ALIGARH: Muslim women in Aligarh are increasingly using the traditional burqa as a fashion statement, embellishing it with designer touches. Burqas inspired by English gowns or those with Chinese collars, are doing brisk business. So are the modern abayas from Dubai beautified by laces, pipings and pintex design.

These changes may be redefining the garment – observers say some two-piece burqas have the chutzpah of cholis and the flirty feel of frocks – but the makeover, expectedly, hasn’t gone down well with the city’s maulanas. “Women are precious in Islam and the purdah was introduced to protect them. The new style of wearing fitting burqas, and adding studs and stones to them attracts attention and emboldens rapists,” says Mufti Shamun Qasmi, vice president, All India Imaam Council.

Asjad, a mufti from a madarssa adds, “This is a disturbing trend. Women should avoid wearing garments like these if they want to keep themselves safe.”

Such views are vehemently opposed by many of the city’s women who find nothing wrong in the desire to look good despite being covered from head to toe. “In today’s world, when everyone is trying out new things, what is wrong if burqas, too, are becoming fashionable?” says Zainab, a college going girl, who often wears a trendy umbrella-style abaya on campus.

Shopkeepers in the city say that demand of the garments is high, despite what the orthodox voices may say. “Around 60% of my customers come looking for designer burqas,” says Rehaan, a burqa-seller at the city’s Amir Nisha market. “They are also viewed as a status symbol since many of the pieces feature intricate zarkan embroidery. Today, many women are working and they want to assert their empowerment through these designer abayas.”

source: times of india