Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Social Science Quarterly


Mainstream American perception often views Islamic head covering as a controversial practice indicative of gender repression and norms violating individual rights. Practicing Muslims counter that head covering expresses piety, modesty, and protection. Recent scholarship affirms the complexity of the practice, and reveals that the motivations behind donning the headscarf span the religious, social, and political realms for Muslim women.Methods.We explore the motivations for the practice among American Muslims, examining the way religious, social, and political life interact and reinforce one another, using data from an online survey of 1,847 Muslim-American women from 49 states.Results.Our findings demonstrate that religiosity is not a monolithic factor, and religious practices interact with and enforce head covering in complex ways. We illustrate that conventionally understood indicators of Islamic religiosity align along three dimensions: religious lifestyle, religious abstinence, and religious socialization. Elements of a religious lifestyle, such as praying and attending mosque as well as fostering connections with Islamic social networks, are more strongly associated with covering than practices related to abstinence or socialization.Conclusions.Ultimately, our research demonstrates a more nuanced understanding of how different aspects of Muslim religiosity condition covering among Muslim-American women.








© 2016 by the Southwestern Social Science Association


Archived as published.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.