Caring what people think too much, is a village's theme in Oman. Which is why my husband, who loves his village more passionatley than many who actually reside there, does not want to live there at this point in his life. Same goes for his cousin, who has all her family and friends there, but wishes often, that she could escape to a nice cosy apartment in Muscat.
Example: my sister in law recently purchased the abaya pictured below.
Now, fact is, some are jealous that she can afford such designer looks. There will always be haters. Some are jealous in fact, that all her money is her own, and that she takes a share of her husband's also. No man in her life tells her she has to stay at home and accept what he can hand her. Some women let themselves be told they cannot work, or what feild they can work in [Oman is awesome for the fact that its government and even religious authority DOES NOT]. My husband, as great as he is in many things, is jealous, because he loves me, and he tries to say don't work where you have to talk to men, ect. My sister in law and I, we simply don't let the men in our lives tell us what to do as long as we are doing no wrong and that's that. Any man worth anything gets over it, and those that aren't, better to leave them ANYWAYS.
Some people resent this freedom because they don't understand it or are threatened by it.
I'll admit my sister-in-law's overall hijab isn't perfect (who's is?), but the abaya was pretty perfect. A little design on the edging of her sleeves shouldn't warrant any gossip because there is indeed, nothing haraam in the shape of the abaya. It meets all the Islamic dress code requirements should one consult the litterature we Muslims use to draft our legislature. It wasn't covered in jewels or an ostentasious show of wealth. People in the village show off in other ways, by building bigger villas than they need so what is the harm in a sleeve, even if most other girls in the village wear plainer sleeves? It wasn't tight. It was, in fact, looser than many a plainer abaya.
Even those of our family knowing this, educated as they, are afraid they will stand out. People will notice. People will talk.
When my husband first married me almost no one in his family would even meet me. Since I am Muslim, this is not Islamic at all. In fact, it is sinful even. Only this sister-in-law, who will admit, she is the least well read on religious books out of any of them. But the thing is, what she has read, she follows, even if it is different from "the people".
WHY should we do this? Because, well, sometimes the people are wrong.
As well read as I am on the subject of hijab, my sister-in-law could march down the street in a yellow abaya and I would know she was closer to how the Prophet Mohammed's wife Ayesha dressed historically, than any woman in the village, so a little design on her sleeve was nothing to rag on her about.
People in the village tell me so many wrong things about Islam, and our village is still one of the most Islamic places I have ever seen or lived, that I feel it is no wonder the non-Muslim world perceives Islam as it does.
Now, as time has passed, and I have been accepted into the society of this place, even more than my sister-in-law is, and she was born here, and those who physically locked doors so they wouldn't see me invite me and come to my door, I want those same people to know that their acceptance has not come because "I cared what they thought" and changed anything about myself, but because there was nothing wrong with myself to begin with, and I carried on living my life in a way that was harming no one.
My husband's additude of "Just watch me", when everyone was like "You can't do that" and 2 of his sisters' being the same, made all the difference in the world. They may not have been able to stamp out every kind of prejudice, but they made a dent. N&K you are the best, and MOP, I love you;)
Eventually, when someone just ends up doing the right thing, or even just doing their own thing when it isn't anything harmful, others of a more timid nature will follow suit, and then the haters won't have much of an audience left to listen to them go on anymore.
Moral of this post is, I want to live in the village. I want my husband to live in his village. He loves it there. I don't want haters to be able to stir up people with limited understanding and even more shallow depths of courage. So what should I do? I should just continue to live my life, and always do what I know to be the right thing over the wrong thing. Sometimes just doing a thing that isn't wrong but that other people don't do once in a while while maintaing a moral life is enough to remind someone out there, to think for themselves and maybe more right actions to correct larger problems will follow.
So, when something isn't wrong, but someone out there tells you, you can't? Turn around and tell them: "Watch me".