Thursday, August 27, 2009

To Jilbab or not to jilbab that is the question.

If truth be told its more of a statement than a question as it is mandatory in Islam. Although I've been a convert for a very long time I am still fighting with myself over this. I am very well covered but this one thing I just can't seem to do. Lately I've really wanted to embrace it and have been doing research. What kind of research? Well first of all what does a quranic jilbab really look like? Seems there are a few ideas out there. Secondly where to find some that are both nursing friendly and made from natural fabrics. Insha Allah this will be easy to do on both counts. But what really needs to be easy is the actual wearing of it. Can I handle it? Will this last step be too much for me? Anyone have any advice?


  1. I have no advice, Sister. But I wish you luck. I barely manage just wearing a headscarf. I don't know when or if I'll ever be ready to wear an abaya, let alone a jilbab. In shaa Allah you'll do it well :)

  2. I wear abayah/jilbab simply because any other way I have tried is just too hard...colour coordinating, making sure nothing sticks out, are the trousers wide enough?... I find it so easy and liberating just to put on the abayah on top of anything I might be wearing underneath..
    I don't have any advice , just sharing my experience.

  3. search for:
    Arab Dress by Yedida Stillman. You can read this online. I requested it through the library, and was really impressed with her research, and was somehow comforted that the way women dressed through time has been both varied and consistent, I mean, local variations, and sometimes different levels of covering the face, but pretty much they did wear over garments out and for the most part covering the face was normal. Comforting I guess because you can't say it's a garment of "extremism" or "arab dress". Well perhaps, but the notion is not. It may not look the way it did then, but it is certainly functional and modern version (jilbab). A jibab stays on no matter which way you bend or jump. Unfortunately, synthetic has been all that I have seen, but it holds up, doesn't fade, and can last a long time. There is very nice synthetics from Saudi that are light, but I have only seen these in black : ( If you choose an overgarment like a chador or a giant dupatta, that can easily be cotton. I'd love a linen abaya/jilbab but I imagine that would double the price.
    I remember being nervous about wearing a black abaya when I first converted, how I would be seen and what I'd represent. Now it is simply the easiest way to dress. I don't care what people think. I am tired of trying to fine-comb american stores for skirts and shirts that are long enough. Now I am personally in the middle of the niqab issue, so I am at square one as I once was with jilbab. : )
    The only nursing friendly kind for me has been a wrap abaya which you can part open. Even a "nursing" jilbab with hidden zippers, didn't work. Skirts and a long khimar works well.
    In the end, it's up to you and the basics of modesty, how ever you manage to fulfill the obligation.

    From Word Analysis-

    "..Yudneena alayhinna min jalaabeehinna.."
    "..That they should draw their outergarments over their persons.."

    - dal noon wow- to be near/close (ie: Dunya is from the same root b/c it's close)
    - to draw something close, to bring something close
    - when this word is followed by ala (ie: alayhina)- it means to bring down/pull down/draw down/lower something from above

    Jeem Lam Ba- literally means to pull something
    - refers to an outer garment/big shawl that a woman wears on her house clothes (ie: abayah, gown, big shawl)
    - purpose of jilbab is to cover clothes/zeena(beauty)
    - khimar= head, jilbab=body

    - some of/part of
    - lower= the jilbab should come down from above them
    - Ibn Abbas demonstrated this and left only one eye in front visible

    From Tafseer-
    - jilbab (singular)- it is that covering which is over the khimar - over what she wears in the house
    - the clothing should hang down
    ----- at the time of the Prophet (S) and now in some parts of the world- a woman would take a shawl and let it hang down
    ----- today for ease and movement something can be stitched that hangs down
    - Ibn Abbas (RA)- known as mufassir of Quran- when he did it, he took a shawl and covered himself and left only one eye uncovered
    - khimar to cover head and hair
    - jilbab when going out- covers you- it should be one cloth to cover all
    - a skirt is not a jilbab- it shows hips
    - irani women wear jilbab
    - before it used to be khimar underneath, then jilbab on top covering entire body from head
    - but now for driving, and groceries, and convenience we have sleeves, and seperate hijab
    - sleeves should be loose enough so do not see shape of the arms

  5. Asalaamu Alaikum

    Thanks sisters for sharing.:)Ummmalak I will try to find that book. I was looking at your blog and I love it. I think we have a lot in common.

  6. an irani woman:

  7. another picture of irani women:

  8. Asalaamu alaikum Eva ;)

    Thanks for your al-huda notes. I never knew it was something you pulled down over you. Interesting. but that would seem to infer that there was no opening at all in the front? back to the nursing problem.

  9. Assalaamu aleikum sis
    From my limited understanding, it seems that wearing an overgarment is preferable, but in my experience not always practical. I did try to wear jilbab (modern Arabic/Turkish version) for a while, but ran up against a number of problems. For one thing they are all made of polyester type fabrics these days, which I find hard to wear especially in summer (I Don't Do Heat). Then "they" changed the style and most of them are now straight-cut as opposed to those with pleats etc that gave more room and coverage, but are very hard to find. Most of the jilbabs available now do NOT cover properly, especially if you are the slightest bit curvy or lumpy. If you are skinny you can get away with it, maybe, but anyone else will have a hard time. There are lots of us generously proportioned Muslim women out here, but finding decent clothes, especially from Muslim clothing businesses, is murder! Then there is the fashion/bling factor which kinda defeats the purpose. I have been known to spend Eid outings to the CNE wandering around the bazaar playing Spot The Non-Hijab Hijab Clothes...
    For me, I find a skirt or dress plus loose jacket that comes below the hips is more covering than most of the so-called hijab fashion stuff that is out there. If you go monochrome (same colour top and bottom) it has almost the same visual effect as a jilbab. I like the new shorter-jilbab-plus-pants idea because I am more prone to tripping over my own feet as I get older!! and have to go for practical options wherever possible.
    Sorry, my nursing days are long behind me, and I can't remember much. There was a dress given to me by a friend who had it made in Saudi, it had a zipper in the back and two zippers in the front, artfully concealed by funky pleats. Apart from that I think I just wore skirts or pants and a top under a jilbab and, um, didn't go out much...

  10. I finally got this book from interlibrary loan and it is very interesting. I'm still going through it. One interesting thing she mentions is that all people (men and women) used to have 3 layers of clothing;underwear, house clothes plus some kind of robe or mantle when outdoors no matter what the climate or weather. Only the poor had only two layers like we do when its summer or in hot climates. Also all women were dressed with coats and veils (head and face)not just muslims but also christians and jews. I found out that a niquab isn't what we call a niquab today (face veil over the bottom half of the face) but actually a whole covering of the face with holes poked out for the eyes.

  11. Oh I forgot to mention, I ended up getting this book from a University or I should say that is where the library accessed it from and the price the University paid for this book is $75! So do try to get this book from the library unless you are rich, lol. The information is priceless though.