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Why I stopped only wearing Abaya.

Posted by on Jun. 15, 2014 at 8:29 PM
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Salam Alikom,

Inshallah this post finds you all well. I am writing this because inshallah it might help some other reverts with this internal conflict. 

So, I will just dive right in. I converted before I meet and married the hubs. About two months after we married I began exclusively wearing abaya and jelbab. Part of it was a mindset that it was the only modest option and the other was the hubs having grown up with seeing women only wear jelbab and abaya had an association it was also the only form of modest dress. I say that in a 100% not bad way. We all form ideas and associate them throughout our lives.

Well, I struggled with abaya and jelbab especially during the summer. I didn't struggle as in felt oppressed it was the added weight of the garments, issues with length and mobility. Its hard to explain but at times wearing another culture's clothing exclusively (face it jelbab and abaya are cultural dress which also fit within the guidelines of Islamically acceptable clothing) felt almost like a rejection totally of a part of my cultural identity as an American. As a revert we have to learn, mesh, and form our own unique identity as Muslims. Take from our own traditions and culture's customs what is halal and forgo what is haram. An across the board rejection of our mother culture isn't part of Islam. Only rejecting what is bad and haram for us is.

Its a struggle and individual path each one of us have to walk and will uniquely form. From that meshing comes the American Muslim experience and identity. Many Muslims who are born and raised in Islam coming from Muslim majority cultures do not understand this struggle and may have misconceptions on what it means to revert to Islam and extend the reverting to that of the convert "converting" to their own culture. Because their culture and Islam are so closely intertwined what is part of Islam and what is part of their cultural practices they may or may not know the difference of. Another darker take is that of a feeling of cultural superiority over American culture thus the across the board rejection of the mother culture of the revert being insisted upon. As a convert I see it often and have personally felt it. The expectation to change my "American" name, cook only Arab food, decorate my home in Arab style ect ect ect. The hubs is Arab the pressure didn't come from him but from the communities we have lived in. Alhamduallah as a couple we have formed within our own home a beautiful balance from each of us which have given our home a deep diversity we cherish for our children. The only hang up was hijab. Covering was never in question, I.WANT.TO.COVER. How, in what manner was. I have been praying about it for over a year Alhamduallah about a month ago after ordering yet another expensive and straight up cheap horribly constructed frumpy selection of abayas and jelbab for almost $500 we were done. My husband asked if I wanted to go to Kohls to find clothing which may work since I was in a fashion pinch. I had worn my abayas threadbare. We went with an open mind checking the preconceived notions at the automatic door. Over the next hour we hashed it out outfit after outfit following the guidelines for Islamically acceptable clothing for women which are;

  • That they do not imitate the clothing of men,
  • That they do not imitate the clothing of the disbelievers - as in don't dress as to pass as a member of a specific religion with their specific religious dress. As in the habit of a nun, or the dress of the Amish or FLDS.
  • That the garments are loose and cover the contours of the body
  • That the garments are not transparent

Instantly we ditched pants. We may reevaluate wide leg later but for now we didn't find a pair we felt comfortable in. With the guidelines in hand I tried on dozens of outfits and left with 6 outfits which are Islamically acceptable and stylish. It felt liberating to me that I was able to reconcile these two aspects of myself. I stepped out with an outward reflection of my faith that corresponded with my mother culture and identity without sacrificing an ounce of modesty. I went home with a selection of maxi dresses, black skirts, blouses, and long cardigans. When I tried on the first outfit and walked into view in the changing room so the hubs could see, he was astonished. He said, "I didn't know it could look modest and nice." I didn't know it could look that way either. It opened a whole new world of fashion choices for me. 

I am not 100% ditching the abaya and jelbab. They are a part of me just as much as my new maxi dress and cardi are. Each outfit choice has a time and a place. The versatility and diversity of my wardrobe now reflects my identity as an American Muslim. Embracing the new, the old, and forgoing that which is haram. Jelbab will always be my outfit of choice in cooler weather and when I need a more professional tailored look just as a maxi dress will be my mommy uniform of choice. 

This is my path, my experince, my comfort level with "How I Hijab". 

by on Jun. 15, 2014 at 8:29 PM
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proud2bmom3 Group Owner
by on Jun. 16, 2014 at 4:15 AM
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Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu ukhti.. 

Abaya, though to me is very comfortable and stylish, is not the ultimate  nor the only  acceptable Islamic garment LOL.  Jjilbab also, though very modest ( generally speaking, not the new loud ones) but again. is not the ultimate dress.. 

like you said. the Islamic dress code is clear.. it should be loose fitting, not too flashy, not transparent. and not like the dress associated with Kuffar.. 

I know a lot of women who wear loose fitting pants with long pakistani style shirts that go down to the knee.. that too is very stylish and very modest..  so long as it does not show the contour of your body.. 

I am glad you finally found something you are comfortable wearing.. for me.. I used to, and still , buy my Abayas from quality stores in Jordan.. they are still cheaper and of better quality than the ones they sell in the states on line.. and so I have the choice of color, fabric, and design.. I still have my skirts, shirts and dresses that I used to wear before I gained all this water weight.. hopefully once I have my back surgery done, and get off the meds I can go back to wearing some of my other outfits.

Love and salaam (peace)

 (proud2bmom3 Muslim Moms-- Owner. 

by on Jun. 16, 2014 at 7:45 AM
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We already talked on FB, but I want to say again I am happy you have found what's comfortable for you!
Thankfully maxi dresses and skirts have come back in to fashion a few years back and have stuck there! Lol!

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by on Jun. 16, 2014 at 8:41 AM
I am also a convert and I actually like a lot of abayas and jilbabs I see online but I can't afford 100$ per outfit. I have a few that I got on sale and I have a lot of saudi abayas from when we travel but they are all black and blacker lol so I wear a lot of skirts and stuff too.
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by on Jun. 17, 2014 at 7:48 AM
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well When you get here sis since your moving practically next door in seattle i could use a shopping buddy my goodness sometimes i want to pull my hair out with how hard it is to find clothes to wear goodness! thanks for sharing it gives me hope that i may just find some decent things here, did i mention the thirft shops here are amazing?

by on Jun. 17, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Wa'laikum assalaam. I agree, as long as it meets the guidelines for modesty as you mention, then the choices are endless :) I like loose maxis and blouses because they're easy to find these days and cool in the summer. or pants/jeans with longer shirts and light sweaters. Target usually has hijabi-friendly clothing at a good cost.

by on Jun. 21, 2014 at 7:30 AM

I like the way you expressed that we have to be American as well as being Muslim. I say it all the time that I am American, do I really have to eat so much lamb? lol. I also like to wear what I call regular clothes. I put on sleeves or a cardigan sweater. I did not dress flashy before reverting so I was not so hard for me. I am happy that you are finding your identity and being your own person.

by on Aug. 9, 2014 at 11:51 PM

I am also a American Convert and I haven't had much issues with the Abaya. I actually ENJOY wearing it. I do not have to feel uncomfortable feeling I am showing. (Since Im large up top and bottom) I am always scared I'm showing to much curves. The Abaya works for me.

                                                        SaRab Proud Servant to Allah,
                                              Mother to 6 Beautiful Children *alhamdulillah*

"Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is
keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy
mankind." (Muslims & Bukhari)

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