Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections on Modest Fashions for Muslim Omani Girls

I saw a Turkish woman the other day at Al Bajha mall, wearing a very modestly cut but beautifully tailored Turkish coat jacket called "Pardesu". This is the Turkish versian of the abaya. And it may have been coloured, but the loose cut, and very stylish (it resembled the pic above) design also had an appropriately draped hijab (headscarf) to go with it.

Styled as in this pic but much longer. This Turkish woman I observed was more modest than most of the Omani girls in the mall, even though she wore colours because her coat was not tailored to be too tight (and my gosh, it was still stylish in a very European way), and her square scarf hijab (all Omani shaylas are oblong, i.e rectangular) actually covered her boobs. Alot of Omani women say they wear the hijab for religious reasons, that is, to fullfill the comman in the Qu'ran where is says for Muslim woman to pull their headress over their breasts to be different from the religious dress of Christian and Jewish women, but very few Omani women actually cover their breasts with their headscarves when they are wearing their abayas. The stylish way is to wrap the scarf around the hair, head, and neck, but this does not cover the chest, thus is not the religious covering at all. Some girls DO wrap their shaylas so that one end is left long and loose, and they drape one edge of their scarf over their breasts, but the thing is, it is never wide enough to cover two breasts at the same time. If you are not Muslim, or don't care to follow the Qu'ran as it is written, please don't tell me I am being picky. I am being accurate on this basis. I am not judging anyone's attentions, just observing what I see.

I am in fact, in no way saying that the Pardesu or turkish hijab are superior Islamically to the abaya and shayla. Most Turkish women belt their Pardesu, rendering it unislamic because it is not supposed to show the curves of the body, and while the scarves cover the hair and the skin, they are usually tucked or wrapped to render them not to Islamic requirements. Which is why I mainly opted for black abayas even back in my Western country. But it annoyed me EVER SO MUCH to hear my friend's husband and a group of Omani girls staring at an expat girl in a knee length skirt exclaim that she shouldn't dress that way to respect Omani culture. If by Omani culture, they meant their Islam, not ONE of the Omani women in the nearest vicinity were wearing their headscarves over their chests, and many of them their clothing was too tight fitting (their abayas were tailored to reveal the curve of the waist and nipped at their butts) to be the jilbab (overgarment) the requirement states Muslim women should wear out of their homes (which in Oman, is most commonly the abaya these days). The expat skirt girl wasn't a Muslim, and Islam actually doesn't even compell Pagan women at the time of the Prophet to cover their breasts, since non-muslim women used to run around the Kaba in Mecca topless in early Islamic times, all it requires is Muslims concern themselves with their own dress code, and lower their gaze from any parts of another's body it is innapropriate to see. Ignorance always breeds intolerance and I guess this is why I care so much about the details, because somebody else is always going to be extremely cruel on an error.
All looks with hats styled by Emirati designer Rabia Z. This is to cheer myself up after a good rant. I love hats.


Curious said...

I read your post with interest but surely none of your photos show women covering their breasts? What is wrong with the way Omani women dress? Most are modest and draping hijabs across their breasts would surely only attract attention?

American Niqabi said...

Salam alaikum! Do you have any idea where I can buy a pardesu for under $100? I have found one site (Sorayya) but at $130, it's just far too expensive.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Curious: Only one photo does, the rest illustrate how people wear the headcsarf for fashion, rather than their religion. Indeed most Omani women do dress very modestly, but their hijab (headscarf) is not Islamic in basis if it does not cover the breasts. Older women, and village women wearing the lendli or traditional dress DO cover their chest so it will not stand out at all (and I wear mine like this, even the black shayla)but when women put on the abaya and cover their hair, they seem to forget the MAIN point of wearing their headscarf (to cover the shape of the chest, not to cover hair and skin alone).

American Niqabi: Wa alaikom e salaam, I'm sorry, I don't. They don't sell them in Oman at all.