The burka is the most concealing of all Islamic veils. It is a one-piece veil that covers the face and body, often leaving just a mesh screen to see through.
The word hijab describes the act of covering up generally, but is often used to describe the headscarves worn by Muslim women. These scarves come in many styles and colors. The type most commonly worn in the West covers the head and neck, but leaves the face clear.
Burka and niqab are often incorrectly used interchangeably. While a burqa covers the whole body from the top of the head to the ground, a niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear, but may be worn with a separate eye veil. It is worn with an accompanying headscarf. The half niqab is a simple length of fabric with elastic or ties, worn around the face. It typically leaves the eyes and part of the forehead visible.
A full niqab completely covers the face. It consists of an upper band that is tied around the forehead, together with a long wide piece of fabric which covers the face, leaving an opening for the eyes.
In Iran, the wearing of niqab is not common and is only worn by certain ethnic minorities. On 8 October 2009, Egypt's top Islamic school banned the wearing of the niqab in classrooms and dormitories of all its affiliate schools and educational institutes. In Syria in the summer of 2010, students wearing the niqab were prohibited from registering for university classes. The niqab is outlawed in Azerbaijan, Tunisia, and Turkey and banned in Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Netherlands, Yugoslavia, France, Belgium, Norway (Schools and some municipalities), Canada (selected bans), Italy (selected municipalities).
Other coverings: The al-amira is a two-piece veil. It consists of a close fitting cap and a tube-like scarf. The shayla is a long, rectangular scarf popular in the Gulf region. It is wrapped around the head and tucked or pinned in place at the shoulders. The khimar is a long, cape-like veil that hangs down to just above the waist. It covers the hair, neck, and shoulders completely, but leaves the face clear. The chador, worn by many Iranian women when outside the house, is a full-body cloak. It is often accompanied by a smaller headscarf underneath.