man, in this essay we will examine such confronting in the modern society issue as head covering, basing the research on three viewpoints from Catholicism, as a subdivision of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Till the nineteenth century, the questions about women’s veils were not raised and were accepted as a part of the religion and its laws; yet, the spread of feminism, equal rights and international relations put a spot on the ancient traditions and made even women themselves doubt in the necessity of head covering.

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So, why this aspect became a subject of international controversy? We will closer look at each of the religions and start with Islam. The head covering in this religion is called hijab, which can be made of cotton, polyester, Egyptian cotton, silk, or linen. Muslim scholars still argue on the hijab level, either it should be just as head covering – headscarf, or veil the face, while Dr.

Sherif Abdel Azim of Queens University quotes Quran to clarify that women, displaying their modesty, “should draw their veils over their bosoms” (Dr. Sherif, 2004). Hijab originated from both the Quran and prophet Muhammad’s traditions (a. 630 A.D.), though the veils were known long before Islam, such as in Assyria and Persia.

In the beginning, Muslim men put no attention on women’s dress, but in the second century, veils became common practice for rich, as a symbol of social status and varied from region to region with the spread of Islam in other countries. Today, since hijab is required to wear from 10 years (or even earlier to get used to it) when a girl reaches her pubertal period, head covering became a symbol “of modesty which safeguards the personal integrity of women” (Dr. Sherif, 2004), rather than a sign of oppression and dependence. Women were obliged to wear hijab in public places and may uncover herself only in her family and closest environment, but, taking into account the quarrels, regarding this issue in France and Turkey, most of them, especially in US and UK communities, do not wear it all the time, for it may be inconvenient at workplace or be the subject of discrimination.

Judaic tiechels (or veil, scarf) are made of cotton or batiste and are 36 sq in and represent only head covering, though hair may be visible. Only married or have been married women have to cover their hair and the first head covering was mentioned in Bible, when priest had to uncover woman’s head if she was suspected in adultery, which meant that she had violated her modesty. For that very reason prostitutes were forbidden to wear tiechel. On the other hand, just like in Islam, tiechels represented social status and dignity of women. But, as has perfectly mentioned Devorah Channah in her article “All about the head covering”, definition and time of modesty have drastically changed, though head covering “was a sign of modesty in society throughout history” (Channah, 2007). The time of international persecution had forced Jewish women to uncover their heads and today even the most pious women use tiechel in synagogues only.

And, finally, do Catholic women cover their hair, or is it supposed to be the practice of the Apostolic Era, basing on 1st Corinthians, where married women are required to veil themselves, otherwise they must cut off their hair? Veil in Catholic history varied from mantilla, veil, scarves, hats, coifs, bonnets; in general, it should be a piece of cloth that a married or have been married women have to wear either during the Mass or all day long. Nevertheless, some scholars agree that woman should not wear the veil, until her heart is covered, which means that she must accept “the place that God gives to women in the Church, the family, and society” (Headcovering for Catholic Women, n.d.). Therefore, the veil in Catholicism means modesty and obedience and represents a differentiating symbol between the roles of men and women.

In contrast to the religions mentioned above, Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, realize that the head covering, as a submissive symbol, has spiritual meaning and helps women keep their eyes on Christ and be obedient to God’s commandments, while Islam and Judaism stress on the external sign of religious identity, modesty, and protection.


  1. Channah, Devorah (2007). All About the Head Covering. Retrieved April 7, 2008, from Headcoverings by Devorah Web site: http://www.headcoverings-by-devorah.com/HEADCOVERINGS.htm
  2. Dr. Sherif , Abdel Azim (2004,1,2). Head covering and the freedom of religion. Retrieved April 7, 2008, from IslamiCity Web site: http://www.islamicity.com/articles/Articles.asp?ref=IC0301-2178
  3. Headcovering for Catholic Women (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2008, from Catholic Planet Web site: http://www.catholicplanet.com/women/headcovering.htm

Cite this Compare 3 Religious Head Coverings

Compare 3 Religious Head Coverings. (2016, Sep 09). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/compare-3-religious-head-coverings/

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