Women’s Hejab (Islamic veil) in Iran

Women’s Hejab, or the Islamic veil, has a long story in Iran. After Arabs invaded Iran, they imposed Islamic veil on Iranian women. In the Islamic Middle Age in Iran, i.e. form 9th century AD until now, Iranian women have had Hejab. But before Reza Shah period, Iranian women had a very reactionary Islamic veil, a full-face veil, that was an Arabian tradition. In fact, Arabs imposed their reactionary traditions on Iranians. Reza Shah changed the situation, by using the external pressure ! But what Reza Shad did, had not serious long-term effect, because it was a result of external pressure rather than internal intention or internally-perceived opportunities. The historical Islamic dress code in Iran imposed the following Islamic dress on Iranian women: Chador : the tent-like black veil that covers the woman’s body, form the head to the toe. It’s very like the dress of a Nun. The only part of the woman’s body that you can see is her face.Burqa : a combination of Chador + a full-face veil. A full-face veil is like a full-face mask, and with Borghe you can not see any parts of woman’s body, even her face ! Manteau : a modern combination of head scarf + Manteau, that is considered more secular, and is the least Islamic dress.


In Iran we have two special terms that are related to Hejab: 1-”Bad Hejab“: A woman that her hejab is considered bad by the Islamist! she has a very loose head scarf and/or a very short or tight manteau. In fact, she protests to the compulsory Hejab. 2-”Bi-Hejab“: A woman without any hejab (Islamic veil). In 1980s and early 1990s, the term Bi-Hejab was used for Bad Hejab women ! One of the most interesting miracle of Islamic revolution is that the rate of potentially Bi-Hejab women has increased significantly. Before the Islamic revolution Bi-Hejab women or potentially Bi-Hejab were really rare. But in the recent years, the rate of potentially Bi-Hejab has increased, and now more than 50% of Iranian women, especially women under the age 35, are potentially Bi-Hejab. Lets take a look at the past 100 years, and what has happened to Hejab or the Islamic veil in Iran.

. Burqa Chador Manteau Bad Hejab Bi-Hejab (potential) Bi-Hejab (real)
1910 90% 10% 0 % 0 % 0 % 0 %
1935 50% 25% 0 % 0 % 0 % 25 %
1975 5 % 75% 0 % 0 % 0 % 20 %
1985 1 % 97% 2 % 1 % 1 % 0 %
1990 0 % 90% 10 % 3 % 2 % 0 %
2000 0 % 60% 40 % 10 % 5 % 0 %
2010 0 % 20% 80 % 50 % 50 % 0 %

In the recent days, France has banned Burqa . But in Iran, Burqa was abolished in the Reza Shah era, and certainly it was one of the good results of that era. The full-face veil is very very reactionary, and even in Iran, the full-face veil was considered very reactionary. Now just some hundreds women in the southern Iran, i.e. Arab areas, wear Burqa . Chador is at its end, too. Iranian women seek their equal rights, and it means the equality in choosing the dress . After 100 years, now the Iranian women are ready to say goodbye to Hejab, or the Islamic veil, without any external pressure. In fact, from Burqa to Bi-Hejab was a long road, full of martyrs and tortures. And under these conditions the story of Ana Pastor and Mr. shit becomes more understandable. But now we have reached to the end of the long road. Now saying goodbye to Hejab, or the Islamic veil, is the choice of Iranian women, and it’s a serious sign of the end of Islamic Middle Age in Iran

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