Women’s Dress

I got this off the Internet.  (I’ve modified it slightly for readability.):“God, the Most Merciful, gave us three basic rules for the dress code for women in Islam:

“1.The BEST garment is the garment of righteousness.

“2.Whenever you dress, cover your chest (bosoms).

“3.Lengthen your garment.

“While these three BASIC rules may not sound enough for those who do not trust God, the TRUE believers know that God is ENOUGH.  God could have given us more details to the point of having graphs, designs and color rules, but He, the Most Merciful, wants to give us exactly these very basic rules and leave the rest for us.  After these three basic rules every woman is more aware of her circumstances and can adjust her dress for her situation.  Any addition to these basic Quranic rules is an attempt to correct God or improve on His merciful design.

“What better than to quote God’s words in description of this trait of the human race:

“‘We have cited in this Quran every kind of example, but the human being is the most argumentative creature.’ (18:54)

“We have no obligation to follow but God’s rules, just as His messenger did all the time.  Innovations and fabrications that added thousands of rules to the women’s dress code are nothing but idol-worship and should be refused.

“STAY WITH GOD.  That is where the winners go.

“May God bless us with His mercy and guidance.”


My reason for being interested in the passage above is as follows:

I have heard people make statements about what is (supposedly) obligatory dress for Muslim women, statements in which these people claim to have very specific information about the guidelines and the permissible range of choices prescribed in the Islamic religious system.  However, people can be a bit vague about where these guidelines are located.  Maybe the fault is mine, for not pressing them hard enough to give me “chapter and verse.”

In any case, it is easy to throw around religious claims.  It is more challenging to cite passages of Qur’an and Hadith and then to explain how you interpret these passage to arrive at the desired conclusion.

I cannot verify the 100% accuracy of the quoted material above.  However, if it is indeed the case that the Qur’anic injunctions regarding women’s dress are that sparse and that open to interpretation, then I would say the following:

The position that the absolute minimum for women’s public dress is a loose-fitting black garment called abaya and a head cover with a face opening, seems much less authoritative than some would maintain.


A Second Crack

A map of YemenA map of Aden metro area

Besides the map of Aden metro area, I threw in one of Yemen, for the heck of it.  The Yemen map includes several cities I’ve never heard of:  al-Ghaydah, Habarut, Nishtun, al-Salif.  The first three of these, as you can see, are in the extreme east.  This area is called Mahra.  A South Arabian language is still spoken there.  The South Arabian languages are not closely related to Arabic or Hebrew.  They are more akin to Semitic languages of Eritrea and Ethiopia.  I have the impression that in pre-Islamic times, South Arabian languages dominated the southern end of Arabia and that they were only displaced by Arabic after the coming of Islam.  I also noticed that the map indicates Jabal al-Nabi Shu`ayb (Mountain of the Prophet Jethro) near Sanaa.  As a sidenote of possible interest:  Jethro is Moses’ father-in-law, and his tomb is located in Jordan.  “Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian” (Exodus 3:1).

Aden and Vicinity

Aden is situated on a peninsula, with a sister peninsula to the west.  The city has several districts, called Crater; Ma`alla; Tawahi; Khormaksar.  There’s a boardwalk area, known as the corniche.  I noticed a white thing, washed up on the beach.  It looked like a stingray but seemed too thick.  The traffic around town isn’t that bad.  There’s old architecture intact from the British period.  In Khormaksar, for example, there’s a series of wood-frame things, about three stories tall.  They look like old military barracks.  An odd evocation of the colonial past.  When I got here, the weather was so humid that just walking around for a few minutes made me pour sweat.  Now it’s dusty and windy.  Sometimes I could use a pair of yellow-tinted safety goggles.

Violent Incidents

“SANAA (Reuters) – Yemen stepped up security around government buildings and foreign interests on Tuesday a day after a suspected al Qaeda suicide bomber killed seven Spanish tourists and two Yemenis at a tourist site.

“President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose country joined the U.S.-led war against terrorism after the September 11 attacks, said Yemen had received warnings last week of an impending attack but did not know where or when the militants would strike.

“He offered a $75,500 reward for information leading to the capture of militants linked to the attack at the Queen of Sheba Temple in the volatile eastern province of Marib.”

Ma’rib Governorate contains the ancient (and now completely defunct) Ma’rib dam and other old archaeological sites of interest.  There has been a longstanding problem of local militants periodically kidnapping Western tourists.  The goal is to draw the Yemeni government’s attention to certain grievances.  I have no idea what these grievances are or how they are assuaged by kidnappings.  Recently there had been another violent incident; it happened in Shabwa Governorate.