A top religious scholar and the member of the council of senior Scholars, Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlaq said, women are supposed to wear a modest dress but this does not necessitate wearing an Abaya. He said on his radio show that was aired on Neda Al-Islam radio station on February 9.
Abdullah al-Mutlaq is a permanent guest of Friday studio which is a weekly Islamic show in which people discuss Islamic teaching, questions and answers are raised and Fatwas are issued.
He said more than 90% of the woman in the Muslim world do not wear an Abaya. He said they are currently required to wear an Abaya by the Law. This was the first time a senior cleric made such a statement which may form the basis of Saudi Law in the future.
This statement of the cleric was taken as another step in an effort to modernize Saudi society and relax the restriction on women. After this statement made by the cleric, people intensely reacted to this statement.
Some stood with the statement while many opposed it. The opposition is understood because Saudi Arabia is a country where I have seen, it is taken as a necessity of every woman to wear an Abaya and more often it represents the Saudi culture.
One of the Twitter users said, wearing an Abaya is the matter of tradition rather than the matter of religion and it has become applicable in our country.
Mostly women stood against the cleric statement and one of the women said, “Even if one hundred fatwas have been issued, I swear to God I will never leave my Abaya. Over my dead body. Girls, do not listen to the fatwas.”
This statement follows the recent pattern of freedom the Kingdom is witnessing with the ascent of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Only the government-appointed clerics related with the Council of Senior Scholars are allowed to issue fatwas or Islamic legal opinions.
Their explanations of Islamic law form the base of Saudi Arabia’s legal system. Women have started wearing colorful Abayas. There was a time when Abayas were only available in black color but now Abayas are available in every color style and design.
In Saudi Arabia, women are wearing Abayas of light blue color and pink in contrast with traditional black and in some parts of the Kingdom open Abayas are worn over jeans and long skirts.
If we look back in 2016, a woman was arrested by religious police for removing her Abaya in the main street of Riyadh and in just two years a major change has occurred that Abayas are not taken as a necessary attire for a women body.
Moreover, there are some more changes seen in the Kingdom with an expansion in women rights. Now women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to attend mix public sporting event, and soon they will be granted the right to drive.
They were allowed to participate in national day celebration for the first time, and soon cinemas will be opened after three decades and for the first time women rose in a standing ovation at the first public concert performed by the female singer in the country.
These changes welcomed a new progressive trend in the ultra-conservative Muslim Kingdom. But still, the sex-segregated nation is criticized for its continued restrictions on women and in many families, women are totally dependent on their male family member.
This intervention of cleric follows moves to modernize Saudi society, part of a social reform plan led by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince.
Source: Arab News