As celebrants of all elements of the diverse culture and traditions of the Arab world, this year the design for our Ramadan greetings card sent out to our clients and industry partners is inspired by the gahfiyah, also referred to as the Islamic hat or Muslim prayer cap in English.

“The design for our greeting card is a collage of different Islamic hats to showcase another aspect of the different ‘flavours’ of the Islamic world and this is visible in the intricacies of the patterns and the varying beautiful prints we found. The choice of 30 hats in the collage is a representation of the 30 days of Ramadan. To the trained eye the differences in the caps – colours, threading, shape, typography, patterns & symbols – can actually indicate the origin or nationality of the wearer.” Nadia Abdeen, Zaman Graphic Designer.

Despite its religious associations, the hat is actually a practical item of clothing in the desert climates to which Islam is native; although the daytime Arabian temperatures can get extremely high, the extreme lows of the night temperatures necessitate wearing a head covering to bed reduces heat loss by a substantial amount. Traditionally worn by Muslim men across the world, the hat goes by many names such as gahfiyah (Gulf), topi (Pakistan), takiyah (Sri Lanka), kufi (US and Britain), tubeteika (Russia), pakol (Afghanistan) and thakiha (Indonesia). Likewise in terms of style the caps differ by country and region in both the pattern and the material from which they are made.

In warmer climates such as Islamic sub-Saharan Africa the caps are made of a lighter cotton material, in the Gulf the caps are commonly made from crochet cotton, are more tightly fitted and worn underneath the ghutra (veil) while in relatively cooler climates such as Turkey the cap, which is more conical in shape, is distinctively thicker and made from beautifully embroidered wool and cotton fleece.

The Gahfiyah or Muslim cap offers yet another fascinating insight into design in the Arab world.