Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Are Jilbabs the Ideal Islamic Dress For Muslim Women?

O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (Jilbabs) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 33:59).

Jilbabs have been in use for a very long time. They have been the foremost choice of dress for women all around the Muslim Arab world ever since the advent of Islam. While Jilbabs are considered the leading dress for Muslim women, there are some controversies about various styles from the early Islamic time. This is due to the fact that there are no pictures or garments available from the early Islamic era. Thus it cannot be conclusively stated whether the early Jilbabs were indeed the same as the modern day versions. Apart from these description related issues, no Islamic scholar has stated to date that the Jilbabs are not the stated form of dress for women in the Holy Quran.

Most modern day Muslims are adamant about the Jilbabs being the same as those that were worn by Muslim women in the Prophet's (p.b.u.h) time. On close scrutiny, there is a lot of information available on the history of Jilbabs. According to some research, the current day Jilbabs date originally back to the 1970's when the Egyptian Muslim women adopted them as the form of dressing. According to this research, the Egyptian women wore these Jilbabs to show their obedience to a specific sect of Islam. Thus they are considered a modern invention which is in complete adherence to the laws strictly stated in the Quran. After the Egyptian women, these slowly filtered out to the Indonesian women as well. Slowly and steadily, these robes became a part of Muslim women's wardrobe in a vast majority of previously unaccustomed parts of the Muslim world.

The ever increasing Muslim strength and the more religiously involved people in the 1970's and 1980's, led to the globalization of these Jilbabs. Today, regardless of ethnic or social background, they have become a trademark for Muslim women all around the world. Women who initially wore only loose fitting culturally traditional clothes have converted to wearing Jilbabs as they believe that this is what Allah (SWT) stated in the Quran. The Muslim women specifically living in Non-Muslim countries have adopted the long and loose robes that hide the contours of their bodies along with a scarf or head wrap that completely hides their hair from all others.

There are many references to Quran and Sunnah about the obligatory veiling of women. However, as there are always two sides of any argument, for some the term Jilbabs stated in the Quran does not necessarily relate to the long, loose flowing robe. In fact, for them the term is used for the process of veiling instead. They do not believe that the term only refers to the robes instead could be consolidated for all types of Muslim clothing that is decent and modest.

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