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Hijab in a Changing Tajik Society

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This article investigates Islamic veiling (hijab), an issue that has occupied center stage in the public debate in Tajikistan. State officials and institutions view it as alien (begona), while proponents argue it is a religious obligation (farz) to be fulfilled by every pious woman, especially outside of her domestic settings. I detail the limitations and functionalities that hijab offers for women in contemporary Tajikistan. In particular, as women experience increased pressure to seek employment outside of the home, there appears to be a need to construct new, socially acceptable, mechanisms to manifest conformity to patriarchy and to protect female purity (iffat) and honor (nomus): hijab and (pious) Islamic identity can potentially offer both. This study is based upon analysis of the existing literature on veiling in diverse contexts and the author’s field research in Tajikistan.

Affiliations: 1: PhD Candidate at the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs, George Mason University,


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