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View Full Version : Hijab: why no definate article?


Kevbo
12-07-2006, 09:54 AM
hijab (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijab) is the head scarf typical of many muslim women.

When I have heard them talk about in radio interviews, they always omit a definite article: "I am singled out because I wear hijab." "I started wearing hijab when I became more interested in my religion." etc.

This jumps out at me, as when UKers speak of going "to hospital."

I initally thought this was because the women were not native english speakers. This morning, however, NPR interviewed a very articulate, female, muslim, author who also spoke of wearing hijab.

I have heard reporters refer to a hijab, or the hijab, and even recall reading a post by a doper mentioning the negative attention when her friend was wearing a hijab.

I thought it might be that the word was actually an adjective rather than a noun. (like holy, or kosher) But the wiki entry linked above says it is a noun.

Is this an artifact from the aribic usage or what? Fight my ignorance.

Frylock
12-07-2006, 10:11 AM
Maybe hijab is plural maybe?

Total WAG.

-FrL-

Malacandra
12-07-2006, 10:22 AM
"Trousers" is a noun too, but you don't ordinarily use an article when you're talking about wearing 'em.

friedo
12-07-2006, 10:24 AM
"Trousers" is a noun too, but you don't ordinarily use an article when you're talking about wearing 'em.

But "trousers" is a plural noun, even if it's rarely used in the singular form. Consider:

I am wearing a shirt.

vs.

I am wearing pants.

Plural and mass nouns don't get the definite article.

Frylock
12-07-2006, 10:27 AM
Exactly, the way I see it, there are two serious possibilities: hijab is plural or hijab is a mass noun.

Surely there is someone here who speaks (at least one of the relevant forms of) Arabic?

-FrL-

Revenant Threshold
12-07-2006, 10:29 AM
Did you perchance read your link?Hijab or ħijāb ( حجاب ) is the Arabic term for "cover" (noun), based on the root حجب meaning "to veil, to cover (verb), to screen, to shelter"

In some Arabic-speaking countries and Western countries, the word hijab primarily refers to women's head, face, or body covering. But in Islamic scholarship, hijab is given the wider meaning of modesty, privacy, and morality.[1] The word used in the Qur'an for a headscarf or veil is khimār ( خمار ). "Hijab" doesn't necessarily refer to an item of clothing, but the general philosophy of covering oneself. To "wear hijab" then can mean "wear garments in accordance with my religious beliefs"; they aren't referring to "the" hijab, a singular item, and so don't use the definitie article.

IANAM, though.

Wallenstein
12-07-2006, 10:30 AM
From the wikipedia article:

"Traditionally, Muslims have recognized many different forms of clothing as satisfying the demands of hijab"

So it sounds like it's used the same way we would use "propriety"... i.e. "a triby hat fulfilled the demands of Edwardian propriety".

It's more the overall concept, rather than the specific mode of dress - "[I]the word used in the Qur'an for a headscarf or veil is khimar".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijab

John Mace
12-07-2006, 11:25 AM
Did you perchance read your link? "Hijab" doesn't necessarily refer to an item of clothing, but the general philosophy of covering oneself. To "wear hijab" then can mean "wear garments in accordance with my religious beliefs"; they aren't referring to "the" hijab, a singular item, and so don't use the definitie article.

IANAM, though.
YMNBAM, but you're exactly right. ;)

One wears a chador or a burqa, or a head scarf, but hijab is a very general term that covers (no pun intended) a method of dress rather than a particular article of clothing. I similar term in English might be "costume", in the general sense: All the guests came dressed in costume.

Polycarp
12-07-2006, 11:40 AM
To do a very apropos though highly skewed parallel, nobody ever wonders why Chaim or Zev don't say they're keeping or eating a kosher.

Kevbo
12-07-2006, 12:55 PM
Did you perchance read your link?

Obviously not closely enough. Ignorance fought, Thanks.

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