I am sporting black abayas nowadays – that is one transformation I decided to make this Ramadhan.
To be honest, I have been contemplating about that for almost two years, and it seems that the right time has come for me to make a change.
Before anything let me put a disclaimer here: I do not think that any other type of clothes, of other colours is wrong for a Muslim woman, so long as it covers her awrah (parts of the body which need to be covered: All except for face and two hands according to the school of fiqh I am following) and modest enough that should be alright. This is just another personal choice and preference of mine, tailor-made to treat my own bad inclination.
I like dressing up – I have tonnes of hijabs that sometimes I accidentally bought one colour of hijab to find a perfectly same one is already there in my closet. And I love to wear the traditional colourful baju kurung, and long cotton shirts that are beyond comfortable. If these are modest and covering enough, why should I arabised myself by wearing an abaya?
But somehow I know, my love for clothes has actually grown excessive – I spent a long time digging my closet each morning to find hijabs which match my dress for the day. And googling for another shirts that are long enough to cover my butt but loose enough to my liking – which is pretty hard to find takes a long time. Then there are two types of clothes at least: those I wear to work and those I wear out-of-office (including at home) which take too much space in my wardrobe.
It gets tiring. Regardless of how modest my dressing was, subconsciously I still wanted to look good for others (is this colour making me look dull and old? Is this too tight?) and my husband sometimes needs to intervene: certain pieces are undoubtedly figure-showing regardless of how hard I’m trying to justify it.
I recognised long ago that it was not freedom.
I was susceptible to what others are thinking about me – and that is not what God has intended by prescribing hijab for Muslim women: to free ourselves from seeking the pleasure of others but Him.
But change is surely a difficult thing to do, until I gave birth to my son and start to breastfeed – which means most of my clothes worn outside need to be suitable for nursing.
The first thing I did was going through my pre-pregnancy clothes – and sadly don’t fit anymore thanks to my post-pregnancy figure. Then I got tired and frustrated trying to find a decent nursing attire. Even a pair of loose, straight cut pants is hard to find these days when everyone seems to prefer the skinny version of everything – and I recalled my once burning desire to wear abaya.
Then I texted my husband: I feel like wearing abaya only these days, to which he replied: ‘Good for you!’
This decision came when I was to receive a hefty 38% salary increment, which allows me to spend some of it on a make over! All praise be to Him for making this easy for me, really!
On the other hand, closing the chapter of ‘spending for office and casual wear’ allows me to spend more on fancy stuff to be worn at home, which should be more pleasing to my husband (instead of the usual boring track bottom and shirt) – something I did not care much before. And that would be a better investment for my money: the rewards I am to get from Allah for beautifying myself solely for the spouse.
So at the moment I have 5 breastfeeding-friendly abayas (all bought within a month). I went back to the older style of wearing square hijabs (because my husband complaints that I did badly when it comes to nursing in public with shawls), and since then my mornings are a lot freer! As a black abaya can be worn with any colour of hijabs (I tried not to wear black hijab though), I can just randomly pick any hijab in my wardrobe – and that takes me less than two seconds! Think about how much time I have saved that way!
And surely, I feel more comfortable not having to think about whether the pants are too tight at my thigh that I look fat, or my love handles are showing. Those worries vanish almost instantly.
Yes, I do work in a corporate office where we were taught on the corporate dress code, but I say: To hell with that!