Purdah, Niqab and Burqa in Malaysia

So today, I would like to share about something I found along researching about niqab in Malaysia. Originally, I was told to wear one during my wedding but I wanted to wear it because of myself… not because of external factors. So, I turn on the ‘full-research-mode’ and came across some pretty interesting stuffs. So here goes…

  1. The difference between purdah, niqab and burqa
  • Purdah
    – A term commonly known and used in Malaysia for people who cover their faces with veils. Albeit, purdah is actually the kind of veil that covers from below your eyes and downwards. Meaning, it only shows your eyes and your forehead.



Purdah. Credit: tazkirah.net


  • Niqab
    – The veil that covers every part of the face except for your eyes. So, only your eyes can be seen.



  • Burqa
    – Every part of your face is covered but there’s a thin layer (usually at the part that covers your eyes) so that you can still see.



2.  The purpose of covering your face with purdah, niqab and burqa

Alright. Coming to this chapter of the purpose, the real reason why you wanna wear it. From based on what I have read… there’s a lot of reasons why you should wear it or what you have to set in mind and in terms of your intention too before wearing it. But some of the main reasons:

  • To avoid fitnah. For some, if their faces are too pretty and will attract guys to look at it and feel sexually turned on, then supposedly it is advised (in some articles I read, it it is wajib) to cover up. For some, if their faces are ugly due to accidents or there’s skin problems you wanna cover up because if you don’t, people will downgrade you or insult you. This is based on appearance so…. not really the best of the best intentions? Coz let’s say if you have a really bad skin problem and once you cured it, then would you not wear your purdah? Something to think about.
  • To commit yourself towards Allah (to cover yourself properly) even more and avoid fitnah because of Allah.. I think this is the best one yet… For some who wanted to turn over a new leaf, some had a dark past.. So I think it’s best to cover up and avoid fitnah from people who knew us from the past and have ill intentions towards us, and it eases the process for us to.. you know.. change to be a better muslimah?
  • Wearing it to preserve your beauty and only to show it to the one who truly deserves it… which is your husband and your family.

For specific Islamic law regarding wearing a purdah, niqab and burqa, you can read more here (disclaimer: everything is written in Malay Language and some in Arabic):

Islamic Law based on 4 Mazhabs on wearing purdah


3. Restrictions on wearing purdah, niqab and burqa in Government workplace and institutions 

First things first, when I said it is restricted, it doesn’t mean that when you go to a government hospitals or services, you cannot wear niqab to these places. No. Usually, the law (yes, there is such law in Malaysia) only restricts the staffs and students of government institutions to not wear it.

The history began in 1985, when a clerk named Halimatusaadiah Kamaruddin worked in the office of the Perak State Legal Adviser, Ipoh, wears a purdah. And on 12th March 1985, an article in The Star was published, on government instructions banning all women working in government institutions from wearing purdah. She was later dismissed from public service on 16 December 1986 for wearing purdah. Absurd?  Now, a more interesting fact is Karpal Singh actually represented her as her lawyer when she decided to sue Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam Malaysia. I’m still digging into that case as of now.

UMNO haramkan Purdah_THe Star_1985.jpg

Article from The Star, dated March 12, 1985. Credit: milosuam.blogspot.my

For the whole story on the case, you may read this in the link below:

Law and Order


Alright folks, that is all for now. Hope you enjoyed reading this. Apa yang baik datang dari Allah S.W.T. and apa yang buruk datang dari aku sendiri.

Disclaimer: I haven’t wear purdah yet. This is purely research on the Internet. Thank you pak cik Google.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s