Abaya regulations

It’s true, abayas are regulated and policed. And I don’t only mean the PVPV trolling the malls shouting at women to cover. For a Saudi woman that’s minor when compared to what we have to go through at schools and colleges. You can gauge the political stance of the administration of an educational facility by its abaya rules.

All schools that are run by the ministry of education, i.e. public schools, make female students and employees wear abayas tent style over their heads. Students in particular have to wear complete face covering that has no opening for the eyes. This is implemented by teachers, usually in pairs, that stand at the inside of the school entrance and not allow a student to go out unless she has the proper abaya and face cover on. This is also done at small women-only colleges and at Al Imam University, except instead of a rotation of gate duty between teachers, they actually employ a few women whose sole job is to police students to make sure that they wear a tent-style abaya with full face covering, wear long skirts and sleeves underneath and confiscate camera cell phones.

Many but not all private schools, colleges and the relatively more liberal King Saud University do not subject their female students to such scrutiny. As long as you wear a abaya and have a scarf on your head, you’re fine. And as long as you’re not actually pointing your cell phone camera and taking pictures, no one cares whether or not you have one. Unfortunately this flexibility is rare since the majority of Saudi women do attend public schools or at least the more conservative private schools.

I have had a lot of experience with this type of policing throughout my education and work career. Although I have not attended public schools as a student, I did work in a few as part of my practical training and also at the beginning of my teaching career. Of course I had to wear the tent style abaya too. But my way to get around it was to wear my regular shoulder abaya underneath and as soon as I was past the guards, I would shed the top abaya like it was on fire. I also had to do my share of gate duty and felt like a hypocrite. However it helped that I did happen across the principal at a restaurant with her face uncovered and wearing a fancy abaya. So many of us are enforcing rules that we don’t believe in.

What is underneath the abaya is also regulated. The first school I taught at the principal had an issue with my sneakers. She deemed them too western and ordered me to wear “regular” shoes such as loafers or high heels! At another school, at the first meeting the principal told me that she would let it go because it was my first day but my elbow long sleeves were against the rules. But nothing breaks the rules like a pair of pants on a Saudi woman. One time I was going for an interview at a university here in Riyadh. As I wasn’t a student and I had no intention of taking off my abaya for the interview, I went wearing pants. I knew the rules but since I was neither an employee nor a student there plus my abaya was the sort that did not have an opening in the front, I thought it would be ok. As soon as the female guard saw the cuffs of my pants under the abaya, she stopped me and told me that I could not enter the university until I bought a skirt from her and gave her my pants for safekeeping. She was serious! And she had a stack of 30 riyal black long skirts in a drawer. I did not want to miss the interview so I compromised (with a lot of back and forth arguing) by wearing one of her skirts on top of my pants with the abaya still on. Call me petty but as soon as I got past her I took the skirt off and stuffed into my purse.

My point is that Saudi women are conditioned from fourth grade and up, even as professionals themselves, to be subjected to this type of moral policing. Imagine what it’s like for women from ultra-conservative families. At home, school and work they are made to wear the abaya in such a way as to maximize the ideology that women are objects to be enjoyed by their guardians and covered from others. No wonder they impose it on themselves and on their daughters; it’s all they’ve known throughout their lives.


Filed under Culture, Gender Apartheid

66 responses to “Abaya regulations

  1. It sounds like they also had u recite “my mother is a house wife” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1pf06632DI&feature=related


    • nicki

      assalamu alaikum
      your are complaining because your country wants to protect you from sexual harrassment. its a real shame you women in saudia arabia are really blessed and you cant even see it. come live in some of the other countries maybe you will be much happier being treated like a piece of meat or a sexual object. everyone respects a woman who covers. woman in other countries have bigger problems. im sure saudia arabia has its problems, like any country. but if your biggest complaint is the moral police. you are right you are petty.

  2. K

    Great post, keep up the good work.

  3. Jasmine

    This was a really interesting post – thanks for sharing!

  4. Marta

    I am an italian student,i found your blog doing research for my “history of Islam” exam,
    I just wanted to tell you that you are a hero and an example to me.

  5. lark

    You help me imagine what it is actually like to live with these restrictions. Thank you!

  6. Marta

    oh and just to clarify,i do not believe in any religion,so i suppose i’m a kafir to you..but that doesn’t mean that i judge your beliefs,i only judge the way umanity sometimes use religion(that applies to my country too).
    i’m here to understand your world better,and to do my best to help all of us to coxist in peace.
    …and maybe to help all of you to gain the rights that every living being should have.

  7. Sorry, stuck up there on the no opening for the eyes. 😦

  8. Wow, really interesting post. Here in Egypt, it is obviously not that strict. But most families (moderates included) pressure their girls in one way or another to wear the hijab.
    If you don’t conform to society’s standards of “modesty”, there is no official pressure or police to stop you, but you will be subjected to harassment non stop. Even if you do wear the hijab, there is also harassment, but maybe a little less.
    So I guess girls are pressured to “cover up” here too, but in different ways.
    Great post, keep up the good work

  9. oh wow this post sends me a few years back. what most annoyed me was the logic of the women trying to enforce those “laws” at school, my sisters and I attended a private school ruled by a nevrotic control freak principal. I remember that mine and one of my sister’s abayas were one day cut into pieces and handed back to us in a plastic bag because we hadn’t complied with the school’s tent style regulation (we were just not convinced by it, why the “lawkeeper” only cut our abayas….well let’s say we weren’t that good at keeping our opinions to ourselves) as a protest we decided to walk out the school gates with only a scarf to cover our hair….needless say it was a scandal worthy of 2 weeks suspension but omg it was so worth it

  10. Usman


    As long as Kingship is tolerated, you have to get along with this.

  11. hi n hello again,
    tradition in your country is deeply rooted pass on from one generation to another. Patriarchal is dominant that is why there is a lot of strict rules to observe, follow and adhere to pertaining to women living here in saudi arabia. Your mother’s mother has undergone painful years, sleepless nights and trauma for life because of these rules. Now, as the new generation of saudis, men and women educated and expose to western lifestyle, conflict emerges between the old and new genre eventually the latter will prevail as saudi arabia is now opening its doors. Speaking out and standing what you believe in reverberates and what you see now is the old genre relents and new genre emerges. Hopefully, the new genre of men and women here in saudi arabia can rub elbows, greeting each other without having to be subjected and freedom and independence of each will now come hand in hand in moving forward for the betterment of all and not for the few. May you have a lot of nice blogs to comment more power to you always…

    • Usman

      “Your mother’s mother has undergone painful years, sleepless nights and trauma for life because of these rules”

      Her mother’s mother may be. But her mother’s mother’s……mother were not subjected to that much restrictions. In fact current version of Abbaya and veil is not that old. In early days it was only from neck to toes with any piece of cloth which can reasonably cover, and head & face only in the case of well groomed dress up women. At least this is the verdict goes according to Al-Noor

  12. Carmen

    ‘wearing one of her skirts on top of my pants with the abaya still on. Call me petty but as soon as I got past her I took the skirt off and stuffed into my purse.’
    Great!!!Thanx for your posts!Good Luck

  13. Ali


    “Now, as the new generation of saudis, men and women educated and expose to western lifestyle….”

    As someone who lives in the ‘west’, how can imitating ‘westerns lifestyle’ (“whatever that means”) be a good thing? That’s a very ethnocentric thing to say, basically according to you arabs-muslims are ignorant and the only way to become ‘enlightened’ is to become westernized.

    The reality is however progress will be made based on it’s own religious-moral-cultural framework

  14. Rara

    Hi there, I am truly fascinated with your blog and the insight it provides on Saudi life.
    Destiny has it that I will be moving to Riyadh with my husband later this year. We have previously lived in the UAE, but I know that this time being in the Gulf is different…and there are rules to respect. As a Western woman will you please explain what am I required to wear when in public? Abaya, hijab (maybe I should cover my hair, as it is blond!) always long sleeves? What kind of shoes are appropriate? This might sound like a dumb question, but I want to be prepared- is toe-showing ok or you need to wear stockings/loafers? What should I wear under the abaya? Always a long dress, black, or can I wear colours/patterns? So pants, jeans are “haram”?
    Thank you so much! Really, a post describing how expats should behave/avoid would be highly appreciated…You are so brave and talented!
    Maa salamaa, shukran!

    • I love your suggestion. I just might write one for the top bar so its always accessible. Wear a abaya with something long underneath, pants or skirt. Regarding color, anything goes as long as there is a abaya on top. Don’t cover your hair, just have a scarf handy in case you come by a rare overzealous muttawa. At worse, he’ll tell you to cover your hair and walk away. How long your sleeves are underneath the abaya doesn’t really matter. Wear any type of shoes you like. No one has ever stopped a woman in Riyadh because of her footwear.

    • lark

      Another great site for this kind of info is americanbedu.com. Search around on that site: lots of info.

  15. Andrew

    I would welcome your thoughts on this photo of a lady in a Saudi news media.


  16. Andrew–thanks for the link to the article. I was impressed that her traditional hijazi clothing includes no niqab, which is what I found in the photos of most of the traditional tribal dress of Arabia (Saudi and otherwise) in the post I did on my blog on the Jeddan Mansoojat Foundation’s Museum of Saudi Arabian Costume online:

    Saudi Women’s Work: Domestic Artists to Working Artisans

    Despite my invitation, no one addressed this niqab-less preponderance.

  17. salam alaykum, I have a small question: Since when women in Saudi Arabia have to wear abayas? Was it always that strict?
    Jazak Allahu Khairan for answers.

    • well, its not only abayas we are talking here, but, also the scarves the saudi women use to hide their faces totally hiding themselves in public. if so, please kindly give me an explanation for these if it really is written in the koran to hide your face in public when outside your house or just the whims coming from the fatwas made by you know who….Please enlighten so as not to be ignorant.

    • No it wasn’t always so strict. I discussed this with my parents and they told me that as children, they witness my grandmothers’ generation going out without abayas but with big colorful scarfs over their heads. And before the abayas there was a loose over dress with very wide sleeves. The shoulders of these overdresses were drawn over the head for prayer and for going out. I’ll try to find photos from that time.

      • I would love to see a post with pics on this! Generally it seems that before the mid-70’s and the rise of Islam Khomeini style, and certainly before the 1979 revolution in Iran, Saudi was a less conservative and restrictive place than it is today. Looking forward to your further comments/posts on this topic.

  18. Omg! As I was starting to read your article I thought: ”I’d just wear the overhead abaya over the abaya of my choice and then take it off as soon as I’m through the ”modesty guard”
    And then I read that’s just what you did!

    And sneakers are ”western” and high heels are not??? Hahahahaha too bizarre!

    You write fascinating posts.

  19. boredwell

    I discovered your post on FOX.com. Your blog and two others were mentioned. Being a male and living in San Francisco, California, a city considered, even by American standards, to be the country’s most liberal politically, socially and culturally, I find your discussion about the abaya informative. And disconcerting. From a purely ergonomic viewpoint, the garment seems it would restrict the natural flow of one’s body movements and locomotion. Additionally, the full face-covering w/o vent for eyes, would conspire to make the garment dangerous as it diminishes the wearer’s vision! What I find particularly ironic is that women have the right to receive an education but, conversely, no right to choose whether to wear not not wear the abaya. I can understand how this enforced constraint must frustrate so many. The controversy over headscarves in Turkey seems minor in comparison to the abaya mandated for Saudi women.

  20. Wow! I love this blog! Your blog was mentioned on Fox News, and I am so glad that I came aboard. I cannot imagine trying to live my life-day to day-the way women in Islamic countries are forced to do. Isn’t it ironic: the men, especially the old dudes, are the ones so worried about women and a womens’
    sexuality? I read the Koran once. I remember modesty being advised for BOTH sexes.

  21. CO

    Assalamu aleykum
    I will start living in Riyadh soon, so can you tell me please:
    -may I wear colourful headscarf or it should be allways black?
    -may I wear sandals on street or in mall?
    -does woman have to go everywhere with mahram even when she goes in supermarket?

  22. Pingback: The French burqa ban « Saudiwoman’s Weblog

  23. Pingback: Kunststurz » Blog Archive » “They get the world and we get the afterlife.”

  24. sara

    salam al,
    I am a French woman converted to Islam.
    I just found your blog and there are very interessant.i leave you my mail (in the comments private )if you want(for speack) at soon

  25. Sara Alnadesh

    This is atrocious no one should be aloud to know what you are wearing under your abaya. Furthermore, what if you have an occasion after school or work and you don’t have time to go home and change so, you wear something nice under your abaya. There are so many more things in Islam that we should be worried about. I am from America and people wear literally nothing and I find this to be atrocious however, I think being in the middle is what its all about. I love hijab and abaya and what I wear under my abaya is nobodyies business unless I want it to be. Do they not know that some people wear glasses, have asthma or what if they have allergies and need to blow their nose. How can they do these things while being comfortable and not making a scene with this tent style abaya? We are Muslim woman not prisoners. They have to much time on their hands is what I am beginning to think. Why cant abaya of modest fashion or hijab be enough? Whats the deal with the high heals that’s more inappropriate if you ask me. These people are the ones who give Islam a bad name in the west. Do they ask to search your purse isn’t spying against Islam this is an invasion of privacy? Insha Allah these people become more concerned with taking care of the elders, the needy, and with an education which they intend on using. I know there are a lot of Saudi woman who are educated and I commend them on that but, most of them don’t even take advantage of that blessing to do something useful with their brains. La hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billah

  26. nicki

    i want to apologize to the sister who wrote the article. iam not a person who like to insult other people this is not my deen. but it really hurts me when i see the muslim woman taking her understanding of woman rights from the kuffar woman instead of allah(swt) and his messenger(pbuh). allah created the woman. so would not he know what is best for us. we have to know our capacity of understanding is very limited. allah knows the seen and the unseen he knows what will happen and what will never happen.allah is the all knowing. so like i sated allah created the woman we did not create ourselves so it is only common since that he would know whats best for us. i know your article is about abaya regulations. But to be honest i see it as another example of the arab woman lacking understanding of her deen, thus because she sees islam as inferior and the man-made laws as superior, because of the western brainwashing of the media. that is being led by the biggest enemy to the human being shaitan.you are watching the movies on the tv which we know tv and music is modern day magic. and it potrays these kaffir woman as free, liberated. when in reality shes the most oppressed. these woman are actually slaves to men. woman in the west are constantly disrespected. if you watch the tv and you was see how woman are constantly being used as sex slaves. if you want to buy a car theres a half naked woman sitting on the car. if you want eat or drink something there you see a half naked woman. the muslim woman. is honored. even christians say the best woman is mary the mother of jesus. and in the bible who does mary look like. she looks like the muslim woman. so we need to learn our deen. we should take our example from the mother of the believers and the female companions. these are woman to be followed. they were stong intelligent and truly free woman. lets educate our selves sister lets not fall victim to the shaitan. this life is very short everday we get closer to death, and everday we get closer to returning back to allah. so it would not be common sense to turn away from his laws when we know very soon were gonna have to answer to allah. death is real punishment in the grave is real, and the hellfire is real. lets not be deceived by the pleasures of this world it is only a test. so one last thing that i would say to the arab muslim woman and i say the arab because i see the arab woman being deceived more than i see the muslim woman from the west. study your deen. you have gold dont be foolish and trade in your gold for a pile of garbadge.

    • bigstick

      Women are not used as sex slaves in the west. Hollywood is a fastasy and it is all about a make believe senario. The reason Jesus mother Mary was in the attire that she was is because that was the dress style of the time and it made sense to wear that to protect against the elements due to extreme heat and arid conditions. Music is not a modern day magic it has been around for thousands of years and there is studies that music has healing properties. Music such as classical music has been link to increase mental acuity. In additon, musical training has been known to assist in increasing mathematical acuity. Actually there are a number of women who are considered excellent figures in christian theology. As far as your capacity to learn and understand it is the same as men. You have been conditioned to believe otherwise. Women in the west are allowed to go to school, be part of society public realm, have career choices, have full autonomy of the own body, and are afforded a great deal of rights. Are women exploited, yes but she decides if she wishes to go that route. She is not forced. However, women are exploited were your are at as well. Women are adults who are very capable of making their own decisions and very capable of being their own protectors. Marriage in the west is not about who is in charge and who is the final authority. It is for the most part a partership. The best protection for a woman is through knowledge, opportunity, movement, and self. A woman is transferred from one man to another is left to the whims of a man. Although men can be wonderful they can also be the opposite. Men do not protect women by keeping them hidden, uneducated, or immobile. There is no protection in dependency. Dependency leaves a woman at the mercy of others. In this case you best hope is that those others have your best interest at heart otherwise your life can be miserable at best. Men do have more upper body strength however women have more lower body strength. As far as financial abitlity they are finding that female financial officers actually outperform men. Men take more risks and tend to ask less questions in relation to financial market trends. As far as emotional issues, this tends to be attributed to societial norms. Men emotions are the same but they exhibit it in different ways such as anger burst, risky behavior, and solitary behavior. Women however are quite capable of keeping their emotions in check. This is just a stereotype of women. I assure you women are very capable mental, physical (when trained), and emotional. However, like everything if you expect the you are not as intelligent or as capable then you have a pretty good chance of being just that.

    • Orchid

      Assalamu alaikum sister Nicki, I am sorry to say but at least 70% of your post is absolutely irrelevant to this article. Does anyone here trying to say that women shouldn’t cover the way Allah legislated it?
      Suspecting and controlling 50% of the population to the extend of checking what kind of trousers women wear is not part of the Islamic deen, sister. And this certainly doesn’t make you free.
      No doubt, the West went extreme on selling woman’s body but by that we shouldn’t constantly justify certain extremes we face in the Islamic world today. The fact that “our capacity of understanding is limited” gives you no right to turn everybody’s life in this world into psychological torture.

  27. nicki

    iam from the west first of all. I dont speak any arabic and most of my family are christians. and lets make this very clear when i stated we have a limited capacity of understanding i was talking about the human being this includes the man as well. And as for your issue with mary you are saying she dressed that way because of the time she was living in, oh I see so basically in our time.God does not want us to cover instead he perfers us to dress like whores. ok i got your point. So no wonder in a website it stated each year in the US 213,000 victims of sexual assualt and that every 2 min someone in the US is sexually assualted also a
    according to the CDC it was reported that 19 million new STDs annually. And lets not forget the unwanted pregnacies,but thats not a problem because us women have the choice to kill the baby or just give the baby away. whereas countries that follow Gods law it is rare for things like that to happen.And it only happens when people (usually the youth) put the law of God behind their back, and follow the ways of others. And I know what you are going to say it is not the fault of women but it is the fault of the man. and your right it is the fault of the man and deserve punishment. and he will be punished by God if they dont repent But women who dress lets say in a not proper way is to blame as well. Lets be honest women dress like that for the attention of men. and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Iam a female i know the mind of a female. Alot of time women send mixed signals not only in her dress but behavior she can sometimes make the man feel that she wants it. thats the truth. A man who has no knowledge and no fear of god cannot control himself. And a women who has no knowledge and fear of God dresses that way. If you go to the highschools the girls who dress like that do it to be popular with the boys. Or she wants to get in the club for free. It can go on and on.women should understand that the mind of a man can be somewhat ape like. covering is not just for her but it protects man from himself. Constantly on the tv.all you see is half naked woman all it does is teach females their whole purpose in life is to be a slave to the desires of man. I remember this popular singer was on tv and the song was about girls running the world, but at the same time she was dressing very trashy. And all I was thinking is you fool you are not running anything your just another slave being used and abused. The song is just telling young girls that if she wants power and fame basically to get ahead in life she has to look like a slut. thats a what a woman is worth in life. prostitute yourself. As for myself I cover completely I know my purpose in this world is to please my creator. God has freed us women from that form of slavery. Iam not in need of any man or woman to be an advocate of my rights as a woman. my Lord has already done that for me. Listen to why God has ordered the woman to cover chapter from Quran 33 verse 59
    In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    59. O prophet! Tell you wives and your daughters and the wives of the believers that they should draw over themselves some of their outergarments when in public, so as to be recognized and not harmed.God is the most forgiving and most merciful.
    And one last thing women in arab countries attend school. alot of them attend university as well they are highly educated. So i really dont understand were you got that from.

    • Orchid

      Errrmmmm, you are from the West, sister? MashaAllah! So you probably enjoyed such basic human rights like to say “La ilaha ilallah” despite the fact that your parents aren’t Muslims; also mobility rights, or a right to work, drive, the way to dress, make your own decisions etc. all those positive things that the West can offer and other places can’t. So how would you know how it feels like not to have those basic freedoms and not be able to say “I am not in need of any man or woman to be an advocate of my rights as a woman”????? Unless, you prefer to be completely locked up from the outside world having no need in anything… Allahu’alam, I know these kind of sisters as well. Anyway, the beauty of Islam is that we are allowed to differ in our opinions, so let’s live and let others live! Allah knows best.

    • That is hilarious that there are two ways to dress. Like whores or fully covered. Anyway, you clearly don’t know much about living in an “Islamic Country” if you think there are not prostitution, drugs STDS etc. Of course it’s hard to know how widespread because they don’t keep good statistics on these things because they’d like to pretend it doesn’t happen. And don’t you wonder where the orphans without name in the orphanages come from? Everything that happens in the west also happens here. It’s just hidden- and the women are oppressed as part of the attempt to limit and pretend it’s not happening. And mostly because tribal/patriarchal rule is what happens here- not Islam and people have a hard time giving up power- especially men.

  28. bigstick

    I have no problems with Mary. It is just a fact that this type of clothing was worn due to climate issues. No cloth will make a woman into a saint or pious. Women are not whores or prostitutes any more than men. They are human. Women are coming to realize that words such as whore, slut, and prostitute means nothing but a way to intimidate a good, intelligent, independent, strong, vibrant woman into submission. This tactic to intimidate women is failing, they know why it is being said to them. To push them backwards. As far as your comments on the statistics in the US compared to middle eastern countries it cannot be done. For the reason that women are afraid of reporting crimes due to family honor and reprisals. Intimidation, seclusion and control are excellent ways to commit the worst human atrocities.

  29. bigstick

    Let me make another point. If you want to wear the burka, hijab, etc. more power to you. However, using intimidation and judgemental factors to force other women into abiding to your standard is wrong. I have no problem with anyones religion per say so long as it is not forced upon someone else. Then it just becomes tyranny. There is nothing righteous, spirtual or holy about that.

  30. Orchid

    “As soon as the female guard saw the cuffs of my pants under the abaya, she stopped me and told me that I could not enter the university until I bought a skirt from her and gave her my pants for safekeeping.”

    Being a practising Muslim myself I find the above statement disturbing. Islamically you are allowed to wear anything under your khimar/abaya as long as you are properly covered. SubhanaAllah, this is too extreme and I feel this kind of control would definitely cause some psychological damage.

  31. nicki

    as salamu alaikum
    I know quite well what the article is about abaya regulations. we are not living in the time of our beloved prophet(pbuh) and his companions the best amongst the human beings. The people and rulers of today are nothing like them okay
    I know this. And Maybe your country has its issues Im sure I know its not perfect. But No country is perfect. this is the dunah, what do you expect. But i personally feel if your biggest complaint is the moral police and women not being able to drive a car than its silly.Your country is the only country in the arab world tring to stick to Quran and Sunnah. if you say you are muslims you should be proud of that..And as for the sister who was talking about the female guard who stopped you from entering the university because you were wearing pants. Have you every heard the hadith about women who act like men and men who act like women are cursed, maybe she told you to remove the pants because she seen it as something for men. I dont know, In the west for a long time women did not wear pants it was seen shameful. I also dont know how she seen your pants wasnt your abaya long. the abaya should go over your feet. My whole point sisters who i love for the sake of Allah. Allah created us and provides for us everything. Just think we are totally dependent on Allah. Try not breathing for a long time can you do that, Try not eating, try not sleeping, How about dont use the bathroom, your heart can you live without a heart. One last thing dont die live forever can you do that. the answer is no so we should follow his laws he is our owner

  32. Orchid

    Don’t mean to argue here but there are some Muslims who follow double standards without even realising it. On one hand, if you do something wrong they hasten to say “follow the Qur’an, the Sunnah and companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him)!!!!”. On other hand, when YOU try to correct THEM by bringing evidence from the Qur’an/Sunnah or companions, they straight away reply “oh, well, they were perfect and we are not, we live in different times, so let’s stick to what we have”. Please, let’s not do cherry picking here!

    Nicki, Islam also does not forbid cultural differences which include certain variations within a dress-code. Women wearing trousers is a common phenomenon in the world today. By the fact that European women didn’t wear trousers some 80 years ago doesn’t prove that trousers is inappropriate clothes for ladies. Because if we continue digging deeper into history we’ll also find that European women 150 years ago couldn’t divorce or own a property and so on.
    In Muslim countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and some parts of India, Muslim women normally wear salwar suits. Does it mean they imitate men? In this case, Arab men shouldn’t wear black thobes as this would imitate a woman in a black abaya. And an Indonesian pilgrim shouldn’t wear white abaya since she would imitate a man in a white thobe. But we don’t think like that because we know that abayas and thobes are stitched differently, so trousers as well.

    Anyway, the point here is that whatever I wear under my abaya is solely my business and if somebody is trying to get under my abaya to see what is underneath I would consider it as invasion of my privacy.

  33. bigstick


    You have every right to express your opinion and dislike of the situation and yes it is an invasion of privacy as well as dignity.

  34. nicki

    this is really getting out of hand why dont Bigstick. Orchid, Sandy and Myself form a debate team. Iam from the west maybe Europe maybe America. But its really funny you mentioned Philadelphia Pa. I know some people from there and masha’allah they are very serious about sticking to Quran and Sunnah. alot of the sisters there mostly converts wear black abaya and full niqab. Anyway your right orchid she should not have looked under your abaya, But thats her, sometimes people do strange things. At the same time I still feel wearing pants especially jeans can be seen as masculine, maybe thats what she thought to. The prophet peace be upon him told us to obey our rulers. even if he beats us and take our money obey. as long as you are not being disobdient to Allah and his messenger. When Allah and his messenger orders something it is not for the believer to give his opion in the matter. we must simply hear and obey. If the ruler doesnt allow women to wear pants dont wear pants as long as they are not telling you to disobey your lord. If you feel you are truly being oppressed why dont you make dua and ask Allah to guide your rulers to the correct understanding of Quran and sunnah ask Allah to make your rulers among the Saaliheen. Make Dua. But dont be rebellious. The shaitan is our enemy he wants to corrupt us muslim women and men. The muslim woman is so beautiful and so pure, and clean, we have light in our faces because of our salat, fasting, and staying away from zina and other evil practices. the shayteen have darkness. they are so jealous of us they want us to turn away from our deen. stay strong upon deen, and ask Allah to make it easy for all of us.

  35. bigstick

    Go to the Section labeled as the French Burka Ban and read this article by Eman on this blog. There is a book that she also cites to that is extremely informative.

  36. Orchid

    We started with an ordinary lady invading someone’s privacy and ended up with a ruler, black abayas and niqab, it’s becoming noodles. Does abaya need to be essentially black? Oh, dear…. Just to let everyone know that no one rebels here. As I mentioned above, Islam allows difference of opinions and questioning, so let’s be tolerant to each other.

  37. nicki

    when it comes to Aqeedah there is no difference in opinion hapepte. and wearing black abaya is best but you can wear other colors okay. Look Iam not going to change my beliefs And You wont change yours. But its not about you and me it is about what allah and his messenger says. Here and obey. if you want to keep debating Quran And sunnah you are very rebellious. And as far as the abaya she obviously didnt let you wear pants because it is against the law so it has everything to do with rulers. and that guard has authority over you so it may include her. and yes we should be tolerant with each other as long as it is not going against Quran and Sunnah. I have to go now because Iam A sad little oppressed housewife who has to prepare the meal for my husband and my little boy. Assalamu Alaikum to my sisters in Islam lets come together on Quran and Sunah According to the understanding of the Salaf.

  38. Orchid

    We don’t talk about aqeedah here at all! I am a salafi as well but as many other salafis I don’t share some of your opinions. I just don’t want to start political conversations about to whom we should obey and to whom we shouldn’t as I believe we cannot do a justice to this topic here. Assalamu alaikum.

  39. nicki

    assalamu alaikum so Salafis dont believe you should Stick to Quran sunnah by the understanding of the salaf. Thats All I have been talking about the whole time Sister. Thats my main point. I told you that you are right the sister shouldnt have looked under your Abaya. but I said if the law in your country is not for females to wear pants. then dont wear pants. thats it. I went to an Islamic highschool and at that school the females could not wear hijabs with different colors, I was new so I did no know this. when I entered the classroom my teacher a sister was very upset with me and told me to go change my hijab. I did not like the way she treated me but thats life people are the way they are. I listened and moved on. I did not go complain about it to the whole world. What iam saying whatever problems we muslims may have thats our business. In the west all the people think that the muslim woman is so oppressed especially in Saudia Arabia. Islam doesnt oppress women Islam liberates women. And I just dont think its wise to aid them in that thinking. If you are going to talk about the problems there at least mention alot of the good in your country as well. You should feel blessed that you are so close to Makkah and Medina. And can you easily learn your deen. You have the great ullema there. Everyday your hear the Adhan being called, and feel blessed that your easily protected from free mixing, And other evils. You dont know how many western muslims wish to be in your place. Thank Allah. This is my last response I dont see the benefit of going back and forth Just my sister I love you for the sake of Allah and I want good for all my sisters. And when ever we muslims have a difference of opinion we have to go back to what Allah and his messenger says. assalamu alaikum.

    • Islam may liberate women-but Saudi Arabia oppresses them- so people in the west are not wrong about that. And I pray that the US and global community uses whatever influence they have to pressure Saudi to conform to basic human rights- which are NOT in contrast to Islam and honor all the international agreements it has signed etc.

    • Saqib

      Nicki.. i like your posts… But remember… This world is going towards worst
      Every coming day people will like to be more moderate.. more liberal.. and crying for so called womens write.. i am so sad.. why womens wants be slave.. they are thinking that they will or they are getting respect by showing her selfs.. by naked or half naked… i am a man.. and i know how, when and why men thinks.. if someone here said that…. no no.. not every men think like this.. or some one say that not the five figures are equal..
      i would say… if some one has no feeling to see this modern freak dressing..and womens.. he should consult with doctor.. and when its time for eating.. these five figure become equal…

  40. Orchid

    Actually, Muslims don’t need US or any other Western country to influence them. Muslims had enough of imperialistic influence of the West that in the name of freedom feeds Muslim kids with bullets and pornography. Muslims should deal with their problems on their own with the help of sincere Islamic scholars, inshaAllah!

    • abuumar

      Your right Muslims should be influenced exactly the way you explained and from The Quran and Sunnah. However that little comment about the west influence was very one sided and offensive. I am not claiming that the west is innocent. I am just pointing out that the west has a growing population of Muslims and we can all learn from each other. And your pain in is my pain we are one Nation we need not to discriminate.

  41. N. Owais

    very good collection,

    I found excellent abayas at

    Do visit this site!


  42. And so, after all the debate , can I wear another colour abaya or does it really have to be black? I am moving from Canada to Jazan.

  43. Abdul-Yekin


    It is no wonder all these things are happening in our world today. It is what that has been prophecised by the Prophet (s.a.w). When the world is going to an end, a lot of fitnah will be happening, ignorance will prevail, knowledge & wisdom will disappear. You are going to find among muslims one who will enjoin evil and forbit good.

    This is exactly what this writer is doing. As far as I am concern, this writer is manafiq an hyprocrite, a devil trying to mislead people from the path of Allah.

    What does she mean in this article? That abaya is matter of choice & not complsory? As if weraing abaya is a custom and not an heavenly ordained law.

    Now, let us reason, what is the wisdom behinde all these regulations (i.e wearing abaya, niqab, putting on descent garment underneath your abay etc)? It is just to protect your right, to protect you from evil glances from the wolf among men, to protect you from sexual harrassment, not to spread fitnah in the society etc. This is exactly what saudi authorities & the faithful muslims are doing. They doing doing it for their own selfish interest and the like.

    O my dear sisters in Islam, do not listen to this manafiq, she is trying to mislead you from the path of Allah, trying to corrupt the society and the modest, chaste women in particular. She want want to strip naked. She want to get rid of your modesty.

    O my dear sisters, be aware of this devil writer, she is a promoter of fitnah.

    May Allah protect us from the hands of this mischief make.

  44. Saqib

    This is abaya that protect you.. that makes you more beautiful and charming.. i ma Pakistani.. and my country is Islamic.. but only to say Islamic.. there nothing like Islamic there.. girls wants to be like English models.. they want to be i am sorry to say this “NUDE” in front of public.. they thinks that by doin this they become more moderate and more educated.. Waallah.. when they dress like this.. all the jerky are behind them they praised them only and only to have some time pass and make some dirty works with them.. and there nothing like respect or true love.. ” and in my counter only and only because of this and media adultery becoming cheaper and cheaper…
    To be like nude is just living like in stone ages.. when people lived like that.. and Dresses are made for humans.. not for pets or animals..
    And no One is more beautiful then Aisha (Ra).. Khudaja (RA).. Amina (RA)… And nothing is correct more then our QURAN.. So why we muslins are doubt in this… I solute saudi Womens.. they are grate.. More save.. More beautiful then any women of this words.. And i pray they Keep their Abays.. Always and Always.. Unit the day of judgment.. So they Get reward on that Day…. Ameen

  45. Naajiyah

    Lol… This is hilarious! I’m an American, a convert to Islam, and I dress (as many converts in the west do), as you described… Overhead abaya, niqab, gloves…the works! I wish the clothing of MEN and women wear policed here. Here you have both men and women able to step outdoors in their underwear. Even some dress like the opposite sex, so much so, that you can’t tell if they are a male or female…and your complaining, Lol?! Saudi, for me, is like a dream come true, I’m moving Lol. Also I’ve been told Saudi is very safe in regards to its amount of criminal acts, unlike here as well.

  46. Moistreet

    Hey, Always wear abaya with pride.

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