The Nature of the Abaya

The Nature of the Abaya
How did men succeed in convincing women to transform the free personality that Allah endowed them with into enslaved characters wearing an abaya? The process was not simply a mental one. It was a combination of emotional factors which were cleverly exploited. Men used women’s weaknesses to make women believe that an important part of the male-female relationship was the man loving the weak and submissive elements of a woman’s nature. He then named these elements respect, honor and correct behavior. These do not exist objectively but can only be explained according to the individual man’s desire and will — in other words, a totally subjective conception.

What is strange is that women accepted the idea and were soon submitting themselves to the prison of the garment, the walking slowly, the looking only straight ahead — just to fulfill, it seems, what men imagined the abaya to be all about.

Women’s imaginations, however, seem to have gone to work to create new and more complicated garments which would confine her more than ever before. The old abaya was a simple, on-the-shoulder garment, open on both sides; nowadays women wear abayas which rest on their heads, making them look like large walking crows. As for other abayas, they occupy the wearer with keeping them wrapped around the shoulders, the head and the face so that the woman can’t move without worrying that one or more of the bits will fall and she will stand revealed.

This business of abayas is really of a piece with the Shoura Council’s banning physical education in girls’ schools. Women taking exercise or having physical education does not fit with “the abaya culture.” The abaya confines; exercise does the opposite. There would have to be some new male-oriented explanation to justify how girls could play games and enjoy sports. Who knows? There might yet be a new spiritual sport to emphasize the great gift given to women in the abaya in which they use only their eyes and fingers!

Many explanations and interpretations of the abaya seem to be part of a strange phenomenon in which women enjoy being deprived of their free will.

More than a few women are apparently happy wearing the abaya and burdening men with all that the garment suggests and evokes.

3 thoughts on “The Nature of the Abaya”

  1. I used to think the same about muslim women until i met so many as friends. The abaya is so light, breathable, comfortable, flowing and elegant. It is the ultimate modesty and thats why so many women choose to wear it. It’s completely their choice if they want to wear it, they don’t have to if they don’t want to and they certainly aren’t forced to wear it. That’s rubbish! You can’t just comment on these things without actually having personal experience! Who tells you their forced to wear it? The abaya can be worn in any colour or design as long as its not OTT. Many women choose to wear black because it doesn’t show stains,(this is good when they are with young children), and it doesn’t make them stand out which is what they want. Why should they want to attract anyone else when they are already married? And what exactly do you mean by “burdening men with all that the garment suggests and evokes”? I thought you said earlier that the men forced them to wear it, you’ve just contradicted what you just said! The abaya only suggests that the woman is modest, should be highly respected, is not interested in any other man but her husband, that she has high imaan (faith) and that she’s willing to give up a couple of things in this world to get a share in the next. And what does wearing a mini skirt and low cut top suggest?? How on earth are we being deprived of our own free will if its our own choice? I am an English revert to Islam, born Christian, my husband NEVER asked me to wear a headscarf or anything, it was my choice, i used to go out wearing mini skirts and low cut tops but i love wearing the abaya, i’m not a fan of black, most of my dresses are pink! And regarding exercise, there are female gyms so the women can wear gym stuff, i have my own crosstrainer in my home so i don’t need to. I can go to ladies only swimming sessions or aerobics/dance classes, in some muslim countries they even have ladies only beaches. The abaya does not confine at all its loose and does the opposite! And as for “walking slowly” i’ve never even seen or heard of that. Furthermore, as for looking “straight ahead” both men and women have to lower their gaze so thats applied to both sexes, the purpose of that is so men or women don’t check eachother out or become attracted to one another.Did i mention its Sharia not “shoura”! The hyperbole you used; “prison” i do find rather amusing! Please don’t tell me you actually think us women don’t have a mind and voice of our own! What about men? They shoud be donning the men’s chemise/thobe (long dress) which is basically the same as the women’s abaya! “enslaved characters”?? so does your personality change when you put a suit on? what on earth are you talking about?! And would you like to ellaborate on women’s weaknesses i’m sure we all would like you to tell us. i’m not having a go but its about time that people who are spoonfed the negative media and believe it’s actually all true such as yourself need to be corrected and stop being so stereotypical, who are you to talk about Allah and what he has given us? If Islam “confines” the woman so much then why are more women then men converting to Islam everyday? Why is Islam the fasted growing religion in the world? Read the Quran yourself before you talk about things you know nothing about, and may Allah open your heart to Islam and many other people!Amin! I look forward to your reply insha’allah!

    Thanks for your input. Please click on the Title of this article “The Nature of the Abaya” to read the rest of it from the Arab News. I can’t take credit for writing the article. I post to this site things that I find of interest on the Net. I am glad that you found this interesting enough to comment on it and look forward to your reaction to the whole article.
    As to the claim as to the “fastest growing religion”, that one is currently unprovable. The link on it is to Wikipedia, with many footnotes on the controversy, since every religion wants to claim that banner as their own, as it is good for business.
    The Time magazine article “Indecent Exposure” that I posted a quote from this week said: “At the nub of debates over Muslim integration in the West lies the question, What’s decent to do in public–display your sexuality or your faith? The French have no problem with bare breasts on billboards and TV but big problems with hijab-covered heads in public schools and government offices. Many Muslims feel just the opposite. As my friend suggested, Westerners believe that prayer is something best done in private, a matter for individual souls rather than state institutions. In the Islamic world, religion is out of the closet: on the streets, chanted five times daily from minarets, enshrined in constitutions, party platforms and penal codes. Sexual matters are kept discreet.”

  2. There are no better ways of wearing simple and fully covered dress other than wearing Abaya. i like those who wear Abaya.

  3. Wow Angelina i dont think theres any more to say after your comment! Such a great and educated input you gave! Its a shame that people are ignorant when it comes to Islam. Hearing one story of a woman being oppressed leads them to judge Islam as a whole when no one has actually read the Qur’an! As a female and more importantly a Muslim i would feel so uncomfortable going out without covering myself and subjecting myself to such disgusting looks and comments. I just thank Allah for giving me a way of avoiding that and Masha’allah to all the Muslim women who do cover!

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