The History of the Abaya Its Origin and Evolution

The History of the Abaya: Its Origin and Evolution

For centuries, the Abaya has been a symbol of modesty and religious devotion. Nowadays, it's also become an increasingly fashionable garment among women around the world, particularly in Saudi Arabia and certain Muslim regions where it plays an integral role in their cultural identity.

It comes in various sizes, styles and cuts and is a go-to for many special occasions. Add pretty colors and embellishments to make it even more eye-catching!


The abaya has an intriguing and complex history that can be traced back to various locations within Islam, such as Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan and North Africa. It is a long, black garment worn by both men and women as a form of modesty. Additionally, it serves to symbolize Islamic devotion and culture within certain communities, often representing their national agendas.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have adopted the abaya as part of their culture and identity. Its origin can be traced back to the Qur'an, which states that women should cover themselves with loose garments. This verse is believed to have inspired the development of this modest attire which now serves to demonstrate Islam's devotion and modesty throughout its Islamic community.

Abayas come in an array of colors, styles and designs; however, black remains the most popular color and often serves as the base for these garments in the Gulf region.

Many abayas today are made from cotton, which is soft and comfortable to wear. Plus, it's breathable so it helps keep you cool and dry.

Abayas can also be adorned with various types of embellishments, such as piping, tassels and golden metal braids.

Though black remains the traditional and most common color, abayas now come in an array of shades, colors, and styles. Some are embroidered with unique patterns or designs for added visual interest.

Abayas have become an increasingly popular fashion choice for women worldwide. Renowned designers such as Dolce & Gabbana have even launched their own line of vibrantly printed abayas to keep up with this global trend.

Some scholars believe abayas are an evolution of the izar, an 18th century body wrap made up of two rectangle pieces stitched together for one garment. Furthermore, they bear similarities to chadors - garments commonly worn by Bedouin women - in style and construction.

Throughout the 1970s and '80s, women in the Middle East began wearing more conservative dress codes due to disillusionment with European-style development and social movements against Western values. This trend resulted in the development of traditional garments such as the abaya (headscarf), along with other Islamic headscarves.


Symbolism is a literary device that utilizes one thing--such as an object, idea, or color--to represent another. It helps readers make connections and nod to shared culture in your writing. Symbolism can be found in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and even graphic novels.

Authors often employ symbolism to suggest a certain mood or emotion. It also serves to help readers comprehend a work more readily or connect plot points with something meaningful to them personally.

Many symbols are universal, which means people from all backgrounds understand what they signify. For instance, the Statue of Liberty serves as a powerful reminder that freedom is an ideal.

Some symbols have cultural connotations, meaning they only make sense to those who understand them. For instance, yellow may be associated with fun and playfulness in America, but it also stands as a representation of courage in Japan.

However, if writing in another language, it may be best to avoid using certain symbols or images as they could go over your reader's head or be too obvious.

Literature often uses subtle symbols, so it is essential to comprehend their significance and how they pertain to your story. You can do this by reading other works of literature and observing how symbols are employed there.

A symbol can be an object, idea or color that symbolizes a character, setting or theme. It could also be an action, person or word with special significance.

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice uses a walk through the countryside as a metaphor for Elizabeth's freedom, without having to explicitly state this fact. It serves as a way for Austen to suggest her character is grounded yet free-spirited without needing to say so explicitly.

Symbolism can give your writing more depth and purpose while keeping readers engaged and entertained. It also helps craft stronger, more vivid stories that are more memorable for readers.


Modesty is derived from the Latin modestus, meaning "keeping to due measure." It implies upholding one's level of self-respect and dignity. Modesty holds great value in many religious contexts, especially among women.

Islam emphasizes that women must dress modestly. This means wearing an abaya, or loose-fitting gown or garments which do not reveal too much of their figure. The abaya has been used as a sign of modesty since ancient times and remains an integral element in Islamic culture today.

Modern society has increasingly complicated the concept of modesty. For instance, there is now a trend towards more sophisticated abayas that may feature design embellishments and be tailored to each wearer's individuality.

However, the abaya remains an integral part of Muslim culture and requires women to wear it with reverence for their faith. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, all females are required to wear an abaya even when out in public.

Fashion designers are increasingly taking inspiration from global trends and environmental and social issues in their creations, which is evident in the abayas created by rising local designers.

Different views of modesty exist, such as strong accuracy accounts (Ben-Ze'ev 1993), asymmetrical views (Hare 1996, Hurka 2001) and moral-spiritual accounts (Maes 2004). While these definitions differ, all share certain features which they strive to capture.

Ben-Ze'ev, for instance, defines modesty as the ability to accurately believe that all people are equally morally worthy. This requires having accurate beliefs about one's own good qualities as well.

Hare on the other hand views modesty as a virtue of proportion, necessitating attitudes to be appropriately proportioned to an object's absolute goodness. This stems from Kantian ideas about rational agents having equal moral status and thus requires correct belief in this fact.

These views require the correct belief in an ethical standard of behavior. Some see modesty as a virtue because it encourages morality, while others view it negatively due to its promotion of impurity. Both sides should be taken into consideration since both types of behavior originate in our shame and passions; ultimately, however, it is the action taken from these motivations which makes the difference between morality and impudence.


The abaya, commonly referred to as kaftan, djellaba, gallabiyah or umaniyah, has been an iconic part of women's clothing in the Arab world for centuries. It has served both as a religious garment and cultural symbol throughout its long history.

Traditionally, the abaya was a long black cloak-like garment that covered the entire body. It was paired with a narrow shayla - an open-fitting headscarf - to protect one's face. This style was popularized by Bedouins and made popular in urban environments.

As the abaya developed, it became more sophisticated and fashionable. Embroideries and decorations were added to enhance its elegance and beauty, as well as being used as a cover-up for other clothes as well as an expression of individuality and personality.

Over the years, abayas have become an increasingly popular fashion choice among women in Gulf region states. This development reflects their desire to embrace modernity and globalization while still upholding traditional values and beliefs.

Today's abaya has evolved beyond simply covering other garments; it now serves to represent global fashion trends, environmental concerns and an appreciation of native fashion and cultural heritage. As a result, women across the Gulf region are sporting various styles and colors in different combinations.

In addition to classic black abayas, designers have created contemporary versions in neutral or jewel-toned colours with open fronts. Some feature athletic-inspired stripes, pearl beads and floral embroidery for an eye-catching touch.

Dolce and Gabbana have taken the abaya and added their signature vibrant prints, creating an eye-catching piece of clothing now found in stores worldwide. These designs have inspired both local and international designers to incorporate abayas into their collections.

In countries like the United Arab Emirates, wearing an abaya is a powerful symbol of identity and respect. It conveys one's status as a citizen while signifying one's adherence to traditions, culture, and religion. Women in the UAE hold great value in this combination of symbols and values as it shows their dedication to their nation.