Abayas not necessary attire for Saudi women

Saudi women need not wear the abaya a senior member of the top Muslim clerical body said

Saudi women need not wear the abaya a senior member of the top Muslim clerical body said

Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlaq, a member of the top Muslim clerical body in Saudi Arabia, said that women should not be obliged to wear abayas as the objective of the Sharia code is to cover the entire body with any long and loose-fitting garment, whether using a cloak or any form of modest clothing.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has recently introduced a series of reforms in favor of women as the kingdom prepares for a post-oil era. He continued to say that 90 percent of Muslim women in the Muslim world do not wear an abaya and do not even know it. "So we should not force people to wear abayas".

A member of the Council of Senior Scholars, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, argued that the abayas women now wear are unnecessary to preserve modesty. Their interpretations of Islamic law form the basis of Saudi Arabia's legal system.

Saudi women have started wearing more colorful abayas in recent years, the light blues and pinks in stark contrast with the traditional black.

Sheikh Al-Mutlaq was sharing his opinion and not issuing any kind of fatwa but his thoughts were seen as a sign of a major change in attitude toward conservative dressing of women in the kingdom. In 2016, a Saudi woman was detained for removing her abaya on a main street in the capital of Riyadh. Local media reported that she was detained after a complaint was filed with the religious police. Activists have blasted the country's guardianship system which requires a male family member to grant permission for a woman to study overseas, travel and other activities.

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