culture · islam · photos · women

The Abaya

 

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I am a very curious person, I love digging into the origin of different things/habits/culture/customs etc. Maybe I’d be better off studying anthropology lol…

Anyway, I’ve been recently thinking a lot about the origin of the Abaya that is worn nowadays in the Middle East and many different Muslim countries. Strangely enough, I couldn’t find any reliable information on the history of Abaya, not in Arabic nor in English. However, I will still keep looking.

Some anecdote information state that the black Abaya was originally worn by Iraqi women and it spread to Saudi Arabia through merchants and their wives travelling and from there to the other neighbouring countries. It is an obligatory custom for women now in some countries like for example in Saudi Arabia.

Women clothing in Islam: Clothing in Islam for both men and women should be modest; that is according to the Islamic law. It does not state anywhere that women should wear black or any specific colour either.

I was able to find some photographs of what women used to wear in Saudi Arabia (source– more on Saudi women costumes on this website);

 

I am not a religious scholar to discuss the hair covering/hijab on this photo.
I am not a religious scholar to discuss the hair covering/hijab on this photo.

 

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Omani costumes for women (source):

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They come with a modern twist nowadays..(source) :

 

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In Oman, we still find many women wearing their traditional costumes, and it is more obvious in special occasions. However, Abayas are more popular especially with the younger generation. They are very fashionable and they can cost a fortune. Some wear them as a fashion more than as a way to keep them modest, they attract so much attention with their beauty and extravagance (source):.

dubai-fashion-week

 

I love wearing Abaya as I go out. It’s a habit maybe, but it comfortable (most of the time). However, many don’t wear it on daily basis or don’t wear it at all and it is totally fine. It is more of a personal choice..

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my traditional Omani dress, they vary according to the region. left: serwal (trausers), right: the dress, goes just down the knees.
my traditional Omani dress, they vary according to the region. left: serwal (trausers), right: the dress, goes just down the knees.
a head covering, which is known as hijab,, and known as sheila in the Arab Gulf countries
a head covering, which is known as hijab,, and known as sheila in the Arab Gulf countries

Love,

Ibtisam 🙂

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6 thoughts on “The Abaya

  1. Interesting Ibtisam. I do agree some abayas are so beautiful than you can’t really be modest while wearing them, as all looks are on you.
    I love the colored ones. We don’t tend to see many of those here. When women are wearing abayas, they do wear dark or grey ones most of the time.
    Love the traditional Omani dress. We have so much to learn from each other culture and tradition.
    Stay well and have a blessed friday.

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    1. Yeah unfortunately the coloured ones are ‘out of fashion’ I guess, and colourful Omani dresses are worn on occasions only and rarely. You can probably find older ladies in rural areas still wearing them..
      Thank you Marie 🙂

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  2. Hmmm very interesting post. I could not believe my eyes with the script next to the Saudi woman from 1911 …. SHE RULED THEM!!!! REALLY?!!! I like the embroidery so neat.

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    1. I know it is so strange thinking how the culture in Saudi has turned now. I read somewhere that women in Saudi and their customs have only changed after the seventies,, so no long time ago,, بعد الصحوة مثل ما يسموه حاليا 🙂

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  3. Very interesting post Ibtisam. I cannot believe how things have changed. I really love the colourful Omani dress.
    And you, how do dress?
    Interesting…yes, you should study anthropology. I feel I had so much more to say and speak about when I was studying antho.

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    1. I know,, so many things have changed. I’d love to know how did the black abaya evolve. I wear an abaya, as I mentioned it is comfortable and you don’t stand out the crowd so much. however, I don’t wear it when I travel abroad.
      I should study it. It should be one of my future plans..Did you do it full time? or did you do it as a short course ?

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