Hijab fashion and the liberated Arab woman

Many won't consider Arab women as 'free' or 'liberated' in any sense, but staying in Dubai has opened my eyes to how emancipated they actually are. Now, I speak only for the UAE and not some orthodox Arab countries, but even then, it's worth sharing.

'Hijab fashion', for instance, may sound like an oxymoron but these women have really turned it to their advantage. Hijab means 'cover' in the context of covering their body. Now, there is a debate whether Islam asks women to cover up from head to toe at all, instead asking them to dress modestly. But most Arab women do cover up completely, leaving open only their faces and hands. But take a lesson in fashion from them! The glittering abayas (like burqas) are as good as any evening gown. The others, who wear scarves, wear literally any fashion garment, cleverly using body suits to cover up. So, you can find the Arab women in jeans, tops, jogging tracks and even riding habits, without too much skin show.

It's sad that women in non-Muslim countries cannot comfortably adopt hijab fashion because they would be looked upon with suspicion. Why are democratic countries so intolerant about something as simple as covering the head?

Delving deeper, the Arab society segregates men and women but that may actually be a good thing, as I have experienced. Firstly, women (of all nationalities) are treated with respect whether at the airport, the park or at the mall. This is something so lacking in India, especially North India. I have benefited so much from women-oriented facilities, especially for women such as mother's rooms everywhere and prayer rooms. Additionally, there are special seats for women on buses and special days for them in the parks and beaches. Sometimes, it's a good thing to not have strange men constantly scanning you.

So, not only are the Arab women fashionable (you gotta' check out the designer bags and shoes!), but happy and most importantly, safe in the knowledge that are being cared for and respected by the society they live in.

(Pics: 2Hijab, RabiaZ)
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musafir said...

After a long time the feeds from your blog started showing up :-). Like the new look of your blog.

Tarana Khan said...

Thank you so much!

inayah58 said...

Very nice Abayas

Anonymous said...

To a degree it depends on your background and the circles in which you move. It's not all bad in non-Muslim countries. Ok, I'm talking of the UK here, but I think hijab has been well accommodated for some time, although there are always dissenters who wish to see it removed. In UAE, things are not always rosy if you're a black sister, for example. A hijabi sister we know was treated very badly there and had a rotten experience.

Wealth also probably has a lot to do with it. The main thing to remember is that Muslim dress shouldn't represent conceit and arrogance: it's to do with humility. I'm not against hijabi fashion, but some manifestations of it is really the opposite of "walking on the earth with humility" which is how Muslims are meant to be. Elegance doesn't have to be showy.

Tarana Khan said...

Thanks for commenting! I agree about the humility part. At the same time, it's good to see that wearing a hijab doesn't have to be 'boring'.

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