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The Abaya in Islam

The Abaya, a symbol of modesty and faith in Islam, is much more than just clothing. In this article, we will delve into its history, global impact, popularity on the internet, and its status as an Islamic garment. Discover how the Abaya has evolved over the centuries to become an integral part of contemporary Islamic fashion.


We will also attempt to understand the place of the Abaya in Islam and answer the question that everyone is asking: is it an Islamic garment?


Additionally, we will try to understand some aspects related to the issue of the Abaya in France:


Religious Freedom: France is a country that values secularism, meaning that the state is separate from religion.

However, religious freedom is also a fundamental right in France, protected by law. Individuals have the right to practice their religion and wear religious clothing, including the Abaya.


Debates on Secularism: The question of secularism in France has led to debates about the visibility of religious symbols in the public space, including religious clothing. Some argue that garments like the Abaya may be perceived as a symbol of Islam and question their place in the public sphere.


Ban on Full-Face Veils: In 2010, France passed a law banning the wearing of full-face veils, which cover the face, in public places. This law was enacted for reasons of public safety and identification of individuals. However, it does not specifically target the Abaya.


Tensions and Debates: The issue of the Abaya and other religious clothing has sparked tensions and debates in France. Some believe that these garments are a sign of oppression, while others defend individuals’ right to dress in accordance with their faith.

The Abaya, modest islamic cloth

I. What is the Abaya?

1. History and Origin of the Abaya

The Abaya, an iconic garment worn by many Muslim women, embodies a rich and fascinating history rooted in the sartorial traditions of Arab and Middle Eastern countries. 


This piece of clothing has a history that dates back several centuries, marking both the evolution of Islamic fashion and the deeply ingrained values of modesty and decency.


The history of the Abaya has its origins in the clothing customs of ancient societies in the region, where protection against the harsh climate and desert sands was essential.  The earliest Abayas were often crafted from lightweight and loose fabrics to provide protection from the scorching sun while ensuring ease of movement.


Over the centuries, the Abaya has evolved into a symbol of Islam, with a particular emphasis on modesty. Its design has become more elaborate, incorporating artistic details and embroideries that reflect local culture. This evolution has elevated the Abaya from a mere utilitarian garment to an expression of faith and Muslim identity.


Today, the Abaya has transcended geographical and cultural boundaries to become an iconic garment in global Islamic fashion. Its rich history and cultural significance make it more than just clothing: it is a symbol of tradition, spirituality, and elegance.

2. How the Abaya Became a Global Fashion Phenomenon

The history of the Abaya, deeply rooted in Islamic culture and religion, has managed to transcend cultural boundaries to become an essential global fashion phenomenon. The reasons for its growing popularity worldwide are multifaceted and intriguing.


First and foremost, the Abaya embodies a harmonious fusion of tradition and modernity. By preserving the values of modesty and decency advocated by Islam, it also manages to keep up with contemporary fashion trends. This means that Muslim women can wear the Abaya while expressing their individuality and personal style.


Moreover, globalization and easy access to information have contributed to the visibility of the Abaya. Social media, in particular, has played a significant role in spreading this iconic garment. Muslim fashion influencers share their Abaya styles, inspiring women from around the world.


The online availability of the Abaya has also contributed to its global reach. Specialized online stores offer a wide range of choices, allowing Muslim women to explore different models, colors, and designs, regardless of their geographical location.


In summary, the Abaya has become a global fashion phenomenon thanks to its ability to preserve tradition while adapting to the evolving fashion landscape and the rapid dissemination of information on a global scale. It embodies timeless elegance that transcends borders, making the Abaya more than just clothing but a true icon of contemporary Islamic fashion.

3. The Abaya: One of the Best-Selling Clothing Items Online

The popularity of the Abaya has seen a meteoric rise in the online market, making it one of the most sought-after and sold clothing items on the internet. This revolutionary trend reflects the ever-evolving world of contemporary Islamic fashion.


With the advent of technology and e-commerce platforms, the Abaya has become accessible to a global audience. Muslim women from around the world can now explore a multitude of styles, colors, and designs from the comfort of their homes. This diversity has contributed to the expansion of the online Abaya market.


The numbers speak for themselves. Abaya sales on the internet have significantly increased in recent years, reaching impressive heights. This growing demand has prompted many online stores specializing in Islamic fashion to offer a wide range of choices to satisfy the tastes and preferences of every woman.


The Abaya is no longer just clothing; it is also an expression of style and faith. Its online accessibility has opened up new possibilities for Muslim women worldwide, helping them find outfits that are both stylish and in line with the principles of Islamic modesty. This is how the Abaya has become a cornerstone of 21st-century Islamic fashion, radiating beauty and piety on a global scale.

II. The Abaya: An Islamic Attire?

1. The 8 Rules of Hijab in Islam: Modesty and Decency

1.Hijab, literally meaning “veil” or “covering” in Arabic, is a central concept in Islam that pertains to the attire and behavior of Muslim women. It is based on the teachings of the Quran and the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Here are the eight fundamental rules of hijab in Islam, supported by evidence from the Quran and Hadith:


2. Body Covering: The first rule of hijab is to cover the body, except for the face and hands, in public. This means that the face and hands may be visible, but the rest of the body should be covered. This rule is supported by the Hadith where the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “When a woman reaches puberty, it is not permissible for her to display her body except for her face and hands.” (Abu Dawood)


3. Loose and Non-Formfitting: Clothing should be loose and not formfitting, so as not to accentuate the contours of the body. This promotes modesty. The Quran says, “And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof…” (Surah An-Nur, 24:31)


3. Non-See-Through: Clothing should be opaque and not allow the skin or undergarments to show through. This ensures decency and modesty. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “When a woman who has reached puberty prays, nothing should be seen of her except this and this,” pointing to her face and hands. (Abu Dawood)


4. Non-Transparent: Clothing should not be transparent, so that the skin or undergarments are not visible through the fabric. This rule reinforces modesty. The Quran says, “O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment…” (Surah Al-A’raf, 7:26)


5. Not Resembling Men: Women’s clothing should not resemble that of men, and vice versa. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Cursed is the man who imitates women, and cursed is the woman who imitates men.” (Bukhari)


6. Not Resembling Non-Believers: Muslim women should not imitate clothing specific to other cultures or religions. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (Abu Dawood)


7. No Public Perfume: Women should not wear perfume or strong scents in public to attract the attention of unrelated men. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Any woman who puts on perfume and passes by people so that they can smell her fragrance is sinful.” (At-Tirmidhi)


8. Modesty in Behavior: In addition to clothing, hijab also encompasses modesty in behavior. Women should avoid flirting, speaking suggestively, or behaving provocatively.


It is important to note that hijab is a personal choice based on faith and may vary depending on culture and individual interpretation. However, these eight rules provide general guidance for understanding the concept of hijab in Islam.

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2. Modesty: An Important Concept

The importance of modesty in Islam is deeply rooted in the teachings of the Quran and the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Modesty, known as “Hayaa” in Arabic, is a fundamental virtue that guides how Muslims behave and interact in their daily lives.


Modesty in Islam encompasses modesty in attire, speech, gestures, and even thoughts. It is based on the principles of decency, purity, and morality. Believers are encouraged to preserve their modesty, avoid displaying their bodies inappropriately, and not attract unwanted attention.


The Quran emphasizes the importance of modesty repeatedly, encouraging believers to lower their gaze and guard their chastity. It also mentions that modesty is a characteristic of both male and female believers.


The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught that modesty acts as a barrier against sin and safeguards one’s faith. He said, “Modesty and faith are closely related. If one of them is removed, the other also disappears.” Believers are thus encouraged to cultivate modesty in all aspects of their lives to preserve their faith and moral integrity.


In summary, modesty holds a central place in Islam, promoting modesty, purity, and morality. It is considered a precious virtue that strengthens the faith of believers and guides them toward respectful and decent behavior in their interactions with others and in their lives in general.

3. How is the Abaya an Islamic Attire?

The Abaya, as an iconic garment worn by many Muslim women, is in perfect harmony with the fundamental principles of Islam. This attire embodies values such as modesty, decency, and adherence to religious precepts. Here’s why the Abaya is considered clothing that aligns with the principles of Islam:


1.Modesty and Decency: The Abaya covers the body in a loose manner and adheres to the rules of modesty in Islam. It conceals the body’s contours, except for the face and hands, in accordance with the teachings of the Quran and Hadith.


2. Adherence to Hijab Rules: The Abaya complies with the eight rules of hijab in Islam, which guide the clothing of Muslim women. It allows women to adhere to these rules while maintaining elegance.


3. Preserving Moral Integrity: By adequately covering the body, the Abaya preserves the moral integrity of Muslim women by avoiding any undue provocation or temptation.


4. Expression of Religious Identity: The Abaya serves as a symbol of the religious identity and faith of Muslim women. It attests to their commitment to Islamic values.


5. Compliance with Religious Precepts: The Abaya is in line with the teachings of the Quran and the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). It enables women to practice their faith authentically.


In summary, the Abaya embodies a harmonious fusion of traditional Islamic faith with contemporary fashion. It provides Muslim women with a means to live in accordance with the principles of Islam while expressing their individuality and elegance. As clothing that reflects modesty and decency, the Abaya is a clothing choice that fully aligns with the principles of Islam.

the abay and modest clothes of the muslim woman

III. The Abaya in France: Between Religious Identity and Debates on Secularism

The Abaya, a long and loose-fitting robe worn by some Muslim women, is at the center of numerous debates in France. In a country where secularism is a fundamental principle and where questions of identity, religion, and education are often contentious, the Abaya raises complex issues.

1. The Abaya in France

In France, the Abaya remains a minority but visible attire in certain regions or neighborhoods. While there are no official statistics to precisely assess the number of women wearing the Abaya, it is certain that this phenomenon draws attention and sparks debates about the place of Islam in French society.


France, committed to its republican and secular values, has enacted several laws aimed at regulating the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols in public spaces. Since 2004, conspicuous religious symbols have been prohibited in public schools, and since 2010, the wearing of full-face veils (niqab or burqa) has been banned in all public spaces.

2. The Controversy Surrounding the Abaya in Schools

The debate over wearing the Abaya in schools has gained momentum in recent years in France. Some Muslim students wish to wear this attire for religious or cultural reasons. The Council of State, the highest administrative jurisdiction in the country, has issued several rulings on this matter, stating that wearing the Abaya can be considered a conspicuous religious symbol when associated with the Islamic headscarf.


Thus, while the prohibition of wearing the Abaya alone does not seem justified in terms of the principle of school neutrality, it can be deemed illegal when combined with another conspicuous religious symbol. This complex jurisprudence raises important questions regarding religious freedom and respect for students’ personal beliefs.

3. Arguments For and Against the Ban

Among the arguments in favor of banning the Abaya in schools are the desire to uphold the neutrality of the public education system and to prevent any form of religious proselytism. Supporters of this ban argue that wearing the Abaya can be seen as a conspicuous sign of religious affiliation and is therefore incompatible with the secular values that underpin the republican school.


Conversely, opponents of the ban argue that wearing the Abaya falls under the right to religious freedom and respect for personal convictions. They also highlight that some students may feel stigmatized or discriminated against if they are not allowed to wear this attire for religious or cultural reasons.

4. Consequences of the Ban

The prohibition of wearing the Abaya in schools has elicited various reactions. Some affected students have chosen to continue their education in private religious institutions or to study from home. Others have opted to adjust their clothing to comply with the prevailing rules.


It is challenging to precisely assess the social and psychological consequences of this ban on the affected students. However, it is clear that this complex debate highlights the existing tensions between secularism and religious freedom in France.

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