Dubai: Saudi ladies needn’t put on the abaya – the loose-fitting, full-length robes symbolic of non secular religion – a senior member of the highest Muslim clerical physique mentioned, one other indication of the Kingdom’s efforts in the direction of modernisation.
On his radio programme, Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlaq, a member of the Council of Senior Students, mentioned Muslim ladies ought to costume modestly, however this didn’t necessitate sporting the abaya.
“Greater than 90 p.c of pious Muslim ladies within the Muslim world don’t put on abayas,” Sheikh Mutlaq mentioned on Friday. “So we must always not pressure folks to put on abayas.”
Whereas not essentially signalling a change within the legislation, the assertion is the primary of its variety from a senior non secular determine. It follows the latest sample of freedoms the Kingdom has been witnessing with the ascent of younger Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to energy.
Solely the government-appointed clerics related to the Council of Senior Students are allowed to challenge fatwas, or Islamic authorized opinions. Their interpretations of Islamic legislation type the premise of Saudi Arabia’s authorized system.
Saudi ladies have began sporting extra colourful abayas in recent times, the sunshine blues and pinks in stark distinction with the standard black. Open abayas over lengthy skirts or denims are additionally changing into extra widespread in some elements of the nation.
The development marks a significant change within the final couple of years. In 2016, a Saudi girl was detained for eradicating her abaya on a fundamental avenue within the capital of Riyadh. Native media reported that she was detained after a criticism was filed with the non secular police.
The Kingdom has seen an growth in ladies’s rights just lately, reminiscent of the choice handed to permit ladies to attend blended public sporting occasions and the announcement that Saudi Arabia would grant them the precise to drive.
These are among the many modifications the nation has undergone in latest months, hailed as proof of a brand new progressive development within the deeply conservative Muslim Kingdom.
However regardless of these modifications, the gender-segregated nation is criticized for its continued constraints on ladies. Activists have blasted the nation’s guardianship system which requires a male relative to grant permission for a lady to review overseas, journey and different actions.
On Thursday, a London-based Saudi rights group, ALQST, reported the detention final month of activist Noha al-Balawi, saying she was questioned by Saudi authorities on her involvement with ladies’s rights and human rights actions.