A local clothing retailer which had organised a fashion show featuring clothing for women “within the bounds of Islam” is now promoting the event as an “Abaya Show”, following complaints that the original concept was too western.
The event is being organised by local clothing retailer Miskul Khair and will display only hijab (head scarf) and abaya (robe-like, loose fitting dress) clothes to demonstrate the ‘Islamic look’ of how Muslim women should dress.
“The aim is not to have a western style fashion show, but rather to give women the news, the message, that this is the perfect way of dressing [in Islam],” Miskul Khair Sales Manager Moosa Nafih told Minivan News.
“This event is not related to a western [fashion] show, it will feature almost all the abayas sold in the shop,” said Nafih.
He explained that following complaints the event was too westernised, the “concept has been a little changed, but the show will be conducted as planned” and will be promoted as an “Abaya Show” instead.
“There will be very strict monitoring, security will be very high. Men, photography or videography of the event will not be permitted,” Nafih emphasised.
The event will be only for ladies as Islam does not support the mixing of opposite sexes, explained Nafih.
“This fashion show will be very different from other fashion shows held in Maldives. Clothes on display will fit Islamic parameters,” a Miskul Khair spokesperson told local media.
“We believe that through such an event in sha Allah, it may encourage sisters who do not wear hijab/buruga to love to wear hijabs/buruga. We believe that this is a new approach to Dawah. May Allah Reward us all and look into our intentions,” read a statement on the Miskul Khair Facebook page.
Former Gender Minister and current Chairperson for the Hope for Women NGO Aneesa Ahmed believes the event is being held as a way to “draw people in”.
“[Currently,] there is a lot of confusion among people,” she noted. “It could upset them if a woman does not dress with adequate modesty.”
Aneesa explained that individuals hold different beliefs on what constitutes appropriate women’s attire.
While she believes dressing like a Muslim – for men and women – requires modesty, Islam does not necessarily require a woman’s body to be fully covered, she said.
“Islam is not only how a person dresses, it is about faith and upholding the five pillars of Islam,” Aneesa said
She noted that there are some women who are fully covered but wear tight fitting clothes, which is less modest than wearing loose fitting clothing with some skin showing.
“[Additionally,] we don’t know if a fully covered woman is doing her prayers, as that is between her and Allah,” Aneesa continued.
“However, the perception remains that if you are dressed in a certain way then society considers you a good Muslim,” she noted.
Aneesa believes that overall “It is in the best interest of the society to dress modestly.”
“What we call modest dress is the same style, an [unofficial] dress code, that tourists must adopt when they come to Male’ or go to an inhabited island,” she added.
The female only fashion show will take place at an Arabic medium, higher education institution, Kulliyah College in Male’ on July 28 at 9:30pm.
Tickets are available at Miskul Khair shops for MVR 25 (US$1.61), MVR 45 (US$2.91) and MVR 56 (US$3.62).