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Iraq. Najaf. Iraqi women near the entrance to the mosque,  Holy Shrine of Imam Ali. The women wear the abaya and the hidjab (islamic headscarf) on their heads to cover their hair. The abaya, sometimes also called aba, is a simple, loose over-garment, essentially a robe-like dress, worn by some women in parts of the Islamic world. Traditional abaya are black and may be either a large square of fabric draped from the shoulders or head or a long caftan. The abaya covers the whole body except the face, feet, and hands. The word hijab (or hidjab) refers to both the veil covering the head and traditionally worn by muslim women (Islamic headscarf), but also the  modest muslim styles of dress in general. Imam Ali was the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and was the first male convert to Islam. Shias regard Ali as the first Imam and consider him and his descendants the rightful successors to Muhammad. 26.02.04 © 2004 Didier Ruef .