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What Is a Malaysian Hijab?

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  • Written By: Steven Symes
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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A Malaysian hijab, also called a tundung, is a head covering or scarf a woman can wear in public as a symbol of her religious devotion. A woman’s hair is covered by a Malaysian hijab, but if her face is covered the hijab is then referred to as a niqab. The design of a Malaysian hijab can vary, allowing for stylistic differences between women. Wearing a hijab is voluntary in Malaysia, unlike some other countries where it is mandatory for all women in public, though both Muslim and non-Muslim women are required to wear a hijab in certain locations within Malaysia. This garment can be worn as early as infancy, which may help a girl to adjust to wearing the hijab regularly.

Unlike in other areas of the world, Malaysian hijabs come in a wide variety of styles. The hijab may be black, red, blue or a number of other colors, allowing a woman to match or compliment the rest of her outfit. Decorative embroidery or other patterns may be sewn in the hijab, allowing for some personalization versus hijabs that are just a solid piece of cloth.

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The use of a Malaysian hijab is voluntary, unlike in other countries where women may be punished if they appear in public without wearing a hijab. Malaysian Muslim women who chose to not wear the hijab in public also are not socially pressured or chastised. The only time a Malaysian woman, whether she is Muslim or not, must wear a Malaysian hijab is when she enters a mosque or other Islamic buildings. While Muslim women might wear a hijab that covers the shoulders and hangs over the forehead, non-Muslim women might wear a simple piece of cloth that covers the back of their head.

The government of Malaysia does not regulate the use of hijabs, except under special circumstances. Public servants, or government employees, may wear hijabs while working, but the government has banned the use of niqabs by government employees while at work. Some in Malaysian society view the use of the hijab as an Arab cultural influence, and view the hijab with suspicion.

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