How I felt when I wore an Abaya for the first time

Wearing a long black Abaya can be fashionable sometimes yet very restrictive. In Saudi Arabia, women wear either Shoulder Abaya or head Abaya. Shoulder Abaya looks pretty much like a black long shirt. Head Abaya on the other hand is placed on top of the head as it’s shown in the picture. Women in Saudi wear Abaya at very young age. Girl’s public schools for instance forces both teachers and students to wear head Abaya with head cover that covers up their face at 4th or 5th grade. It has been a tradition for so long for girls put on Abaya way before they hit puppetry. It is so sad because Abaya not only restrict movement but also give you a feeling of being ” grown up” when you are still a kid. Because of that, wearing an Abaya takes at least 5 years off every Saudi woman’s childhood.

I recall the first time I had to wear an Abaya and head cover; I was only 9 years old and I was a 4th grader. It is known here where I live that 4th grade students must wear an Abaya and a head cover.

I never understood why, I just hated it so much. I use to vomit when it’s around 50 degrees and I’m covering, it just made me sick. I also had difficulty seeing the world clearly. I was jealous that my brothers didn’t have to put up with all this when they go to school.

I believe I am not the only one who have experienced this, I am very sure that many Saudi women had experienced Abaya and head cover sickness after trying it for the first time.

Now I no longer cover my face when I go out. However, I cover up my face when it’s only unsafe not to do so, like going to areas where people might verbally attack me for not covering my face, I just do it to save the troubles.

Now that I live in China, I feel happy to be able to run, jump and ride my bike whenever I want to. With an Abaya  I would never be able to do so.

It made me feel so free, liberated and most importantly normal.

Men in Saudi Arabia has a restrictive traditional white thob, it also looks like a long shirt but for men its optional to wear a thob or not. So Saudi men can choose to wear or not wear thobes, Men also can choose different colors of thobs based on their preference. Unlike women, wearing an abaya is a must and it must be black Abaya too.

Men in Saudi Arabia has a restrictive traditional white thob, it also looks like a long shirt but for men its optional to wear a thob or not. So Saudi men can choose to wear or not wear thobes, Men also can choose different colors of thobs based on their preference. Unlike women, wearing an abaya is a must and it must be black Abaya too

P.S girls wear Abaya only on their way to school or home, but inside classes they put on Maryoul.

45 thoughts on “How I felt when I wore an Abaya for the first time

  1. hahaha my husband managed to unblock your site for me 🙂
    wow I am surprised at how early girls are forced to wear abaya, and why do they have to do it for school, when it’s all women anyway? Makes no sense!
    I would hate to have my daughter wear one that early. I will do everything in my power so she doesn’t have to suffer and that she can have as normal childhood as possible in Saudi-Arabia..
    Problem is my husbands female family members all wear that head abaya so pressure will definitely be on for her to do so also!
    When she is older and understands the meaning, I think if she really really wants to from her own request, not from pressuring, I will allow her to wear a head abaya 😉

  2. @Laylah, girls wear an Abaya on their way to school and when going out of school. Inside classes girls never wears Abaya. they wear Maryoul.
    click on this link to see a picture of what Maryoul looks like.
    @ghost its a personal experince, I think different women have different views on Abaya. Some likes Abaya others don’t. I perosnally don’t like it.

  3. Very interesting post. thank-you so much for a unique prespective, that other women such as myself may not understand, since I have never had to hear a headcovering ababya. I hope your studies are going well in China, have you adjusted to Chinese culture yet? 🙂

  4. Dear Omaima,
    I m very suprised about your opinion.
    As a muslimah born & raised living in the west I see no problem wearing the abayaa and doing my normally daily activities (like running , ride my bike and even ice skating ! ) Besides I know a lot of converted girls who love to wear the abayaa, but they re not allowed to wear it because of their non-muslim parents Sub7anAllah
    Take Care

    • The abayas that cover the head have transformed a woman from looking like a human being to a wrapped mystery. The religious aspect is very clear but why does a woman have to look like she is not part of the society at all. Only her vague outlines of a human being are visible.

    • This post showed up in my email as a post from Google Plus. It’s very interesting to hear about abayas from a Saudi lady because here in the west we don’t get to hear directly from you very much. I found a bunch of the pictures of full-coverage abayas (the head abaya?). They look rough. No wonder you got sick when you wore them. It’s motion sickness because your vision was obscured.

      I am an Episcopal church lady who prefers modest dress herself (long dresses with long sleeves) and I know nothing about this. Thanks for posting.

  5. Saudi is the second most oppressive country in the world for women.The only country worse .. is Afghanistan. My sympathies to any women born into these societies..

  6. Subhana Allah, the prophet said, “In the end times, a believer would feel like a stranger in the world”. I am a convert to Islam and I lived in Saudi for about 2 years, I didn’t mind the abaya, it was an adjustment at first, but got used to it and even now back in the US am still wearing it. It is convenient and easy I and I even nget compliments from non muslims, they think it looks nice (I have black ones with lots of bling on the sleeves!)

    • If you’ve ever worn shorts, but if you put it forcefully, then what would your reaction . same as here.. if you like abaya , you can wear, bt should not be forced to anyone to follow the religion … Girls do not stuff that should be kept covered or open . she is also human being..If the girls would not care for themselves, no one will take her seriously. till then everyone runs in its own way to girl and will decide that what to eat, what to wear .

  7. Alot of times ifeel the same way , im still living in saudi arabia though but inever really go out maybe once amonth , how did you mange to leave saudi arabia alone Any way O.o , or maybe your family with you , sometimes iwish idie fast because if we ever go to heaven we wont have to wear that thing in there no one control us lock us at homes , just thinking about it make me want to die sooner , life is short anyway , iend up loving staying at home and play with my cat all day long anyway ! Ithink any one love abaya is crazy we wear it because god say so no one in there right maind would like wear it out of nothing xD , for me iwill keep weaing it like isaid like is short dont need to lose heaven for it , when ithink about it iwill be free on heaven no one controling me…, saudiarabia girl

  8. “O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters, and the believing women, to cover themselves with a loose garment. They will thus be recognised and no harm will come to them” Qur’an 33:59[2] (Translated by Ahmed Ali)] is given as the argument for wearing the abaya.

    • Isn’t there a similar requirement for men too? Why aren’t they forced to wear a covering then? Why do women have to wear black? This seems very much as if men alter their religious requirements for themselves but inflict it on women. They conveniently bypass Allah’s requirements for their own covering and it becomes a ‘choice’. This isn’t adherence to religion, it’s adherence to male ego. Women of Saudi, claim your God given right to freedom!

  9. This article contains some truth, but also many lies. for example:

    “Girl’s public schools for instance forces both teachers and students to wear head Abaya with head cover that covers up their face at 4th or 5th grade.”

    This is false. I am myself a teacher and I have daughter in that age. I don’t wear any wear abaya, nor do my girls or my pupils, and none of them cover their faces. I wear sunglasses and just pull my headscarf on my mouth, and my daughters just wear the abaya on Maryoul but don’t even cover their head, let alone their face. I have never heard of any woman who vomits or feel sick because of the abaya. When I go to Europe for my vacation, I still wear the abaya and ride bycicle with it, just put pants under it. I agree on the fact that nobody should be forced to wear it. I also agree that there is a lot of discrimination against women in our country. But telling lieas will not help your cause, beside you are offensive towards Saudi women who doesn’t share your thoughts, because you make us all appear as poor victims. Most of us love our religion and hiijab, and wear it willingly and love it.

    • Men should be covered too, why is it a choice for them but not for women. Stop being a party to your own subjugation,

      • Valerie, compare how many men are raped/sexually harassed around the world to how many women are. There is your answer.

  10. if u are trying to prevent adultery with that you are deceiving yourself because Jesus says that evil and adultery starts from the heart.imagine such pretence religion has caused,and if it is tradition then it is unequal,bizzare,outdated,retrogressive,backward,enshrinic and insincere.thank u.

    • What a load of bulls–t if this man who made them comments is a Christian then go u joker and read ur bible the old and the new . Find out how women should be dressed . Fools lost and deceitful to ur selves how was the mother of ur god Jesus dressing , how do the nuns dress wake up and smell coffee jokers

  11. I understand you sister.

    It is sad when men abuse their power (become oppressive) and give the people no choice (usually women). However abaya is not restrictive. Something only becomes restrictive when it is forced, therefore if abaya, hijab, niqab, or any other covering is forced, that is when it becomes restrictive.

    InshAllah the people become more educated and aware of the consequences of any choice leading to any action, so perhaps the people will better themselves and do more good deeds to obtain authority rather than being oppressive.

    Asalamu 3aliykom (:

  12. As per Islam/shareea, he needs to notify his wife first then she has the option of accepting or getting divorced. No imam needed in Islam. Also, a main condition in Islam marriage is announcing it. So any hidden marriage CAN’T be considered as marriage. It’s adultery.

  13. JazakAllah Hajar. i think its an experience of one person not necessarily all women feel the same. people opress women by using the name of islam which is wrong, coverng a woman is for her own protection not opressing her. in pakistan its not compulsory but i knw many girls who wear it by their own free will n also love it. 🙂

  14. I would love to wear niqab and maybe abaya in the future. But I don’t think my family would like it. Majority of the citizens in my country are Muslims but minority wear niqab and abaya. People around me always say that they look weird or too religious including my family. And I am still too young. What should I do?

    • My opinion if u feel right for it then go for it. Take your family and people around u as a challenge. Allah is with u 🙂 do it for the sake of allah. I feel so comfortable with my abaya and niqab. Im proud to wear it and i never feel sick with it. Its really my identity, abaya is the best thing to wear with hijab. It loose and black so u wont attrack people . It looks so simple and elegant . Make prayer to allah and he will give you ease. Salam! 🙂

      • Remember people always try to let you down when you want to try to do something good. So keep ur head up and be strong . We want to wear it and so we wear it by CHOICE . Because we understand the valuable about being covered . You dont need to get Old first to cover your self based on Allah command. Because nobody guaratee you and old age. Good luck ! 🙂

  15. Im not sure this girl is really saudi girl or not. Your sure name is palestinian . Then i feel sick to read your blog. And all things that you have posted. You seems to be just making up the story . I wear abaya all the time and im tottaly fine with it, i love abaya . I love modesty . And even i wear niqab sometimes it didnt give me hard time at all. It even protects me better to from the sunscreen expose . So i feel sick to read ur extragarrete story! I doubt that u r saudi. Maybe u are just fake people who wants to talking bad about saudi arabia. And disgusting how westen media really want to kick down saudi arabia . Look at one of the comment from fiamma. Seems to be really excited wanted to talk about saudi arabia surely to talking bad about saudi . Disgusting.

    • Al Najjar is not only a Palestinian last name, it exists all over the arab world. The last name is taken from a certain type of job proffession (najjar) so it’s very common, like haddad and so on. Even if this woman is saudi, so what? There are a millions of saudi women so she doesn’t represent anyone but herself if she really is saudi. Barak Allah feeki.

  16. I don’t agree with u!!!
    our religion tell us to cover ourselves and we should be proud about that!!!
    We are not force to do its our choice!!!!
    I am just speechless about ur this type of *views*
    As a Muslim you should feel shame on urself nd ur views about Islam!

  17. in my country no one is forced to wear anything . I feel sad that you were forced to wear it which is actually not acceptable , but while reading your article the reader will get a definite horrible opinion about the hijab , islam and your country . You wrote it in an extremely negative way !

  18. The situation in Saudi Arabia is using religion as an excuse for traditions, I came to know that many girls cover their hair and cover their body because they are “forced” to do so…believe me, Islam would NEVER force anyone to do anything…
    Abayas have changed, now it comes with different designs and colors, it’s much better looking than before it still serve it’s task by covering the body while giving the girl a trendy fashion-look!

  19. You can enjoy life now without abaya, but enjoying life that way is not what you were created for, fear Allah, to him is our return. Your western-colonization understanding is leading you astray from the true path. May Allah SWT guide you

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