Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is black really “The Islamic Colour for women”?


Recently I was out shopping with my mother and sister. We were looking for Islamic clothes. Even though we live in South Africa, most of the people selling Islamic clothing like abayas, etc, are foreigners from countries like Egypt and Pakistan. Well, the truth is that you can find really beautiful abayas, but they are all black. So my mum asked the man in the shop why they don’t have any other colours besides black and he said, “because black is the Islamic colour for women”.

I really wonder about this, and it’s something I’ve been pondering over for a long time. I have no problem with women wearing only black so don’t get me wrong here, it’s just that I remember a time, not so long ago when Muslim women didn’t only wear black clothes, or perhaps that was just in South Africa? However, I remember when I went for Hajj, back in 1999, women could be seen wearing different colour clothes, and some of them looked really nice in different colours, especially white clothing. It made the women look so pure and serene. So I guess what I’m wondering is when did this black clothes trend really begin? And what is it actually based on?

Some women have said that black is the chosen colour for women because it’s dark and thus covers a woman’s body as you can’t see through it. But then I have to ask; in that case why not dark green, or navy blue, or maroon or even brown? Surely all these dark colours would serve the same purpose.

Another thing is that in my opinion black makes a woman look radiant. It’s elegant, and especially with the fashionable Islamic clothing these days, many women end up looking really stunning and perhaps even attracting more attention. I don’t always wear black, I try to choose different colours in the clothes I’m wearing, but one day I wore a black cloak and matching black hijab and some of my friends actually remarked that they thought I looked really good in the black. I never got such reactions when wearing other colours. So once again, I had to wonder.

I’d really like to hear people’s opinions on this, because it is something that interests me and I don’t believe that I have enough knowledge on the matter. I mean, I really don’t understand why women have to wear only black. Again, I have no problem with it. I’d just like to understand why some people are so adamant about the restriction of other colours. I think it would be great if I could find the Islamic clothes I was looking for in different colours. I know that in some countries this is possible, but here in South Africa and in many other countries, all we find is black clothes for women. I guess I’m just someone who likes to have colour in my life and an all black wardrobe somehow just doesn’t sit well with me.

I wonder what types of colours women wore in the time of the Beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). Perhaps this is something that I need to do more research on. If anyone knows anything about the issue, I’d really like to hear it!

Remember-I’m looking forward to hearing your comments on this issue so please feel free to share your opinions.

And Allah Almighty is the Knower of all things!!!

Image taken from: http://islamicwear.webs.com/

25 comments:

  1. I wear black and gold on weddings ;P plane black if i have really dark mood..
    In everyday clothing i try to inspire myself with clothes and colours of tuareg tribes of north africa, i love it! Earthy calm colours, muted red, green, coral, ultramarine blue..
    Personnaly i think it doesnt matter what colour u wear but what is the purpoise and intension in it :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. as per my view black is islamic traditional color for muslim women to wear.........

    ReplyDelete
  3. Assalamualaikom Sister,

    Very interesting topic, LOL I do happen to like black abaya hence the title of my blog www.theblackjubah.blogspot.com .Jubah is abaya in Malay. I am a Malaysian, turning 50 this year, you see thats why I prefer black. Not into fashion anymore, just simple abaya, maybe with a few stones for glitter. I even wore abaya for special funtions, my husband is an ENT surgeon.Personally its comfortable, I don't get choked at the balloning waist of mine and its just a case of preference. Go ahead with colours now, when you're older thats another story.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Salam aleikum sister,
    I don't know what's the "official" opinion about this issue, so I just write now what I think about it. I hardly wear black clothes as they make me look pale and even a little sick; I prefer other dark color, like dark green or dark brown and I consider them modest and suitable for Muslimahs as well. Still, when visiting Middle East, there most clothes for Muslim women are black. There are jilbabs and coats in other colors, too, but most abayas are black.

    Maybe this tradition origins from the fact that when wearing black, the material of clothes can be very thin and still the clothes are not transparent. It is handy in hot climate. Still, somehow women wearing just one color doe not make justice to our individuality.

    ReplyDelete
  5. IT is not only a preference for many like myself to choose black over other colours but in it's defense, I once read an article that suggested that the adorning of color abaya attracts the attention of its viewer and in the essence of keeping the male gaze away, black is less reflective or eye catching than other colours.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think it's more cultural. Traditionally, women wore black in the Middle East outdoors to avoid attracting attention. I don't know about other regions, and these days you'll see Middle Eastern women wearing all sorts outdoors! But generally, coloured clothes were what they'd wear indoors- at their homes or other women's.

    But you're wrong about black being the trend in abayas these days: the latest trends in abayas is very colourful and patterned sleeves. And I've seen several coloured abayas coming out- maybe they'll be the next trend...

    ReplyDelete
  7. As-salaamu-alaykum

    Jazakallah Khayr to all my lovely sisters for your interesting comments. It really is great to hear what other people think about things.

    After reading all your comments I've come to the conclusion that it's not so much the actual colour of our clothes that matter. Instead what seems more important is the level of modesty that we display in our dressing and that through our dressing we do not attract unwarranted male attention to ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Salaams.
    I share pretty much the same view as you. It's not really about the colour: it's about the modesty of the dressing. In my opinion, black really is the most elegant, also easy to accesorize. I do also think that it'd be more practical to wear lighter colours cos of the SA heat. It just takes a lil bit of confidence to pull the look off.
    Nice post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Humayda- Jazakallah:)

    You bring up another important point in this discussion-i.e. practicality within a particular context. It seems that clothing has always been context specific and we need to wear what suits our context, obviously by still adhering to the Islamic rules of modesty and covering.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Assalamo Alaiqum

    There is no particular reason for the color black but a few things to bear in mind.

    1. The color of the Islamic flag at the time of the Holy Prophet(saw) was also black.

    2. Islam was meant to bring all of religions under one banner of Allah the Almighty or was to absorb all of the previous Prophet's into one religion

    3. The color black is the only color that absorbs all the light and hence the color black where as all the other colors absorb all lights except the one it reflects.

    So in essence the color black represents the entire Islamic faith and I am certain that our Beloved Prophet Hadhrat Mustafah (saw) knew about this and hence the color of the Islamic standard was and is black. It is not green as the color of the Saudi flag! In other words from the message of Islam which means "Peace" & "submission" to it's practises and everything associated with it has a message.

    The color black tells to the world that in order to follow Islam you do not have to leave your previous religion because Islam recognises all the previous Prophet's of Allah the Allmighty and one cannot be a Muslim unless he/she believes in all of them.

    I hope this provides you the answer to your question.

    Now answering your question in specific - there is no place in the Holy Quran that talks about what color one must use to cover herself or himself. The Holy Quran talks about covering your chest with the head scarf and remaining modest so that you do not attract attention. A similar verse is provided for the Muslim men as well but not about covering their chest but to remain modest and do not cast their eyes on the opposite sex.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dear Anonymous

    Wa-alaykumus salaam

    Jazakallah Khayr for a brilliant response. You've brought up some very important points which brings a different perception to the whole discussion. I appreciate your response,its reminded me that there are always two ways of seeing things,literal and figurative. Sometimes we only look at the literal/physical meaning of things and we need to also focus on the deeper more spiritual aspect.Your comment has reminded me about this, may Allah reward you inshaa Allah.

    ReplyDelete
  12. According to Indian Islamic Scholar Dr. Zakir Naik all colours are acceptable as long as the clothes are decent and modest and meet religious requirements of being covered up properly, even clothes from various cultures, so Muslim women do not have to dress up like Arabs or wear black to feel more pious or feel guilty if they dont dress like Arabs, if your clothes from your own culture meet all religious requirements you can wear them, even an Indian Saree worn covering every part that needs to be covered up is a very decent dress, this can be seen in conservative Hindu women, their necks have high collars, the sleeves are long covering the wrists, the blouse covers the waist area and the saree is adorned in a style that almost everything is covered and they also cover the head with the flowing bit that falls over the shoulder called pallu.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous

    Thank you for clarifying this issue. This viewpoint makes a lot of sense, I've always thought that Islam stipulates modest clothing, not necessarily a black cloak or abaya. Dr Zakir Naik is a very good speaker and well versed, I respect his viewpoints and agree with what you have said here.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Salaam Alaykum,

    Thank you Zarina for bringing up this issue. I have always encountered difficulty in finding modest clothing outside the black abbaya arena. I tried to develop my own clothing line on a personal capacity, however I feel that we lack the support structure. The market is flooded with typical Arab abbayas and relying on the mainstream clothing market requires lots of mixing and matching which makes one end up with lots of layers (hardly a comfortable situation if you have experienced S.A heat). As a South African muslimah I feel we should develop a platform for developing our own clothing line(s) which carters for corporate and everyday clothing for muslimah.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Amina

    Wa-alaykum salaam

    Thank you for your comment. I agree with you, we really need to have a clothing range which caters for Muslimah's, I believe that the scope is there, and someone needs to offer alternatives to what we have now. As you've said, the market is flooded with Arab abaya's etc, and although these are really beautiful, a lot of them are unpractical on a daily basis. They are too fancy, with fancy fabrics and sleeves and beadwork, etc. Besides of which, the prices are quite high for the average South African, and I understand what you mean about mixing and matching, it really does become very uncomfortable. We need modest clothing that suits SOuth Africans, there are such beautiful turkish clothes which are modest, and I remember going to Egypt and wanting to buy everything I saw there because they were modest, practical and comfortable, in different colours. If we have to import such clothing, again it would end up being too expensive. So yes, I really agree that there is a gap and we should have South African's designing clothing which suits us, in different ranges. Just another thing is that many women would like to dress modestly and still look fashionable, without having the abaya as their only choice. It would be great if we could have a Proudly South African Muslimah range, I understand that it would be difficult to get this started as an individual, but maybe someone needs to start, if we have an alternative it may become a big success.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Assalaamu-alaikum. Shukran for a very interesting topic! I also experience the frustration of only finding black abayas and while I have a few, have resorted to having them made for me in different colours due to both the heat where I live in SA and my personal preferences. I agree there is a gap in the market but there is also a huge gap for Islamic Work wear!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is the reason i chose to wear black . if it was done in women those days then i feel its best for me now .

    Many women choose to wear black, not because it is obligatory, but because it is farthest removed from being an adornment. There are reports which indicate that the women of the Sahaabah used to wear black. Abu Dawood (4101) narrated that Umm Salamah said: “When the words ‘and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)’ [al-Noor 24:31 – interpretation of the meaning] were revealed, the women of the Ansaar went out looking as if there were crows on their heads because of their garments.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.

    The Standing Committee (17/110) said: This is to be understood as meaning that those clothes were black in colour.

    ReplyDelete
  18. As Salaamu Alaikum...from what i understand, the only women that are commanded to wear all black is a widow in Islam, for four months, and ten days....if we wear all black now, what will we wear in the event that we are widowed one day?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I AM A NEW CONVERTTO ISLAM AND I'M AN AMERICAN WOMAN OF FIFTY PLUS YEARS. I LIKE BLACK AS ALL WOMEN DO,BUT DO I WANT TO WEAR IT ALL THE TIME. NOT ! I LOVE ALL COLORS AND RED IS MY FAVORITE OF CHOICE. I FEEL AS THO I'M AT A FUNERAL WITH ALL THE WOMEN DRESSED IN BLACK. I CHOSE TO WEAR IVORY. IT WAS LIGHT, COOL AND OH SO COMFORTABLE. ALLAH IS LOOKING AT OUR HEARTS. AS LONG AS EVERYTHING THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE COVERED IS COVERED, THEN I DON'T SEE WHY WE HAVE TO WEAR BLACK ALL THE TIME. YES I GOT STARES FROM SOME OF THE WOMEN FOR WEARING IVORY, BUT AFTER SERVICE ALOT OF THEM SAID IT LOOKED NICE AND COOL. HERE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, WE DON'T HAVE THE EXTREME HEAT AS THOSE OF YOU IN S. A., BUT WHEN IT DOES GET HOT HERE, BLACK IS NOT COOL. SO I WILL ALWAYS BE THE ONE WHO STAND OUT IN THE CROWD, BECAUSE I WILL WEAR MY BEAUTIFUL COLORS. MAYBE NOT RED, BUT CERTAINLY NOT BLACK EITHER. KEEP IN MIND THOSE WOMEN OF ERAS PASSED DIDN'T HAVE PANTS, LEGGINGS, UNDIES, BRAS, GIRDLES, SPANKS, CAMI AND ALL KINDS OF UNDER GARMENTS TO COVER AND HOLD THEIR EQUIPMENT IN PLACE, BECAUSE IT DIDN'T EXIST. PERSONALLY I ALSO FEEL REGARDLESS WHAT COLOR YOU ARE WEARING, IF A MAN DESIRES TO LOOK AT YOU, HE'S GOING TO LOOK. WHEATER YOU SEE HIM LOOKING OR NOT. SO THAT LOWERING YOUR GAZE DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK FOR MEN AT LEAST NOT HERE IN AMERICA ANYWAY.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I disagree from the fact that black is the official colour of Islamic tradition. I don't have a single black coloured cloth. I prefer wear different styles of Islamic clothes of different vibrant colours. And even most of the Islamic women usually do not prefer black as a part of clothing.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ηello would уou mіnd ѕharing which blog platform
    you're usіng? I'm planning to start my own blog in thee near
    future but I'm having a tough timе deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evοlution and Druρаl.

    The reason I ask is because your layout seems diffеrent then most blogs and I'm looking for something completelу uniԛue.
    Р.S Mу apologies foг being off-topic but I
    had to ask!

    Alsо visit my webpage - bridal gowns Cape Town

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anonymous

    I am using Blogger. This platform is easy to use and to customize. All the best!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think black has always simply been perceived as being the color of concealment, it has been used by both good and malicious factions as a way of passing by unnoticed but there is really no benefit in this color black islamically that I know of. In fact white might have been Prophet Muhammad's pbuh favorite color. Even as a sister just because of this I feel the happiest while wearing white. Very sweet blog btw :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous, thank you for your comment, wearing white makes me feel happy as well, there's just so much serenity in it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I think if you are wearing black and you live in the west you are harming Islam more than benefiting in any shape or form.

    One must see the people around them and what benefits and beautifies this Deen! As long as you are modest, your clothes are not tight and are not bright sparkly!! everyday with full make up, I believe for good reasons! that we must wear nice clothes!

    I am not saying to go against SHaria by anyway or take off your Hijab because of Dawah. that would be stupid of me. But for GOD SAKE those black goes against all wisdom and preaching. It brings about hate and backwardness in the mind of others and while we know many do it anyway!

    colourup!!!! and smile at people. we are in the west as Allah's light in every 100 mile or so!!!

    I love black and cant be bothered dressing up tooo much!!! but I force myself to wear nice clothes and everytime a lady next to me comments on my pretty scarf and I can have a chat and pass a smile all the hard work pays off!!!!!!


    Anyways!!! for some its a disease of the heart. they wana fit in as the pious around them!! in black!! not knowing this might enter them in further Riya and Nifaa

    Allah swt says don't ascribe purity to yourselves, I know who has Taqwa!!!" Quran


    PEACE

    ReplyDelete