Evolution of the Abaya

A symbol of the region’s culture, respect, and dignity, an abaya is a black loose over garment robe like dress worn by Muslim women in the Islamic world, including Arabians and North Africans. An abaya is also called an aba. Traditionally it’s like a long kaftan covering the whole body except the hands, face, and feet. Mostly Muslim women who wear an abaya also wear a hijab and cover their hands with gloves.

Traditional dress of Malaysian and Indonesians kebaya gets its name from abaya. It is common to wear abaya on occasions like visiting a mosque, holy places and holy events such as Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha. Is Abaya cultural and religious? Abaya is considered a piece of religious and cultural heritage in the Arab Gulf states and becomes the national attire for their citizens.

Evolution of Abaya
What do you know about an abaya? Why is the colour black the standard color in an abaya? When we talk about its evolution, the abaya’s era and origin are not clear and rather vague. Some people think that it originated from Mesopotamia (currently known as Iraq) civilization about 4000 years ago. In ancient times, Muslim women had limited resources and had to create attires such as an abaya with whatever materials that are available such as goatskin. Hence, that’s why an abaya’s standard color was black. One more reason for wearing a black abaya would be because it did not reveal anything underneath. It is directly linked to Islam to fulfill the purpose of not revealing any parts of the body.

In Jahiliyyah days (Islamic theory referring to the period before the advent of Islam in 610 CE), women were dressed up to reveal their body parts, neck, and chest. When Islam arrived to protect them from disrespect, women were instructed to cover their bodies and hair. In the seventh century, the rise in Islam gave more importance to the abaya. At that time, the religion adopted the veiling practices that we follow today.

Rationale behind the Abaya
Why do Muslim women wear abayas? The Holy Quran gives the rationale behind wearing an abaya in Islam by instructing them to cover themselves with loose garments. These verses are used to justify the use of Abaya.

What is the difference between a burqa and an abaya? Some people consider a burqa and an abaya as the same thing, but they are a bit different. The burqa is also a loose outer garment but from head to toe. Besides, the burqa also covers the head and face. While an baya is a long robe, usually in black color.

Current status of Abaya
Nowadays, the abaya has been considered a style statement for Muslim women, and not just a religious garb. It is available in different cuts and styles, with beautiful embroidery and varying colors. One can easily get any abaya in a wide range of color patterns and fabric like silk abaya, denim abaya, viscose abaya, georgette abaya, and a lot more through abaya online shopping. The abaya has graduated from a religious and cultural symbol to fully blossomed fashion.