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This article is in need of more explanation from someone more knowledgable about Purdah. When is it permissible to not be covered? I understand that different islamic societies have different opinions about this, but I am interested in the exceptions to this rule as being illustritive of the deeper meanings involved:

  1. If her house is on fire, can a woman run out of it without the correct apparel? Can she exit naked without punishment? Would someone give her clothing quickly?
  2. Are Islamic prostitutes commonly clothed in burqas or hot pants or both? Do they have brothels, queens (house mothers), or pimps? What is the prostitution industry like in islamic countries? Yes, prostitution is everywhere, so the 'it doesn't happen here' answer is probably not helpful. I'm mostly interested in (for this article) the intersection of purdah and prostitution.
  3. Which countries currently have the most restrictive purdah traditions? The least?
  4. Do wealthy women have the same purdah obligations socially and legally as poor people? Ideally? In real life?
  5. How, and in what scripture, is purdah mentioned, either in Jewish, Christian, or Islamic traditions? What are the origins? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs). at 03:16, 11 October 2005.

this page is in great need of care, it has been vandalized! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs). at 22:46, 24 October 2005.

Other meanings - UK (esp. financial/political?)[edit]

Article mentions two specific usages relating to elections and budgets. The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee also use the term to relate to a period of time before and after each Interest rate decision in which commitee members avoid giving speeches and speaking to the news media or other interests, on or off the record, about monetary and fiscal policy and the conjuncture, or anything else which could be considered relevant to their interest rate decisions or the forecast. [1].

Perhaps this (and the other mentioned related usages in English) could be put in another disambiguated article? Are there other equivalent usages outside the UK? -- 14:22, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

At the very least this needs a disambiguation page; Purdah is also used by UK civil servants to refer to the period between the dissolution of parliament and the general election; i.e. when MPs cease to exist. (talk) 11:11, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Purdah and Hijab[edit]

There is no reason to merge Purdah with Hijab. The words have different meanings and histories as the article The Hijab and I by C.M. Naim, Emeritus Professor of Urdu and South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, makes clear. Here is an extended quote from the article:

The word ‘Hijab’ is relatively new for me. It was not a part of my vocabulary as I was growing up. I learned it much later, when I began to read literary and religious Urdu texts. That is how I also learned other such culturally potent words as Ishq (Passion) and Siyasat (Politics), and Tasavvuf (Mysticism). The relevant word that I learned growing up was purdah. And I learned the word and its many meanings in the observed practice of the various female members of my middle-class family in Bara Banki, a small town in north India.

For Ammi, my grandmother, purdah meant almost never venturing out of the house. On the rare occasions when she did, it was always an elaborate ritual. Visiting a family in the neighbourhood -- only on the occasion of some tragedy, as I remember -- she used a doli. The little stool slung from a pole that two men carried would be brought to our back door -- the door to the zanana or the ladies’ section -- and the two carriers would step away behind the curtain wall. Ammi would wrap herself in a white sheet and squat on the flat stool, and a heavy custom-made cover would be thrown over her and the doli. The two bearers would then come back and carry the doli away on their shoulders.

When Ammi traveled in my father’s car, she covered herself the same way, while the back seat of the car where she sat was made completely invisible by pieces of cloth hung across the windows. Years earlier, she had traveled all the way to Mecca with her daughter and son-in-law to perform the Hajj. I don’t know how she covered herself during the journey itself, but in the holy city she must have done what all Muslim women are required to do: perform the many rituals together with men while keeping their hair and bodies covered but faces fully exposed. She acted in Mecca the way it was required of her by Islam, her religion, while in Bara Banki she did what was demanded by her culture -- the culture of the sharif or genteel people of Avadh.

Apa, my mother belonged, to the next generation. She used a burqa. Hers was a two piece ‘modern’ outfit, as opposed to the one-piece -- derisively called ‘the shuttlecock’ by my sisters -- that was preferred by the older or more conservatively spirited in the family. I also remember that the older generation’s burqas were usually white, while the new burqas were always black.

Apa’s burqa’ consisted of a skirt and a separate top throw -- one that covered her from the head to the thighs. The two pieces allowed for easier movement of both arms and legs. The top had a separate veil hanging over the face, which Apa could throw back in the company of women, e.g. while traveling in the ladies compartment on a train, or hold partly aside to look at things more closely when she went shopping. Apa wore a burqa all her life, except of course when she went to Mecca for Hajj. There she wore the same sheets of ihram that Ammi had to were earlier. Like all women pilgrims then and now, she too exposed her face to everyone’s sight but not her hair.

My older sisters went to a school in Lucknow where they boarded. They wore a burqa of my mother’s style while in Bara Banki. They probably wore the same in Lucknow too, on their outings with other students, no doubt always under the supervision of a lady teacher or two. My eldest sister gave up the burqa after she got married, though she always put it on when she came to Bara Banki during our father’s life. She acted as the wife of a certain individual when she was away from Bara Banki, but behaved as befitted the daughter of a particular family when she returned home.

In our extended family, however, there were several cousins of my mother who never wore a burqa, and two had worn western clothes when they were at a convent school.There were also a few families in Bara Banki even then in which the younger women never wore burqas and only half-wrapped themselves in a sheet when they walked to some place in the neighborhood; they otherwise dressed and behaved just like my sisters.

I should not neglect to mention that in those days -- I’m talking about the Forties -- it was considered improper even for Hindu ladies of certain classes to be seen in public with their hair and faces uncovered, particularly the married women. They never wore a burqa -- that was for Muslims alone. Instead, they used a shawl, a plain white sheet, or the pallo of their saris to cover what was not for strangers to see. They too lived in houses that had separate women’s quarters. Their daughters traveled to school daily in a covered wagon that was pushed by two men, just like their Muslim counterparts. (The school was exclusively for girls and had a very high wall surrounding it.)

Another noticeable difference between Hindu and Muslim ladies of the same middle class was that the former did not hesitate to use a tonga. They sat on the back bench of the horse-drawn vehicle where their sari-wrapped lower bodies were visible to all. Muslim ladies, on the other hand, preferred the other horse-drawn vehicle, ekka -- where they could huddle on its high seat wrapped in their burqas or even have the whole seat enclosed with a sheet. My sisters, I well remember, hated to travel in an ekka, and did so only under duress in Bara Banki; in Lucknow, they too used a tonga.

Needless to say, the women who ‘served’ in our homes in some capacity -- as live-in servants or traditional retainers -- and the women of the poorer classes all over the city went about their hard tasks without any kind of purdah. On the way to my school I’d walk through a small cluster of homes where some Muslim weavers lived.

Their women went about their daily chores in ordinary clothes, even when working under the trees by the roadside. Their men were believed by most to be more devoutly Muslim than many -- the British had called them ‘the bigoted julahas’ -- but for untold generations the same devout men had enforced no purdah restrictions on their women.

They could not afford to in the face of the reality of their lives. Only the young married women in their households kept their faces lowered and partially covered with the hem of their dupattas exactly as did their sari-clad Hindu counterparts in that neighbourhood.

In other words, when and where I was growing up the word ‘purdah’ had many different meanings. It described a range of habits, and not just a piece of cloth. The defining emphasis always was on a modesty of behaviour which included a showing of respect for our ‘elders’. Purdah in Bara Banki was not defined by some religious code, it existed as dictated by local practices and sensibilities. And it always seemed open to change.

Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:31, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

What is this supposed to mean: "Hijab is an Islamic tradition that is based on physical and psychological morality"? It should be deleted or cleared up by someone who is not so obviously biased.

I agree with the above statement. Are you trying to say that the practice of purdah is not based on physical and psychological morality, because I think the practice of purdah is also based on those same things. If it isn't based on those things, then what is it based on? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nazia2004 (talkcontribs) 12:00, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Also, with the above quotation, I think the latter half of the quotation is important to include in the actual article because when I just read the article I did not see the point "the word ‘purdah’ had many different meanings" being proved. Nazia2004 (talk) 12:06, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

There is no difference between 'Purdah' & 'Hijab'[edit]

Purdah is in Ordou while Hijab is in Arabic, both words mean 'barrier' to a non-Mahram onlooker - a screen whether by a covering or a screen or a wall. Also the source is not customary but Islamic revelation to be precise it did not exist before the revelation of Ayat 59 in Suraat Ahzaab [Q;33:59]at return from Battle of Khaybar in 6H 628CE. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:55, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Moved scripts to top[edit]

I have moved the Hindi script from the Other meanings section to the introduction of the article for two reasons: [a] Purdah is practiced in India (see references kindly provided by Fowler&fowler) [b] Purdah is the standard Hindi word for curtain. In addition, I have made the Perso-Arabic script more readable. Thanks, AnupamTalk 06:00, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Improper Phrase[edit]

I'm a bit concerned by the phrase "A woman's withdrawal into purdah restricts her personal, social and economic activities outside her home." I think it's a generalisation - is the author able to quote published papers that indicate the sentence is fact? Crewekitty 15:51, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I too feel it is a generalized statement, That phrase doesnt even has a reference. Proper meaning should be found and written. HotWick (talk) 11:17, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Why no explication of the rationale behind Purdah?[edit]

I am not a Muslim but it was once explained to me by a Muslim that the rational was that, such is human nature that if the female form is exposed it will present a sexual stimulation or temptation to men, and this sexual dynamic wil impact negatively upon inter-sexual relationships and society in general. There are radical feminists in the West that say not so disimilar things, suggesting that men treat women as sexual objects. These same radical feminists however (I presume) believe that it is possible to overcome such effects by education. Islamic thinking suggests that hardware, in the form of clothing, is needed. At the same time again, Christians tend to believe, and Western societies tend to have laws against, complete nudity for the same sorts of reasons that Musilims recommend Purdah. Who is right? Where does one draw the line? --Timtak (talk) 10:12, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

This article does not present the case for Islam. There are uneducated anglophones on the Internet presenting Purdha simply as "ignorant" repression, without understanding the case for Purdah. If they only read this article then they would be none the wiser. --Timtak (talk) 10:12, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

I believe Purdah is seen as an extreme form of modesty. although some people often say that it is used to oppress women, and although it may do that, is that the reason given by the practitioners? Also, since this is often a Muslim tradition is there support in the Koran for it? It is not wikipedia's job to decide where to draw the line, but rather record where people draw it. Rds865 (talk) 04:13, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Islamic Prostitute[edit]

This is in regards to a question at the head of this discussion page:

"Are Islamic prostitutes commonly clothed in burqas or hot pants or both? Do they have brothels, queens (house mothers), or pimps? What is the prostitution industry like in islamic countries? Yes, prostitution is everywhere, so the 'it doesn't happen here' answer is probably not helpful. I'm mostly interested in (for this article) the intersection of purdah and prostitution."

Use of the term "Islamic prostitute" doesn't make sense. It's an oxymoron at best. Islam specifically prohibits prostitution. It is considered a major sin. That isn't to say that prostitution doesn't exist in Muslim countries, but the prostitutes themselves can't be considered Muslim.

Also, with the comment "burqas or hot pants or both", I detect a tinge of sarcasm. Enaam (talk) 14:11, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Photograph by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky available from LOC[edit]

An early 20th century photograph by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, of a Sart woman in purdah in Samarkand, Uzbekistan is available online from the Library of Congress. The photograph:

is part of a series of photographs that are in the public domain:


Such photographs are already part of Wikipedia here:

Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky#Gallery

and are in Commons, within the following category:

commons:Category:Sergey_Prokudin-Gorsky (talk) 03:06, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Revising the Purdah Article[edit]

I would like to revise this page on purdah. Currently, the page desperately needs improvement: the article is flagged for needing “additional citations for verification”. It is very short, lacking in in detail, credible sources, and citations. Right now the definition of purdah relies on an Eurocentric Greco-Roman historian’s description. The tone of the article lacks credibility. Its assertions are overly simplistic and makes claims with bare-boned citation. The article does not address the historical, religious, or cultural origins, or the influence of class, nationality, economic shifts, Islamization of the state, or women’s personal choices-- all sub-topics I plan to add to the article. Currently the article is poorly organized. In addition, the article uses a biased, Western-centric point of view. In all, this page is currently biased, unsystematic, unorganized, and lacks in research.

Purdah is a very important topic that warrants a well-written article. The purdah has wide-ranging ramifications for millions of women around the world. Purdah takes forms in women’s dress, behavior and institutional rights in terms of access to resources and mobility. Given the multitude of perspectives (sociological, human rights, economic, political, historical, religious, gender rights, etc) a neutral and comprehensive exploration of this topic is very much needed to present an unbiased picture for this tradition. I hope to improve upon it by increasing the thoroughness in research, comprehensiveness in content and analysis, clear organization, neutral tone of voice, number of citations from credible sources (academic articles from journals on Asian history, women's studies, sociology, anthropology, etc), inclusion of appropriate pictures, and the degree to which it is imbedded within the Wikipedia universe by linking to other relevant pages.

I'd love to hear any suggestions and comments you might have!

Jennyxwen (talk) 20:23, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Hey Jenny, I am excited that you are working on this page, I think there are a lot of misunderstanding and contention around this issue. I signed up to be a reviewer for this article so let me know if you have any specific things in need of review. What I would love to see more of is the sub-section titled Purdah as empowerment. While a lot of people, specifically Muslim women themselves, feel that purdah is oppressive and seek to challenge it, there are also a substantial amount of Muslim women who write on this issue and defended their rationale for the restrictions that they willingly follow. I took a course with Dr. David Cook from the religious studies department, he knows a lot about these issues and he can refer you to articles/authors on this issue as well, so I recommend sending an email his way to see if he might be any help. Good luck and I look forward to reviewing your article!

Kayceeho (talk) 20:08, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Peer Review Feedback[edit]

Here are some specific comments:

Purdah is primarily practiced in majority-Muslim countries and Hindu communities in South Asia ( India, Pakistan, Bangladesh ) . [3] It varies broadly according to religions, region, nationality, cultures, and socioeconomic classes . [4] . [5] <-- there's that extra period. I fixed this one for you, except that it seems that throughout the entire article there's a space between the last word of the sentence and the period, and then there's another space after the period, before the citation begins. I believe that the citation should be immediately right after the period?

The location of the section titled Conduct and seclusion seems random, it seems to belong to rationale or the overview or wherever else the purposes of purdah are explained.

For all section/sub-section titles, unless it is a proper noun, all words besides the first word should not be capitalized.

Is 'governmental policies on purdah' not part of 'influences on purdah'? I feel that maybe it should be a sub-section of influences on purdah, unless there's a difference between those two so you might want to rename influences on purdah to something else?

"For Muslim South Asian diaspora living in secular non-Muslim communities" what do you mean for Muslim South Asian diaspora? As in Muslim South Asian emigrants, or maybe 'for people of the Muslim South Asian diaspora'?

Here is my general feedback:

Consider adding more internal links, terms like South Asia and Middle East all have wikipedia links, and although not always necessary since not all terms need extensive definition, I personally like it when I can click around links because sometimes I am unsure what ubiquitous terms like the 'Middle East' exactly means. The organization of the article flows logically. For images, you can add a chart/different pictures of the different veilings, BBC has great explanations and pictures of four of the general categories here

I think I read somewhere about certain low socioeconomic women whose families want her to keep purdah but she clearly needs to get formal employment outside the home to make a living, I think that adds on to how some other low socioeconomic women have the freedom to disregard purdah in pursuit of employment and mobility. I would love to read more on how purdah affects women's psychological and physical health, if you do have more information. Also the government policies on purdah and subsequent controversies are pretty notable in my opinion, and it would be great to see more coverage on those issues. I would also like to see more discussed on purdah as it relates to non-Muslim societies. I believe there are non-Muslim Indians, for example, who practice purdah? And according to the map, it seems that the hijab is quite common in many African countries. It would be interesting to find out more about purdah contextualized in that region of the world, although the use of hijab does not automatically necessitate purdah.

Kayceeho (talk) 04:40, 6 April 2013 (UTC)

Response to Peer Review Feedback[edit]

Thank you for your thoughtful feedback! Based on your comments, here is my to-do list in editing:

  • Expand: purdah as empowerment (Email David Cook for authors/articles)
  • Expand: purdah’s effects on women’s physical and psychological health
  • Grammar/Convention: Edit spaces in between sentences and citations
  • Grammar/Convention: Get rid of capitalization of subsections
  • Organization: As you suggested I will move Government Policies on Purdah under “Influences on purdah”. That does make more sense
  • Clarification: Muslim South Asian Diaspora
  • Other: Add more external links within the article

Here are some clarifications and explanations regarding points you made:

  • Organization: the reason I wanted to include “conduct and seclusion” as its own section right after “Dress” was because I wanted to emphasize the diversity of the issue but also how they are multiple, equally important facets of the same term and concept
  • Expand: Controversies on gov’t policies on purdah. The reason I didn’t go into it more was because in the countries that had laws, policies, and controversies, they were largely not in South Asia, and therefore called “hijab”. These controversies are well-covered in the Hijab article and “Hijab by Country” article I linked in the “see-also”
  • Expand: I do discuss non-Muslim communities use of purdah under “Adoption and Spreading” and also how the practices differ by religion in “Conduct and Seclusion”
  • Expand: Hijab is common in African countries, but existing articles such as “Hijab by country” does an excellent job of explaining, which I link to. Another reason is because “purdah” is primarily used to describe the practice in South Asia.
  • Other: I only used images in the Wikipedia commons for copyright reasons. But thanks for the link to the images!

Jennyxwen (talk) 04:57, 8 April 2013 (UTC)


First of all, sorry this feedback is late! Overall, great job expanding this article. From reading previous comments on this talk page I gather that it has been greatly improved. I think as long as it's made clear that Purdah is used specifically when referring to the institution in Southeast Asia, it should be fine that the institution is covered in the Hijab by country article for all countries outside Southeast Asia. You did a great job maintaining neutrality throughout your contribution. I would, however add to your list of "expansions" the four subsections under "Rationale". The descriptions are quite vage and only one or two sentences long. If you were to expand them it might provide readers with a more comprehensive perspective when looking at later sections such as policies and influences on Purdah and rationale for Purdah. I'd also recommend perhaps further expanding on the Islamization subsection. You do point out that it does have pre-Islamic roots, obviously Islamization has had significant effects on practice and institutions that influence that practice. Maybe talk a bit more about specifically religious influences here, as well as current states of the institution around Southeast Asia today in the context of religious practices. Overall though, a really interesting read and a well-written article! Reillysolis (talk) 04:12, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

"observed by women"[edit]

Saying that purdah is "observed by women" makes it sound like something totally voluntary and optional that women choose on their own, rather than something that is imposed on them by their culture and enforced by law. (talk) 14:16, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Good point. I've reworded it. We don't know that it is entirely involuntary either. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:50, 17 March 2014 (UTC)