Recommended Egyptian Niqabs, Fabric care and Stockists
By Umm Abdullah
Here is the final part of my guide; where I will be recommending specific styles and brands of niqabs; talking about fabric care; and advising of the best stockists both online and off (if you’re aware of any reliable stockists I have left out on this please share them in the comments section InshaAllaah).
The vast majority of niqabs out there, particularly on online sites originate from Egypt, or Saudi. I’d usually avoid any niqab described as ‘Saudi style’; they are just not as good as the real thing. When it comes to Egyptian niqabs, the quality can vary immensely.
The absolute top brand in Egyptian niqabs is Al-Abrar (which I believe means ‘The Pious Ones’ and is a term taken from the Qur’an). The difference between Al-Abrar niqabs and your generic Egyptian niqabs is quite a noticeable and vast difference. In Egypt you’d get what you pay for; and you could expect to pay quite a bit more for an Al-Abrar niqab; but in the west all Egyptian niqabs are priced pretty much the same so there is no advantage in going for the lesser quality option. You can tell an Al-Abrar niqab in several ways:
• Firstly, they usually come in a lovely box with a sunset type scene on; and will always have a brand label sewn into them on the reverse of the niqab headband and matching swing tags; you get some other Egyptian brands but mostly they don’t have a label and if they do they never have the box or the tags.
• The fabric of Al-Abrar niqabs is a very nice lightweight and breathable crepe georgette; other niqabs tend to be in cheapo chiffon with quite a nylon feel to it. Also Al-Abrar niqabs as far as I have been able to ascertain; only come in black, navy and a nice dark chocolate brown. If you have something in a wacky colour it won’t be by Al-Abrar. When it comes to other colours I have seen some ok quality ‘generic’ ones in colours like olive green, and grey but when it comes to the more ‘wild’ or unusual colours (like red or purple) the quality seems to go considerably down.
• Al-Abrar niqabs will also always have a cotton backing (and it appears to be cotton, not rayon Allaahu Alim) in the same colour as the niqab. Other Egyptian brands will have a black unevenly woven backing which looks absolutely terrible and often hangs down below the edge of the niqab at the front; especially if the niqab is a very light colour (yep I have even seen white ones with this black backing).
• Egyptian niqabs usually come with a tulle netting to cover the eyes; although not on all styles; and on the al-Abrar ones this is always the same colour as the niqab as well.
• Finally the craftsmanship on the Al-Abrar niqabs is very well done; with carefully rolled hems to all raw edges instead of them being serged with cheap nylon or polyester thread, and the edges of the niqab are all nice and straight. You can tell the quality control that goes into it as well.
I have taken some pictures of a well-loved Al-Abrar ‘box’ style niqab and a brand new generic Egyptian brand ‘box’ style niqab (one of the better quality ones as well) that is almost identical. I thought I’d give the cheapo looking one a bit of a headstart; and also show you how well the Al-Abrar one has held up through many washings and wears. I laid both out as carefully and straight as possible but note how the generic one is pretty wonky in many areas. Also note the pah shade of mid-brown it appears in most pictures (it really is that colour; the one picture of the serging looks a nicer shade than it really is); and the nicer darker shade that the Al-Abrar one is. Although the backing on the Al-Abrar one has faded in colour it has still kept its shape; and you can tell it has a nice even texture; whereas the one on the cheapo niqab doesn’t fit the front fabric panel properly and already looks pilled and bobbled (it has NEVER been worn). Finally note the poor stitching on the generic one, and the carefully done stitching on the Al-Abrar one that obviously took a lot of time.
Not many online places sell the Al-Abrar brand; though I have seen them in shops and at bazaars in the UK quite frequently. The only site that consistently sells them is Islamic Boutique in Egypt. They also sell them on their ebay concession as well. If you are aware of any others please let us know.
For the better quality ‘generic’ Egyptian niqabs; islamitischekleding.nl, based in the Netherlands, is a good bet. Their checkout doesn’t handle overseas orders so well so you may want to email them first and confirm the overall total before buying. Purely Elegant (based in Egypt) also have a large collection of Egyptian niqabs; which I have heard good things about, although they are quite expensive. In the UK The Muslim Clothing Store have a large selection but most have the very obvious black backing to the faceveil.