Source: The Huffington Post
By Bushra Alvi, Freelance writer and Editor
The standard reaction of all those who heard that we were shifting to Dubai was, “Wow, that’s a beautiful place, and so much more civilized. Now you need not wear an abaya.” Whether it was my teenage daughter, other family members, my friends, and even their husbands, the response was universal. Dubai in their eyes meant freedom from the abaya.
That got me thinking. Was the abaya such an evil garb that those who wore it were considered “uncivilized”? Was it something that hindered one’s freedom? Was it something you could not associate with the woman of today?
The garment worn compulsorily during my years in Saudi Arabia had found a permanent place in my wardrobe as I realized, on careful deliberation, that the benefits far outweighed its limitations. Of course, to be honest I now made a few changes. Hitherto it was only a black scarf but now I indulged in the luxury of a colored one. No, not a flamboyant pink or a startling yellow, not a shocking electric blue or a screeching green, but a safe, sedate, respectable maroon. It wouldn’t be fair if I don’t mention the ostentatious, crystal studded abayas I keep for special occasions.
On second thoughts, as I write this, I speculate on my decision. Why do I wear the abaya at all? Do I wear the abaya because my religion demands that I cover myself modestly from head to toe or simply to assert my “Muslim” identity? Do I wear it because of the convenience attached? It can be a lifesaver at times when I don’t want to change out of my home clothes. Ironing bills too have reduced considerably! Do I wear the abaya because I think it is the sexiest outfit ever created?