The misunderstood hijab! Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Western media tends to relish the association of fully covered muslim women in dark head scarves and black full body kaftans/robes, with Islamic fundamentalism. (Such as in the photo below, taken in Iran, not by us…) 

NO this is NOT Indonesia. NOT! This is a photo of women in Iran.
In Southeast, we are talking a lot more modern use of the Hijab:

There is a knee-jerk, common-place, but gross misunderstanding of head-covering that the West associates with fundamentalism and which most of the muslim world merely deems modest.

Now about some facts:  the “halal” market – which means literally “permissible” under the Koran, is the largest single market in the world.  It is 1.6 BILLION strong, which makes it a market larger than China’s or India’s and by far larger than the European Union market or the U.S.
A beautiful extensive bookstore in a mall, had these editions of the koran, with a  special “reader attached, which when  scrolled over words and sentences emits the singing format of the koran. Great tool for kids or others to learn the singing of the koran. Imagine what a great tool this is (I’m thinking bar and bat mitzvah enrichment 101.)
So now, take a young (demographically) country like Indonesia, with the largest muslim population in the world and blend in a clearly artistic culture, and you get, well, a DIFFERENT kind of Hijab.
These chic and stylish mannequins are in a store in the super modern mall.
Besides being an awesome photo of a gorgeous mannequin, the hijab is striking.
So, for you fashionistas out there, meet the real Hijab, the one that most Halal consumers in this huge global market buy, to be simultaneously “permissible” per the Koran, and fashionable…
Quite a sight, this row of colorful heads!
Gypsy desert look. Note the very stylish one behind to the right, as well.

It’s quite interesting.  The Hijab is integral to a woman’s outfit.  Not everyone wears them, but probably 7 out of 10 woman do. And most women only wear the hijab, not the full body covering robe. At any rate, all of it is optional, not enforced in any way.

Just as a Western woman might seek to match her scarf, her shoes or her belt, so does a muslim woman match her hijab.  And matching does not mean matchy-matchy either.  When we start to pay attention to this fashion trend, we first notice beautiful color combinations.  

Then, intrigued, we look for the shops and notice that hijab shops are interspersed with the very popular jewelry shops in the high end, modern malls…
This shopping mall was packed with people and has everything a US mall would. There are the usual international brands as well as Asian brands which are way more interesting to us.
Okay, this hijab is perfect for Burning Man or any other festival.
Looking for hijabs is quite a popular shopping activity, second only to the constantly packed jewelry counters.
Chocolate fountains at a stall in  the mall for chocolate covered strawberries of course!
Hijabs are also to be found at the open-air clothing markets.
Peta lets herself be seduced first by some of the beautiful tie dye fashion creations.
Love that dress…
We settle on the teal colored one!
A small group of women shoppers advise Ben on which dress they think looks best on Peta.
Of course, at some point, she can’t resist trying on a hijab.  We do always try to fit into our environment (i.e. Ben’s sarong wearing in Bali, fashionable face masks in Vietnam, wearing jellabbahs in Morroco), so, when in Jogja, wear a hijab!  Turns out – it’s not that mysterious.  It’s a scarf which is pinned under the chin and then wrapped… But oh the choices of colors, fabrics and “wrapping” styles…

9 thoughts on “The misunderstood hijab! Yogyakarta, Indonesia

  1. Sharon Rosenzweig

    OK, we need to have a date someday in Highland Park where you wear your Indonesian hijacked and I wear mine from Ramallah. We can sit outside at Phoenicia and bright the sidewalk. You certainly had a wider range of color choices.

  2. Sarah Ansari

    There are some western countries where hijab is banned, because of which true meanings of hijab is getting forgotten by the young Muslim ladies. Even in some Islamic countries Muslim ladies have shifted towards western culture. This is how hijab is actually misunderstood.

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