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 Godâ€™s will. And itâ€™s here to stay. For the time being, at least.
When the Prophet Mohammed said: â€śAnd 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…,â€ť Islamâ€™s modesty rule for womanâ€™s dress was born. (Qurâ€™an 24:30-31)
One thousand four hundred and twenty seven years later, â€śdrawing their veils over their bosomsâ€ť, regarded as a metaphor for modest dressing, is a command still obeyed by millions of Muslim women across the globe. But what exactly â€śmodestyâ€ť 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 womanâ€™s body should be swathed in plain black, including a thin veil over the eyes and gloves on the hands. Incidentally, the term â€śhijabâ€ť comes from the Arabic word â€śhajaba,â€ť means â€śto concealâ€ť or â€śto shieldâ€ť 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.
We have one very nice festival every year in Oslo, Norway, and that is the Mela Festival, or simply just Mela. The 2008 “edition” was held this weekend, and I just had to go and check it out. This is a multicultural festival, focusing mainly on Pakistani and Indian music and food, but music and food from other cultures are also represented.
These girls are rocking their hijabs with style. I wish I took more pictures, but it was getting dark. What I can say is that it was a true explosion of colors, and so much beautiful traditional Pakistani clothing all over the place. Gotta love it. Do you?