Abaya Does Not Equal Islam

Click here for the CNN article on “Islamic Fashion”

Why this bothered me: An abaya does not mean Islamic. Just because there are varied forms of abayas in this fashion show, it does not mean that this is Islamic fashion. Abaya is not even worn by the majority of Muslim women in the world. Rather, it is a piece of society in the Middle East, in particular the Gulf region that may have religious ties, but has largely become a cultural aspect of society.

I will agree with this:

“Modesty is not the opposite of fashion, and fashion is not about showing more of my body,” said Amina al-Jassim

I have been forced to wear the abbayah, and I don’t like it. I do not like it more because it is forced upon me to wear it when I visit Saudi Arabia, not because of the plain, straight forward style. Rather, it is sometimes nice to not have to dress up and coordinate clothes since no one is going to see it anyway. It is a kind of freedom I will never expect in the West since wearing an abbayah out in the streets of Boston where I am is going to get more attention than anything else. Anyways, I don’t know if I will buy into the more “fashionable” abbayahs since it never meant anything to me but something I have to wear in my short visits to the Gulf. Perhaps it is of course a different story for those who grew up wearing the abbayah and therefore, part of their upbringing. I agree with the author in that as more and more go abroad and leave their smaller communtiies, they bring back ideasof individuality that are going to have to be dealt with in the home country. A way to do so is incorporation without total rejection. Not at first anyway.

“It’s not so much a conflict, but an amalgamation of east and west that works quite nicely here.”

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