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);
Omani costumes for women (source):
They come with a modern twist nowadays..(source) :
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):.
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..