How is Fashion Defined Within Islam?

Author: Aisha Malik

Although many people are unaware of just how closely Islam and fashion are interlinked, it is true that the Muslim faith is one that relies on certain fashion elements much more than many other religions around the world.

The Koran speaks of clothing in a number of verses, particularly as to how one should dress for religious ceremonies as well as in the home, and in a community environment. The book also calls for modest dress to be worn at all times, so that skin is not visible and in particular so that men are not ‘tempted’ by women who look attractive.

Islamic Communities

Within Islamic communities, how a person dresses is considered an important show of their faith, and is also often linked to etiquette expectations and requirements. However, despite fashion being such a central part of Islamic culture in many respects, it was often received negatively around the world, particularly as garments such as the burka were regarded as barriers to co-operation and the integration of Muslims into communities and cultures where people of other faiths commonly made up the majority of the population.

There have been a number of changes in recent years that has seen Islamic fashion move away from the ‘ultra-conservative’ styles – although they are still worn by many – and items that would be considered closer to contemporary fashion become widely accepted and worn. That is not to say that the Islamic faith has been kicked to one side or disrespected in any way. In fact, one of the best things about modern Islamic fashion, particularly for women, is that it has kept everything that the Koran demands of it in terms of modesty and appearance, yet is filled a number of great garments that are attractive to women of any faith, not just those who are Muslim.

As Muslim communities have grown around the world, the influence of contemporary style in these countries has been allowed into Islamic styles. This is why today we see kaftan dresses or abayas that have luxury stitch detail or are adorned with patterns, and why we see jilbabs featuring patterns or in colours other than the traditional blacks, blues, and greys.

Women’s Rights

Prior to the progressive changes that swept through Islamic fashion, there were many people campaigning vociferously around the impact that clothes have on women. We touched earlier on the feeling that Muslim fashion was a barrier and prevented the integration of both men and women into society, however, many felt it went much further, and actively contributed to the oppression of women in society, even within the Islamic faith.

The more liberal stance now taken by many when it comes to fashion for women has been claimed as a victory, especially as dressing in modern, contemporary styles has allowed many more Muslim women to be successful and integrate into workplaces and communities than at any point in history.

These moves have again proven the value of fashion to the Islam faith, albeit in a different manner to which it has traditionally done so.

Aab Collection is an e-commerce retailer selling Islamic clothing, such as kaftan dresses, predominantly aimed at Muslim women with multiple roles to play in today’s society. A kaftan dress is a tasteful and elegant option for a woman to wear to a job interview.

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