About abayas and veiling

This article is very old (2006), but it might be of interest to those of you that didn’t read it yet.

The abaya is a symbol of so many things; of the rejection of Western values, of liberation from unwanted male advances, and of submission to God’s will. And it’s here to stay. For the time being, at least.

When the Prophet Mohammed said: “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze. And guard their modesty; that they must draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty…,” Islam’s modesty rule for woman’s dress was born. (Qur’an 24:30-31)

One thousand four hundred and twenty seven years later, “drawing their veils over their bosoms”, regarded as a metaphor for modest dressing, is a command still obeyed by millions of Muslim women across the globe. But what exactly “modesty” means, is like asking for a definition of beauty. Some say a hijab (headscarf) suffices, while others, like the Saudi religious establishment and their followers across the world, insist every bit of the woman’s body should be swathed in plain black, including a thin veil over the eyes and gloves on the hands. Incidentally, the term “hijab” comes from the Arabic word “hajaba,” means “to conceal” or “to shield” and is used generally to refer to modesty, and more specifically, to mean headscarves and formless gowns. In Saudi, hijab is used to describe the head covering; the abaya the black overdress; niqab the veil pulled over the face, revealing only the eyes, and khimar the full face covering.

Read more and view bigger size pictures here.

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7 thoughts on “About abayas and veiling

  1. 2006 is not all THAT old hahaaha!!

    Not all “Western Values” are bad. I’d say more that “Secular popular culture values” are what need to be rejected everywhere in the world. I’d like nothing more then to see a moving away from cutting “The West” down as some kind of dreadful place and instead, speaking out against secular pop-culture the world over. There’s too much hatred, fear, and loathing of “The West” in Muslim countries and this is totally misleading in regards to those of us in The West that are doing our best to live for God ~ within a culture where for at *least* the past two thousand years God has always been central but where you also have secular, popular nonsense carrying on during every age. No matter what century you look at, there’s always been a decadant, sex-soaked, immodest, God-ignoring population within every culture, including The West.

    Here in the West we *still* have a strong and solid Judeo-Christian identity and now, a growing Muslim identity as well. But the religious values don’t make it much into the media. However, the media is no way to judge a culture or a society! The mainstream, secular pop-culture media is always a biased mess… anywhere in the world! But The West should not be judged based on one section of the culture. Like I said, we’ve always had “secular pop-culture” in every era, in every culture on this planet. The West in not unique in this and it saddens me when I hear Muslims in Muslim countries – as well as Western countries – carrying on about “the evils of The West…”

    Evil is everywhere. Every culture is tainted with immodesty, sexual depravity, greed, corruption… The West in not the only place where you find these things!

    I love The West ~ and I’m glad that Muslims are also becoming a part of my society again. Islam was here for a long time “back in the day” and as long as we religious folk can keep from fighting and waging wars between ourselves as we’ve so often done in the past, I see great things in the future of The West as faith in God begins to rise up from the aftermath of the Cultural Revolt of the 1960’s !!

  2. Hmmm. This article is great but it sure could do with a bit less of “The West” bashing… How are we supposed to cultivate peace around the world with this kind of stuff being written?

    “Muslims began to feel the West was committed to eradicating Islam and destroying the Muslim culture.” That’s a rather insane thought!! Once again, The West should not be treated as one lump of immodest, Islam-hating thugs.

    “Western television, magazines and businesses set up in the Middle East were seen as encroaching on their values.” Well, you know what? The Middle East didn’t *have* to let *anything* from the secular pop-culture of The West into their countries. So don’t blame “The West” for encroaching on values ~ blame those who allowed secular pop-culture to cross the borders!

    “One way to defend against the intrusion…” Once again, this “intrusion” was allowed. It was welcomed. Maybe those in “The Middle East” that allowed secular pop-culture to come in should take some responsibility for their actions rather then hoisting responsibility onto “The West”??

    “It prevents, what she feels is the case in the Western world, women from being judged solely on their physical appearance.” How about re-writing that to say, “It prevents, what she feels is the case in the secular pop-culture, women from being judged solely on their physical appearance…” ?? That would make much more sense! And in that case, I totally agree. That’s why I have embraced modesty ~ first, for God, and secondly because God knows that immodesty makes mere objects of men and women!

    It’s a good article but a bit too much about pointing fingers at The West.

  3. OomHussam says:

    I definitely agree with what Michelle Therese said. But yes, masha`Allaah very interesting article thanks so uch for sharing 🙂

  4. Kathleen says:

    The only problem with stating that hijabs or niquabs or any other veil will protect you from the male gaze is that they don’t. As Dave Barry said, the only thing you need to do to get men worked up is be around, because they know, under all those clothes, that you’re not wearing anything.

    Note that I’m not bashing modesty or covering up – whatever makes you the most comfortable and happy. But men stare at women no matter what we’re wearing, and implying the wearing a hijab will solve the problem (assuming having men drool over you is a problem…) isn’t really addressing the core assumptions of a mans’ natural right to stare at women.

  5. Zahra says:

    Im sorry, but kathleen what u r saying dosnt really make much sense. Obviously there is a great difference between a woman who covers herself and a woman who doesnt. I have seen this with my own eyes. First of all, men drooling over a woman and staring at her does lead to rape and many other things.
    In my opinion, when a woman wears revealing cloth, then definitely she grasps men’s attention, whereas if she wore not so revealing clothing -> there isnt much for men to look at (eg. her chest? butt? lol it wont show)
    Second, who said that all men think of when they see a woman is what she wears under??? men who think of rape and sex all the time ->comitt rape, etc.
    Now, you think for yourself, does wearing hijab help or not? does it make a woman a person of respect who wants to be seen as a human being with rights or that of an object who can be used by men and thrown away??

  6. feena says:

    yea Zahra u r absouletely right.i m a veilian and i think men respect me as compared to my fellows who r not in veil

  7. maryam zafar rao says:

    i feel absolutely honoured and protected by ALLAH’s WILL in veil along with loose abaya in my university. i m totally agreed with Zahra’s words.

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