I know I’ve seen that sign before…

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:

(random picture found online, I can't read Arabic so if it says something crazy, do let me know and I'll take it down!)

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.

(Hejab-e Eslami poster from Iran)


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?

(chador over longer length manteau and pants with maghneh)


7 thoughts on “I know I’ve seen that sign before…

  1. In the UAE there were little articles in the newspaper about KSA ulama speaking out against the coat-style abaayah because showing the shape of the shoulders was showing the shape of the body. This wasn’t taken too seriously even in Al Ain, which is a long way from Dubai!

  2. Oooh! I double-dog dare you! As long as its safe…. I think that if they want to encourage proper hijab it’s going to have to come through on TV, with some awesome character for them to identify with that wear hijab/chador/abaya. I’s still in awe of the youtube video of the Iranian police women performing at their graduation, flying down the side of the building! That was so cool! I also really liked the women’s chador in the Film Secret Ballot. I don’t think I have seen any inspiring films with abaya or hijab. I know that a certain talk show host in Pakistan started wearing abaya while pregnant and that set a trend (no hijab though). The chador just has that really cool, super hero cape thing going on.

  3. Wait, sorry, in media—-the Malaysian band Debu always has their female performers in inspiring hijab and outfits.

  4. LOVE the bottom picture “chador over longer length manteau and pants with maghneh.” What a beautiful look. I love it as is, but shorten the manteau a bit and without tht chador I could wear that here in the US too!
    As for wearing the Chador in a KSA mall? If it makes you feel good, and you won’t get into trouble . . . go for it! On the other hand, I don’t think you are going to influence anyone, and you are probably going to draw a LOT of attention to yourself, so if you don’t want that, maybe not. But interesting thought.

    • LOL…thats what I was thinking too…a Saudi friend of mine who has been to Iran told me to nix the idea. c’est le vie…

  5. He he he, well since Iran and Saudi have never really gotten on LOL, I wouldn’t do it in Riyadh, but I wore a chador in Dubai and I loved it.

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