This morning at the mall, as my son and I were waiting at one of the entrances for the compound shuttle I look up at one of the pillars beside where we were sitting and saw this huge sign put up there by the Office for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue. I was a bit surprised by what I saw for several reasons. but before I delve into that. Basically the poster was similar to the “hejab-e Eslami” posters you see sprinkled around Iranian cities only this one was, um, Saudified and in Arabic.
The Title was “Al-Hishma dress-code” and below that was 2 small pictures, one of a abayah going from the shoulders with decorations and beside it as woman totally covered in the traditional style abayah ra’as. Similar to this picture that I found below:
I assume the term “al-hishma” is the Saudi Arabic term for Islamic covering similar to the Farsi ” hejab-e Eslami”. There was a big X beside the shoulder abayaah and a big check beside the overhead abayaah. Below this is explained what the Al-hishma dresscode was. Basically…the garment should be loose, should be long, should not have any decorations, should not be perfumed and should not garner attention.
Interestly there was NO mention of color. *hmmm*.
Now being a bit of a rationalist I can’t help but wonder whether they were Xing out all shoulder abayaat or just ones with decorations, and well, what about long tunics and skirts or outfits with a similar “look”.
And ofcourse…what about non-Muslim women?
That sign gives me more questions than answers, I WISH I could find my tiny digi. camera as I’d have snapped a picture but c;est le vie.
In Iran there are similar-ish signs only they expound about the virtues of the chador. Personally I prefer the Iranian hejab signs because usually they are quite artistic, have some poetry or Quraanic verses and generally look a bit nicer. They also arent quite as “cut and dry”.
Here is one I found online…it’s not the best example Ive seen. Basically it shows the two acceptable styles of hejab-e Eslami, although it doesnt really go into much detail. Chador with manteau and maghneh and long manteau over pants and maghneh.
Note…pants often make an appearance in Iranian posters! Unlike in Arab culture, pants are not deemed unfeminine and immodest but are considered actually more modest and seemly than skirts are. This is probably why you’d be hardpressed to see many women wearing a dress or skirt under their chador or manteau unless it’s the dead of summer and incredibly hot and humid.
Now, I’ll admit I’m not huge fan of these sorts of posters…artistic beauty aside, I don’t think they really do very much to change a womans mind about what she’ll put on in the morning. The vast majority of women in the mall this morning still had on their shoulder abayaat and most were decorated. Few were in the overhead abayaat. Just like in Iran, a woman who doesnt wear chador is highly unlikely to start wearing one upon seeing such a poster, they might remind her of their virtue but they most likely wont change her mind. Unless she suddenly wakes up one day and believes that chador is the best form of covering.
Spkg of which, anyone dare me to bust out my black chador in a Saudi mall?