At the National Museum of Ethnology, in Osaka, Japan, it's claimed that an inner, stretchy layer of a hijab is referred to by Malaysians as a "ninja", and that it was thus named based on the clothing ninjas wore.

I'm aware of non-Muslims referring to wearers of various headwear as ninjas, but not of this.

Do Muslims non-ironically refer to a part of their hijab as a "ninja", and was it etymologically derived from the Japanese word "ninja"?

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    I'm still fairly puzzled as to how skeptics.SE works. Andrew, as a rather experienced member: it would be really helpful for me if you could explain in how far a question about language use is on topic for this site which, according to the FAQ, is about "applying scientific skepticism".
    – Schmuddi
    Sep 13, 2017 at 7:49
  • @Schmuddi Language use can be on topic if the issue is whether some word has been used in a particular context or by a particular group. This is particularly true in the new age of fake news where many pejorative words are attributed to someone or some group as a way of damaging their reputation or harming them. This case is little more marginal, but it is basically the same issue of fact (not linguistic interpretation) and that is clearly on topic.
    – matt_black
    Sep 13, 2017 at 8:58
  • @schmuddi questions don't have to be about science, they merely have to apply scientific skepticism: skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3659/…
    – Golden Cuy
    Sep 13, 2017 at 10:19
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    It is not remarkable at all that two different languages might have unrelated words that sound alike.
    – GEdgar
    Sep 13, 2017 at 14:04
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    @GEdgar the museum stated it wasn't a coincidence, but deliberately named after it. I'll update my question accordingly.
    – Golden Cuy
    Sep 13, 2017 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


Partial answer: Addresses use of "ninja", doesn't address etymology.

Several hijab stores refer to a part of the hijab as a ninja, without any sign of being ironic in nature.

The page https://www.hijabstoreonline.com/pages/underscarf-guide for example has in its google web search summary

The ninja inner underscarf is a relatively new design and is one of the most popular and comfortable of underscarves ...

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    The linked site uses "ninja" as the name of a specific style of underscarf (as opposed to "lace underscarf", "tie back bonnet cap", "bonnet hat", "tube underscarf", "headband bonnet", or "full underscarf" styles), not as a general term. The relevance is similar to if someone were to ask "do Americans call undershirts 'crew necks'?" and it was answered with a list of t-shirt styles - yes, you can wear a crew neck t-shirt, but "crew neck" (like "ninja") describes one specific style, it's not a generic term for the category. Sep 13, 2017 at 7:41
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    As an aside, I'd argue that the culture that without a trace of irony or self awareness named a particular type of shirt a "Wifebeater" should probably exercise some discretion when it comes to criticizing how other people name specific styles of undergarments... Sep 13, 2017 at 10:56
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    @Shadur I think you're misunderstanding the name "wifebeater". It is used entirely with something akin to irony and definitely with self-awareness. It is called that specifically to mock the sort of person you might see wearing that sort of shirt by itself.
    – Deolater
    Sep 13, 2017 at 18:34

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